The arrest, conviction and jailing of ruling party chieftain Olabode George for corruption is good news for a country that is a by-word for poor governance. It signals the higher court's increasing independence from the "big men" who wield political and economic power. It may also restore some credibility to Nigeria's tarnished Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the chief anti-corruption agency, at a time when it is widely criticized for backing away from prosecution of the country's corrupt oligarchy.
No other major political figure has been convicted of corruption and jailed during the current presidential administration of Umaru Yar'adua, who made the rule of law a center piece of his administration's rhetoric. Yar'adua's critics note that others as notorious as George have not been charged and are concerned that prosecution for corruption remains half-hearted and politically motivated. Nevertheless, the sight of a powerful political figure being led away to jail without the usual option of paying a fine is bound to have a salutary, even if only temporary, impact on Nigeria's corrupt political culture.