In " Thieves in Power: A Nation and her Contorted Fight against Corruption," Rev. Anthony Agbali revisits the issue of corruption and power:

The late Musical Maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti through his musical lyrics was a fervent thorn in the fresh of tyrannical and corrupt state officials crafty in the art of stealing from the national coffers for their own personal ends, resources which enables them to dominate the lives of the people from whom all sovereignty derived. His ITT- International Thief Thief- musical lyrics directed specifically then at the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, regarding the assumed fraudulent and collaborative mode in which the International Telecom company- ITT- ripped off Nigeria through installing inferior communications equipment for the national telephone company, then known as Post and Telecommunications (P&T later NITEL, after the postal component became NIPOST) is a case.

Many in the corridor of power detested Fela. For he knew how to call a spade a spade and more than trumpet his criticisms across global spaces and consciousness, a fact that make dictators feel uneasy. Even, the Buhari junta that defined itself as a reforming government did not find Fela amusing and a fraternal accomplice. Rather, they had a field day when manipulating the judiciary they induced Justice Gregory Okoro-Idogu to gaol him in 1984. Later, the learned legal luminary, threatened by his conscience, confessed to Fela asking for pardon during a visit to the incarcerated musician while hospitalized at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Such machinations and manipulative maneuvers were not surprising given the manifest highhandedness of the Buhari/Idiagbon regime and acute depicture of fascist features, constantly opposed toward all forms of political dissension and bestially violating all civilized norms relative to the rule of law, especially of citizens\rquote human rights.

Various examples glaringly depicted such demeaning projectile of dictatorial governance through the forced detentions of the political class without trial- and even later when tried arbitrary legal sentences were awarded without regards to any procedural legality. Also their all-out fight against institutions of civil society and interest groups led to the proscription of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) following a nation-wide strike, the high-handed attempt to decimate the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and the introduction of degree number 4 that froze the freedom of the press, and even saw the jailing of two Nigerian journalists. This reflects a typical rule of the jungle, with a little refined scotched earth tactics directed at human rights. Unfortunately, the Nigerian judiciary is not spared in this corrupt craze. Within this maze, the judiciary has collaborated with evil forces in the land, often misusing its institutional position to ensure the domination of corrupt and illegitimate political orders. The judiciary was crassly used as a front to ensure the nullification of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, that almost enthroned Chief Moshood Abiola as Nigerian President. The same judiciary was manipulated to ensure that General Abacha, the dark bespectacled dictator get rid of the writer-activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa.

In all of Nigerian history, arrogant usurpers to power have cast the people and their aspirations for a self-fulfilling existence aside by \lquote blockbustering\rquote their ascension to power and using physical and symbolic acts of violence to gain legitimation. Seeking relevance they have come in all shades, but almost immediately exhibiting their tendencies as thievery looters, draining without any ethical consideration the national coffers. Thus, the country has been sucked dry of its growth nutrients while hooligans and bandits enjoy their loots in festive orgy. In the First republic, certain politicians, with Chief Festus Okotie-Ebo, highlighted visibly were reputed to be very corrupt. However, the fact and fiction of such assertions were hardly presented to the national public to judge, military justice asserted it and justified their intrusion into power using such sentiments, that they assumed appealed to the public for their consumption. In the second republic, the Shehu Shagari government whose ascension to power was questionable through stealth to the highest seat of the land, following a still illogical mathematical calculation of two-third of nineteen states, was renowned as very corrupt. This time, Minister of Transport and the henchman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Dr. Umaru Dikko was the poster boy for such corrupt imaginations. The projections can be made infinitely of the nature of corruption in government.

Therefore, it came as welcomed news when President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military general and head of state, emerged unto the national scene and made the fight against corrupt his prime objective. I remember being in the lobby of the hotel I was staying in Santiago de Cuba, while on a study trip to that Island of life, and watch via CNN the newly installed President Obasanjo notablyasserting his determination to fight against the corruption of our national psyche a life task. I was proud to be associated with Nigeria that day, and the days after when he actually acted by nullifying the allocation of oil blocks by his predecessor\rquote s administration of Abubakar Abdulsalam. Since then the fight against corruption has been on Obasanjo\rquote s agenda, activated on and off, when such simulations is politically expedient, especially at the international level. Such efforts have seen the forceful removal of some ministers, the disgraceful vilification and attempt to try some former ministers- the late Sunday Afolabi, among others. Professor Fabian Osuji, the former education minister became the emblematic scapegoat in this specter, then others thereafter, when they were forcefully removed following allegations of bribery and corrupt practices.

