haunted by the saying, “When you point one finger, there are three fingers
pointing back at you.”
If it knew, it wouldn’t have accused Goodluck Jonathan of running a very
corrupt government. Most times, we forget to listen to the voice of reason that
says, “Look in the mirror, brother. You might just be talking about yourself.”
It is now clear that the APC focused on the speck in Jonathan’s eye and ignored
the log in their own eyes.” Who would have thought that just few weeks into a
new regime in Lagos State, Fashola would be engulfed with the following
accusations – Drilling of just two bore holes with N139m, remodelling and
equipping of the official residence of the state’s Chief Judge at N510m,
reconstructing of a car park with N640m, spending N300m to relocate cables,
N175m to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge, N220m on the facility
management of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, N619m on surface
repair of a road, N1.2bn on the construction of an unidentified multi-storey
building, N1.6bn on the construction of a 48-bedroom hotel.
These things don’t seem like what a person as intelligent as the former
governor would do; especially for those of us who regard him as one of the very
few bright spots of our democracy.
In fact, I am still of the belief that in the annals of corrupt governors in
Nigeria, his place remains to be seen. But the question here is, can the Lagos
State government come out with such weighty accusations without having evidence
to back them up?
It was in the papers that “some in the former governor’s circle” are worried he
might face charges. If that happens and if he is found guilty and if it results
in conviction and if he ends up in prison-yes, four ifs-then considering his
achievements in Lagos State, all other former governors from other states
(especially the eastern states) should have long since been in jail awaiting
his company. But yet again, does any governor go to jail in Nigeria?
Over drinks at a bar around Omole Estate, Ikeja last Monday, a friend who works
in one of the ministries at Alausa laughed as he finished off his beer.
“Everything’s messed up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “Etcetera, that’s
your whole article right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write anything
more. Just write that.”
I put down my phone. “Just that?”
“That’s right,” he said, signalling to the waitress for the cheque.
“Everything’s messed up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right
Sounds funny but sincerely, “Nobody goes to jail” should be the mantra of our
democracy, one that has seen virtually almost every public office holder
embroiled in obscene criminal scandals — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that
is, except Alamieyeseigha, and that was probably because of the attention he
brought on the nation as a result of his dress sense from the UK. And the
Federal Government has apologised for the mistake by granting him full pardon.
If Fashola is found guilty of these allegations, he should face the music.
That’s the way the system is supposed to work. But a veritable mountain of
evidence indicates that when it comes to government officials, the justice
system not only buckles at punishing criminals, it has actually evolved into a
highly effective mechanism for protecting them.
This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with politics or
ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party is in power.
To understand how the machinery functions, you have to look back, at least, at
Obasanjo’s time in Aso Rock, as case after case of financial malfeasance was
pursued too slowly or not at all.
Indeed, the shocking pattern of no enforcement with regard to corrupt public
officials is so deeply ingrained in our democracy that it raises a profound and
difficult question about the very nature of our society: whether we have
created a class of people whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes,
almost no matter what those misdeeds are.
The Justice Department has evolved into a bizarre species of social surgeon
serving this untouchable class.