Every good Friday, Christians across the globe re-enact the story of two criminals crucified alongside Jesus in Golgotha.
As the four gospels recall, Jesus hung on the middle cross while the other two thieves were hung on the right and the other on the left.
The two different Greek words used in the Gospels to describe them can be translated as thieves, robbers and criminals. The Greek word used by Matthew and Mark includes the idea of “plundering by violence.” And Luke’s word choice suggests a person who is an “evil-doer.”
While they were condemned to death by the earthly government of the time, the bible provides an interesting angle, highlighting how one of them, at the point of death sought forgiveness and experienced salvation.
Thousands of years after, Criminals in Nigeria are classified in two. While one set are condemned to prisons, some others are “saved” in the luxury of stolen wealth and sometimes go on to become leaders in Nigeria.
Welcome to Nigeria: Where thieves Reign
Examples abound. For instance, James Onanefe Ibori, after two criminal convictions in the United Kingdom and one in the Upper Area Court Bwari, Abuja, for stealing building materials in 1995 became governor of Delta state in 1999.
After 8 years of plundering the state’s resources, Ibori was charged for money laundering and pled guilty in a UK court and was sentenced to jail. He is back in Nigeria playing political godfather in Delta State.
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, was on February 28, 2007, found guilty by the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia in the United States for withholding $25,000 his client received as damages claims.
In Ogun state, a wanted drug kingpin, late Buruji Kashamu was Senator and continued to battle extradition requests until he died in 2020.
In May 2021, Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Abidemi Rufai, was arrested at the John Kennedy International Airport on suspicion of employment fraud to the tune of $350,000.
The examples above are few of the many ways Nigeria has continued to entertain the company of thieves and elevate them to high offices.
APC, PDP Hit At Presidential Candidates
However, it has become extremely disturbing that in the race to the 2023 elections, Nigeria’s two fontline contenders Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress are swimming in a sand of integrity fault lines and defective character.
Recently, the APC PCC issued a 72 hour ultimatum to the authorities to arrest and prosecute Abubakar for alleged money laundering.
The Chief Spokesperson of the Organisation, Festus Keyamo also urged Atiku to resign his candidature and apologise to nigerians for allegedly using private accounts to siphon monies from the public treasury.
This is coming on the heels of corruption accusations by one Michael Achimugu.
Achimugu, a former media consultant to Atiku had claimed that the PDP Chieftain used the Special Purpose Vehicle scheme to take funds from an Ex-Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye.
Reacting to the allegations, Atiku and the PDP described Tinubu as a convict, who should not be in the presidential race, adding that Tinubu’s alleged $460,000 drug money forfeiture was evidence of a crime.
Although these allegations are yet to be proven – Will Nigerians take actions to investigate and prosecute them?
Would Nigerians sound out the past and the integrity of the other candidates?
With our security agencies currently Missing in Action – Do these agencies not feel a sense of responsibility towards ensuring that Nigerians number 1 seat is not occupied by persons of questionable antecedents?
The plots and twists of these political brick battle would be left to unfold in the days ahead. However, with such heavy question marks on the integrity of the two major candidates would Nigerians give either of them a chance. February 25, 2023 would tell.