Under Jonathan, corruption had emerged from the shadows to become a badge of pride, of honour and an insignia of power! Billionaires emerged overnight and these billionaires had no factories, no businesses, an often they had no traceable addresses.
Indeed their entire reason for becoming stupendously rich was merely because they were either appointees of government or connected to those in power.
Contractors emerged who executed no contracts. In fact these class of contractors became the richest. They won many contracts, executed non and shared the fat fees collected with their collaborators in high places.
It became the norm in the Jonathan era to find people who went to Abuja with public transport suddenly return few months later with long convoy of jeeps and a retinue of policemen as escort. These are the ones who spend days chasing contracts and nights authoring dubious proposals for projects ranging from supply of sea water to supply of compromised phones. And when they eventually get the bilion billion contracts, they supply nothing. They get paid only to share the loot with politicians, civil servants and their mentors.
These are the class who moved straight from one room holes in slums to mansions in Asokoro and Maitama. These are the folks you find sraying dollars at Hilton and spilling champagne in top high priced lounges that dot the city of Abuja.
And the top office holder of the nation at the time, President Jonathan turned a blind eye to all these happenings. The EFCC with which I had once worked closely openly cried out, they said they were being starved of funds, as such they were hampered from performing their duties! NDLEA, a once award winning organisation became anything but and Mr President to the consternation of many, appointed Roli George to head this critical anti moni laundering agency. If you recall, Roli is the wife of Bode George, a man who was once found guilty of corruption and money laundering!
It was clear that under Jonathan corruption was not only tolerated but actively encouraged! Trillions were stolen through the oil subsidy scam. This scam was supretended and supervised by Mrs Allison Diezieani, the closest minister to Mr President. She indeed was more of an empress than a mere minister! She was haughty, she was imperial and she brooked no questions during here messy reign and offered no explanations. She pocketed the oil sector which was incidentally the bloodline of the mono product economy called Nigeria. Oil business in Nigeria has always been murky but under her, it became opaque and dark and hidden.
She spent the nation’s income however she deemed fit and pocketed what she liked. Her profligacy were legendary. She chattered jets on which she spent billions, her own children travelled around the world in chattered jets too and Mr President found nothing wrong with all this. Instead, he ensured that Nigeria obtained OPEC Presidency for her as her reward!
If anybody needs evidence of Jonathans corruption, Allison was it. And then there was the CAN man, a man of clearly dubious antecedents! He it was who had publicly stated that he was once an armed robber. This is the man that Jonathan chose as his spiritual adviser. His jet was caught in Southern Africa with the whopping sum of $15m on board. With that single incident, it became very clear that what we had as a Presidency was a criminal enterprise. An enterprise that was so corrupt, that nothing was beneath it!
So, when Nigerians voted Buhari President, some voted him for regional or ethnic reasons, some for religious reasons, some for reasons of pure politics and some others chose him because they knew he would provide the conditions ideal for the death of corruption!
And in just a few weeks of President Buhari, corruption is already beating a retreat. Even though people are yet to be jailed, the atmosphere is already different. The corrupt are no longer marching on the high streets, they are already watching their backs because they know that their era is over!
And we the incorrigible, the uncorrupted, can heave a sigh of relief and hope that Buhari will live up to the billing of stamping out such rampant mind numbing economy wrecking corruption which Jonathan clearly coddled and encouraged.
by Ray Morphy
Ray Morphy is based in Abuja