Dear President Goodluck Jonathan, I
wish to inform you this morning that
more and more Nigerians are running
out of patience with you. Those of us
who have been giving you the benefit
of the doubt are seething with rage.
Increasingly, the excuses are drying
up. Many cannot understand the
rationale behind the pardon you
brazenly granted to certain characters
last week. In case you don’t
understand the implications of your
action, I will put it in simple English:
you have lowered the bar. This is an
avoidable embarrassment to you,
your government and the whole
nation. This not only undermines the
nation’s anti-corruption efforts, it is
going to destroy public morality for
generations to come, similar to what
General Ibrahim Babangida did to us
from 1985 to 1993.
Mr. President, you pardoned those
convicted of plotting coups against
General Sani Abacha which you
expect all of us to clap for. We all call
the coups “phantom” – so it plays
perfectly into public sentiments for
you to be seen as redressing an
injustice done by Abacha. That was a
nice shot, Mr. President. But you were
so much in a hurry that you even
included the names of those already
pardoned by General Abdulsalami
Abubakar 15 years ago. How many
pardons does a man need for the
same offence? Why does your
administration keep scoring own
goals, as we say in football – or
committing unforced errors, as we
say in tennis?
Your Excellency, despite your “good”
intention of righting the wrongs done
by Abacha, how come we were not
deceived that you slotted the name of
former Governor of Bayelsa State,
Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, into the
pardon list? You can pardon 1000 ex-
convicts if you like, but we
understand the game when we see
the name of Alamieyeseigha on the
list. The whole pardon bazaar was
organised in his honour, we know.
The inclusion of the names of other
non-coupists like Alhaji Shettima
Bulama, who wrecked the Bank of the
North, and Dr. Chichi Ashwe, another
failed bank chief, was intended to
create a “federal character” effect.
Maybe Bode George or Tafa Balogun
will make the next batch.
For the record, Alamieyeseigha was
not accused of plotting a coup,
which is essentially a debatable
political offence. He was accused of
stealing billions of naira. Even though
President Olusegun Obasanjo was
allegedly pursuing vendetta against
him for purportedly refusing to
support the third term agenda,
Alamieyeseigha was properly tried in a
court of law, not a military tribunal.
He appointed his own lawyers. He
pleaded guilty. He was convicted. He
forfeited a fraction of his loot. He
was jailed. It was a major victory for
the anti-graft war in the history of
Nigeria – the first time a former
governor would be jailed in a
democracy. Mr President, that is what
you are trying to undo in 2013 – at a
time we should be moving forward.
You may not get this, Your
Excellency, but you have, by this
action, sent mixed messages to
Nigerians and the whole world. To the
looters, you have told them: “Loot
on!” You have designed a template
for future presidents. Babangida, the
man who democratised corruption in
Nigeria, released the Second Republic
politicians (jailed by Gen.
Muhammadu Buhari’s government)
and granted them pardon. Babangida
even returned their confiscated loot
to them, with a pat on the back. Can
we ever recover from this perfidy?
Obasanjo did a similar thing in 2000
when he pardoned the “Toronto”
Speaker of the House of
Representatives , Alhaji Salisu Buhari, a
serial certificate forger. Obasanjo,
unsuccessfully, bizarrely tried to
return Buhari as Speaker. Yes, you
won’t be the first to grant
controversial pardon. But, Mr.
President, is this the company you
want to keep? Is this the breath of
fresh air you promised us? Is this
Another message you have sent out,
Your Excellency, is that the anti-graft
agencies are wasting their time. You
are telling them: “If you like
investigate, prosecute and get
conviction. I am eagerly waiting here
to pardon the crooks!” You are telling
the few courageous judges to go to
hell. Why should any judge seek to
jail any politician again? The judge
would do himself a world of good by
collecting part of the loot and setting
the suspects free. I’m sure the rogue
bankers currently undergoing trial will
be licking their lips at their own
prospects. “We will be remorseful and
get a pardon,” they would be
whispering to themselves now. You
are also telling the foreign countries,
which have been helping us in the
anti-graft war, to stop weeping more
than the bereaved. With due respect,
Mr President, you have committed a
grievous blunder.
Your spokesman and dramatist, Dr.
Reuben Abati, was as disgusted as
most of us when the Alamieyeseigha
saga broke eight years ago. He wrote
in The Guardian on November 25,
2005: “Alamieyeseigha … has shown
himself to be a dishonourable fellow,
unfit to rule, unfit to sit among men
and women of honour and integrity,
unfit to preach to the people that he
leads about ideals and values.”
Although Abati, with his “sophisticated
amnesia”, has to defend your action
today employing as much abuse as
his intellect can summon, the fact
remains that truth is constant. What
Abati said in 2005 about public
morality is still potent in 2013, no
matter where his bread is buttered
now. Truth, I repeat, is constant.
Another of your spokespersons, Dr.
Doyin Okupe, told us to the face that
you “don’t give a damn” about our
complaints. He said you can do and
undo. What he doesn’t understand is
that power belongs to the people.
When you were elected into office,
you were elected to hold power in
trust for the people. It is not your
personal property. You, therefore,
need to exercise it with every sense of
responsibility, patriotism and good
faith. Okupe even said Alamieyeseigha
is practically responsible for the
sustenance of the Nigerian economy,
helping to move our crude oil
production from 700,000 barrels per
day to 2.4 million. Well done! In that
case, Alamieyeseigha should be made
president. His performance, out of
office, is quite outstanding and
All said and done, Mr. President, I
hope that in a moment of
introspection, when you are left alone
with your conscience, you will be
able to ask yourself if indeed you
have done the right thing in the best
interest of the present and future
generations of Nigerians. Ask yourself
If truly what you have done is for our
good. Mr. President, unto thyself be
true – John Aderogba.


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