Nigerians Decry Witch hunt of Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, By Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi
Pius Adesanmi

In the aftermath of the corruption and emissions cheating scandal that has rocked automobile corporation, Volkswagen, the company’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has resigned. Says Winterkorn in his resignation statement released on September 23, 2015:

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group. As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part. Volkswagen needs a fresh start – also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation. I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life. The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis.”

Mr. Winterkorn’s resignation has been greeted by widespread condemnation among the users of Volkswagen products in Nigeria. Many of the supporters of Volkswagen products in Nigeria allege widespread irregularities and bias in the probe of Volkswagen by the American authorities. The general opinion of the aggrieved Nigerians is that the honest admission of guilt by Mr. Winterkorn notwithstanding, he has been a victim of an unfair witch hunt and lack of due process by the American investigators.

Some of the aggrieved Nigerians wonder why the emission probe has to start with Volkswagen cars when it is common knowledge that the Bedford logging trucks (agbegilodo) used by loggers all over Nigeria in the 1960s and 1970s never passed emission tests yet Bedford was never investigated by the Western governments of the era. Many aggrieved Nigerians also recall that in the heyday of Peugeot 504 GL and Peugeot 504 SR in the 1970s and 1980s, the French company was never able to manufacture safe and secure doors. The door was always the weakest part of that brand. Yet Peugeot was never investigated by the powers that be.

Other Nigerians are mad over the timing of the Volkswagen probe. They allege that the witch hunt against Volkswagen is buttressed further by the fact that a comprehensive, unbiased, and fair probe of the auto industry ought to have started with the first car built by Henry Ford in 1896. It is generally known that Mr. Ford’s car was deficient and caused a lot of environmental issues in 1896 and 1897. The Nigerians insist that no probe of the auto industry would be acceptable that does not begin with Mr. Ford’s 1896 car.

The aggrieved Nigerians are planning massive protests in support of Mr. Winterkorn and Volkswagen. Arrangements have been made to sponsor paid advertorials in newspapers in support of Volkswagen. When reminded that the corruption and irregularities at Volkswagen which led the said auto maker to rig emission tests in the US may have caused damage to the environment and even led to some deaths, one of the Nigerian supporters of Volkswagen responded:

“Ehen, before nko? And so? Is it only Volkswagen emission that has been killing people? What about emission by other cars? What is bad is bad. This is a clear case of witch hunt against Volkswagen. We will not take it!”