Jonathan Goodluck
Jonathan Goodluck

President Goodluck Jonathan likes to advertise his administration as one that is tough on corruption. Evidence, however, declines to support his exuberant claim.

Jonathan Goodluck
Jonathan Goodluck

They, in fact, reinforce, the widely held view of his government as one in bed with corruption and opaqueness. The Presidential Media Chat, held on 4 May, in a strong way, strengthened the view that the President is enjoying a sizzling romance with one of the evils bedeviling the country.

His defence of Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Petroleum Resources Minister, who has refused for over a month to appear before a House of Representatives panel probing the N10 billion she allegedly spent on hiring private jets, was brazen. ?But what I want you to know is that the parliament is made up of politicians. And if you have been following the issue, especially in the House, you will know that there is more politics than work,? said the President, who later accused the House of ?parliamentary dictatorship.?

Dictatorship? For daring to do what the law allows? We strongly believe that the President, by this, is vigorously promoting a view of him as a lover of corruption and profligacy. The message being sent is unambiguous. In clear terms, the President has expressed opposition to investigations into the allegations of corruption, a development that will make it impossible for perpetrators to be unveiled and punished. The assurance given that a forensic audit on the missing $20billion oil money will not banish the suspicions that his government condones financial malfeasance.

Further evidence of this was yielded by the 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria prepared by the United States Department of State. The report, recently released, observed that ?although the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engage in corrupt practices with impunity?. The report also declared that ?the anti-corruption efforts of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) remained largely ineffectual,? further alleging that the government targets only public officials who are out of favor for corruption charges and leaving out those in their good books.

While the findings contained in the report are not exactly new, they reaffirm the government?s tepid conduct to corruption.
Very recently, a senior EFCC official complained that the commission?s purse has become lean. This is an indication that its operations have been hobbled, a situation many allege has been created to restrain the commission.

Jonathan?s decision, in March 2013, to grant state pardon to Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who had been convicted of $10million fraud and remains wanted in the United Kingdom for money laundering, hardly presents his government as one that abhors corruption.
So is the Centenary award to the late General Sani Abacha, whose hefty loot remains in many foreign bank vaults. The US was recently reported to have frozen $458m of Abacha?s loot held in the US.

We believe that when issues are raised about commitment to good governance, a government with conscience would have quickly responded to the wounding allegations raised in the US report about its commitment to the anti-corruption war.

The Jonathan administration has neither offered a convincing rebuttal nor even an acceptance of its limitations in this regard. That neither has happened is a continuation of the tradition of treating critical issues with indifference and confirms that this government is not keen on fighting corruption.

This attitude of government soils the country?s reputation and is largely responsible for the ill-treatment that Nigerians get on their foreign travels.
We urge the Jonathan administration to change from this tardy way by showing good examples and empowering its anti-corruption agencies to execute their mandates.



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