OUR NEW REALITY
With two well-timed knockouts on the nation's anti-corruption pretence all within one week, the hapless citizens of this country may have finally been let into the innards of the goodluck seduction. Of course, you know what I'm talking about; the sensational pardon granted Messrs Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Shettima Bulama and Chichi Ashwe by the President Goodluck Jonathan.
To cap it all was the icing on the presidential infamy; weekend's N6 billion cash haul at fund raising event of Jonathan's church in Lagos.
To imagine that it was not nearly a month that I wrote on this page about winning as both addictive and intoxicating, and how this President, once coy mistress of power has since mastered the intricate game of decoy. Today, those who doubted the President's resolve to cart all the trophies home, or his determination to carve the field of play in his own image only needs to to look at the streams of trophies rolling in. Unfortunately, it seems that the nation has a lot less to worry about the president's trophies now as his infinite capacity to bruise the nation's psyche, something that must be seen as doubly troubling.
Troubling because the nation is being reminded yet again, that those invested with the authority of state have very little appreciation of right and wrong, and the notion of office as public trust.
To start with, it is doubtful that anyone was fooled by the federal character appearance of the pardon largesse. As we have since seen, not only was the Presidency less than elegant in bunching of 'goats' with 'sheep', its officials have since given the game away: its all about the the self-styled Governor-General of the Ijaw nation! And it may well be connected to the politics of 2015! To make things beautiful and plausible, the issue has been reduced to the novel arithmetic of crude: the net difference between 700,000 and 2.4 million barrels of crude daily more than equal a DSP pardon!
It seems to me however that this particular pardon undermines the very basis of the punishment. This is the the point missed by those who maintain the legality of the president's action. Yes, Alams and company have paid for their crimes. Assets said to be proceeds of their crimes have been forfeited to the state. So what? The question is what lessons are we sending to potential, albeit privileged criminals, if not that a presidential pardon can undo all things?
Now, I move on to the presidential fund-raiser for the St Stephen's Anglican Deanery and Youth Development Centre, Otuoke, the President's home town, held at the high brow Civic Centre, Victoria Island Lagos at the weekend. It was a classic in presidential extortion - and that is to put things mildly.
What is a deanery and youth development centre that would attract N6 billion cash haul in a single fund-raiser? That obviously sets a new limit in financial obscenity, a new low in public morality. No doubt, the President was merely following a trail earlier blazed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he coralled the nation's captains of industry to donate into his Presidential Library Project.
Just like the Obasanjo donor, it was the list of familiar faces: assortment of friends of those in power, the league of government contractors, the club of influence pedlers and their likes.
Prince Arthur Eze alone is said to have donated N1.8 billion. How much did the business tycoon pay as income tax in the last three years? The Board of Inland Revenue should be interested in finding out.
Jonathan's Man Friday, Godswill Akpabio would not be overshadowed; he doled out N230 million on behalf of the PDP governors forum. Liyel Imoke, who only recently came back from medical vacation also chipped in N100 million also on behalf of his South-south governors.
Whose money? Tax payers money in the service of the president's private project. And all of this in a moment of executive impunity.
While I don't claim to know what a church in a village stands to benefit from a N6 billion youth centre, a village which the President himself conceded that his children may not even live, it seems to me that the project speaks only to the vanity of the presidential office. Here, it does not even make things better that God's name is being dragged into an exercise that speaks both of the vanity of men and the pervasive stench of corruption in the land.
Again, the president may have done no wrong; indeed, it seems inevitable that we are going to be regaled with the defence of the shameful fundraiser. We are sure going to be told of how God loves a cheerful giver, how the amount donated are for worthy causes.
It does not matter. The hapless Otuoke folks would have something of a memoriam for their beloved son's sojourn in presidential office, however, it takes nothing from the immorality of it all.
Of course, the nation has a lot to worry about. Today, hunger stalks in the land, the Boko Haram is on rampage in the North-east and the North-central; the power situation has since relapsed.
While those in the corridors of power celebrate shadows, the ordinary folks in the street lives with the reality of denial. But these come nowhere the daily assault to what they know as public morality, their sense of right and wrong.
That, courtesy of GEJ, is the new reality we have to live with.