Between governors and the Police: The corruption challenge

December 15, 2011
2 mins read

MANY people probably missed the story, especially the audacity of the challenge. But it led Blueprint newspaper of Wednesday, December 7th, 2011. The nut and bolt was that DIG in charge of operations, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, apparently perplexed about persistent complaints against the police:  eternal extortions of N20 from relays of commercial vehicle drivers; those alcohol-laced: “Oga your boys are here” solicitations, etc.

Audu Abubakar challenged “the Nigerian public…to judge between police officers and state governors who are often guests of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on account of corruption”, as reported by Blueprint from Jalingo.

Abubakar was not done. “It would have been better if they said we are legalising illegality because our boys stretch out their hands shamelessly and defy the laws, reduce their dignity, and ridicule the uniform which is symbol of authority for only N20”.

DIG Audu Abubakar knows the extortionist propensity has long reduced the esteem of the Force with the Nigerian people. “But even at that, what one governor uses biro to steal within one minute in his office is much more than the bribe all the policemen collect for a whole year”.

This is a very serious matter!  Nigerians would agree that the two specimens are unpopular; the police and the state governor. But it would be unfair to generalise, because there are be policemen and governors, who work honestly and with commitment.

But since 1999, we seemed to have consciously gone for the lowest common denominator, in leadership recruitment. Doyin Okupe told Sunday Sun of December 11th, 2011, about Nigerian governors: “we have created emperors in the states. The situation is so bad that what even the President of the country cannot do, the governors do it with ease in their states which have now become their empires….Commissioners would put their hands behind their backs when they want to talk to the governors.

In some states, they even kneel down while talking to the governors”. This is the context which gave DIG Audu Abubakar the audacity to describe governors as worse thieves than all policemen taken together!

The blatant levels of theft in some states and the impunity are truly scandalous. Former Jigawa governor, Saminu Turaki was accused by his successor of having cashed N5billion in just a week and the same Saminu allegedly handed over billions to support Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda.

In another Northern state, long run as a family fiefdom, a former governor instituted one of the most elaborate scams Nigeria ever witnessed; using the dubious cover of PPP, he fleeced the state during his eight year tenure. The ex-governor continues to rule by proxy, controlling the state’s monthly allocation for all intents and purposes, almost as personal till, and he returns on the same day that Abuja releases the state’s monthly allocation.

There are several examples in this respect. But there have also been significant green shoots of growth in a number of states, making it unfair to generalise. But governors have a credibility problem, given their conduct since 1999. The DIG who described them as more corrupt than policemen leant on that credibility problem.

In Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Devil On The  Cross, the International Organisation of Thieves and Robbers organised an exhibition on exploitation and theft. They pooled the world’s leading exploiters and thieves to exhibit their abilities.

Given the challenge thrown by DIG Audu Abubakar, we might also have to organise a Nigerian Corruption Challenge, with the same preparation put into our National Sports Festival; governors competing against   policemen.

Challenge events will vary from pilfering local government accounts; PPP; variations on contracts; extortion on highways; theft of exhibit monies; taking bribes from accuser and accused and other such relevant events. Each team will be encouraged to present their most in-form “athletes”, never mind that many could have distended bellies like African toads! At stake is crowning the most corrupt in the serially-raped nation called Nigeria; policemen or state governors!


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