Recent revelations coming from different departments of government have become so alarmingly overwhelming that one can only resign to fate by abandoning any hope of salvaging the already distressing situation in the country. That such mind boggling and completely inconceivable level of looting could be taking place in a government with a declared policy of is anti-corruption befuddles the mind. It not only exposes the hypocrisy of the Nigerian politician but also the depravity and perversity of our leaders.
Everywhere you turn in the government there is a picture of corruption that hits one in the face, confirming and reinforcing reports such as those by Transparency International, that Nigeria still remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world, in spite of all the pretentious gambit of the government in the past five years of fighting the menace. It recalls the period just before the 2015 election when every day brought to the fore a new corruption exposure.
With another general election of very high political significance ahead, it may not be unexpected that these cases of corruption being exposed are unconnected with politics; but the fact remains that these things are happening at all out of public sight and knowledge is worrisome, and therefore, whatever motive behind it should not obviate their existence and significance; and the need to stamp it out. It is also essential for the people to know in order to appreciate and understand the futility of the anticorruption campaign of this government and indeed its complicity in the malfeasance.
From the NNPC, NDDC, NEDC, NSITF, NHIS, NASS, EFCC, Presidency, etc., reports of huge sums of money being looted by those entrusted with their stewardship is depressing to say the least. Nigeria has simply become a looting field of official robbers. Corruption has not only become normal, it has become official. Every action of government officials has been turned into personal business transactions demanding a quid pro quo. It is not only nauseating, but deeply frustrating watching public officials trading corruption accusations in full public glare.
Excuses are often made for the leadership of President Buhari to exonerate him from the decay and rottenness of the government he presides over; such excuses can no longer be the case given the humongous nature and size of the corruption cases, but seriously such presumed mitigation can only be insensitive, condescending and, indeed, insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians who had vested their confidence on him twice with their votes. Simply put, President Buhari is squarely responsible for the failures, including the thriving corruption culture in the country.
Leadership is not to be enjoyed only without the consequential responsibilities attached. In fact it is the performance of the responsibilities inherent in the office or position that bestow and confer the privileges. As the man at the top of the pyramid of power in the country, the buck stops on his table and there should be no pretense about it. In law a delegated authority cannot be delegated. The president is a delegated authority of the people and is responsible and accountable to them; and he cannot delegate such authority to another.
Those he appoints to undertake certain responsibilities for him on behalf of the people are his personal delegatees, and strictly accountable to him. It is crass immorality for the president to adopt an aloofness to the performance and conduct of people who are beholden to him. He bears directly and otherwise, in law and morality, the vicarious responsibility of their actions, as the principal on behalf of his agents. Nigerians elected the president, not the ministers, chairmen or DGs; they are his appointees and agents. He has the power to hire and fire.
Corruption has joined the basket of cases that will determine the survival and prosperity of this country. No country can hope to survive on a sustainable basis at the level of looting of the treasury in the country; no, not in history. Lebanon and Zimbabwe are present-day sobering examples of how once-promising countries can easily come to ruin on account of corruption and failed leadership. Nigerians of the merchant-of-hope disposition have tried for long to inure us to the fact that certain things cannot happen in the country; and before our eyes they have all happened.
What is heart breaking about the current parch is that Nigerians glibly and gullibly rejected the previous government on the basis of its perceived corrupt tendency. They deserve something better than what they are being served by this government, which is a total failure to live up to its promise in defiant disregard of the people. He was so romanticized to be the saviour of the country on the three issues or planks of the administration electoral promise, namely, security, corruption and employment. Well, Nigerians know better now!
In the final analysis, this newspaper believes that corruption seems to have become a permanent feature of our existential future, and President Buhari has sadly become one of its illustrious victims. He came, he saw, and he capitulated. Corruption has become one of his greatest legacies to the country after eight years of unchecked power. It should not have surprised anybody. This is a president who disregarded every known norm and legal tradition of the country in appointments and location of projects.
Nepotism is unethical and as such corruption; it is what Dr. Adewumi Adesina, President of AFDB, was accused of, which almost cost him the job. In our opinion, President Buhari set the tune of running a corrupt government in spite of his declaration to the contrary by refusing to declare his assets publicly. What signals was he sending by doing it? He would not have been the first to do so because late President Yar’Adua did it. But for a president that is preaching anti corruption to reject it even for its mere symbolism and optics, is instructive.
It is laughable that the president’s assets did not increase after four years in government as he filed the same claims he made before becoming president in 2015. That says enough for his anti corruption stance.