Recently, it was noted that President Olusegun Obasanjo, regaling in his ability to get the Paris Club rhetoric on debt cancellation is actually becoming bull-headed as he lionizes against corrupt practices. Thus, few days back, he detested the efforts of his old friend and party chair, Dr. Adah Amodu Ali, an Igala politician, a former colonel and military physician, who served in the Obasanjo\rquote s military regime in the late 1970s as a Federal Commissioner of Education, and a trio-elected senator, member of the Abacha Constitutional Conference (NCC), and the recently concluded National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) to install his [Ali] wife, Dr. Mary N. Ali, as a board chair of the Nigerian Port Authorities, and also securing for his son, Ogala a choice board appointment in the moribund Nigerian Railway Corporation. Even, we are told the ordering of his sons name was shuffled to read Ali Ogala Adah. The adept ability of Nigerians to transcend the law! To President Obasanjo\rquote s credit he is able to transcend previous ties and \i esprit de corps\i0 to detest Dr. Ali\rquote s action, by putting the installation ceremonies of those boards on hold. The nature of such act is resiliently monumental, given that President Obasanjo was greatly instrumental in ensuring the elevation of Dr. Ali into the position of party chairman, after Obasanjo's altercation with the previous party chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

In spite of such efforts, it is insulting to note that certain personalities in Obasanjo\rquote s government are visibly corrupt. A recent write-up posted on, depicted Vice President Abubakar Atiku, a former Customs chief, confidant of late General Shehu Yar\rquote dua, Obasanjo\rquote s military era deputy, who recently asserted that is frontally fighting corruption, as owning a $2 million real estate property in the Potomac, Maryland, Washington, DC area , where his wife, Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar recides. In all of these, we know that the Nigerian privatization efforts ended up at the front-door of just a few, with these cabal in enviable positions. The same Vice President is asserted to, following the gambit of so-called privatization of state public business entities, to have garnered a good number of these entities under his amassing ampit. Importantly, it is significant to note that Abubakar\rquote s wife, has made contributions to various American political parties. According to that piece, Ms. Abubakar made a contribution of $25,000 to the National Republican Convention\rquote s presidential campaign efforts of President George W. Bush, Jr. in the 2004 elections. According to my own investigations of public records one, it was also shown that Ms. Abubakar made similar contribution to the Democratic Party in June 2000. The question here is: how are such contributions by the wife of a foreign political potentate, whose government is at the front of the debt relief movement not a conceived attempt by a foreign government to try to control and prejudice American foreign policies, with regards to Nigeria? I remember how hell broke loose over the Chinese contributions to the erstwhile President Clinton\rquote s election campaigns. I hope that the American interests involved will be bold enough to reject such overtures, as I suppose they will.

It is therefore, not unexpected that given the monumental hypocrisy by the Nigerian government to affirm that President Olusegun Obasanjo lacks the muscular will to target known corrupt erstwhile leaders, including Vice President Abubakar Atiku, seating under his nose. How much of a surprise can it be, that President Obasanjo\rquote could muster the audcaious courage to recent appoint Alhaji Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, a former House Speaker, who forged academic credentials and certificates he did not possess to the board of a state corporation. How honest is Obasanjo and his anti-graft drive? How could he visibly be honoring a criminal who acted against the law of the land, no matter the mitigation of his sentences by the court? Thus, the present Nigerian ruling government cannot sell their commitment to their so-called anti-corruption fight. Presently, there is a white-washing attempt to detract from real issues, and display surreal imaginations. The fight against corruption is not just a political fight, it must entail a moral dimension in engendering the formation of appropriate consciousness and didactic at the public level that would ensure that the future generations of young Nigerian realize that corruption, lies, and thievery are not the acceptable ways for the aspiration of any nation set for greatness. The truth of the matter is that Nigerian leaders have no commitment to Nigeria, Nigeria is simply a conduit to some personal aggradizement. Stirring the ruder of state governance toward productive goals attainment is presumed as illusionary, merely buried in rhetorics that the speakers already perceive would never materialize into reality.

