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OPINION: Zuma Apologized as Jonathan Remains Obdurate

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Babs Ajayi

I have just realized that citizens are likely to get an apology from their leaders in a democracy but a snub and arrogance from a former leader who ran a kleptocracy, rabidly abused the system and stole from the nation and its people.  Even as a sitting president, the kleptocrat whose name swayed the nation far away from good luck, Mr. Jonathan, was completely obdurate while billions of dollars disappeared under his watch and his wife obtained billions in budgetary allocations for hapless projects even as most of the funds finally ended up in their private pockets.  Suddenly, the definition of corruption was changed by presidential pronouncement as Mr. Jonathan and his sidekicks kept doing the things that fit tightly into the Chamber’s Dictionary definition of corruption.  Now out of power and his image in tartars, Mr. Jonathan and his wife now run a multibillion naira hotel called Aridolf Resort Wellness & Spa (http://www.aridolfhotels.com/), the fruit of corruption and grand theft – the land rigged from the Bayelsa State Government when Jonathan was governor for just a short time and the funds grabbed from sources other than their legitimate salaries.  Mr. Jonathan and his wife use the resort to show off a great deal.  With the on-going trials over the theft of billions of naira and dollars during his time as king kleptocrat and his National Security Adviser, Col. Dasuki, and hundreds of millions of naira recovered, you would have expected Mr. Jonathan to publicly apologized and make restitution.  But kleptocrats don’t ever give back and never offer an apology.

So why must Mr. Jonathan and his wife apologize the way Zuma did?  Zuma has promised to return the money he stole.  Now we wait to know what Mr. Jonathan plan to do.  If he sticks to his own definition of corruption, then he will do nothing and maintain his obdurate arrogance – keeping up the tradition of thieves in Nigeria and joining the ranks of the Abachas, Babangidas, the Abubakars, and their ilk.  While Jacob Zuma wants to use “the judgement to build and further strengthen” South Africa’s democracy, Mr. Jonathan just wish to move on – relying solely on the singular act of handing over to the winner of the last presidential election as if that was one huge achievement that override acts of kleptocracy and corruption.

Mr. Zuma addressed the nation the very day the 11 justices of South Africa’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that he should reimburse some of the sum of money spent on the renovations of his private home, an amount put at $15 million.  You will wish the Supreme Court in Nigeria will live up to its responsibility, but corruption has built a fortress right inside that court, which is also why the court messes up election appeal cases and judgement and promised to pay back money spent on non-security related upgrades in his house.  Mr. Zuma did wrong and acted corruptly, but he was ready to pay back.  Whether paying back was enough was another matter.  Though Zuma should be resigning, he is at least a little decent enough than Mr. Jonathan who amassed so much and built a resort from a paltry salary.

Mr. Jonathan ran a kleptocracy that allowed a wanton and free-for-all looting of Nigerian resources.  Oil blocks were allocated to fronts, crude oil battered cheaply, and billions stolen is schemes meant to give friends and family free cash.  It was what a regime a Bishop recently referred to as a banana republic.  The EFCC ought to zero in on the leader of the rat pack that looted the Nigerian treasury and stole from the nation.  Mr. Jonathan has a case to answer; his asset declaration did not include any resort, which clearly raises a case of corrupt enrichment against him.  The value of the Aridolf Resort Wellness & Spa is put at over N2 billion and that is way, way beyond the income of Mr. Jonathan and his wife.  This single asset is just a microcosm of the width, depth and breadth of corruption and looting during the Jonathan kleptocracy.  The resort should be taken from Mr. Jonathan and his wife by the government.

Babs Ajayi, Babsajayi@yahoo.com, @babs_ajayi



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