Buhari And The Politics Of Probe -By Femi Odere

Filed under: Political Issues |

Buhari: To Whom Much Is Given -By Suraj Oyewale

Nigeria should be ready to face a lot of challenges. The biggest in my view is corruption; it is everywhere. There is no department, no ministry that can be said to be free of corruption. There is nowhere that fraud does not take place on a daily basis. It has become embedded in the minds of the people because the rule books have been thrown away and everybody is doing what they like. Nobody follows the rules anymore.

—-A statement made by Malam Ahmed Joda, Chairman of Buhari’s Transition Committee in an interview with the Daily Trust newspaper on June 21, 2015.

Were coup-making to still be in vogue and it is still seen as an integral, globally acceptable political instrument to gain political power and ascendancy, even in our current unipolar world, the Buhari administration probably would have been history by now. Considering the apparent discomfort (not unexpected) of a significant section of Nigeria’s ethno-religious and economic class and the vehemence with which they’re marshaling their collective energy to denounce (because that’s what it is, no matter how they tried to couch it) President Buhari’s stubborn insistence in fighting corruption into extinction in Nigeria, enough signals would have been received by the ever restless Nigerian military by now that Buhari’s government must go. Either the government would have been overthrown or the coup planning would have reached such an advanced stage for its actualization to be irreversible and/or irrevocable by now.

This particular ethno-religious and economic class, who would most definitely be negatively impacted, if not mortally wounded, initially, did not have any reason, in their calculation, to take candidate Buhari serious with his campaign promise to the Nigerian people that he intended to kill corruption before it kills the country if elected. This is because this class held the country by the jugular. They had an iron-grip on all the levers of power. They probably must have calculated, having considered both the material and spiritual equations, that Buhari had no chance in a “million years” to become the country’s chief of state again, even in a democratic dispensation. But when it dawned on them that the unthinkable but inevitable God’s day was about to happen on the polity that has been deftly wired on ‘auto pilot’ for very long, they threw in Godsday (Orubebe) as a counter-punch to God’s day. Since His ways are not their ways, they had Godsday for about half an hour, but God’s day was supreme. And it will endure for four years.

What seems to be eerily unfolding since the corruption protection crusaders (championed by Prof. Ben Nwabueze [for an ethnic group] and Bishop Mathew Kukah [for a segment of the religious class]) launched out, is a replay of that Jonathan’s diabolical but clever onslaught which was, to a large extent, successful in driving a wedge between the nation’s various ethnic and religious groups during his presidency, most especially in the run-up to his re-election campaign. Generally believed to be the most clueless and patently incompetent chief of state that Nigeria ever had, Jonathan had also broken another record as a leader who deliberately took advantage of the nation’s ethno-religious fault line to further polarize the country for his ultimate political goal of achieving another term in office. But it failed in the end. We must thank God for little mercies.

Nwabueze’s stance on Buhari’s anti-corruption war in a three-part article in the Vanguard Newspaper of August 13, 17, and 19, 2015 which he cleverly but dubiously titled “Corrupt practices: Igbo leaders’ position of past governments” (it didn’t matter that he was the sole signatory to the article), with all his intellectual gymnastics and illogicalities, was nothing other than a disingenuous ploy to shield the people of Southeast extraction who were predominate in the Jonathan administration from losing the tremendous material gains they had acquired from a man whose government was distinctly Niger-Delta/Southeast. It mattered not that these material gains could be glaringly illegal or morally unjustified. As a constitutional lawyer whose involvement in making Nigeria a great and respectable nation in the world cannot be questioned, and an elder whose moral stock is expected to be in abundance, it’s disturbing that Prof. Nwabueze did not only approach Buhari to “let bygone be bygone” before his trip to the United States, but his public declaration in the three-part article that Buhari should jettison his anti-corruption fight leaves a sour taste in the mouth. One would have expected the respected voices in Ndigbo to have dissociated the southeast from a personal opinion that has now been largely known as “Igbo leaders’ position” in Buhari’s anti-corruption fight. But it may well be asking too much from Ndigbo, as a collective, to denounce Nwabueze as they’re never known to go against anything that will advance their economic interest no matter how illegal or morally repugnant to the nation’s corporate existence, to which Nwabueze himself alluded in his exhortation to his people as to how they should vote during the campaign. Theirs is the classic case of eating one’s cake and having it too.

Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah may have denied that his committee’s meeting with Buhari had nothing to do with giving Jonathan, or any corrupt Nigerian any reprieve in the president’s war on corruption, but Nigerians are no fools. With all his convoluted and illogic reasons why Buhari should “not waste his time” in prosecuting the Jonathan administration, that ill-fated ‘invasion’ of Aso Rock by the so-called National Peace Council (NPC), formerly known as the 2015 Elections Peace Committee (which might as well be renamed the National Corruption Protection Council [NCPC]), of which the bishop of the Sokoto Diocese is not only its spokesman but also its founder, who may have cunningly co-opted some of its revered members to the committee had everything to do with not only Jonathan but probably the bishop himself. Kukah, unbeknown to the public, may well be sweating under his cassock, probably for having remembered that he may at some point have invited and hosted corruption in his vicarage where it did something spectacular for him before it left. Hence his bizarre but spirited efforts to make Buhari to stop corruption in its tracks. It’s also not inconceivable that Jonathan may have given the council a marching order to The Villa, having realized, now that he’s out of the cage and his eyes cleared, how he had been conned to dispense a huge fortune for his re-election when these people knew, ab initio, that no miracle could have changed his electoral misfortune.

The religious colouration of the corruption protection agenda became self-evident when the respected Archbishop Anthony Olubumni Okogie joined the fray in which was reported to have said that Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign would fail unless the government appeals to the conscience of the looters to voluntarily relinquish their loots. With Kukah and Okogie, one needs no further evidence of a society whose moral compass may have been damaged almost beyond repair. Pray, how, for instance, can someone who carted away several billions of pensioners’ hard-earned money be considered as having any conscience? How do you appeal to a conscience of someone who never had one in the first place? Bishop Kukah’s unsolicited reminder that we’re not in the military era was a disingenuous put-down of the Nigerian president. What the bishop may have refused to acknowledge is that Buhari may well go down as having the highest democratic ethos among Nigerian leaders since independence for adamantly insisting on the actualization of his campaign promises to the Nigerian people on which his electoral victory was secured.

In a society where hardly any day went by since May 29, 2015 without the nation’s dailies reporting some very reckless, highly embarrassing, heaven-may-fall lootings of the national treasury during the Jonathan administration—some of which the former president was himself alleged to be aware—it beggars believe that any well-meaning, guiltless Nigerian would criticize Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption in the nation’s body politic. Malam Ahmed Joda’s statement used as an epigraph above definitely epitomizes the herculean task that Buhari faces and anyone who cannot appreciate the enormity of the corruption problem, not to talk of advising the president to concentrate on other national issues should not only be seen as anti-people but also be considered a traitor to the nation. The movement that culminated into the “Sai Baba, Sai Buhari” catch phrase during the campaign has now crystallized into a cause probably bigger than Buhari himself. Therefore, the best that the likes of Kukah and Nwabueze can do under the present circumstance is to allow this cause to run its course.


Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at [email protected]