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Looters

Looters’ lists and grandstanding of yesteryear

A few weeks ago, when the Federal Government released the first list of alleged treasury “looters,” I could not help but laugh at the grandstanding of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). I laughed because the APC and its Federal Government have, once again, fallen into the trap of the opposition. And they have, again, proved that they can change the narrative as it pleases them.

LootersYes, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dared the APC Federal Government to release lists of alleged looters. The government, believing that doing so was a show of courage, did publish two lists of people it said were “looters.” On the list are people facing corruption trial as well as those still being investigated. APC might have thought that making the list public would shut up the opposition PDP, but it, apparently, does not know that by so doing the PDP has proved, without much effort, that the APC government is inconsistent, chameleonic and untrustworthy. The APC has been laid bare as a political party that changes positions.

Yes, about 11 years ago, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, as spokesman of the main opposition political party, the Action Congress (AC), which is a component of today’s APC, rejected and condemned the release of “looter’s list.” He had described the Olusegun Obasanjo government’s “looters’ list”  as  “illegal and a reckless abuse of power.”  He was scathing in his condemnation and vehement in his argument. He pontificated, painting the picture of a saint who did no wrong.  Now, as minister in a supposed progressive government, the same man is defending the release of “looters’ list.” For him, the fact that those on the list have not been convicted is irrelevant. It no longer matters to him that those so listed are innocent until proved guilty. The possibility that some of those listed as corrupt may eventually be freed, as some have, is immaterial to him.  He now sees the release of “looters’ list” as legal, justifiable and proper.

Discerning minds know that Mohammed is changing the story because he now works for a government, which sees nothing wrong doing things some of its top officials previously condemned.  He fails to understand this fact: Truth is constant. One of the truths, for instance, is that the released looters’ lists contain only names of people in the opposition. The other truth is that branding them corrupt, when their cases are still in court, is tantamount to jumping the gun, as it is subjudice. It is the same thing as finding them guilty in the court of public opinion when they are, indeed, innocent until proved otherwise.

One thing that is obvious is that nemesis has caught up with the  APC Federal Government, in particular, and the Lai Mohammeds,  in general. Lai Mohammed never knew he would ever be in government. The APC may not have believed it could form a national government. Now in government, the reality has dawned on them and they are talking from both sides of their mouths. As in the case of looters’ list, Lai Mohammed made a volte face when President Muhammadu Buhari was ill, in relation to his position when the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s government faced the same predicament in 2010.  At that time, Lai Mohammed demanded that the government gave the nation and the world regular briefing or information on the President’s health. He demanded daily information and made so much noise about it. Last year, when Buhari was ill, Lai Mohammed could not offer Nigerians daily briefing and information. Nigerians were kept in the dark about the President’s health until he returned to Nigeria, after staying for more than 100 days in London. The Yar’Adua and Buhari cases were the same: Illness of sitting presidents. The man, Lai Mohammed, is the same person. The positions, however, differed.

I had wondered why the Buhari government is replete with people who change there positions on same issue at will until I came to the realisation that God wants to show them that nobody would play god and get away with it. God wants to expose these people for what they are: Deceivers. As it happened in Lai Mohammed’s case, so it is about Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. Yes, Fashola played bad politics with Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Road and federal roads when he was governor of Lagos State. As governor,  Fashola made so much fuss about the state of federal roads in Lagos State, to the extent of erecting billboards/signboards disclaiming them. At that time, the message: “This road belongs to the Federal Government. Please bear with us,” was seen on some roads in Lagos State. The case of MMIA Road was very bad.  Lagos residents were told that the then PDP-led Federal Government, which could not reconstruct the dilapidated MMIA Road, had refused to allow the Lagos State government to repair or reconstruct it. The story was told of how the design for the reconstruction of the MMIA Road was completed by the Bola Tinubu government, which preceded the Fashola administration, and was ready for implementation. We were told that the PDP Federal Government stalled the project. Indeed, the Fashola government gave the impression that it was ready to reconstruct the MMIA Road any time the Federal Government gave permission.

When Fashola assumed office to oversee the Ministry of Works, one had expected that he would give MMIA Road priority, having shown so much concern about it when he was governor. This never happened. The road, just like other federal roads in Lagos, was left in a bad state. It took the intervention of the Governor Akinwinmi Ambode government, which got the permission of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as Acting President last year, for the ongoing reconstructed of the road. The Ambode intervention was not, in any case, without some resistance from Fashola’s Ministry of Works. But the glory, which Fashola lost, has been taken by Ambode. That is the price for foolish politics.

The scripture says one’s yea should be yea always, while nay should be nay. If the release of looters’ list, for example, was wrong in 2007, it is equally wrong today. If what was wrong some years ago now becomes “right” in 2018, there certainly must be something wrong with the character of those who are changing their positions and the government they serve. The APC government may go on riding roughshod over Nigeria, but the citizens are not fools. They can read between the lines.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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