“Whoever that is indicted of corruption between 1999 to the time of swearing-in, would be pardoned”
– President Mohammadu Buhari on March 11, 2015 at a Campaign rally in Kaduna
The right thing to do is to probe at least the administrations from 1966 when this level of corruption and criminal wastefulness of resources started – Balarabe Musa, Former Governor of Kaduna State in The Sun of July 25, 2015
Of all the Chief Executives the Nigerian State has had in her recent history, Mohammadu Buhari stands head over shoulders above others. His track records in all the public offices – Military Governor of the North-Eastern State, Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Military Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund et al – that he has been privileged to serve in, sets him apart from the crowd. His impeccable achievements while manning these offices are distinguishing markers of a man who knows his onions. That is why so much is expected of him in his second stint as the country’s Chief Executive Officer, especially in the prosecution of the anti-graft campaign; a war, previous occupiers of the throne in Aso Rock consistently failed to win, owing largely to some avoidable human variables.
If you conduct an opinion poll across Nigeria to glean from the populace what they think constitutes the primary pitfall stalling the growth and development of Nigeria, corruption – rather than other equally culpable factors – will most likely receive the hardest knocks from such an inquiry. Without any modicum of doubt, the comprehensive excoriation of corruption from all facets of national life constitutes the primary desire of most Nigerians. That is why Nigerians expect any government that comes to power to pay the greatest attention to the obviation of this ravenous scourge. That is why Nigerians are getting increasingly uncomfortable with certain aspects of the current administration’s approach to the war on graft.
Despite the confidence Nigerians repose in their new President as a no-nonsense anti-corruption crusader, based on his sterling antecedents in the previous offices he has occupied, some doubts are already being expressed in some quarters that his much vaunted determination to extinguish the scorching fire of corruption from all facets of national life might not be as thorough as previously envisaged, owing to his perceived reluctance to go full throttle on this cleansing exercise. His unwillingness to go after some known thieves – some of who are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, his party – who ignominiously pilfered the country’s exchequers at the various levels of government in the past, have doused the initial wave of enthusiasm that accompanied his ascension to office.
The truth is that some of the characters (names withheld) associating with MB’s government by masquerading as agents of “CHANGE” are, in fact, impetuous incarnates of corruption themselves; bloody scallywags who are as guilty – if not more guilty – of thievery as those they have the temerity to publicly accuse of the same offence. Nigerians have very good memories and have not forgotten in a hurry the manner some of these pseudo-puritans heartlessly stole their constituencies blind; how these self-acclaimed Robbing Hoods impudently robbed their hoods; how these holier-than-thou prostitutes barefacedly abused their mandates to serve. That some of these shameless rogues served as political chief executives in the past, makes their current born-again postures all the more preposterous, reprehensible and piquing.
Mr. President, a confirmed nonconformist purist of no mean repute, is obviously in a quandary. A part of him wants to launch an all-out frontal attack on the carriers of this monstrous scourge, while the other part wants to exercise some restraint in order not to wake up some long dead and buried issues. Like a man with a Jekyll and Hide personality, he is experiencing an intrapersonal conflict that constrains him from being himself; a man caught in a moral dilemma that shackles his altruistic instincts.
The war on graft must be comprehensive enough to correct the mistakes of the past and serve as a deterrent for future political office holders in Nigeria. A clear message must be sent out to all potential thieves that sleaze does not pay; that dishonesty is punishable under Nigerian laws. Our politicians must be made to know that no matter how long it takes to unearth a crime, the law will always take its cause; that a crime is a crime, no matter who committed it or when it was committed; that the legal definition of this horrendous phenomenon cannot be altered by time and space. It should no longer be business as usual. Political office should no longer be used as a caveat for self-enrichment. The trillions that have been stolen from this country must be returned and plowed back into the development of this country and the provision of better living conditions for its largely impoverished populace, the victims of the beastly and pusillanimous dispositions of the animals in human skin who have brought this country to its knees; brutes who ran the country ragged for so many years.
Corruption – as has been practically demonstrated over the years, through the demonic indiscretions of some members of the political class – constitutes the greatest source of violence against Nigerians. It is a cancerous tumour that strips people of their humanity; the most vicious, debilitating ailment that stalls the progress of any society, stagnating and throwing it back to barbarous times. By turning politics into a business enterprise, the country’s political entrepreneurs are guilty of violence against its people. By perniciously stealing the country blind with reckless abandon for several years, the political merchants in our midst have committed grievous crimes that qualify as crimes against humanity; heinous sacrileges that must be punished by the existing laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nigerians are demanding justice from the Nigerian State for several years of being victims of the satanic whims and caprices of a band of vicious vandals who have inanely treated them with the worst forms of inhumanity; they seek justice against the merchants of Hemlock who have dominated, manipulated and exploited them to their injury. They expect the state to assuage their pains. The administration of MB must continue to portray itself as the people’s true champion in their collective quest for justice by activating, sustaining and seeing through the processes that will bring the robbers’ of their commonwealth to book. This country is bigger than any individual or Mafia to toy with. The days of sacred cows should be done away with, consigned to the dustbins of history. The mantra of change on which this administration is supposedly constructed must not be polluted by the rank rots of a debauched past. The villainies of yesteryears must be sanctioned and discouraged from ever rearing their ugly heads again in future. To start afresh, the past must be exhaustively dealt with.
This column is calling on Mr. President to add more force and zest to his war on corruption and other gruesome forms of decadent behaviour exhibited by past public officials during their stewardships, no matter whose ox is gored. Please, no more exemptions! Whether a crime was committed yesterday or today does not make any difference – a crime is a crime. Every corrupt crime has its consequences on the larger body politic; consequences that are usually dire since the stolen funds, had they been well utilized, would have helped in providing much needed succor for the owners of the loot. Mr. President has, on so many occasions, bemoaned the serial wastage of the country’s resources through official corruption by the country’s past leaders. As a military Head of State – from 1983-85 – he personally launched a sustained war on graft that brought many confirmed thieves to book. As a civilian President, Nigerians expect the very best from a leader they popularly gave the mandate to lead them out of the doldrums of squalor and hopelessness they currently wallow in; a Moses they chose to lead them out of a sordid and horrid Egyptian era that was dominated by unscrupulous Pharaohs, into a fresh Canaan age of bliss – a champion to lead them out of a mazy labyrinth of terror and uncertainties.
Being an indefatigable anti-corruption crusader with a creaseless reputation for always completing any task he embarks on, Mr. President should beam his searchlight further across the country to expose the remaining thieves hiding in our midst. All man-made brambles likely to constrain an objective interrogation of the nefarious activities of the parasitic incubuses who have sucked this country dry must be chopped off. Without vanquishing these scheming scammers, this administration cannot fully settle down to the tasking business of governance.
The first step towards checking a rampaging virus is to first destroy the virus and inoculate potential victims to ensure the virus does not spread. Corruption is a virus that must be stopped for productive governance to run smoothly in this country. To this end, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the office of the Auditor General of the Federation, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the courts and other statutory bodies established by law to check the decadent tendencies of public officials should be mobilized and given the leeway to carry out their duties as prescribed by the constitution, without any intervening interference whatsoever from any superintending authority. All other things will naturally fall into place, when the war on graft is won. That is the truth of the matter!
In all, winning the war on corruption will definitely define the success – or failure – of this government, resulting in the etching of the name of Mohammadu Buhari in the annals of great Nigerian leaders – as the greatest leader Nigeria ever had. It’s all left to the chief thief catcher to bring in the thieves. God save Nigeria!