It is always interesting to watch second-term presidents and governors in action. In America, Barack Obama enters the twilight of his presidency on a wave of victories as he cements his legacies in terms of foreign and domestic policy. With no further political battles to fight, “second-termers” are likely to be more laid-back and prepared to say what they really think, without having to offend this or that constituency due to re-election concerns.
As one of the few second-term governors in the current ranks, Adams Oshiomhole occupies an interesting position. With just over a year to the end of his tenure, which ends next November, he appears set to go out with a bang. He has made it his business to challenge the former coordinating minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over her handling of the economy. Specifically, he has accused her of illegal deductions from the Federation Account in aid of Jonathan’s re-election campaign, to the tune of $1 billion.
Needless to say, this is a weighty allegation. It is an allegation that should not be made at all without proof, one that should not be made unless the accuser is prepared to approach a court of law with proof of that accusation, so that the accused can respond. If correct, it is a betrayal of public trust that should warrant substantial time in jail and serve as a warning to others.
… and the reality on ground
But we are not at that point yet. One thing Nigeria excels in is “trial by media,” where all manner of libelous allegations are flung hither and thither on the pages of newspapers and, increasingly, the online space. A more functional legal system would be full to the brim with libel lawsuits, and many would be out of business due to the damages they would have to pay.
This is not the case, and so a free-for-all is the result, with media outlets falling over themselves to amplify the allegations of people like Adams Oshiomhole, as if those allegations were newsworthy in and of themselves.
The fact is that they are not. As I said here earlier this month when examining the sudden ‘revival’ of the EFCC, corruption is not fought on the pages of newspapers. No amount of bombast or spectacle can replace the due legal process that comes with establishing the guilt of a person, and meting out the full punishment.
Oshiomhole’s latest allegation is that he was told by senior American officials that a minister in Jonathan’s cabinet stole $6 billion, which is over a trillion Naira. The questions that follow this statement are obvious, from the identity of this minister, to when a case will be brought against him or her.
The proper thing to do is bring charges in a court of law and tender evidence so that the law can take its course. Unless and until the Buhari administration can do this, it is unwise to continue to allow Adams Oshiomhole – or anyone else, for that matter – continue to make these statements. There is a lot of danger in continuing this cycle where new administrations at state and federal accuse their predecessors of all kinds of things, without ever holding them to account.
Much ado about…?
The biggest question, perhaps, is this: Why has Adams Oshiomhole, in the last two months, become a cross between an auditor, anti-corruption czar, presidential spokesman and judge? What is the end game?
Both the PDP and the APC have governors who are prepared to say things others will not say, those who are prepared to ‘take one for the team’. On the PDP side, it is Ayo Fayose. On the APC side, it used to be Rotimi Amaechi. It now appears that Adams Oshiomhole is rising to take over that abrasive, combative role, while Amaechi himself has been especially quiet.
This role, however, is mostly useless to governance, and it smacks of an administration that is still in campaign mode. Beyond giving ample material for newspaper headlines, it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
MacEbong is a communications professional and political analyst. He writes via Naij.com