The restitution and granting of public visibility to personalities such as Umaru Dikko and Sunday Adewusi, the kill-and-go blood thirsting overlord of the Nigeria Police force, through their inclusion to participate at the National Political Reform Conference does a lot of damage in the imagination underlining the fight against corruption. Such actions only induce the fact of lip service. Thus, if the claims that Umaru Dikko was involved in enormous theft as accused by the Buhari regime are anything to go by, alleged to have used his prestigious position and enormous influence as NPN stalwart in getting kickbacks on importation licenses for rice from Thailand in 1983, what moral credentials does he have to represent the best interests of Nigeria? What has changed? Has he accounted for his corruption? Or do we simply allow the passage of time to heal all wounds? Or are we simply in sympathy because he his ordeal following his caging and attempted kidnapping at London\rquote s Heathrow airport in 1984? What example does this offer to young people regarding Nigeria? A country of anything goes, maybe? It is even ironic, if not outright insolent to have someone like Umaru Dikko preside over the mode of crafting Nigeria;s future. What do we expect of him rather than craft a manipulative system laden with enormous loopholes that would give thievery personalities like him impunity and invisibility of operations?
Young Nigerians cannot be mentored into perceiving and integrating an anti-corruption behavior when the messages they are getting is mixed. They cannot take the fact seriously that honestly pays. They cannot be convinced when staking facts denote that erstwhile military leaders, like the arrogant dictator and tormentor of Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida has an apologist in the person of President Obasanjo. While Obasanjo sings his solo \i esprit de corps\i0 , as a free advocate for Babangida, the facts are glaring, that if not anything else Babangida should be tried for his nullification of the 1993 elections and the economic draining associated with that arrangement, not to talk about his blatant misuse of $12 billion accrued from Gulf-War 1 oil proceeds.

The amount of the building of the offices of two political parties 1989-1993 alone is enough to transform certain aspects of our national life, but it was just flushed down with the ambition of an unpardonable and monstrous tyrant. Yet Babangida is running amok deceptively attempting to rehab himself into appropriating power in 2007, after he rigged Nigeria of a golden transformative opportunity by nullifying the best President election that ever held in Nigeria, when he should be languishing in jail. But the language of \i esprit de corps\i0 , through the militarization of Nigeria, even under a so-called democratic dispensation by the same prebendal forces that truncated the growth of Nigeria, and stunted the future of many Nigerians are walking the streets free, without guilt, without consciences, and without any determined action to put a paid to their laissez faire lifestyle. Nigerians deserve better than that. Nigeria deserves better than thieves in power.

The reality of Nigeria is a sad one. Nigerian leaders in their nostalgic appetite for theft care less about the direction the civilized world is moving, only accounting for their unsustainable orgy for stealing from the national coffer. Else, how do one explain, the recent revelation, that a former Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu, was paid his pension and gratuities twice upon retirement. The chair of the Nigerian Military Pensions board is deeply embedded in making appeasing rhetoric without resigning his position for incompetence and ineptitude. No fight is fought gallantly, until the gallant fighter fights his opponents with tact and style to ensure victory. In conclusion, we all must fight to ensure that rogues in power are refused a festive day. In this vein, I venture to support the action of President Obasanjo against the elder of my ethnic group, an Igala Chief, The \i Ochada Ata\i0 , in the misuse and abuse of power. I regret to say that Dr. Adah Amodiu Ali, is a reverred Igala son, as was shown by the reception given to him by the Attah of Igala, at his traditional palace, \i Ef'Ofe Attah,\i0 in February. However, in spite of this accusation of nepotism, Dr. Adah Amodu Ali, has often in the past represented his people well. The very fact of this matter must be fully explained to the Nigerian public, with all the details involved. Let this not be masked as an internal affairs of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). The apparent misuse of power, to boards that are entities owned by the Nigerian nation takes the matter out of the hand of PDP. It must be ensured that the PDP do not continue to run Nigeria underfoot as if the nation owes it a duty, rather than the other way round. The PDP and its officials owes Nigeria a great debt, for the party can never be greater than the nation that gave birth to it. It must be understood that party affiliation is a greater voluntary action than the fact of citizenship, that hardly is erased, for even when one naturalizes, the marks of his initial citizenship are often like the spots on the skin of the Leopard.