The APC is now being haunted by the saying, “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” If it knew, it wouldn’t have accused Goodluck Jonathan of running a very corrupt government. Most times, we forget to listen to the voice of reason that says, “Look in the mirror, brother. You might just be talking about yourself.” It is now clear that the APC focused on the speck in Jonathan’s eye and ignored the log in their own eyes.” Who would have thought that just few weeks into a new regime in Lagos State, Fashola would be engulfed with the following accusations – Drilling of just two bore holes with N139m, remodelling and equipping of the official residence of the state’s Chief Judge at N510m, reconstructing of a car park with N640m, spending N300m to relocate cables, N175m to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge, N220m on the facility management of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, N619m on surface repair of a road, N1.2bn on the construction of an unidentified multi-storey building, N1.6bn on the construction of a 48-bedroom hotel.
These things don’t seem like what a person as intelligent as the former governor would do; especially for those of us who regard him as one of the very few bright spots of our democracy. In fact, I am still of the belief that in the annals of corrupt governors in Nigeria, his place remains to be seen. But the question here is, can the Lagos State government come out with such weighty accusations without having evidence to back them up?
It was in the papers that “some in the former governor’s circle” are worried he might face charges. If that happens and if he is found guilty and if it results in conviction and if he ends up in prison-yes, four ifs-then considering his achievements in Lagos State, all other former governors from other states (especially the eastern states) should have long since been in jail awaiting his company. But yet again, does any governor go to jail in Nigeria?
Over drinks at a bar around Omole Estate, Ikeja last Monday, a friend who works in one of the ministries at Alausa laughed as he finished off his beer.
“Everything’s messed up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “Etcetera, that’s your whole article right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write anything more. Just write that.”
I put down my phone. “Just that?”
“That’s right,” he said, signalling to the waitress for the cheque. “Everything’s messed up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”
Sounds funny but sincerely, “Nobody goes to jail” should be the mantra of our democracy, one that has seen virtually almost every public office holder embroiled in obscene criminal scandals — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Alamieyeseigha, and that was probably because of the attention he brought on the nation as a result of his dress sense from the UK. And the Federal Government has apologised for the mistake by granting him full pardon.
If Fashola is found guilty of these allegations, he should face the music. That’s the way the system is supposed to work. But a veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to government officials, the justice system not only buckles at punishing criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting them. This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with politics or ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party is in power. To understand how the machinery functions, you have to look back, at least, at Obasanjo’s time in Aso Rock, as case after case of financial malfeasance was pursued too slowly or not at all. Indeed, the shocking pattern of no enforcement with regard to corrupt public officials is so deeply ingrained in our democracy that it raises a profound and difficult question about the very nature of our society: whether we have created a class of people whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes, almost no matter what those misdeeds are. The Justice Department has evolved into a bizarre species of social surgeon serving this untouchable class.