The Nigerian Curiosity Person of 2007 is someone, who for better or for worse, has had an extensive impact on Nigeria and Nigerians over the course of the last year. This person is a pivotal character in Nigeria's social, economic and political discourse and I believe that this person will remain a crucial factor in our future.
In deciding who was worthy of such characterization, I had to think long and hard about which Nigerians, for better or worse, will go down in our history books as having stood out. This approach meant that I had to acknowledge that the Person of 2007 could be either a hero, a villain or both, depending on one's vantage point. After all, perception is subjective, right?
Thus, without further ado, Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007 is ......
MICHAEL KAASE AONDOAKAA
Apart from that, he is the only Nigerian official that shares the same name with an actual geographic location within the nation's territorial boundaries - Latitude - 7.0667 ; Longitude - 8.8333. You just can't beat that!
SAVIOR VS. SABOTEUR
For all our efforts as a nation, most can agree that corruption is the one issue that, if not adequately addressed, will prevent our ability to succeed in other arenas of our existence. Consequently, Aondoakaa has played a significant role in shaping the future of Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade. Only time will tell whether his actions, both subtle and overt, were concluded for the benefit of the many - and thus to the nation's benefit - or for the benefit of a few - and thus, the nation's detriment.
THE "AONDOAKAA EFFECT"
The anti-corruption crusade that Nigeria witnessed over the last few months reflects a pivotal point in Nigeria's history and Michael Kase Aondoakaa's imprint on this crusade cannot be denied. The consequences of this imprint, which I call the "Aondoakaa Effect" are already beginning to be revealed to anyone who takes a few moments to put two and two together. I will only present three incidents, but I am sure others have many more stories to tell.
1. AONDOAKAA VS. RIBADU/EFCC: HE WON THE WAR
Even before landing his current position, Aondoakaa and the EFCC have been at loggerheads. He has defended more than one client that was under investigation by the Commission. However, from the very moment he was chosen as AGF, it became clear that Aondoakaa and the EFCC's head, Nuhu Ribadu, would provide substantial entertainment for most political observers. Both men constantly went at each other. Sometimes, Ribadu won various battles such as preventing the "muffling" of the EFCC which, according to Aondoakaa, needed to receive explicit permission before initiating any new corruption cases. Despite this, it appears that Aondoakaa eventually won the war because as of today, Ribadu is no longer the head of the EFCC. He instead is on "training assignment" in Kuru, Jos.
2. THE DARIYE ISSUE
The arrest, after his repatriation from the UK, of Joshua Dariye, former Governer of Plateau State, was a moment that offered much prominence to the EFCC. The Commission basked in the limelight and even informed the nation that their case against Dariye was a "test case" for future cases against other corrupt governors. However, in the months that followed, it became clear that although Aondoakaa eventually returned Dariye's stolen loot under much media fanfare, his opinion differed from Ribadu, on how Dariye's case, and stolen money, was to be treated. And now, so soon after Ribadu was removed from the EFCC, the Commission has "withdrawn all money laundering charges" against Dariye. It appears that the "Aondoakaa Effect" is just beginning.
3. A NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION APPROACH
In line with his role as the face of Nigerian Justice, Aondoakaa announced in Indonesia that Nigeria will be introducing a new crime bill that will pave the way for a continuing and effective anti-corruption approach. At the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the AGF stressed that for too long, due process and the observance of the rule of law had been lacking in the nation's quest to bring corrupt officials to justice. He said,
"Our objective is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the system in place, to deprive corrupt officials and offenders, including their families and associates, of the benefits of their crime. Of more importance is the aim of reinforcing public trust in the rule of law, protecting the economic value of seized assets and ensure [sic] investment of the assets for public good..."Apparently, Aondoakaa is at the helm of steering the nation towards a better, more trustworthy and unbiased way of dealing with corruption in the country. The resulting crime bill will take Nigeria away from the "old way" of doing things, which means Ribadu and the EFCC's way of doing things. This new approach, of which little more is known, could become a lasting legacy to Aondoakaa and the nation's quest to make sure that corruption does not pay. I submit that this proposed new bill is just another example of the "Aondoakaa Effect".
ONLY TIME WILL TELL
By now, it is clear that no matter what one thinks of Aondoakaa, he will play an integral role in the development of the nation. Of course, no definite conclusion or judgment can be reached about Nigeria's AGF because even though history begins now, the writers of our history will begin their task much later in time. And, at that point, who knows what will end up in the history books? Only time will tell. But I know for certain that Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007, Micheal Kase Aondoakaa, and his imprint on the anti-corruption crusade, will be a key element of that story.