For the likes of the Lion of Ogun- Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the eloquent speaker from the North Shekarau and Oxford schooled Dimeji Bankole the doors have finally been shut. Or so it seems for now. No longer would they be entitled to titles such as “Excellency” nor will they return to their exalted offices blaring sirens, nor will they sleep in official bedrooms atop official pillows with official escorts guarding their official doors. They will no longer be covered by the immunity clause!
Now…. For these ones … the curtains have fallen. What happens behind the drapes will be of immense importance to our fight for “democracy” (Its ironical we are still FIGHTING for democracy 12 years after we supposedly attained it). It is high time that Nigeria passes the information that public offices were created for the purpose of service and the good of the electorate. It spells shame and disgrace if pubic officers can walk in and out of their offices without giving an accurate report of their period of stay. Accountability is and remains one of the steps to achieving democracy.
After attaining a fair level of credible elections, judging by the fact that less cases will be in the courts than there was in 2007, it is imperative that the newly elected officials do not follow in the path already paved for them by predecessors gone before them. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring that those before them are held accountable for their days in service. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has been making a lot of noise as is the norm about investigating outgoing officials however, judging from precedents created in 2007 (with eight ex-governors still undergoing “investigation”), I have very little faith in them. How long does it take an entire commission to investigate a few individuals when all the signs are written on the wall?
Often, I cringe at the thought of the near hopelessness of the Nigerian corruption situation. Two factors have I penciled down to be the remote cause for this – There is the mental/psychological attachment of people to things- Unfortunately, the problem is not one that affects public officers alone but cuts across the entire nation and second, the fact that there is a confidence in the ineffectiveness of the law. The entire system is so entangled in the filthy slime that it would take more than transformational leadership to salvage the situation.
The way out is obvious! The law is not there for the purpose of being stared at or spat on, the law should be allowed to do its job without fear or favor of men, pocket sizes, agbada’s and more recently bowler hats. All outgoing public officers should give an accurate report of how public funds were spent in their period of stay and where found wanting, should be punished in accordance with the law. Governance in itself is a system, when there are problems with a part it reflects on the entire body of the system. The actions of newly inaugurated and appointed officials sometimes are dependent on what has been done before them. How else do we explain situations where certain elected officers start seemingly well and end terribly? The President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should understand that there is more at stake this time than there was in 2007. It is important that we get it right this time. There should be no sacred cows.
I am equally of the opinion that all elected/appointed officers who would be serving in the newly inaugurated government should go through a training course that hammers on the importance of integrity and result in public service. They should be made fully aware of their duties (I am pretty sure a number of them do not) and should be educated on consequences of their actions. Emphasis should be laid on the constitution and on the implications of their misdeeds. They should equally be made to see the importance of the positions they occupy and they should be motivated towards serving the people and working for the common good of the country. It would not hurt to carry out psychological tests (although I believe this should have been carried out prior to party primaries).
Parties should by now look back on the just concluded elections and start strategizing for elections in 2015. A number of Nigerians waste no time to criticize political parties- the sooner we realize that they hold the key to the leadership we crave for the better. Where 10 parties produce 10 thieves do we not in the end elect a thief? Where they all shop for the most incapable hands do we not suffer for it? Credible and effective elections start with stiff completion between great minds, a wooing/decision making process by an EDUCATED electorate and the emergence of a leader based on the choice of the majority. What we experienced in 2011 is only the last lap of the process (which however is an amazing shift from the norm).
For all those who stand behind the drapes, I hope Nigeria will not have another episode of amnesia. All good and bad must be retaliated this time. May I say to all Nigerians Welcome to a dawn for Democracy (again)!