Prosecuting corrupt ‘big men’ is good for Nigeria
By Amb. John Campbell. U.S former ambassador to Nigeria and member, Council on Foreign Relations
The arrest, conviction and jailing of ruling party chieftain and former Chairman Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Olabode George for corruption is good news for a country that is a by-word for poor governance. It signals the higher court’s increasing independence from the “big men” who wield political and economic power. It may also restore some credibility to Nigeria’s tarnished Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the chief anti-corruption agency, at a time when it is widely criticized for backing away from prosecution of the country’s corrupt oligarchy.
No other major political figure has been convicted of corruption and jailed during the current presidential administration of Umaru Yar’adua, who made the rule of law a center piece of his administration’s rhetoric. Yar’adua’s critics note that others as notorious as George have not been charged and are concerned that prosecution for corruption remains half-hearted and politically motivated. Nevertheless, the sight of a powerful political figure being led away to jail without the usual option of paying a fine is bound to have a salutary, even if only temporary, impact on Nigeria’s corrupt political culture.
Olabode George is representative of the “big men” who have dominated Nigerian governance, whether under military or civilian rule, since independence. A retired admiral, he was a close political ally of General Olusegun Obasanjo, military dictator of Nigeria from 1976-79 and civilian president from 1999-2007. Under the Obasanjo civilian presidency, George was a regional chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party. Obasanjo also appointed him to chair the board of directors of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), a notorious venue for corruption. According to the courts, George and his NPA colleagues proceeded to exploit it for personal gain from 2001-2003.
In 2005, the EFCC, established by Obasanjo as the center-piece of his anti-corruption campaign, initiated an investigation of George’s tenure at the Ports Authority. However, executive chairman Nuhu Ribadu’s perceived independence from the president’s political agenda led to his firing in 2008, causing consternation among international donors, such as the United States. The case, nevertheless, was continued by Ribadu’s successor, Farida Waziri. Last month, George was convicted by Judge Olubunmi Oyewole of the Lagos High Court and sentenced to 30 months in prison without the option of paying a fine in lieu of jail time. Subsequently, Judge Oyewole also denied George’s application for bail while he appeals. Accordingly, George is now incarcerated in Lagos’s notorious Kirikiri prison.
Under Obasanjo, such a powerful political ally of the president would have had little fear of conviction, and virtually no fear that he would face jail time. Hence, George’s imprisonment appears to be a step forward toward the rule of law in Nigeria.
The caveat, as some Nigerians note, may be that President Yar’adua and former President Obasanjo are drifting apart, which has led to speculation that George’s imprisonment may also be part of a political skirmish between the current and former chiefs of state or their respective entourages. They note that former governors James Ibori and Peter Odili, who have escaped prosecution, are current political allies of Yar’adua. To dispel these rumors and to move the country toward a greater respect for the rule of law, George’s jailing must be followed by further credible prosecutions and convictions to win public confidence in President Yar’adua’s commitment to anti-corruption.
EFCC’s ex-boss Ribadu commends conviction of ex-President Obasanjo’s confidante and PDP chieftain Olabode Ibiyinka George
“Eight lessons of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide” by USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu https://usafricaonline.com/chido-8lessons-rwanda-genocide/
President Obama, hate-mongers and mob cons. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, www.Achebebooks.com, CLASS magazine, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV, and the largest digital images/pictorial events domain for Africans abroad www.PhotoWorks.TV
USAfricaonline.com goes richly interactive with new look, content….
By Alverna Johnson. Corporate Affairs, Houston:
On 10/10/09, the major redesign and addition of richly interactive options will go fully live on the award-winning web site of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet, www.USAfricaonline.com
“The importance of this latest interactive re-positioning of USAfricaonline.com is to fully tap into the advantages of the digital world to benefit our community and readers. Especially, the key issue and leverage is that we have and own unique content; and with this initiative, USAfrica advances, further, the immigrant African views and news into the international media and public policy mainstream. It leverages the global resources of USAfrica, again, into the electronic frontline of critically informed, responsible discourse and seasoned reportage of African and American interests as well as debating relevant issues of disagreement”, notes Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, AchebeBooks.com, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV and CLASSmagazine.
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Chido Nwangwu, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009 and analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, highlights other advantages as “live RSS feeds and e-syndication of the USAfrica reports and premium content. In terms of graphics and structure, the new USAfricaonline.com has visually refreshing headers and crisp pictures. We’ve also added more columnists, regional news correspondents and incisive special features writers. The site will be updated regularly, especially for significant breaking news.”
The flagship of the American media, The New York Times, several public policy, media and human rights organizations have assessed USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com as the most influential and largest multimedia networks covering the bi-continental interests of Africans and Americans. The first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and dozens of web sites and e-groups/blogs.
The Houston-based USAfrica has a formidable, experienced network of editors and correspondents across the U.S and Africa. Its Publisher served as adviser on Africa business/community to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown. https://usafricaonline.com/chido.html
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