The Nigerian state has yet again been thrown into another circus. For those that have been following the news, Hon. Farouk Lawan, a member of the House of Representatives, a man loved by many and hated by some has been the object of mixed emotions lately. But whether you love him or loathe him, he was definitely a star on the rise in Nigerian Politics. In a country known for people worship, adulation came the way of Mr. Farouk like waves on the sea shore. I put him on the pedestal somewhere right below Malam Nuru Ribadu. I have always had the feeling that if there was going to be a genuine fight against corruption, it would be spear-headed by a northerner.  I don’t know where I got that idea but it stuck like glue to my mind for a while before this very ugly incident.

I have to ask this question before I go on: What the hell was Hon. Farouk thinking? For a man who I thought was intelligent, he obviously lacks street smartness. You don’t deal with “cowboys” without having an ace on you. You don’t dine with the devil without a long spoon, in fact you shouldn’t even show up for dinner. I have tried to analyze the recent bribery findings in ten different ways, and Farouk loses out every time.

My candid opinion is that whenever you are put in a position to fight corruption especially in a country like Nigeria, the first thing you ought to do is insulate yourself. By insulation I mean a complete sequestration from anything that can discredit you while you hold that office. Mrs. Farida Waziri was right when she said that in Nigeria, if you try and fight corruption, it would fight you back.  To quote the rapper Jay Z, “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”. Mr. Farouk ought to have known he was walking a tight rope, and should have kept himself from any form of blemish.

After the January fuel subsidy crises that led to a microscopic look at the oil sector rumored to be arguably the most corrupt in the world, it became obvious that the gloves had been taken off so to speak. It was general opinion that the subsidy regime was laden with corruption at an iniquitous level.  Consequently it would be impossible not to have the so called “cabal” unmasked. The Jonathan administration was under pressure to offer some credibility to the much professed anticorruption crusade. And this was the litmus test. This administration has had a poor showing so far as far as anticorruption campaign is concerned and thus the need to engender confidence was necessary. Nigeria can never move forward if corrupt people aren’t put in prison for the simple reason that if corruption is rewarded, and not punished, it becomes lucrative. Right now, you are more likely to be labeled as foolish if you are honest.

Let’s try and build a case for Farouk (there is no case but let’s try anyway)

If we assume that he really did want to use the money as exhibit against Mr. Femi Otedola, why didn’t he lodge the money with the CBN? And why the desire to take the initiative against the oil mogul?  If he was so sure people wanted to bribe him and he was only considering a sensational finale to his remarkable accomplishment as a crime detective, why didn’t he wait for the “crooks” to come to him? He would have had a more tenable argument. Second, let’s also assume he was trained in Quantico at the FBI bureau or worked with Jack Bauer on the second season of 24, why didn’t he have an alibi. No one knew, not the House Speaker, not the EFCC chairman, not the CBN governor, not even his partner, Tony Almieda (wink wink). He went alone, for he works alone.

It may have started like a real espionage mission but it sure has ended as a freak show from hell. I strongly believe Farouk legitimately wanted to be a hero but seriously you can’t have that sort of “cheese” in your house and not be tempted by it. The bible warns us to be flee from every appearance of evil. Farouk Lawan did not flee. In fact he embraced it and went to bed with it. And along the way he decided he was going to keep the money for himself. If that wasn’t the case, Zenon oil wouldn’t have been expunged from the list. The mere fact that it was originally there and it was later “amended” and removed by him (Farouk), he and by extension the full report cannot be said to be credible.  Its common sense, If I know I am going to be hurt badly by a repot I would either attack the legitimacy of the report or attack the credibility of the person who wrote the report or attack both. We have seen this game before with the power probe and SEC probe.

The Otedola Angle                                                                                                                                

It beggars belief that the state will collaborate with a man under investigation to implicate a man empowered to conduct the investigation.  Common sense suggests it should be the other round but hey there, this is Nigeria. On the other hand, Mr. Otedola may as well be the victim of the serial probes by House committees.

The Way Forward

First and foremost, I believe strongly that Nigeria needs to uphold its institutions and for this reason the House must bring stiff disciplinary actions against Farouk. Not since the Water Gate scandal, has an arm of government witnessed this amount of embarrassment that has come the way of the Lower House. From Patricia Ette, to Hembe and now Lawan, the House must take deliberate steps to redeem its image. It’s a shame that such a fine gentleman is being used as a scapegoat but the law must be seen to work. He should resign honorably and if he won’t he should be removed by whatever means the law affords. If people begin to see all House members as corrupt people, our democracy is dead and buried.

Second, this may be far-fetched but something in me hopes the original report would still be implemented. The whole point of this charade is to discredit the report but we can’t allow people who stole over 1.6 trillion naira to walk. That would be carnage.

If this probe ends this way I would never believe a single word the President speaks about anti-corruption ever again. If this were the US, President Obama would have said something by now, our President’s silence is deafening.

©2012 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan


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