In the final weeks of 2016, Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, announced that the Federal Executive Council proposed to send a bill to the National Assembly to reward anyone that provided information on those who steal public funds with five per cent of the loot recovered. The anti-corruption war is hotting up?
Such base existentialist approach to securing public funds reminds you of the Wild West experience of the American project. In the uncouth, Hobbesian Wild West, sheriffs, the law officers of most communities, sometimes placed a ransom on the head of wanted outlaws.
The image, and description, of such outlaws, printed on a rough, black-and-white, poster, usually bore the headline, “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Many of the whistle-blowers, who snitched on these outlaws, did get compensations. But they also sometimes suffered reprisals or vendettas from the associates of the outlaws they turned in.
A whistle-blower is someone who exposes, or gives information, usually to a statutory or moral authority, about some covert, usually illegal, corrupt, unauthorised, and underhanded practices, of others.
Julian Assange, an Australian computer programmer, and editor-in-chief of cyber-snooper, Wikileaks, published restricted and classified documents on America’s logs on Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as damaging shenanigans and foibles of other world leaders. Since 2012, Assange, wanted for breach of America’s national interest, has been living in asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy.
Also, American Edward Snowden, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, and later systems administrator with consulting firm, Booz, Allen & Hamilton, published details of America’s spy activities, defence plans, and strategic information. He is currently on temporary asylum in Russia, away from the itching hands of Uncle Sam’s sheriffs.
National interest, a nebulous quantity, is sometimes defined as the “common good,” or the protection of public order, morals, and (even) religion, as well as preservation of society itself. Fassy Yusuf, public relations expert, lawyer, and former police officer, defines national interest as: “Elimination of threats, not only to the physical existence of the state, but also to its ability for self-protection and development, and the enhancement of the general well-being of the people.”
In the eyes of the law, interest connotes the advantage or disadvantage accruable to parties concerned in the course of an action. So, when the parties with those interests are nation-states, you will be referring to their national interests.
International politics scholar, Hans J. Morgenthau, thinks that the interest of a nation at any time is a function of its current political, economic, and cultural condition. Proponents of realpolitik argue that the friends and enemies of a nation change as its interests change. To agree with those who say a nation has permanent interests is not to recognise existentialist, or “stomach infrastructure,” changes, the most permanent aspect of nature.
The rather long digression was just a preamble to linking the stealing of public funds to a breach of national interest, and the grave danger it does to the common good of a nation. Nigerian whistle-blower, and former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin, isn’t getting the time of day.
Actually, Jibrin, representing Kano State, is a fink, a unionist who reports the activities of his trade union colleagues to the employer. Jibrin ratted on his colleagues, Speaker Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, and Minority Whip, Leo Ogor, to his employers, the Nigerian electorate.
He provided, to the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, documented information on his allegation that the Dogara Quartet “padded” the 2016 Budget with N40bn (maybe, N100bn).
That is, the House added some expenditure (called constituency projects) that did not come with the Appropriation Bill, to be warehoused in some government agencies, for the personal benefit of some members.
Rather than get Mrs. Adeosun’s pat on his back, Jibrin was suspended for 180 legislative days by his colleague lawmakers. He reportedly went into exile in the United Kingdom to avoid assassination or other forms of harm. One hopes he took his comely wife along.
To the consternation of everyone with a sense of decency, Speaker Dogara, who has no immunity, by the way, shuns invitation by the police, gets to visit Aso Rock Villa, plays on words that there is nothing like “padding,” right at the doorstep of a President perceived as totally averse to corruption.
This same President happens to think that court bails granted to a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), answering corruption charges, can be disobeyed because of the “gravity” of the offence. Mr. President should not be cavorting with Dogara, whose integrity is on the line on account of lawmaker Jibrin’s allegations.
Mrs. Adeosun, and other Nigerians, may have noticed that the fire, in the belly of the EFCC and the police that initially seemed keen to unravel Jibrin’s allegations against the Dogara Quartet, has somewhat flamed out. They may claim to be reading the body language of Dogara’s friends in high places.
President Muhammadu Buhari who rode into office on a white charger of anti-corruption must be interested in confirming the authenticity of what some have described as Dogaragate, to avoid a chink in his shining armour. Caesar’s wife must not only be above suspicion; she has to be seen to be above suspicion.
The President must “interfere” in the affairs of the House of Representatives, to heal the sore thumb that is festering in there. Failure to do so may confirm the aphorism in a cartoon making the round on social media: A father advised his son who wanted a career in organised crime to consider working in government, because, unlike the mafia, government kleptomaniacs never go to jail!
Lo difa fun, which leads to the submission that if relatively “big man” Jibrin’s accusation against Dogara and his fellows gets no attention, or is stepped down, how would the “small” whistle-blowers gain attention? Somebody needs to point out that in the case of Jibrin’s Dogara Quartet, this government is not quite leading by example.
Mrs. Adeosun promised: “If you whistle-blow in pubic spirit, and in good faith, you will be protected. If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.”
Why doesn’t this government assure Jibrin of his safety, as well as publicly encourage, and get the police and the EFCC to move in, to also clear the good names of the Dogara Quartet? There is always a place for the whistle-blower; society, or its law enforcement agencies, need information to apprehend those who breach public order, safety, and security.
Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution says security and welfare shall be the primary purpose of government.The Federal Government is making Dasuki answer to allegations of breach to national security. The Dogara Quartet should also respond to Jibrin’s grave accusations, in a law court.
Jibrin, whom some say may not have come to this equity with clean hands, may qualify for Mrs. Adeosun’s five per cent reward if a law court finds that the Dogara Quartet indeed ”padded” the 2016 budget to their personal advantages. He may also answer to libel charges.
You can reach Lekan Sote through:–Twitter @lekansote1