Vanguard News Nigeria

Restless karma is relentlessly undressing political hypocrites

By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

The signs are good. We  have  chosen the long, tortuous, treacherous path. But we will get there. We have  stumbled and strayed.  We could loiter in the wilderness for a century. But we will grope our way to milk, honey and order.

Nigerian flag

Lawlessness and selfishness can be enticing. But Lagos traffic snarls exemplify their ultimate fruitlessness.  We could all get onto the road and run in all directions. For a while,  a few people get around quicker. But  someday, all the roads would be clogged. And we would all have to come down from our cars and abandon our haste. And agree to have rules. And resolve to follow them.

Bad precedents always come back to hurt. When everyone has received a share of the bruises caused by arbitrariness, everyone would seek the order of rule of law. Igbos say you need not tell a deaf man before he knows that a war has started. The PDP is now reaping some of the arbitrariness it sowed when it thought it would rule forever.  And the APC doesn’t seem to be  preparing for a  return to life in the opposition in the future.

But the signs are good.

The PDP had opted for electronic accreditation prior to the 2015 elections. It was an innovation.  And Jonathan liked to claim championship of technological advancements. But when the elections drew near, the PDP and Jonathan became jittery. They mounted pressure on INEC to jettison the use of card reader and PVC. They impugned the integrity of INEC when the institution resisted their intimidation. Those days, the APC, in opposition,  fought tirelessly for the introduction  of  and compulsory use of  electronic accreditation of voters. It knew that was the only way to prevent massive ballot box stuffing. The APC knew that without electronic accreditation an opposition party stood no chance.

It’s 2018. The PDP now wants electronic accreditation made compulsory. It is no longer scared of the card reader and its imperfections. It no longer has the control of federal instruments of coercion. And it fears that it could be undone by ballot box stuffing. Many in the PDP now  suggest  that  had electronic accreditation been made compulsory in 2015, the PDP would have won that presidential election. They claim that the APC won millions of votes in the north where suspect manual accreditation was used more than anywhere else. Let’s leave the question of the  validity of those claims aside. Let’s mourn the confession of  shortsightedness by the PDP.

Our democracy can only be sustained by strong institutions. And these institutions will only endure if they entrench right standards and processes. It is good that political competition has made change in control of Federal Government feasible. And a ruling party knows it can easily become an opposition party  after one national election. It wasn’t so when PDP thought it would rule for a century. But I doubt that the ruling APC yet fully understands the ephemerality of power. I doubt that it remembers what it suffered in opposition.  If it did, it would curb all arbitrariness. And the president wouldn’t suggest that trouble makers could be detained indefinitely and in disregard of orders of competent courts, in the name of national security. And Dasuki wouldn’t still be in custody.  If it did,  it would endeavour to make EFCC function like a hawk that would pick on any errant chicks regardless of their political  party color and the size of their  protective mother hens.

But the signs are good.

The EFCC has dug its fangs into Rivers state accounts. It has revealed filth and pus. And it wants to sanitize Rivers. But Gov Wike thinks the EFCC is an instrument of vindictiveness in the hands of his opponents.  And his chief opponent is the Minister of Transport and former governor of  the state, Rotimi Amaechi. The EFCC wants to interrogate officials of Rivers state government.  Wike has stoutly  refused to allow law enforcement agents have his staff. He has  pointed to a certain 2007 court  injunction restraining the EFCC from digging into Rivers state’s account. Let’s leave that ugly injunction aside. In 2013 a Minister Nyesom Wike had wanted the EFCC to probe  Gov Amaechi and Rivers state!

I remember Mrs Farida  Waziri, the former head of the EFCC. She  was once interested in the accounts of Rivers state government. Then, Rotimi  Amaechi was governor. Amaechi refused EFCC agents access to the Rivers state government officials th

ey sought. They had wanted to pick Nyesom Wike  who was his chief of staff.  Amaechi openly bragged that the EFCC had no authority to investigate the accounts of his state.  He said that authority belonged to the Rivers state house of assembly. He threatened that a mob would chase away EFCC officials if they dared .

I don’t need a crystal ball  to know that Amaechi would wish that the EFCC could take on Gov Wike now. And  expose all financial improprieties going on in Rivers today. He would wish the EFCC had the authority of the FBI that cannot be stopped by a lousy judge or a big headed governor.

But the signs are good. Karma is undressing hypocrites.

People are reaping painfully the fruits of the seeds they sowed. So it is hoped that their future actions would be guided by the thoughts of Emmanuel Kant. Kant’s Categorical imperative is a golden rule of morality. That imperative states that you should act in a way you would want other people to follow. In other words:  always act in  ways that your actions could  become laws.

If the PDP had given a thought to Kant and his Categorical  Imperative they wouldn’t be fretting now. They would have entrenched electronic accreditation in 2014. But they thought short term. And now, they are vulnerable.  It must seem ridiculous to Amaechi  now that the EFCC can’t investigate Rivers  state. If he knew today would come, he may not have questioned,so vehemently, EFFC’s territorial and subject matter jurisdiction.

The APC wants Saraki to step down. And I agree. The minority cannot preside over the senate without the consent of the majority party. It couldn’t have been the intention of the framers of the constitution that the parties wont have legislative agendas or that the public votes legislators blindly. The majority party it must be assumed has the preferred legislative agenda. But the APC would have been on a firmer moral footing if they had asked Tambuwal to step down in 2014 when he defected and joined a minority party.

But it’s good that karma has reared its ugly head. It is hoped that the laws would be changed to reflect true democratic principles. It’s always easier to understand the pain when it has gone round.

And that is why a selective anti corruption war, though not ideal, could ultimately bear fruits. We can actually reach all corrupt persons through selectivity. And  if power continues to change hands between the parties, then all the EFCC needs is to be very ruthless but law abiding

The signs aren’t so bad, after all.

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