8th May, 2012
With cacophony of voices emanating from the quarters of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government on the reports of the House of Representatives probe into the scam that was conveniently dubbed fuel subsidy, Nigerians are getting round to the reality that no tangible action would be taken against the crooks that benefitted from this huge scam. Nigerians are preparing to see this report swept to the ubiquitous dustbin where many of the scandals that have littered the conduct of public affairs in Nigeria are always swept to. With such action, no one gets caught, no one bears the cost, no one is held responsible and the circle of corrupt impunity makes its undisturbed round on Nigeria. It is not as if Nigerians expected much from the Jonathan government anyway. it is the same government that perpetrated this scam in the first place. It fed the tongs of this monumental heist and ensured that its cronies, hirelings, subalterns, stand patters and minions are generously fed from this source of illicit empowerment.
So, I had this belief that nothing will come out of the probe eventually, even with the uncanny streak of courage the House of Representative panel demonstrated in concluding the probe. For one, I believe that Jonathan will embark in self immolation should he elect to go after his cronies who were the beneficiaries of this scam. Again, he would be surely indicted for it was under his seedy watch the scandal was perpetrated and the huge among involved showed he was in the know of this scandal. We should also recall he has been trenchant in advocating the passing of this scandalous cost to the Nigerian masses through a criminal fuel subsidy removal subsidy. Also, not a few Nigerians tie the astronomical rise in the so called subsidy payment to last year’s election bid of Jonathan where money was deployed in such an unseemly manner to influence the conduct and outcome of the election to the favour of the PDP and Jonathan.
Given the above reasons, and yet many more others, it was starkly obvious that the Jonathan government wouldn’t have attempted to inquest into the fuel subsidy scam in the first place. Having been forced by mass action to embark on the probe, it was obvious that the House of Representatives probe was not embarked with the blessing of the Jonathan government. It is even foolhardy to expect the same government will be positively inclined towards implementing the reports of that huge rip off.
Since the release of the report, Nigerians have risen in one deafening crescendo to denounce such callous act of official sleaze. From the length and breadth of the country, it is one huge pall of bemoaning on how we had sunk to a cannibalistic enclave where men prey on others for survival, as the fuel subsidy report suggested. When we call to mind the senseless and impudent manner the present government forced through an unconscionable fuel price increase on the long suffering masses in January and when we note the abrasive manner the government and its officials invented desperate lies to force down this hemlock, it is only natural that Nigerians can whelp so loudly at the degree of man’s inhumanity to man the fuel subsidy scam was vis-à-vis the audacious manner the Jonathan government and its handmaidens went about enforcing the fuel price increment in January.
It is true that President Jonathan has added his voice to the distraught voices of Nigerians on this scam. He has reportedly vowed to ensure that the culprits in the scam would be punished. But he sounds unconvincing. In the first place, he was the engine of that deliberate scandal. Secondly, he needed not the House of Representatives to unearth the entire details of the well known scandal were he ruled by an altruistic desire to deal with the scam. Again, Jonathan has shown perhaps the most tolerant attitude to corruption such that almost every Nigerian believe he is home and okay with the ravaging decibel. These provided the ground for the large doubts sowed in the minds of Nigerians about the commitment of Jonathan to take any meaningful action against the subsidy cartel, whom he had shown enough inclination to protect against the Nigerian masses; made so vulnerable by the high incidence of poverty.
Perhaps, the best indicator of where Jonathan and his government stand on the entire issue was the statement by one of Jonathan’s aides, one Gulak who last week, played down on the house report as not being thorough. This was quickly followed by what may pass as the official position of Jonathan and government on this issue when the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke said that there is no plan to prosecute those indicted by the house report yet. Pleading for time to do a thorough job to ensure that no one is punished when he is not guilty, the AG said the government is not about implementing the report soon . Good talk, you might say but have we wondered why the government that is now sounding so sanctimonious on due process never deemed it worthwhile acceding to the loud demand of Nigerians that the fuel subsidy scandal be investigated long ago. Not a few Nigerians therefore see the public posture of the Jonathan government on this report as a way of killing the report and they are right to feel suspicious of the intent of the government.
So no one should be surprised that the Jonathan government is now talking from various sides of the mouth on the house report. No one should be excited that the house report is about being thrashed into the brimful Nigerian waste bin where every act of misdemeanour by Nigerian officials have been swept. No one should be alarmed that the Jonathan government is not showing any symptom of great concern at the degree and sheer volume of the fuel subsidy scandal because the scandal itself was a deliberate policy of the government and is in line with the many other fonts of corruption the PDP governments have found so attractive creating in their thirteen years of sad governance, which has almost completely crumbled the country. We should rather be surprised if Jonathan and company do anything that will give the fuel subsidy racket a skin pain. We would be surprised if any definite action can ever emanate from the Jonathan government against corruption. The government is birthed in and sustained by corruption and it has shown it is intrinsically webbed to corruption.
Come to think of it, the mere fact of the existence of this scam and the large outpouring of public demand for audit and the revelations on this scam was enough to lead to the collapse of the government and the prosecution of the high deck of that government. The volume of the scandal is enough to lead so many officials of the government to jail. But here we are, no one is moving an inch, no one is even offering the flimsiest of apologies, no one is caring any hoot. As usual, no one is taking responsibility, no one is resigning and no one is being sacked as a result of this monumental plunder. It is business as usual and in the Nigerian rich laboratory of filth, newer scams are being manufactured and life goes on. This is the vicious circle of impunity that has ensured that Nigeria makes no known progress as the world races past it. This has ensured that every kobo that should lift life in Nigeria is salted while Nigerians continue to wallow in abject poverty, degradation and want. With the reality that the fuel subsidy report will not elicit any positive action from this government, is it not time for Nigerians to seek for effective affirmative actions against corruption and the colluding government officials? Is it not time Nigerians take their destiny in their hands and force the system to become less tolerant to the corrupt acts of those that purport to rule us? With the way we are going, the fuel subsidy probe and its report will end up as previous similar probes have ended, no thanks to the enduring cult of treasury raiders who have found means to renew their strengths against the flailing capacity of Nigerians and the Nigerian system to deal with such official malfeasances.
—Oparah writes in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]