This was the word that swept through the consciousness of Nigeria like a tornado over the past two years, bringing about the most tumultuous political period of Nigeria’s existence outside of military rule and bringing down an incumbent government. At some point, it may have seemed as if Nigeria had a special claim on this word as it was everywhere you turned, from the news to social media to the barbershop down the street.
“Corruption” seemed to be the only song on everyone’s lips and the impact was obvious. Nigeria needed Change. Something had to give. Something needed to give way for “Corruption” to be vanquished as the dreaded ogre it had become. That something turned out to be Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet.
Almost a year to the day Rt. Gen Muhammadu Buhari took the oath to become Nigeria’s 4th President since the return of civilian government in 1999, Brazil had its own “Corruption” moment on May 12, 2016 as President Dilma Rousseff
was stampeded out of office in a chaotic parliamentary coup amidst several accusations of aiding corruption and shielding corrupt personalities.
The first female President of Brazil, who was elected on the centre-left PT party platform was not removed through the ballot, where her party has won four consecutive elections convincingly. Like her political mentor, ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
, she remains tremendously popular in Brazil, particularly among its large population of urban lower-middle class and rural poor citizens.
After decades of economic and societal stagnation under brutal military rule, Brazil under PT’s leadership emerged as one of the world’s most important countries, with roughly 30 million Brazilians lifted out of poverty
between 2003 and 2014 due to successful social welfare policies and accelerating economic growth with a population in excess of 300 million and vast petrochemical and agricultural industry growth. So what happened?
To answer this, a striking comparison has to be made with events happening almost at the same time in a country 8,000 miles away on the Western coast of Africa.
As at January 2014, Nigeria was recognized as Africa’s brightest shining star, with a newly rebased GDP figure putting it far ahead of the rest of continent at $510bn and an annual growth rate touching 7%. Every investor that wanted to play in a developing market was drawn to Nigeria despite the presence of an armed insurgency in the Northeast of the country and its manifestly aged and inadequate infrastructure stock. Nigeria was to Africa what Brazil is to South America – an economic lodestar.
A few months later, a sleepy Northeastern town called Chibok became the staging point for a global media and PR campaign that dragged in Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Wale amongst others. #BringBackOurGirls
became the defining maxim of President Jonathan’s remaining time in office. The economic rise of Nigeria and the newfound confidence and assertiveness of this erstwhile basket case no longer mattered. When Nigeria came to mind, everyone thought of 300 missing schoolgirls and the government that let such an atrocity happen.
Sensing an opportunity, a number of politicans jumped on the bandwagon and became daily media traducers of Goodluck Jonathan. Someone started a rumour that $50bn in oil revenues was missing. He then changed his mind and amended the figure to $12bn. Then $20bn. You know, a nice round figure. No matter that the idea that Nigeria had $20bn sitting around somewhere waiting to be stolen like a Ghana-must-go bag filled with cash was a ludicrous idea; no matter that the idea that $20bn can be moved across the global financial system is borderline lunatic – the idea that something was missing stuck.
Goodluck Jonathan’s name disintegrated into dust as the entire media and public opinion of Nigeria came down hard on his government for allowing a group of cartoon villains to kidnap 300 schoolgirls and for heading a “corrupt” government that apparently “stole” $20bn dollars. No matter that KPMG was hired to audit the NNPC and it was found that there was never any missing $20bn or $12bn or $50bn – the story was a fabrication. Likewise after a while even the authenticity of the “Chibok story” began to be called into serious question.
But it didn’t matter.
In the court of public opinion in developing countries, the facts of a matter are not important. What is important is the perception. The facts of the supposed missing money said very plainly that someone was telling porkies, but who cared? The facts of the “Chibok Girls” saga may someday exonerate Goodluck Jonathan but that will change nothing. GEJ is now history, yesterday’s man. Rt. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is now sitting on Nigeria’s most powerful seat.
This brings us back to Dilma Rousseff and Brazil.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW
Got a news tip/information for us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on twitter @thesheetng
BBM Channel: C0042057A
Like us on Facebook @ www.facebook.com / The Sheet
This is a 2016 Copyright of thesheet.ng. You may wish to request express approval from thesheet.ng to republish
Read it Later
SOMEWHERE ELSE ON THE SHEET