16th February, 2011
In spite of attempts to bury the Halliburton scandal in which several top Nigerian government officials were allegedly indicted, the bribery saga seems to have become a recurring decimal.
Just last week, the United States of America had again pressed for a transparent trial of the Nigerians in the bribery scandal which involved Nigerian and American government officials but Nigeriaâ€™s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had been foot-dragging.
The Halliburton bribery scandal which involves the award of a $6 billion gas plant contract in Brass, Bayelsa State, Nigeria and a $180 million bribe to both American and Nigerian top government officials between 1999 and 2000, has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves, perhaps because those involved are regarded as sacred cows in our country, but the USA is not handling the saga the same way.
Late last year, the Farida Waziri-led EFCC had decided to arraign a former vice president of the United States, Mr. Dick Cheney and three other CEOs for complicity in the matter as he was the chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1999 to 2000 but the US wants a more wide ranging investigation into the scandal.
American legal experts recently visited the EFCC office in Abuja and had a closed-door meeting with chairman of EFCC, Mrs. Waziri and Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, Director of Operations, perhaps to intensify pressure on the commission to prosecute those who were involved in the scam, but Femi Babafemi, spokesman of the commission, said EFFC was not under pressure from any group in the US over the Halliburton scam.
The bribery scam should not be allowed to die if the Federal Government wants to actually rid Nigeria of corruption and if the Jonathan-led government is to be believed as being run by a less corrupt group of Nigerians.
It is heart warming to note that the US may put pressure on Nigeria to take a decisive step after the April elections. If again we allow this scam to be swept under the carpet because of the calibre of Nigerians involved, we risk becoming the worldâ€™s laughing stock if we are not already one.