Farouk Lawan, a legislator of the Federal Republic, will remain alive in the public consciousness for a while. That is before other more gargantuan corruption revelations sweep the report of his fuel subsidy probe aside. And considering the fact that sleaze seems to have become the second name of many of our public officers and civil servants, before long, some other fraud more amazing than the one in the oil sector may yet surface. For now Lawan remains our folk hero, who dared in the face of alleged pressures not to tread on toes. The 205-page report is actually damning for what it unravelled in the management of the fuel subsidy regime. It is really sickening that a regime meant to alleviate the plight of the masses turned into a cesspool of corruption. The House deserves commendation for the speed in which it debated the recommendations and practically endorsed all of them.
The uproar that came in the wake of a member’s call for the resignation of Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, is understandable. Even before that move in the House of Representatives, there had been protests by some youth groups in Port Harcourt accusing the legislators that the findings of the probe were meant to tarnish the image of the minister and a few others. This kind of accusation is not new. It is either of two things. Those kicking against the report were either hired or, they do not realise the crippling effect of the massive corruption on national growth and development. Any way, it is only in our country such mind-boggling corruption can go on and those who “supervised” the looting will still hold tight to their jobs.
In saner climes, many ought to have resigned their positions by now in defence of their integrity. But in this country, public office is a lucrative business. And as you know, vacating a honeypot is a rather difficult option. The committee of the whole House has resolved to pass the report to not only President Goodluck Jonathan but to the anti-corruption agencies. Some of the legislators are even saying that only a quick implementation of the recommendations would ensure continued cordial relationship between the Legislature and the Executive. Now, the ball is in the President’s court.
And we are waiting to see what he will do with it. Even though he is yet to make any public pronouncement on it, something tells me he will use it to sanitise the sector. Here is a quotation that gives one such confidence. “Assuming there is no probe (on the fuel subsidy payment) by the House of Representatives, (will the CBN) just keep quiet? Then the figure can rise from N500 billion to N10 trillion and you just pay! So we will find out from Petroleum, Finance and CBN why the figures are changing and where.” It is taken from the Jonathan interview with TELL magazine published last February.
The House has given the President the chance to walk his talk. Will he? Especially when in the same interview he claimed that “when I look at some people that I know and they shout corruption, corruption, I just shake my head.” This is telling Mr. President that the time for disgust is over, now he has to act decisively in this matter. It is in his interest to so do. Or has Mr. President not heard insinuations that the looting that went on in the fuel subsidy saga was diverted into funding the last general election by the ruling party? This is his great chance to prove the doubting Thomases in respect of his incorruptibility wrong. Depending on what he does, Jonathan may yet emerge from the rubble of the saga another folk hero like Lawan.