SUPERIORITY OF THE AMERICAN CITIZEN
As expected, everything was done to make sure that ex-American Vice-President Dick Cheney was not extradited to Nigeria to face the corruption charges arising from the Halliburton scandal. In the event, the firm paid twenty-billion naira fine and offered to return one hundred and thirty-two million dollars to Nigeria. Call it out of court settlement or plea bargain. The bottom line is that Dick Cheney was not extradited to Nigeria to be tried only because he is an American. Since an accused is presumed innocent all over the world until he is proved, specifically in a court of law, to be guilty, it is only fair to assume Dick Cheney, even now, is not guilty of the charges. The only problem is that American officials don't ever extend such fairness and strict adherence to rule of law when such charges are made against Nigerians.
Suppose Dick Cheney were a Nigerian (an ex-Vice President for that matter) and allowed such plea bargain or out of court settlement, what would be the reaction of American officials and their Nigerian appendages parading as pro-democracy activists and anti-corruption crusaders?
See the sudden quiet all over the place from Washington to Lagos and Abuja. It is as if nothing has happened on the Nigerian front of the war against corruption. Since an American was involved and the potential criminal trial was settled out of court, no American official or Nigerian crusader against corruption is now lashing out that Nigeria is not vigorously pursuing the war against corruption.
Is an American citizen superior to a Nigerian citizen, both as human beings? That is the implication of the Dick Cheney trial that never was. It is now clear that because an American is involved, plea bargain and out of court is normal and acceptable in the scheme of things. Hence, Nigerian anti-corruption crusaders, at least for now, have abandoned their erstwhile daily chore of grand-standing on corruption. The overriding factor is that no American government will extradite its citizen for trial in another country. It is more so in Dick Cheney's case. Cheney was Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan, Defence Secretary under President George Bush (snr) and Vice-President to George Bush (jnr.)
Probably, Dick Cheney might not be involved personally in the bribe scandal but as chairman of Halliburton, the man couldn't escape corporate responsibility. The point of interest here is that Americans would not concede that difference or technical point to any foreigner caught in similar situation. Let's put it more directly. If Dick Cheney were a Nigerian and our government or law enforcement agency especially the EFCC, settled for such out of court arrangement, American cheer boys among Nigerians would have gone chaotic threatening hell and brimstone. You would think these guys are the most incorruptible in the world.
Picking on that, their foreign mentors would have painted Nigeria as the most corrupt countries in the world. By the way, out of court settlement or plea bargain in such situations is a creation of the Americans in their judicial system. Therefore, a style in America is a crime in Nigeria. If our anti-corruption crusaders are maintaining an embarrassing silence, the reason should be obvious. Their American god-fathers are the beneficiaries of the Dick-Cheney out of court settlement. Second, Nigerian anarchists cannot acclaim Nigerian government, specifically the EFCC, for the financial haul in this plea bargain. To worsen matters, the anarchists can not criticize the EFCC for the out of court settlement lest they offend their American godfathers.
Was it long ago that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Abuja berating Nigeria for allegedly slowing down on or indeed abandoning war on corruption, for no other reason than (Nigeria) adhering to rule of law including out of court settlement?
Now that Dick Cheney, an American, has benefited from plea bargain with Nigeria, does Hilary Clinton still hold her view, on account of this out of court deal, that Nigeria has abandoned war on corruption?
Is it also not curious that American media have virtually ignored this potential damage to their country? Perhaps, that is their idea of patriotism. The fact remains that with the focus on Dick Cheney in this Halliburton/Nigeria issue, the average American has been made to lose all awareness or concern on the matter. There is also this aside. From the information on the Wikileaks controversy, if this plea bargain were to benefit a Nigerian of Dick Cheney's status, Nigerian anarchists would have been recruited to blackmail the man by planting malicious stories in our unwary media.
It is not clear why Nigeria and other countries lazily capitulate on extradition matters supposed to be bi-partisan. Since America would not extradite its citizens to any foreign country, others like Libya, Venezuela and Russia, would also on no account, extradite their citizens to America. On the other hand, if Dick Cheney were a Nigerian, our government would have extradited him. America's closest ally, Britain is at the moment under sharp media and public criticism for allowing its mutual extradition treaty with America to degenerate into a one-way affair in which while American citizens are not extradited to Britain, the British government always extradites its citizens to America.
Otherwise, a Briton accused of hacking into American defence matters through his expertise on the computer, would have been extradited by now. Britons are not endorsing the man's crime but their concern is that Americans are never extradited on Britain's request. Incidentally, when charges were first brought against Dick Cheney, Nigerian skeptics rubbished the EFCC as playing to the gallery. The outcome of the plea bargain is some kind of punitive measure which could never have been imposed without bringing up the charges against Dick Cheney.
Much as plea bargain may be desirable, Nigeria must tighten up its laws to make plea bargain unattractive to Nigerian criminals. A fine of five million naira is untenable even for a man accused of refusing to co-operate with EFCC. Such pittance allows a criminal to escape with hundreds of billions of naira theft.
The plea bargain in Nigeria must be at the level of international standard. Only then can Nigeria face up to foreign intruders.
