By Ogaga Ifowodo
WHAT would it take for a politically exposed Nigerian politician to resign from office in protest of his or her averred honour? If ten trillion naira looted from the treasury was found stashed in his private vault? To stem the tide of public outrage following her purchase of five bullet-proof Bentleys purportedly for the comfort and safety of very important visitors to her ministry? Would he resign if caught with a dripping human head on his way to Okija forest for a ritual the witchdoctor promised would guarantee him power and peaceful pillaging of public funds? Would she resign if discovered naked in a hotel bed with her son’s best friend, though a fervent Christian or pious Muslim who begins her day in the office as Minister of Education with a prayer meeting or who performs the ablution and prays dutifully five times a day?
Would he resign if half of his state’s total federal allocation for the six years he has been governor was converted to dollars, euros and pound sterling and part of it lodged in cash and the other part used to acquire pricey real estate in Lausanne, London, Paris, and the Potomac, in the names of his phoney shell companies registered in the British Virgin Islands? Would he resign if having entered the House of Representatives with his only earthly possession a 1996 Toyota Camry but three years after has built in his hometown a six-room, three-parlour marble mansion with a four-car garage occupied by a Toyota Landcruiser, a Lexus GX 450, a Range Rover and a Mercedes S 500, bought, according to several petitions backed by evidence and a whistle-blower, with the illicit proceeds of inflated or bogus contracts for constituency projects he ensured were awarded to himself via his front companies or to his cronies? Would he resign if as Minister of Internal Affairs, 10,000 of the 100,000 applicants for the 8,000 positions to beef up the Customs and Immigration departments who were crammed into a 40,000 capacity stadium for the job “interview,” and all of whom had paid a N10,000 job application fee, perished when the stadium collapsed? Would she resign if . . .
No, he won’t resign; and, no, she won’t resign. Not even if there were sworn eye-witness testimonies of how he used his mother and she used her only son for human sacrifice. Nothing under the sky is odious enough to shame a politically exposed Nigerian politician. That species, the world knows, has enemies. Legions of enemies. All out to undo him or her. Because they are envious of him or her. Because, predictably, they wish to destroy him or her in order to advance their chances of taking his or her coveted office. No, the politically exposed Nigerian politician won’t resign, because he or she has stolen enough to buy an army of senior lawyers — senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs), in fact — to file motions upon motions, appeals upon appeals, from the trial court or tribunal to the Supreme Court and back, to tie up justice in a Gordian knot of obstruction and delay, so that while the jobless man who steals a goat or the 12-year-old orphan turned pickpocket is summarily convicted and jailed, the senator, minister or governor, long admitted to bail, continues to preside over our affairs as law and policy-maker, as a distinguished statesman or woman.
And why should he or she resign when there are no crowds in the streets demanding that he or she step aside and return to the coveted office only after clearing his or her name? If the growing evidence of maniacal looting of a state’s treasury has only emboldened the accused to grasp even more tightly his gavel of power because, you see, his trial is a with-hunt, sheer persecution, by his political enemies, and in any case, he was never invited to respond to the allegations before charges were filed even though he has every chance in the world to do so now, what does it matter that further evidence of how he laundered his loot in assets transferred to shell companies hidden in a tax haven abroad should have newly surfaced, thanks to the Panama Papers leak?
And why should the distinguished senator David Mark, longest serving senator of the republic, immediate past president of the upper house of the legislature, do more to clear his name often mentioned in connection with unaccountable wealth when all he needs do is deny that he owns any or all of the eight money-laundering shell companies associated with him in the Panama Papers? His enemies are at work and it is they who should be ashamed. He will continue to be a distinguished senator and make laws to govern the rest of us who had not heard of the expert money-laundering duo of Mossack and Fonseca until last week. Not resigning to protest his or her honour is the mark of the politically exposed Nigerian politician. Perhaps that is because, as with Soyinka’s Elesin Oba in that timeless drama Death and the King’s Horseman, they have no honour to protest, any integrity they once had having been rolled up and stashed away in the bales and bales of mint-fresh naira they are accused of stealing from their impoverished fellow citizens?