By Donu Kogbara
I FELL in love with Classics – ancient Greek and Roman literature, history, philosophy and mythology – as a child. Latin was my favourite subject at school; and I’ve never forgotten the following question, which appeared in the Satires of Juvenal, the Roman poet who made his mark in the first and second centuries after the birth of Christ: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” It means: “Who will guard the guards themselves?” or “Who will watch the watchmen?”
Juvenal had mundane domestic matters in mind when he penned these now immortal words; but they are now used more generally to refer to the fact that it can be difficult to control people in positions of power or trust (politicians, bureaucrats, tyrants, judges, legislators and journalists, for example) and hold them accountable.
Juvenal’s question also frequently features in discussions about police corruption. Which brings me to the sordid Ibrahim Magu saga.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was established to investigate thieves. But it seems that some of these “guards” are no better than those they are supposed to catch. Ibrahim Magu – a high-ranking police officer who has been Acting Chairman of the EFCC since 2015, has just been relieved of his job.
Magu is facing a 22-count charge of masterminding the diversion of N39 billion worth of recovered funds, fraudulent sale of assets seized by the EFCC and other serious infractions. These accusations are outlined in a memo by the Attorney General and a DSS report.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, President, Muhammadu Buhari, has replaced Magu with Mohammed Umar, another senior police personage who used to be the EFCC’s Director of Operations.
Predictably, the Opposition is smacking its lips in glee as it watches this unsavoury drama unfolding and is demanding that Magu be prosecuted with immediate effect.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, observed (I paraphrase) that Magu’s downfall has proved that the APC government’s so-called fight against corruption is totally fake.
Meanwhile, because the Vice President’s name has been dragged into the murky fray, the PDP Youth Alliance, PDPYA, is calling for Professor Osinbajo’s resignation.
The former PDP governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has also jumped on the anti-Magu bandwagon and asked security agencies to tighten the noose around him and ensure he doesn’t escape.
I must confess that when I heard that Magu had landed in deep poo and was struggling to defend himself, my first reaction was super-cynical to put it mildly. And I asked myself the following questions:
“Who has Magu upset? Why is he being punished for doing what so many other senior government guys and gals are getting away with doing?
“OK, so Magu may turn out to be a dodgy guard who deserves to go to prison, but is every single one of the superior-level guards who are pursuing him with a vengeance any better than he is? And while they are hounding Magu and sanctimoniously claiming to be protecting the public purse, who is watching and investigating them?”
Bluntly put, this APC administration is full of folks who cannot by a long shot be described as Virgin Marys, Archangel Gabriels or pristine Islamic icons of rectitude…people who are visibly richer now than they were when they entered the corridors of power.
As I write, details of how billions of naira were allegedly siphoned at the Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority, UBRBDA, a Federal agency in Yola, Adamawa State, have emerged.
The Transparency Monitoring Group’s Mission Head, Kabiru Garba, has wondered why anti-graft agencies – the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, as well as the EFCC – are turning a blind eye and refusing to look into it.
The Transparency Monitoring Group has also queried the National Assembly for remaining silent despite allegations of monumental fraud involving budgetary irregularities reported at UBRBDA.
This country is seething and heaving with steaming cesspits of unchecked sleaze that the authorities slyly overlook.
Almost every ministry, parastatal, geopolitical zone, state capital, town and local government area is unrepentantly hosting several sleazy scams that transform the people who are running Nigeria into tycoons and deprive ordinary citizens of funds that are desperately needed for schools, hospitals, power sector reform, etc.
We hear hair-raising rumours about the military mandarins who have been entrusted with privileged spots at the pinnacles of the army, air force and navy – betraying their increasingly disillusioned juniors and the Nigerian people by stealing cash meant for defence activities and personnel welfare. It is all so damned depressing.
The reason nothing is done about such flagrant abuses is that so many big boys and girls have their hands in various cookie jars.
If you are merrily sharing ill-gotten gains with miscreants, you aren’t going to be a good guard and discipline or arrest them, are you?
Unless, of course, your partners in crime get too big for their boots and insult you or renege on the sharing formula!!!
And before my PDP friends delightedly agree with me, they should please tell us, hands on heart and Bibles or Korans – whether they themselves are as pure as the driven snow when it comes to money matters! I certainly don’t recall Nigeria being an oasis of financial probity during the 16 years when the PDP was in charge.
Anything goes here. Federal and state legislators do not provide the protections they were elected to provide. Too many judges, journalists, law enforcement operatives, etc, collude with nation-destroyers. The Presidency’s moral outrage is highly selective.
Nigeria is a country that has no real guards.
Ei mihi! (woe is me in Latin).