Societies are defined by what is deemed acceptable and what is not. What people will be outraged about often dictates the limits of human behavior that will thrive and in turn dictate the standards to which government officials are held.
A few years ago, there was a fuel scarcity in France because the tanker drivers went on a protest. In a few days or weeks we heard that the government minister in charge put in his resignation. Many Western societies have drawn a direct line between the taxes they pay and the competency or ethical levels they expect from people being paid from those taxes. The outrage was swift and because votes are actually counted, elected officials are answerable to the people.
The loudest criticism of Trump by the Democrats was that he was not fit to hold the exalted office of the President due to his well documented moral deficiencies. This is because normal citizens have an expectation of that office and in many ways expect that only the best of America should represent the rest of America. This “fitness for purpose” clause attached to government office that required management of resources resounded with all right thinking people worldwide.
In Nigeria, we had a certain Senator who had an extradition order pending on him until he died. He could not set foot into the United States of America due to a fraud conviction. Nigerians heard about it and simply waved it off. At the time, because we still had some slight expectations from government officials and the ethical standards they were supposed to uphold, this gentleman even bothered with an excuse… laughable and patronizing as it was. However the political elite took note of the disinterest of the electorate. Nigerians appeared to be saying that we are willing to look the other way on the principle of ‘whoever has no sin should cast the first stone’. And sin (aka: ‘any which way na way’) is definitely our collective middle name.
The effect of this dangerous precedent has now manifested itself in presidential pardons of convicted government officials, completely invalidating the hard work and sleepless evidence-gathering, through to prosecution of these former officials by men of our criminal justice system. This has simply confirmed the beer-parlor belief that there are some people who are overtly above the law. The general belief that if you have sufficient connections, or money, or belong to the political party in power, there are no true consequences for your actions.
Today, in a government that primarily came to power on the promise of accountability and eradication of corruption, this state of affairs is unacceptable. It brings to disdain the very concept of getting ahead through hard work that we have been preaching to children. The valiant efforts of the anti-corruption agencies including the EFCC, ICPC and Justice Departments all over the country is completely invalidated by these unjustified inner caucus shenanigans. And a society celebrating the crooks and mocking the hardworking, is how we got here in the first place. Politicians are guaranteed multimillionaires while legitimate small business owners cannot make ends meet. Businesses cannot get capital and cannot transact internationally with the fiscal policies today.
We are funding criminal justice agencies to catch young budding low level fraudsters but releasing those famously convicted and well known. The morale is that committing fraud is really not your offense as a young man, it is not being incredibly successful that is the offense. If you doubt it, just look at the Governors and Senators who are convicted felons thumping their chests and daring anyone to touch them or remove them from office. Lesson learnt? Good, class dismissed.