A 79-year old former President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for corruption and human right abuses during his time in office. He had served 12 years imprisonment already until yesterday when he was granted pardon on humanitarian grounds, following a worsening of his medical condition. As expected of every decent society, there was public outrage and protests across Peru, with a demand that the current president resigns.
When Alberto, the former President who had just been freed, had the opportunity to talk to the media, he said, “I am aware that the results of my government were well received on one side, but I admit that I have let down other compatriots, and I ask them to forgive me with all my heart”.
He humbly apologized and begged for forgiveness, a man who had served 12 years already for a crime that happens everyday here in Nigeria, corruption and human right abuses. He didn’t cry of witch-hunt and boast about how his pardon was a vindication or enthronement of his innocence. He didn’t whip ethnic sentiment or hire protesters to do a counter protest on his behalf. He didn’t move from place to place buying awards and struggling to tell the people how well he did in power. And the people of Peru didn’t sit down and wail thus “it has happened, there is nothing anyone can do”. They took action and let the world know exactly how they feel about it.
But compare this to Nigeria… We saw here how an internationally disgraced governor who had already been convicted of corruption was not only given a state pardon but was also decorated with a National Merit Award, yet the people kept quiet. while America took it as a personal insult leading to the withdrawal of their support for Jonathan, Nigerians were here hero-worshipping these thieves. We saw here how a disgraced thief like Ibori was given a hero’s welcome in Delta State. We saw how our mothers mobilised themselves to court to protest against the decision of the court to seize assets worth billions of naira acquired with stolen public money by a woman who had only been a petty trader and a civil servant all her life. We saw how the current governor of Rivers State was posing proudly with a thief and mass murderer whose community had crown as King.
We celebrate corruption, we celebrate thieves, we celebrate murderers and morally barren men. Everything evil in this country has an army of sympathisers, yet same people cry of misrule and bad governance. We’re a country of hypocrites too battered to confront the truth. All the evil we accuse our leaders of, we the people gave birth to them.
Why can’t we learn from countries doing well? Change they say starts with you. If you want to see change, be the change you want to see.