BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON, PH.D.
Till we disgrace corruption, the macabre journey continues
Mr. Tortoise was going on a journey, his wife asked him when he would come back; he replied he would not come back until he has been disgraced.
So shamelessly all through last week, both ruling party and the opposition traded lists on who stole what, who stole most, who stole when, are where the thieves are currently, at least I can assure you that not one of the thieves are serving some serious jail term. And I could not help but wonder #who-really-did-this-to-us?
As I reflected I stumbled on the Reuters’ reports, that a South Korean court jailed former President Park Geun-hye for 24 years Friday over a scandal that exposed webs of corruption between political leaders and the country's conglomerates.
Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office last year when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.
The court also fined Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, 18 billion won ($16.9 million) after finding her guilty of charges including bribery, abuse of power and coercion.
"The defendant abused her presidential power entrusted by the people, and as a result, brought massive chaos to the order of state affairs and led to the impeachment of the president, which was unprecedented," judge Kim Se-yoon said as he handed down the sentence.
Up to 1,000 Park supporters gathered outside the court, holding national flags and signs calling for an end to "political revenge" against her.
The court found Park guilty of colluding with her old friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive about 7 billion won ($6.56 million) each from Lotte Group, a retail giant, and Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, while demanding 8.9 billion won from SK, an energy conglomerate.
Most of the money was intended to bankroll non-profit foundations run by Choi's family and confidants, and to fund the education of Choi's horse-riding daughter, the court said.
Prosecutors sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won ($112 million) fine for Park.
Park, 66, who has been in jail since March 31 last year, has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court.
The judge said Park had shown "no sign of repentance" but had instead tried to shift the blame to Choi and her secretaries.
"We cannot help but sternly hold her accountable," Kim said.
Park apologized while in office for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as she came to admitting any guilt.
Kang Chul-koo, one of Park's state-appointed lawyers, said he would discuss with her the possibility of an appeal.
"We tried our utmost but regret the result turned out very bad," Kang told reporters at the court.
Park is the latest former leader of South Korea to run afoul of the law.
Two predecessors, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were convicted in 1996 of mutiny, treason and corruption and sentenced to long prison terms but both received presidential pardons and were freed after a couple of years.
But Moon took office pledging to end the practice of pardoning public and corporate officials convicted of corruption.
"The ruling will be a lesson for many companies," said Choi Woon-youl, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party.
"They have to boost transparency and sever the ties of collusion with government. If you have nothing to hide, whether about management or succession, you don't have to be bullied by the government."
Despite all the drama, and noise surrounding the fight on corruption and corruption fighting back and all that blame game, and release of lists by two of Nigeria’s most corrupt parties, the kind of events in South Korea are not likely to occur here.
It’s in this nation that you have a president so embarrassed, when it is not a fake award, it is a grass cutting scandal, or a list full of dead men walking and wanting to work. No heads roll, so it will happen in the future.
Nothing threatens our social order, for stealing billions, bail is set at few millions, and when conviction takes place, which rarely happens, it’s more of a pat in the back.
From the gateman at the state secretariat to the corporal at the police desk, everyone wants something. Everyone is 'prayerfully' waiting for that promotion that will take one to the next level where one can demonstrate that inherent skill at greasing and lining our pockets.
Admission is sold, employment is sold, political office sold, awards are bought, from government, churches, traditional institutions, so naturally we are at the receiving end, the system (already dilapidated) pays for it. Our guiding philosophy: continuous to be what is in it for me.
Does is it mean that Nigeria is the most corrupt nation, no, does it mean that there are no honest Nigerians, no too, there are many but never or hardly do they get the opportunity or are swallowed by the corrupt ones.
Corruption is everywhere in the world, however in Nigeria it is not only endemic but killing, all the days in this clime is for the thief, none for the owner.
Transparency is only a political lexicon, so like I have asked in the past, again I ask... can the EFCC, ICPC provide amount of recovered funds and dates and accounts where the deposits were made including dates of deposits and deposit receipts and from whom these funds were recovered from, rather all the media blitz and village headmaster soap. Those arrested, at some point or the other can Nigerians know the status of the cases in court, from Dariye to Nnamani, Jolly Nyame to Abdullahi Adamu, Orji Kalu, Bankole to Danjuma...The list is endless…these men are still the clowns chanting change or changing the change.
Truth is that the loot is being re-looted? Nigerian corruption and corrupt practices permeates religion, tribe and class. Like headache and Panadol, while we agree that there is this problem, and there is a need to administer a drug to this systemic cancer, we cannot seem to agree how, when and where.
The millions and billions that disappear into private pockets meant for the generality of Nigerians is responsible for those bad roads, those ill-equipped hospitals, poor educational system, dysfunctional utilities system...Like the Tortoise on a journey, until he has been disgraced, there is no coming back. Nigeria and Nigerians, if we do not retrace our steps and start to treat thieves above with public opprobrium and ridicule, with sordid disgrace we only will be wasting grooving in the dark, and for how long—Only time will tell.