THE RETURN OF KORO IBO By Tony Ademiluyi

obanikoroCorruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s political firmament even before the multi-ethnic state was granted independence by Great Britain in 1960. Foremost nationalist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as the then Premier of the Eastern Region was indicted by the Foster-Sutton tribunal for his affairs in the then African Continental Bank which bordered on a conflict of interest. The unthinkable happened when he cashed in on his soap box and folksy appeal to call for general elections in the region which he won. Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu a.k.a Penkelemesi had his fingers burnt when the Nicholson commission of enquiry found him wanting. The ever docile masses defended him in droves opining that it was better he stole the money than for the funds to get into the hands of his arch-rival and then Western Region Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Flamboyant Politician and wordsmith, Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe was asked how he made his money. He quipped ‘From sources known and unknown’. There was the incident of the ten percenters in the aborted First Republic where ministers got a ten percent kickback from contractors before contracts were awarded. The Second Republic did not fare any better. The late Alhaji Umaru Dikko, Former President Shehu Shagari’s Man Friday was alleged to have salted away about a billion pounds while he held sway as Transport Minister and Chairman Presidential Taskforce on the distribution of rice. The Fourth Republic only worsened the case and made the late General Sani Abacha acquire the status of sainthood. About $16 billion was declared missing in the power sector. About 300 billion naira earmarked for roads allegedly vanished into thin air while the Esan High Chief Tony Anenih was the helmsman at the Works and Housing Ministry. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seemed to go on a deep slumber as no invitations talk more of a conviction was secured. Let us not even bother our heads with the 10 billion private jet charter allegation leveled against the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Maduekwe or the 90 hectare land scandal of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Ekitigate scandal which was brought to public attention by Captain Sagir Koli revealed that Senator Musiliu Obanikoro was part of the gang that rigged the June 21 gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State. He was not alone as Senator Iyiola Omisore, Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh, Jelili Adesiyan, Minister for Police Affairs were also part of the sinister plot.

As expected Obanikoro denied it but some forensic experts matched the voice on the tape to his voice. Election rigging is a heinous crime against the state and should not be treated with kid gloves. Since the revelation, none of the principal actors have been invited for questioning by the police. To add salt to the injury, Obanikoro’s name was put forward to return to the Federal Executive Council by President Jonathan. Why was GEJ persistent in putting forward Obanikoro’s name even after the Senate led by the All Progressive Members threw spanner in the works by way of confirmation twice? The former Senator popularly known as Koro Ibo had a gargantuan moral burden and has no business in the Federal Executive Council in an anti-corruption administration. The Jonathan administration is fast becoming notorious for its condoning on the scourge that has kept the nation in perpetual backwardness. One is not amazed since the nation’s number one man once declared that stealing is not corruption. To steal the votes of millions of hapless voters is perfidy at its zenith and an accused person ought to first of all clear his reputation before a national assignment of such great magnitude is thrust on him.

There are many theories to why GEJ wants Obanikoro back. For starters, the PDP primaries that threw Jimi Agbaje up as the party’s flag bearer was heavily flawed. How could he have more votes than the total number of accredited delegates? Obanikoro cried foul and even took the matter to court before he withdrew it and declared his support for Agbaje. The ministerial appointment was a good way to settle him apologies to Ibrahim Babangida.

The redeployment of the controversial Assistant Inspector General of Police Mbu Joseph Mbu to Zone 2 which comprises Lagos and Ogun is strategic according to some political pundits. A collaboration of Mbu and Obanikoro would in no miniscule way aid in the victory of the party at the postponed polls. It is a well-known fact that GEJ has dwindling support in the south west; the latest resignation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo from the PDP with his tacit support for the APC has sent jitters down the spines of the President’s handlers. The rugged nature of Koro Ibo will definitely come in very much handy.

The re-appointment of Obanikoro into the cabinet is a sore thumb and a big slap on the face of Nigerians. Wasn’t there any other person from the state that prides itself as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ that Jonathan could choose from? The whole anti-corruption brouhaha is a mere ludicrous farce and any attempt to pull wool over the faces of Nigerians has failed.

The spirited efforts put up by APC Senators Gbenga Ashafa, Bukola Saraki, Babajide Omoworare, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, Babafemi Ojudu amongst many others will forever go down in history and posterity will be kind to them for blocking Obanikoro’s return to the cabinet. Senator Solomon of Lagos West told Senate President David Mark about the tradition of the Senate in which the screening of nominees opposed by two senators from that state are usually stopped. It is tragic that Mark overruled him. Just as Napoleon Bonaparte was gallant in defeat with his 100 days reign now used by current political officers’ holders to mark their time in office, the APC Senators have their names written in gold despite the defeat which is akin to a pyrrhic victory on the part of the ruling party.

Let Jonathan never insult our sensibilities again with his pungent talk of anti-corruption. We are no longer deceived!