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After a remarkable build up of expectation, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai, finally testified before the Senate Committee set up to probe his allegation that some Senators demanded bribe of N54 million from him to facilitate his clearance as minister, a few months ago.

Although Nigerian newspapers had been dropping hints about who the culprits were in this celebrated bribery case, it was still nevertheless a most remarkable act of courage that the minister was able to come out in the open to name Senators Ibrahim Mantu and Jonathan Zwingina as the two Senators who had demanded the hefty sum of money to facilitate his clearance for the ministerial appointment.

It was very significant that for the very first time in contemporary Nigerian history, a serving minister would come out so boldly to tell the nation what most Nigerians have come to know as the general pattern of behaviour within the circles of officialdom in Nigeria. That a
“blue-blooded” member of
the Nigerian ruling class, like Malam el-Rufai would take the unprecedented step makes it even more fascinating.

Nigeria’s reputation over the years has been badly tarnished by the perception that it is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. This perception was even reinforced by the most recent report by Transparency International, which re-confirmed the status Nigeria has so notoriously earned as the second most corrupt nation in the world.

The general trend in Nigeria’s recent history has been the entrenchment of a culture of corruption, graft,and outright banditry at the highest, medium, and lower levels of life, to the extent that the pauperisation of the mass of the Nigerian people has marched on relentlessly, just as the few people with access to the corrupting corridors of power have earned fabulous amounts of money stashed awav in foreign accounts. A resource-rich country has been systematically pillaged, its institutions deliberately left to deteriorate and its people, particularly the young and educated, left almost completely without hope for the present and the future.

Unfortunately, the return of civilian rule after the years of military dictatorship did not affect the changes the people had expected. The predatory style of the military era had eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society, and its new political class, which had been conditioned within the worst practices of the military period, opened even more inglorious chapters of corruption as “Ghana must go” became almost the by-word for the corruptive use of money since 1999; this is in spite of the histrionics about fighting corruption by the Executive arm of government, at the Federal centre.

Nigerians understandably have become very cynical about official declarations against corruption and the divide between the ruling class and the people has further eroded the legitimacy of the entire political process thrown up since the vacation of the scene by the military in 1999.

It is against this background that DAILY TRUST salutes the courage of Malam Nasir el-Rufai, to publicly and courageously come out in the open to expose the demand for a bribe of N54 million by very senior members of the Nigerian Senate. As we stated earlier, it was a very bold step to take, and one, which we hope would move the political elite of Nigeria to a greater height of decency, moral rectitude, and deeper respect for the norms of good governance, and commitment to a patriotic agenda of national development.

We hope that the issues raised by Malam Nasir el-Rufai would be adequately investigated, while the culprits would receive their comeuppance. This is the irreducible minimum. Any under the table political deal to protect the culprits or even worse, any step to sacrifice the courageous blower of the whistle against corruption will not be acceptable to the Nigerian people.

Our country deserves a much better reputation than the odious one, which its bandit bourgeoisie has conspired to earn for it in the comity of nations. The irony is not lost on us, that even from the murky confines of this corrupt elte, a courageous if, exceptional individual, would come out to denounce corruption.

Maybe, all hope is not lost, that the Nigerian elite can re-discover the historical mission to help advance the development of the country as a modern nation state. responding at least to the basic needs of the generality of its people. This in our view is the lasting import of the choice which Malam Nasir el-Rufai made. It is a courageous display of conviction, and one which Nigeria must endeavour to multiply.

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