President Muhammadu Buhari certainly comes around as a man of integrity, one who is poised to rid the country of corruption. And I am sure a lot of people believe him, like my cousin would always say, “Buhari will end corruption, he will put all the corrupt people in jail.” Perhaps he is right; maybe Buhari is indeed out to (as he has continued to promise unending) recover all our stolen monies in the next few months.
But looking at the president and his entourage, one can easily tell he has his hands full, and I am sure a lot of fair minded Nigerians are observing. I mean those who know how to call a spade a spade no matter what. They must have started observing that the anti-corruption war of Mr. President is already looking like personal vendetta against the opposition. And it has not been focused specifically on recovering looted funds.
There was former NSA, Mr. Sambo Dasuki whose houses were ransacked; both in his home state of Sokoto and in Abuja. Not particularly for a reason related to recovering possible funds.. ,but on suspicion that he is planning to topple the government, a laughable claim by all standards. What you normally see in core military dictatorships; allegations thrown up from the dustbin and before you know it, the accused lands in jail or is executed.
Such cannot be easy in a democracy nonetheless, at least trying and executing a suspect will take certain procedures. The competent law court and so forth. But my fear is that from what I have observed thus far, there seems to be a number of legal luminaries willing to assist any attempt to drag Nigeria back to the years of dictatorship. It’s called patronage. For these lawyers, even SANs, whatever Buhari does is right.
When the DSS invaded Dasuki’s house for instance, some of these advocates invaded TV stations telling whoever cares to listen that Buhari was right and that the DSS had obtained a warrant from an unnamed magistrate court. They said it was proper in the spirit of fighting corruption.
However, when one may have begun to think of these senior advocates as individuals who are truly committed to the anti-graft push of this administration, one is quickly reminded that they are just party men who are only making relentless efforts to drag their SANs titles to the mud.
A case in point, when allegations of corruption was leveled against Rauf Aregbesola of Osun by a judge in the state who even endured enough stress to send copies of her petition to the EFCC and the state’s lawmakers, these SANs came out fighting. For them, Aregbesola cannot be corrupt, even when he owes a backlog of salaries to Osun workers, it is not financial recklessness, it must have been the fault of PDP. Therefore, according to these SANs, the judge who wrote the petition against the governor is not fit to hold an office.
The EFCC has, at the same time, not shown enough interest in this regard. Instead of investigating the governor in question, they have decided to investigate the petitioner. She was invited to come and explain his petition.
There are others like Rotimi Amaechi who is alleged to have looted billions of naira from the coffers of Rivers State. But the president himself is surely having a lot of headache in this situation. These are individuals who bankrolled his campaign, and it would be most uncharitable for him to reward them with corruption charges.
In fact, these people are expecting to be ministers. There is Fayemi in Ekiti whose successor Fayose had revealed instances of financial recklessness during his time as governor; Fashola of Lagos who has received no less accusations of corruption by the Save Lagos Group and of course, the damaging documentary aired on AIT which more than exposed him and his predecessor.
One can therefore, easily understand these headaches of Mr. President. He has promised he wouldn’t work with those who don’t have clean records. But he didn’t pause to think that those who helped him realize his presidential ambition belong to the same category of people he proudly said he would not work with.
“ I’m only worried that somebody like him (Buhari) who’s very clean will end up being messed up by those cronies around him. Those cronies, those ex governors and the present governors, do they deserve anything from Nigeria than to go to prison?” Alhaji Shettima Yerima, leader of Northern Youth Consultative Forum, had queried in chat with Hallmark.
“All of them, not one of them should escape it. Is it the former governor of Lagos State?…Is it the governor of Rivers State (Amaechi)?…Is it the former vice president (Atiku)?… Which of them that is clean of being corrupt? If Buhari is clean then what happens to others? Will Buhari alone rule this country?”
That reality soon dawned on him, he is now caught between eating his words and appointing them into positions or keeping those words and backstabbing his benefactor. Little wonder he has continued to postpone ministerial appointment; no ministers until September. Who knows if it won’t extend till December!
It is perhaps for this reason that the President has focused his anti-graft drive on the camp of the opposition, it’s much easier that way. Aides and former ministers of Jonathan, including governors who served under the PDP or were not part of the campaign have become the only corrupt people.
Even the notorious Halliburton scandal which the president had demanded that it’s file be dusted up, he has since realized that his hands are tied. Those involved are those who in one way or the other contributed to his victory at the polls, surprisingly even close family members… as it is being said.
So for him to be taken seriously as one who wants to fight corruption, he has to pounce or at least continue to threaten to pounce on certain individuals, mainly in the opposition. The quest to sanitize INEC is taking the same direction, the RECs of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where the APC was outsmarted are now paying the price. But those who presided over in states where there were allegations of under-age voting and intimidation of opponents are living large, the DSS is not thinking in their direction. They have not committed any crime since the APC won in their states.
It would be interesting to see how the whole affair pans out, but I am sure Nigerians are keenly observing. And I am not amazed that a lot of people are already insisting that unless the president tries certain people, his anti-corruption stance will just be an excuse to crush perceived political adversaries.