Don’t Corrupt Your Perception: Office Abuse Is Stealing

Where does corruption start and stop?

I got thinking about this when I ran into this Twitter comment,

Throughout this ASUU Strike, President Muhammad Buhari didn’t establish a personal university, neither did Professor Yemi Osinbajo .

This is unlike OBJ and Atiku who established their own Universities during the longest ASUU Strike when they both were in power!

There is this opinion leader who speaks out vociferously about probity, accountability, the rule of law and such niceties – in personal life and governance..

He recently praised the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) for the scale of facilities.. swimming pool and other things that make it far more than just a library, but actually a Resort – after visiting with his family during by he Christmas Period.

Now, I am all for a facility being done to high international standards.

But….

I said to him,

This is someone you said your respect for, increased, when you visited the Presidential library

As a sitting President that should NOT have businesses, OBJ established this Presidential Library, a commercial venture, perhaps (partially) with public funds.

And you say in public that your respect for him INCREASED because of the scale of the library??.

I have issues with your endorsement!.

Here was the response,

OOPL is a foundation. OOPL was built with donor funds and not public funds. I suggest you always go beyond the headlines and noise to know what’s really going on.

I wasn’t convinced,

This is truly amazing.

So, wrapping a business with the “foundation” moniker absolves one of the irresponsibility of establishing and running a checksum l commercial business as a sitting President?

Isn’t this a bit naive!

The response,

It seems you don’t know that foundations have governance structure. Go understand that first before we engage further.

I’m not a hypocrite that holds opinions I can’t voice publicly.

This logic seems bizarre to me.

So, if a Minister publicly establishes a company while in office, the fact he has a Board for Governance Structure changes the immorality / illegality?

I expressed my reservations, saying,

I am sorry this is sounding so naive. Or, perhaps this is mere politicking?

This is Nigeria, and not some textbook concept.

If I am president with the powers to dispense AWESOME favors to whoever I choose, people would fall over themselves to donate to any (business) venture I go into… either to say, thank you. Or, to seek favors.

After all, he who pours cold water in front (ahead) would expect to walk on damp soil.

The point which you are struggling to evade is that, a sitting President used the instrumentalities of his office to set up a commercial venture (OOPL). If he wasn’t President, would people rush to donate funds to a private commercial establishment – being set up?

So, this is clearly abuse of office. This MAY not be illegal, but it is both immoral and amoral.

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So where do we draw the line between using the instruments of office for personal gain, and actual direct unethical behavior(like awarding direct contracts to your own company, while in office)? .

Berth Nnaji, former Power Minister was forced to step down for likely conflict of interest (running his companies versus running his official governmental job duties .

If an Atiku Abubakar is alleged to have used his position as Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (and subsequently as Vice President) to amass humongous wealth (through this private company -INTELS), is a Former President Obasanjo morally justified to accuse Atiku, since he (OBJ) did something similar too, (in)directly ?

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When we then talk about corruption, let us remember that direct misappropriation / embezzlement of state funds is not the only form of being a thief . There are subtle ones like using your position for personal gains – something that goes in unchecked in both private and public offices.

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