Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:59 am
By Tunde Asaju
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, our erudite and often amiable vice president has escaped the excoriation often reserved for Naija’s political leaders. As the extra tyre, he is not expected to take the blame for the lack of direction that the government he serves represents. He was not a handpicked vice president but the last choice of the Emir of Bourdillon, Bola Tinubu whose political suavity might have prevented him from presenting himself as Vice President. This is why stories that President Buhari once called his deputy Osinbade should only feature in loose jape. Just like constant interaction with Angela Merkel has probably led Pa Bubu to realize that the Berlin Wall has fallen, familiarity ought to have helped him be on first name terms with his deputy.
With his political mileage, his teaching experience and his track record in the political terrain, Osinbajo displays a mastery of working the crowds. He says the right things and has avoided public ridicule. With Laolu Akande as press handle, Osinbajo’s media briefs read better to a professional than the jankara approach of Femi Adesina. Foreign experience adds something to professionalism that raw talent sometimes lack.
Last week, Osinbajo courted controversy when he was quoted as saying that ex-president Goodluck Jonathan shared N150 billion just before the 2005 elections. The only wounds that time does not heal are the scabs of financial impropriety left by political actors. Naïve as they seem in recycling executhieves, citizens hardly forget those who ripped them off on fake electoral promises. They keep a mental diary of who has stolen what since the age of political consciousness. They have the image of thieves whose sins have been obliterated by reason of party affiliation or the influence of godfathers.
They know for instance that Rotimi Amaechi does not even like money. They’ll never call Bola Tinubu a corrupt politrician and it has nothing to do with the fact that he has bequeathed on Lagosians successive governments that are seen to be better than the national average. They snigger at Oshodi Oke rumourmongers who accuse their political godfather of corruption without providing a shred of evidence in any court of law. They reverently call him Jagaba‘n’ or Asiwaju.
Except those who have access to powerful lawyers and NGO (pronounced enjiowo by Simon Kolawole) money to place full-page adverts, rumour mongers cannot persuade any editor worth his certificate to publish the names of people they perceive to be corrupt or to have corrupted the shitstem. People who point accusing fingers do so at beer parlours where they order their favourite brew. Those who cannot swallow paraga while the righteous lull themselves to sleep on their pastor’s sermon assuring them of the poor man’s hereafter.
So, is Goodluck Jonathan corrupt? In most beer parlours, (and there are more Benylin with codeine addiction joints in the north than those) the answer is yes. Why he is walking free as a role model chief election observer beats most people silly. Did he imbibe the character of Shehu Shagari who, it was said prefers to pick his ablution kettle and head to the mosque rather than preside over the financial impropriety that Buhari and co accused his government or is Jonathan simply incorruptible as his worshippers proclaim?
The answer depends on whom you ask. One thing is certain – it’s been three years already since Pa Bubu and Osinbajo booted him out with a historical electoral shellacking based on their vow of change. The most pervasive change on the landscape today is the change of face, a basket of complaints and unsavoury comparisons.
The perception of incorruptibility alone was not enough to sway South Africans to kick out Jacob Zuma. Cyril Ramaphosa was believed to have given a no-prosecution promise to his predecessor but the South African anti-corruption investigators now swear that Zuma would soon have his day in court. Ramaphosa’s assurance, they vow is not enough to sway the desire of 60 million people to keep a clean slate.
Nicolas Paul Stephane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa was last president at the Elysee Palce in 2012. At that time, Emmanuel Macron was a 35-year old political inconnu. Last week, Sarkozy spent at least two nights in detention for allegedly accepting money from late Muammar Gadaffi. That was in spite of making a formal resignation from politics. Allegations of corruption brought him back to the law. In Naija, while Osinbajo was calling Goodluck a thief, his boss was receiving Sambo.
In Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the country’s first female president had to resign for shopping with government money that he refunded back after realizing her mistake. Israel has a record of prosecuting its prime ministers. So we are older than South Africa and Mauritius by flag independence and we share the title of republic with France and nation-state with Israel. Real countries have zero tolerance for corruption but Naija is different. If Prof Osinbajo and his boss in government have evidence that Jonathan is corrupt, they should stop whining about it. They’re in government to do something about it, or; forever keep quiet. These bags of excuses don’t cut it – perform or lose credibility.