Increasingly, the level of impunity exhibited by government officials and flagrant disregard for consequences of certain actions or inactions is reminiscent of the military era: Accountability to the people was low; people considered as threats were framed up; “activists” who dared to oppose the government were hounded or exterminated; human rights were abused; public funds were embezzled and even though the country became a pariah state, these individuals got away with it. For example, how many former Heads of State, Military or Civilian, or their Special Assistants have been sentenced for any of the atrocities committed while in office? They all managed to hide under one immunity arrangement or the other.
An occurrence that perhaps epitomizes this impunity and non-accountability to Nigerians took place yesterday. Reno Omokri, Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on New Media, allegedly forged an alias that circulated strong allegations that Sanusi Lamido has ties with Boko Haram. The report also insinuated that Sanusi’s recent suspension as CBN Governor was responsible for the increased Boko Haram attacks in Borno and Yobe States. As damning as the allegations are and as criminal as the act is, yet the President’s Special Assistant on New Media has not come out to deny or confirm this deed, in spite of the furore his alleged action has caused; rather, he has carried on as if nothing ever happened, and as at the time of writing this piece there is no statement from the government. As Mr. Omokri cannot lay claim to any immunity arrangements, would the government please refute this potentially libelous and fraudulent act?
In the United States recently, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie fired a top aide as soon as he got to know that she (the aide) had masterminded traffic congestions in Fort Lee as part of a political vendetta to punish Fort Lee’s Mayor for not endorsing Chris Christie for re-election– an act not endorsed by her boss. We call on the government to review this incident and reassure the public that it had nothing to do with the Presidency or any of its staffers.
Nigerians are waiting to see how this one plays out. It is time to demand accountability from all in positions of public trust. During the Military era, the dominant logic was “a living dog is better than a dead lion,” so people kept quiet, nevertheless, many Nigerians were grateful to the few who acted and demanded accountability and transparency. A few names readily come to mind: Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ken Saro Wiwa etc.
Now the times have changed, and we are in a democracy. The military era is over and Nigerians must learn to exercise their sovereignty as affirmed by Nigeria’s Constitution and demand accountability from government and its representatives. It is high time government officials and political appointees began bearing the consequences of their deeds or misdeeds.
Integrity Organization calls on Nigerians to leverage their “people power”- which is core to the principle of democracy. There are many ways to exercise your voice – it will soon be time to vote, use it wisely; some may choose to protest, do so responsibly others may yet choose simply to report corruption and they can do it anonymously. To report visit www.egunje.info or call 08164472520 or 07069318778.
We cannot wait for another Gani, Fela or Saro Wiwa to emerge. We all have a responsibility to stand together in this fight against impunity and demand accountability.
It is time to demonstrate your S.W.A.G.G. (Your Stand With Accountability & Good Governance), It is time to wake up!
A statement issued by Integrity Organization, @PINS2015