The MYTH of Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War

As long as corrupt people are being bundled into jail and made to face the law and serve their punishment, it doesn’t matter if they are from the opposition. When the opposition gets to power, they too should fight the previous ones, right?

You could easily agree to this. The argument could even be made that President Buhari cannot jail everyone at once and even if he is to start jailing people, he has to start from those outside his camp for political purposes. The Pope once said “corruption is the moth, the gangrene of a people” and that the corrupt should be “tied to a rock and cast into the sea”. Isn’t that enough justification?

What we need to consider going forward is what is now an important part of our national discuss — the legitimacy and the support of Mr President’s War Against Corruption. I had once penned down 10 reasons this war might fail again to rid our country of corruption the same way it failed in the early 1980s when General Buhari was in power. The question that now divides us is how should this war against corruption be fought?

More often than not, when discussing the kind of corruption that is to be fought, we neglect the corruption of the police officer or the bribe to the government worker in government agencies or the kind that ensures that whatever kids in secondary schools right in their final papers, an offer of a certain amount of money guarantees the success of the kid. As Ayo Sogunro, a friend once put it, the corruption of greed is our main focus while the corruption of need is the acceptable form that we all assume can’t kill us.

In the end, will Mr President’s war be successful and if at all, will it be sustainable?

When President Buhari came into power, the Economy, Security and Anti-Corruption were the three pillars of his manifesto which he himself has pronounced even after assuming office unlike the tonnes of other promises which were made on his behalf. Most Nigerians admit a level of progress on the Security Level, an outright failure in managing the economy irrespective of immediate or remote causes but we appear to be cleanly divided on the success rate and the approach to anti-corruption which was Mr Buhari’s supposed stand-out quality.

Mr President was sold to Nigerians not just as an incorruptible Nigerian but also one who had the ability to be able to rub off that incorruptibility on Nigerians by fighting corruption and defeating the menace. The same way Nigerians realized that the former President, no matter the amount of good luck he had, he couldn’t rub it off on us magically, we are now starting to realize that Mr President can also not magically rub off his supposed “incorruptibility” on us. The number one excuse is however is “Corruption is fighting back”.

When I hear this response, I become suddenly infuriated.

1. It is called a war, not a negotiation! Nobody goes to a war expecting the opponent to just surrender

2. No warrior excuses his failure to win on a battle field on the notion that his opponents fought back

3. Fighting a war does not involve the use of weapons and all the instruments of war, there is something called tact and strategy

4. No warrior in the face of battle continues to use a failing tactic and expects his men not to die or in the end win the war.

1 year and 7 months into President Buhari’s 4 year mandate, there is only one major case that has been closed — the case against Director General of NIMASA after which Dakuku Peterside, Minister Rotimi Amaechi’s protégée now occupies that seat. The judiciary has been labelled as the monster frustrating the war against corruption. This particularly reminds me of the games I played as a kid wherein you are required to fight a big demon just before you reach the final stage. In this case, the judiciary is that monster. President Buhari’s solution is to lay a siege and start a war against that same judiciary and drag the institution on the floor the same way he did for the National Assembly until they were able to agree to a political solution.

The much needed reform is been overlooked and neglected for some sensational headlines that seems like an attempt to salvage Mr President’s popularity that is now dwindling faster than it takes a shooting star to pass. In January, Mr President submitted two executive bills to the National Assembly on Anti-corruption. Both have refused to see the light of day. The National Assembly has instead decided to busy itself with bills on water resources and PLWDs and the likes.

5 months after in June, Mr President writes an essay on anti-corruption and what the plans are to tackle it in which he quoted the two bills he sent to the National Assembly. The 10th month of the year is running to an end. That brilliant essay highlighted the need for amending the laws that make up the EFCC and especially the ICPC to make them more efficient. On that, We have not heard anything about how this is to be done.

The case was made to improve the prosecutorial expertise of these two agencies especially citing Kellogg Brown & Root who paid a bribe of $180 million to get a $6 billion contract and was only convinced in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the popular James Ibori case who couldn’t get convicted here in Nigeria but had to face prison time in the UK.

The two bills Mr President sent to the National Assembly has also been futile. One has been rejected by the EFCC themselves and since March 2016 when it was last read on the floor of the House of Representatives, nothing has been heard of it and just so you know, in case you didn’t know, Mr President’s bill proposes the establishment of another Bureau which will literally duplicate the efforts and activities of EFCC, ICPC and other related organisations.

In fact, the only supporting bill that seems close enough to supporting this war against corruption is the ACJA Act which was passed by the 7th Senate under the last President who has been judged by the incumbent as the most corrupt and labelled as the most insensitive to corrupt practices. As things currently stand, all we can ascertain has happened are arrests, discoveries of monies that we never see evidence of and newspaper headlines.

All that has been said above is to assume that President Buhari himself is equipped enough, morally and legitimately to lead this war against corruption, but is he?

Let’s not forget President Buhari’s stance on his cabinet officers and what will happen if any of them was found wanting.

Babachir Lawal is the Mr President’s cabinet secretary. He is alleged to have cleared grasses in IDP Camps in his home state of Borno for N270 million

The infamous Chief of Army Staff, Gen Buratai’s savings from his snake farm is supposedly responsible for his foreign assets worth billions of naira even after allegations were made on his tenure as the Director of Procurement at a time when Mr Dasuki, Alex Badeh and the likes were milking the nation dry

Abba Kyari’s many sins are as countless as they are ineffable. From the alleged bribe from the South African company, MTN running into N500 Million to dealings with use of power play in AMCON — corrupt practices that are now daily released by petitioners of various kinds. And now that it’s been publicised that he is being probed, the overburdened Inspector General of Police is to handle such investigation. What happened to EFCC?

Super Minister Rotimi Amaechi, the lion of his tribe, who despite his claim during his ministerial screening to not have paid or collected any bribe in his life continues to record various petitions against him, one from his former party in his home state, one by an independent organization on his abandoned mono-rail project and two by two supreme court justices.

The fourth citizen of the Federal Republic, Mr Speaker has one of the weightiest allegations in the history of Nigeria’s Parliament and has superintended over the greatest cover up, resisted investigations and invites by law enforcement and above all suspended the whistle blower who found out his own whistle was working after he was being edged out.

President Buhari in all of this remain unscathed. No institution that was created or is being created is permitted to dig deep into the campaign finance that brought him in as President of the Federal Republic. He is the saint of the Federal Republic who will purge us all of our dirty corrupt souls and lead us to the promised land where we would all be saints and those who refuse to be saints will be in jail, not tried, not prosecuted, not sentenced. They would be wallowing in their punishment as prescribed by the saint himself.

Whatever position you have chosen to take or whatever political party you belong to or whatever prejudice you refuse to be rid off, President Buhari’s Anti-corruption Crusade is a MYTH — A dream in faraway fantasy land.

Most importantly, Nigerians, and by Nigerians, I mean those who will still be citizens of this country in the next 20,30 years when all these folks would have been either dead or utterly useless, need to wake up from this slumber and understand that this path of anti-corruption does not have a corrupt-free society as its final destination. It is a path to Vengeance, a one party state and the rule by the establishment.

We must therefore start to realize that the ONLY path to a corrupt-free society is the path of transparency and accountability and until all our institutions can entrench this noble idea and forever ban the practice of opaqueness from the life of our nation, we will forever remain in this corruption cycle, to the detriment of our people and that of our kids, both those that have now being born and those that are yet to be born.

The earlier we begin this journey, the better for us.

May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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