It was Lord Acton, a historian and moralist, who expressed the opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,” he said.
His quote reminds us of the trend last week when the news of a court ordering the interim forfeiture of Forty Million Dollars ($40m) worth of jewelleries belonging to former Minister of Petroleum, Ms Diezanni Alison-Madueke got tongues crying out at her vanity.
Commentators and social media police wondered how one person could own such quantity of jewelleries and I dare say, they were vain gains.
The jewelleries were recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the forfeiture was to be made to the federal government.
In the application, the EFCC said the expensive items, comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, among several others were reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former minister.
Sad as these allegations may be, who is to say the former minister did not gain some of these extravagant luxuries from genuine sources? We cannot doubt that with her beauty and position she could have acquired some of these luxuries as gifts, from admirers and business associates respectively.
While one does not seek to defend the beautiful Allison who rocked power when she had it, current photos of the once beautiful lady, touches hearts and minds to be more humane and less judgmental, knowing that in the end, all vanity comes to naught irrespective of wealth.
For Nigerians who took the matter to heart, the case of the former minister reminds us all that indeed power is transient and power is a trust given to a person just for a time and after that time, comes judgement.
As Nigerians mercilessly bandied the story of the former minister temporarily forfeiting her luxurious jewels, the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday also ordered the final forfeiture of N9.2 million and $8.4 million dollars belonging to Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
EFCC had, through its counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, in October 2018, moved a motion before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun for the final forfeiture of the funds said to belong to the former First Lady.
The funds were domiciled in Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Eco Bank, Stanbic bank, Skye Bank, Zenith Bank and First Bank.
According to Justice Olatoregun, there was not enough cause in the affidavits filed before the court to show that the N1.8 billion domiciled in Fidelity Bank, N256 million domiciled in Eco Bank, N1,085,000,000 billion naira domiciled in Eco Bank, N39.4 million in Diamond, N7 million in Diamond Bank, N1.8 billion in Fidelity Bank, N307 million Stanbic Bank, N55 million in Diamond, N1.8 billion in Fidelity Bank, N174 million in Diamond, N858 million in Zenith, $429,000 dollars in Skye Bank, $4 million dollars in First Bank, $4,136,000 million dollars in Skye Bank should not be classified as proceeds of unlawful activities.
As interesting as these judgements read, one will be hard put to wonder how these two powerful women (mothers) could luxuriate in such stupefying wealth, in a country where poverty is said to have risen with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 a day.
A report by the World Poverty Clock had shown that Nigeria had overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world.
As the world seats to judge this great women who had the world at their feet and noting whatever classification the law choses to give to this stupendous wealth, Nigerians should learn from the experiences of these past leaders, Abacha, Diezanni, and the former first lady (Patience Jonathan), that no matter how intoxicating power is, a good name stands beyond riches.
Lest we forget, amidst the travails of these women continued the drama of Senator Elisha Abbo who has been nicknamed the ‘Slapping Senator’. Following public outcry the Senator who had been charged to court was also forced to seat under a panel of inquiry by his colleagues where he was seen to be exchanging words with Senator Remi Tinubu.
As we reflect on all these powerful people, we must not forget that as you luxuriate in the corridors of power, we must not forget that all power and wealth remain vain gains.
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