During the ministerial screening recently, one of the ministerial nominees, Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State, told Senators who were asking him questions that he has never taken bribe in his life. This is what Nigerians are saying about that.
Fashola: I never personally signed any check or contract papers.
Me: Yeah right, and I have never used the restroom in my whole life.
Someone remind me why OBJ, corrupt OBJ, denied Amaechi the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2006. OBJ, corrupt OBJ, cited Amaechi’s corruption and EFCC’s investigation of him as Rivers Assembly Speaker as the reason he considered him unworthy of the ticket. Of course, OBJ the hypocrite is not a good judge of corruption. Of course Amaechi has not been charged or convicted. But there is a little matter of what happened to the millions of dollars he took as a loan to build a monorail in PH, a project which was never built, saddling Rivers with a huge debt burden. What about the multi-million dollar IPP assets he sold off? What happened to the money? I am not against Amaechi’s screening. Others as corrupt if not more corrupt than him have already been screened, so there was really no legitimate reason for holding up his nomination. The screening is a charade, we know. However, it should not be a platform for the nominees to insult our intelligence.
Professor Moses Ochonu later responded after many comments
My sista, Amina Gimbiya Miango , takes issue with Nigerians mocking Rotimi Amaechi for saying he has never taken a bribe his whole life. She says Nigerians are projecting their assumption that every public official is corrupt and their own permissive morality onto Amaechi.
Fairly valid point. It’s true that sometimes Nigerians unfairly project corruption and corrupt motive onto their compatriots. However, it should be clear that in this particular case, “I have never taken a bribe my whole life” is a euphemism for a bolder, broader claim: I am not corrupt. That’s the claim that Nigerians are reacting to, not the specific claim about bribery. They are simply incredulous to that claim, and rightly so.
Technically, Amaechi may be right about not having received bribes, and Fashola may have also been technically right about not having personally signed any checks, although, as my brother Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia rightly says, why would you need bribes when you presided over billion-dollar yearly budgets for eight years and simply helped yourself to the commonwealth.
It is not every Nigerian public official that is corrupt but it is impossible to find a governor/former governor in the post-1999 period who was/is not corrupt. Have you seen the number of former governors have been investigated, charged, and “prosecuted,” never mind the comical outcomes? And those are just the ones who found themselves at the wrong end of the prevailing power configuration at a particular time.
Amaechi and Fashola were being clever, using carefully rehearsed technical statements to both deflect allegations of corruption and make a claim that they are clean.
Amaechi has even gone further to assert in recent interviews that he does not even like money (his exact words) and that as governor he did not own a single personal vehicle and only used his officially allocated cars. Haba!
He is trying too hard to portray himself as clean–to purify himself. I have never met anyone living in our hyper-consumerist capitalist society who does not like money, let alone a former governor and Speaker of a state assembly.
When people are trying too hard to appear ethically sound, chances are that they are dirty and are proactively trying to mask their dirt with overzealous, unsolicited proclamations of their cleanliness.
Which kind of reminds me of Wole Soyinka’s critique of Negritude intellectuals. Soyinka is quoted to have told them that a tiger does not proclaim its tigritude. A proud black man does not go around proclaiming that pride and demanding recognition and respect. In the same way, a tiger does not go around demanding for respect because to do so would call its targeted into question. Its fearsome self-confidence is apparent and need not be advertised.
A proud black man instead allows his dignity and self-assuredness to come across in his carriage so that people, other people, can testify to it. In the same manner, ethical soundness and incorruptibility shows and can be seen. People see it in you and bear witness. You don’t have to inundate, irritate, and insult your compatriots with silly, inauthentic moralizing about your incorruptibility.
Those who possess the virtue of incorruptibility do not shout about it at every forum and in every interview. Those who are corrupt and corruptible are the ones who usually feel a need to be vocal and to pronounce their innocence, unprompted, loudly, repeatedly, and in nauseatingly contrived verbiage.
Amaechi’s preemptive and repeated declarations of incorruptibility are in the category of a fake tiger annoyingly declaring his tigeritude everywhere, a hollow, unconvincing performance that can only be greeted with scorn and ridicule.
Joshua Keftin Amuga wrote, ‘I have never collected bribe is a passive statement in the context in which corruption is defined. Has he given bribe before? A question to be asked. A gift for inducement is termed bribe in every context or a bribe to a Police man on the road. The ambiguity should not misplaced the context in which he should be guilty of such a callous statement.”
Abdullahi Abdussalam wrote, ‘I think Amaechi is a man who has already been found guilty (which is what we do to anyone who is alleged to be corrupt) in the court of public opinion. In such a situation and if anyone found himself in the case of Amaechi, what he will ordinarily do is to defend himself either by saying, “I’m not corrupt”, “I’m not guilty” or “I have never taken a bribe my whole life”. To say anything to the contrary will even surprise some of us who have found him guilty of the crime.’
Amarachi Maduka says, ‘Agreed, the height of decadence, ineptitude and corruption by our political leaders are tangible and baneful. Morality, justice, fairness and equity have been dauntingly bastardized such that, realistically, the much talked about change might be a mirage if the snake venom fails to heal the poisonous bite. I i’m however, hopeful that the constitution will be reviewed and amended as necessary and enabling laws put in place for institutions to function without interferences. That programs that will address the sufferings of the poor masses gets to the right persons and not hijacked by the party in power.’
Olajide Erinle wrote, ‘A grand master in the business of looting will not exhibit his stupidity by joining a thrift contribution after all the wealth of funds being contributed will eventually be stolen by the thief. So will a talented thief settle for the less [sorry, I mean bribe] when he has the whole loot in his custody? He has ever been sharing his state money with his mentor in looting. Remember the allegation that EFCC discovered N25 billion in his account at the time he was a mere speaker of the house. Is this charade called screening of ministerial nominees an indication of the manner of ‘change’ these agents of darkness want to offer Nigerians? Patience is a virtue.’