Among Atiku, Jonathan and Aregbesola
There was this amusing ceremony at Ile-Ife, Osun State, when the town's traditional ruler, Oba Okunade Sijuwade conferred chieftaincy titles on President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Jonathan. For all the goodwishes expressed, it is only advisable for Goodluck Jonathan to rely on his personal fate, whatever the eventuality. Over six years ago, the then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and wife, Titi, were similarly honoured with Chieftaincy titles.
Remarkably, at that ceremony at Ile-Ife, Atiku Abubakar, as Vice-President, was promised that 'we will ask Obasanjo to handover to you.' The rest is history, the most notable of which was that when the political assault started, Atiku Abubakar must be wondering whatever happened to the assurance to '… ask Obasanjo to handover…' to him.
Like Atiku Abubakar, like Goodluck Jonathan on such matters?
While still on President Goodluck Jonathan's visit to Osun State, sections of the media, somewhat mischievously but obviously ignorantly, reported that Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, snubbed President Jonathan. By not abandoning his official duties to head for Ibadan airport to receive Jonathan or joining in the ceremonies at Ooni's palace?
There is still this misconception on protocol matters, specifically on the obligation of state governors in their relationship with a Nigerian President. The misconception is a hang-over from military rule.
When a military officer stages a successful coup, he stays at headquarters as Commander-in-Chief and therefore appoints his officers as military governors in each of the states. In short, military governors owes their tenure and loyalty to their Commander-in-Chief. If the need arises for their boss to visit any state for either private or official engagements, not just the state governor but also all his contemporaries in surrounding states, divisional commanders, brigade commanders etc., must all be around to salute (the word is salute) their Commander-in-Chief. They all have a twin platform on which they, including their Commander-in-Chief, came into office - the military and the coup.
For civilian rule, such protocol does not and cannot apply and somebody must start enforcing that difference and change. In a democracy, (civilian set up), political parties sponsore candidates for the office of governor. A state governor, especially on the platform of a different/rival political party is, therefore, not obliged by protocol to receive the President of the Nigerian republic unless when an official engagement like opening a newly constructed federal road or a conference of national importance.
If however, the Nigerian President (Goodluck Jonathan or anybody in that position) is on a private visit like campaigning for his political party or even attending a social function like wedding, burial or taking a chieftaincy title, the host state governor, a political rival, is not bound by protocol (to boost the image of the visitor's political party.)
In the case of President Jonathan's recent visit to collect a chieftaincy title, there was no doubt that the event had links to the 2011 elections, just like that of Atiku Abubakar last time. There was no way Osun State governor could shore the chances of a rival political party.
We must not take the rigid demands of a military regime for the jealousy and mutual respect of a democracy.
For example, it would have been appropriate for ex-Osun State governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, while in office, to have attended the ceremony at Ife where President Jonathan collected his chieftaincy title. The two were elected on the platform of PDP while his successor, Rauf Aregbesola, was elected on the platform of ACN.
Bits from English football
Sam Alladyce, manager of Premier League side, Blackburn, has been sacked unceremoniously and in his reaction, he said he was shocked and disappointed. The man should neither be shocked nor disappointed because his dismissal serves him right. Here was a man well-positioned as manager of another premier league side, Bolton, partly by the heroic contributions of Nigeria's Jay Jay-Okocha. Admittedly, disagreements arose down the line between the two men on first choice for appearances or substitutions.
To the shock and surprise of Bolton supporters who had acclaimed Jay-Jay Okocha as a folk-hero, Sam Alladyce, without the slightest hint, suddenly discharged Okocha at the end of the season. Did Alladyce stop there or did he pursue Okocha out of English football?
Either by accident or by design, following Sam Alladyce's mischief in discharging Okocha, no other English football club, premiership or championship league, offered to hire Okocha's services. The Nigerian had to move to Quatar, not in any way near European football.
If Sam Alladyce now feels shocked and disappointed on dismissal, that should give him the feelings of fellow human beings when at his (Alladyce's) mercy.
Chelsea football club owner Raman Abramovich and Carto Ancelloti appear to be engaged in a cat and mouse game. As he is wont, Abramovich, even if unconsciously, is deliberately undermining his manager, not the least, with the latest dismissal of assistant coach Ray Klilkins, since when the club's fortunes in the premier league championship have crashed.
From matches' results lately, Chelsea may need to retain the FA Cup to qualify for Europe next season. The competition remains one of the toughest.
Despite this gloom, manager Carto Ancelloti's future is on the line. Yet the man believes not only that he has no problem but also that he has the support of financier Abramorich. Here is hoping the Italian will not need to be reminded of his self-assurance, even if he decides to quit on his own. FIFA boss Sepp Blatter is engaging in hypocrisy. He headed the FIFA which recently misled England with false hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup. Surely this impression might not have arisen if lobbying at highest level on both sides did not indicate death-assurance.
Blatter now says England is behaving like bad losers for losing the bid for the 2018 duel. Did Blatter himself on visits to England, to inspect facilities, not say many times that England is (eight years in advance) qualified on all grounds to host the competition. What then suddenly happened to displace England? By the way, every country bidding for the competition can be assumed to be qualified. In England's case, as if to expose the growth industry in FIFA, British media inchallengeably revealed that decision on such bids for hosting World Cup is determined by corrupt practices.
Caught on camera and recorded on audies, FIFA officials were exposed to the world demanding bribes in advance for voting for countries to host the competition. Little wonder that FIFA, in revenge for that embarrassment and in defence of its officials compromised, eventually voted against England who scored only two votes.