Posted in Politics, Prose

Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time


Noel Ihebuzor

One hears a lot of things these days. But one has learnt never to believe most of them as we are now in a time of easy retractions and of claims of either being misunderstood, being misquoted or being quoted out of context. Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina, both presidential spokespersons, have now become experts in such methods of denial.  But wilI their skills stop speakers from speaking and hearers from hearing what was said at those increasingly frequent moments when the mouth appears to run ahead of and faster the brain?  “Mouth run” is a hazard and the best cure for it is a padlock but such a solution is painful and also violates a fundamental human right.

I hear the General has now decreed, yes, decreed that the probes into corruption in Nigeria will now be limited to the period when President Jonathan was in power. Femi Adesina has come forward to defend and justify this cut-off line that his principal has now drawn in the sands of Nigerian time. Note that this new cut-off line represents a departure from earlier indications that the period of “PDP misrule” (1999-2015) was going to come under serious probe.

The first question then is – what really prompted this departure? Logistics, fear of OBJ, fear of offending northern sensitivities by any focus on the short period of the Yar’Adua presidency? Nigerians are no fools and can read beyond the lines.  And lines that are purposefully drawn to include some and to exclude others represent the worst forms of arbitrariness and dishonesty, both of which have no place in good governance.

The second question is why the narrow focus? There are myriads of corruption allegations all over Nigeria starting from accusations of a $2.8 billion scam, to outright screaming headlines of an alleged heist by Halliburton that are yet to be closed out. Allegations such as these merit the attention of anybody genuinely interested in fighting corruption.

The third question is this – why this exclusive focus on the federal level? Are we suggesting that crooked deals at the state and LGA levels are unworthy of attention and prosecution?

The fight against corruption is not one of “pick and choose”. A selective approach calls into question the ultimate intentions of persons posing as anti-corruption crusaders. It exposes them to legitimate accusations of witch hunting and of attempting to use state powers in the pursuit of personal vendettas. It is worth reminding ourselves that whenever the instruments of state power are hijacked for personal pursuits, we are dealing with a case of abuse of power, and abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Let those who are drawing lines in the sands of time note that line drawings driven by vendetta and spite will eventually turn around and catch the same drawers. Finally, credibility is a requisite attribute of all who must fight corruption. Acts by corruption fighters that undermine this credibility will eventually sink the anti-corruption crusader.


Development and policy analyst with a strong interest in the arts and inclusive social change. Dabbles occasionally into poetry and literary criticism!

2 thoughts on “Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time

  1. Dr. Noel, thank you sir. I want to bring another angle to the issue which I find pertinent. I am strongly opposed to corruption and agree that all corrupt political office holders should be brought to book and their loot recovered. But like you pointed out, he that seeks equity must go with clean hands and one would also argue that this endeavor is born out of being an easy-way-out syndrome. It seems this government has nothing to offer but must be seen to be doing something and that’s why they are claiming an agenda of fighting corruption as their priority. Like in law, I always cite precedence because history is the best teacher. If our leaders would listen, I beg to point them to Russia and Mr. Putin, even though I don’t always agree with him!.

    When President Vladimir Putin took over from Boris Yetsin in 2000, he called all the oligarchs (Russian business tycoons who made fortunes mostly through corrupt deals in the purchase of privatized government property during the reign of President Mikhail Gorbachev). Putin is known to have struck a “grand-bargain” with them for all of them to keep all their loot under certain conditions—stay out of politics, preferable stay outside Russia and give him the space to clean up their mess his own way. In his first term in office, he turned the whole Russian economy around, resulting in an average of 7% growth in the first few years and gave Russians a new lease of life and restored their pride. All oligarchs that listened to him were safe (Roman Abramovich et al) but those that refused (Mikhail Khodorkovsky etc) can tell you stories from Siberia!

    Likewise, President Barrack Obama did not go after President George Bush for ruining the American economy when he became the President, nor give endless excuses why he cannot “perform miracles” he faced the challenge squarely and moved on.

    What this government should do is to focus on revamping our economy; security, and social well-being of the masses. Then come up with policies to forestall future corrupt practices by government officials. I believe that’s what we want now…Nigerians want a “positive change” in the real sense of it and not just a campaign slogan. And just to add, anyone expecting help from Europe and America is a joker living in illusion because they have their own crises drowning them back home…enough of trumpeting trips to UK and America because what you are looking for in “Sokoto is in Shokoto”.

    Nigeria is blessed; oil may have been stolen but it hasn’t dried up. Focus on ensuring that you use the remaining deposits wisely and we should be good. Corruption in Nigeria started long time ago but I think Nigerians want you to draw the line from 2015 when you took over and that will write your name in “the sands of time”. Nelson Mandela became a hero because he did not go after officials of South African apartheid regime that killed his brothers and threw him in jail for decades. He granted everyone pardon, and said “never again”—learn from history Mr. President!


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