Former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Alams for short), who was convicted for economic crimes against the state and arrested in London on charges of money laundering in 2005 but later escaped, has been granted state pardon. Pardon is a cancellation of legal consequences of an offence or conviction. That means Alams is free and free indeed. The pardon focuses on one range: economic crime. There was another: assault on culture and leadership. Report has it that he disguised like Mama Calabar with earrings and ceremonial headgear to re-enter Nigeria through the creeks. Though not a crime to disguise but culturally seen, it was an embarrassment and a dent on the governorship cadre. Who pardons that? Call it nothing, but leading a people is being the people; our leader going to such low is bringing the people to the same low, though we aren’t. Who pardons that?
Many focus on the implications of the pardon for the fight against corruption. Right. But as can be seen, it’s corruption fighting us, not us fighting it. Being on the defence then, we will fall for some and stand to some. This time, we have fallen. This is the way to understand it to be safe and not break down. How do you explain that a publicly-sanctioned loot is re-looted privately? How do you explain that public authorities keep chorusing ‘war against corruption’ but retire to amass stupendous wealth from the same corruption under the cover of state security apparatus? How do you explain that being connected makes one right and free, though wrong? Recall that Alams once described his being Jonathan’s boss as history; now, he said, I must behave myself and follow the leader. That pledge of loyalty is what’s being rewarded. He’s a clever political fox and that’s his strength. More will come. He plans to run for the senate by 2015; 2013 project is to begin clearing the hurdles. On count one then,
he’s through. Corrupt or not, his people hear him. The FG therefore uses him to keep the militants in check. That done, Jonathan can contain the ripples from home to stem the storm without. It’s a survival strategy and since he has eye on 2015, 2013 provides the pad to free foot-soldiers for the battle ahead. Shouting ‘fight against corruption’ is falling off-mark. Restoration for Alams, continuity for Joe, corruption-war for Americans and civil society organisations, that’s the beat.
To reduce public outrage, they included a few other names but left Al-Mustapha’s. It’s the same smart strategy. Releasing Mustapha now may be forgotten soon after. Better they do it close to 2015; maybe, middle of 2014, and with clear instructions on what to do or get rearrested. That’d placate the north and make 2015 sweet breeze for Joe. So Mustapha’s release is coming. Know again that the people that jailed him are still the same deciding the affairs of Nigeria. Time is needed to convince them that he could after all become useful having been tamed.
James Ibori didn’t have this wisdom. He pointed fingers at Jonathan thinking he was still a colleague. Those fingers are now broken. Timipre Sylva did same, and for the first time, we heard he left N5,000 only in the coffers of Bayelsa State. Before his sin, he was hailed. The issue isn’t about corruption ‘to WIPE it out’ and all such entertainment, but
to use it effectively as a weapon of coercion. The choice then is between pomposity and humility. All stole, indeed, looted. One said, ‘I’m loyal’; the other said, ‘who’re you?’ I’m loyal is pardoned, who’re you reproached. That’s a lesson on how to navigate in the Nigerian system. It’s not about thieving because they all do, but more the management of it. Alams understands the act and its handling; watch him, he’ll make it to the senate. The system condones it: if you serve and return to the village poor, youths will call you names; if you steal VERY WELL, you may be discharged and acquitted peradventure you run into the legal net; your people may line up the courtyard to sing you home and, perhaps, top it with a chieftaincy title. Alams understands all these. He was sentenced to two years in prison. But on July 27, 2007, few hours after he was taken to prison, he was released because he had spent a large part of the term in EFCC’s detention. In 2009, the Federal Government disposed four of his property in London. The day he’ll get them back, we won’t know.
It isn’t about Alams but more about the system that threw him up. If the system turns right, all the Alams will turn right. That won’t happen until the time and hand come on stage.