The Culpability of Innocence by Olufemi Aderibigbe

The Culpability of Innocence by Olufemi Aderibigbe

On March 6, 2018 the Office of the Vice President offered only a tip of the iceberg when it released a list detailing sums stolen from the public till to whet the appetite of members and friends of government on the direct instruction or by the complicit inattentiveness of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, undoubtedly the most innocent and harmless President ever offered us by the PDP and whose sainthood receives a special glow whenever placed beside their latest offering, however one tries to ‘‘atikulate’’ the truth.

This was only a preface to the story of how almost $400 billion oil windfall and $30 billion debt was used majorly to swell private pockets between 2010 until 2015 while the rest of us, life sustained on the hope of droplets, swayed in self-denial to the produce of entertainers and a press largely compromised by crumbs, who continued to assure us that we were the largest economy in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world, regardless of the truth of our private circumstances.

And so we gathered that:

1. $3 billion was stolen through some dubious NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts, a matter for which a few stand trial today.

2. $2.5 billion meant for purchase of arms was used to played hide and seek, eventually showing up in private pockets

3. $289 million was taken for chop money, literally per force of a direct telephone call into the call account of the NNPC/NAPIMS with JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA

4. N70 billion was released direct from the CBN between January 8 and February 25 2015, perhaps to buy more drinks as our President giggled to sweet performances that Nollywood never brought to our screens. Then another N60 billion. And N10 billion. And another N1.5b. And then more and more.

These figures were released along with the dates and processes of the heist upon the challenge of the spokesman of Dr Jonathan, the bad mannered Reno Omokri, whose fascination for the English language lies majorly in its curse words.

Incidentally, the release of these details only received from the ex-President and his spokesman the treatment of a man who farts silently in a crowded place and looks to people countenances, sure that by incidence of its travels the smell implicates all in the room.

A couple of days ago, the Vice President perhaps shaped by the innocence of the ivory tower and imbued by ecclesiastic vocation with concern for the eternal residence of souls, expressed shock yet again at the licentiousness of the looting that was the character of our recent governance.

He was doing so as noise to the ears of many and in defiance to their insistence that he must forget about the past – in the same manner that a child ‘‘sired in bastardy’’ seeks to separate itself from the circumstance of its birth.

The Vice President had made direct allegations: that President Jonathan by the carriage of name alone and for his fancy had simply vamoosed from the CBN with 70billion in a day.

He also stated that the PDP threw us into debt at a time of our greatest surplus ever.

Yesterday Mr Jonathan responded through his Reno Omokri and did not even once deny any of the allegations, and particularly that he in fact took the money as alleged, but by a strange defence mechanism of ‘‘innocence by deflection’’ for which invention he enjoys a patent, hung culpability on his accuser who he claimed had just been indicted by the House of Representatives yet had the gall to point accusing fingers at him.

He also courted some innocence by mouthing the often repeated embarrassment that Nigeria was less corrupt under him on the back solely of a Transparency International Annual report that ‘‘Perception of Corruption’’ waned in Nigeria in 2014 when the country improved 8 paces from 144 to 136 on the table of corrupt nations, a claim quite remarkable for failing to realise that it was that same government that grew Nigeria’s standing in the first place to 144.

Secondly, it seeks to prioritize mere perception over fact.

In any case, when TI was undertaking its perception, did it know of all these facts of corruption newly dug from the graves of the Federal Government’s larceny?

Do those who tout TI’s findings actually realise that these fresh facts in fact question the accuracy of TI’s findings and perhaps confirm a popular view now loudly spoken, that the catarrh of inducement would surely hinder the sense of smell?

Who celebrates a positioning in any case that at best makes him only a better failure than the other? Or is 136 a pass grade now?

But perhaps we must cut Dr Jonathan some slack.

He truly must feel somewhat innocent of the offence even when he doesn’t deny the act of stealing.

He has a reputation truly backed by fact, of always being the most honest guy in the room and in very many ways, actually saved Nigeria from the ravenousness of the other guys such that although he may not be entitled to our outright gratitude for his efforts, it would yet be unfair to invest him with the same amount of culpability as the others.

The effort of 2019 is one by the other men in the room, without the mercy of the relative forthrightness of Dr Jonathan.

The invitation of their return is ultimately an offer to us to be accessories both for the rape of the past and the promise of a future by persons who have lost the capacity to feel guilty let alone remorseful.