By Olusola Daniel
Apart from the menace of terrorism and insecurity occasioned by Boko Haram in the northeast, one major problem that has been the bane of Nigeria’s progress is corruption. Over the past few decades, corruption has eaten deep into the very fabric of our nation such that the folks who we have elected to protect our interests and safeguard our commonwealth are the same people that are plundering us. And for the most part, the absence of strong institutions has aided and abetted this evil practice, making it go unpunished and sometimes unnoticed.
The state governors represent one set of people that have fed fat on this opaque system. With humongous disbursements in the name of security votes and other allocations that are not being properly scrutinised or acounted for, most governors had a field day fiddling with the resources of their respective states. It is therefore no wonder that when someone like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala came on board, demanding strict adherence to fiscal discipline, the governors instantly marked her as an enemy.
As the icon of accountability and probity that she is, the former minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy would not tolerate financial recklessness under any guise. She introduced the practice of publishing monthly allocations such that the average Nigerian can be adequately informed and empowered to participate in the process of governance. This drew the ire of the governors who had become used to the opaque system that allowed them to perpetrate corruption without the discomfort of being under public glare.
It has been said that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back – and you can trust corruption to always fight dirty; otherwise it would not be true to its name. The recent squabbles of Adams Oshiomhole, the Edo state governor, clearly illustrates this point. Even now that Madam Okonjo-Iweala has left office, Oshiomhole is bent on disparaging her work, all because of her insistence on following due process and pursuing best interests of the people.
Although Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has expressed willingness to appear before a panel of inquiry, should she be invited by one, Governor Adams Oshiomhole seems to be more inclined to sponsoring a campaign of calumny against the erstwhile minister who has given her very best in her service to the nation. One wonders why someone who is supposed to be a statesman would choose to heat up the polity and paint the country in bad light with his unfounded allegations.
Now that whatever flimsy wall he had been hiding behind has come crashing with the United State’s denial of his recent allegations, Oshiomhole should have a rethink and face the business of governance rather than maligning someone who has served Nigeria and indeed the global community with excellence, dedication and transparency.
And if he chooses otherwise, Nigerians are too knowledgeable to fall for his antics. Regardless of the efforts by Oshiomhole and his ilk to discredit Madam Okonjo-Iweala, her good work speaks for her, and Nigerians will not forget her positive impact, especially the transparency, probity and accountability that she introduced into the system of governance.