The Pandora Papers like the Panama Papers, before it is causing ripples and ruffling feathers across the world. From Amman to Moscow; Lagos to Nairobi, it has been tepid and unconvincing denials and rationalizations.
The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Hussein, has come out to explain that the concealment of properties he acquired in the US and Uk estimated to be over $100m is out of security concern and not out of a desire to cover or conceal a crime.
President Putin, whose baby mama has been mentioned, has kept a stoic silence leaving the rebuttal to aides. Typical of the taciturn henchman.
In Nigeria, names have been mentioned-speculated and bandied around, but one has stood out — Peter Obi.
Obi was the two-term Governor of Anambra state.
He was also the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general election.
He has reputation for being frugal and forthright.
He is also known for reeling out economic statistics from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and other developing economies with which he measures Nigeria’s growth or lack of growth.
He is an astute businessman and he has large followership.
Obi was contacted by The Premium Times on the Pandora Papers, and he didn’t deny it.
All he said basically was that he didn’t know he should have declared those things because he is not the sole owner of the businesses.
In other words, he is ignorant of the requirements of the law.
My question is: didn’t Obi know that he should have declared his holdings in the Companies? Ignorance of the law we have been told is not an excuse, but in this case, it will be sufficient defence for Saint Obi because of our kind disposition toward corruption.
Obi himself said it will change nothing about how he is perceived by his supporters.
He is right!
Yesterday, rationalizations began to pour in as aspected.
One said, ”there is a difference between tax avoidance and tax denial schemes”.
Another said, ”he doesn’t believe in the concept of 100% good or evil, he believes in the middle”.
In other words, Obi is not expected to be perfect because none is. I agree; just that as someone who has projected himself a clean image in business and governance more was expected from him.
A man who is wearing white attire must make a conscious effort to stay away from stains from palm oil because it will be easily visible.
One thing that struck me from the names on the Pandora Papers, is the absence of the names of the world’s richest men: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and others. Is it because these men are not public officials in their countries and have no illicit funds to hide in tax heavens, or because they didn’t need to?
Why was the list filled with current and former serving public officials?
Now, imagine for a moment that it was Tinubu, Osinbajo, Fashola, Ameachi, and others in APC, that were mentioned (I deliberately did not mention president Buhari and his family members) because I know what that will mean.
But just imagine that the names listed above had been mentioned. What would PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan, Ayo Fayose, and supporters be saying now?!
We are not serious about corruption.