Buhari and the Slow Motion Dance With Corruption -By Victor Enengedi

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Victor Enengedi

Defending the policies and actions of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has got to be one of the most difficult job in Nigeria. It appears so difficult that oftentimes one cannot help but feel sorry and sad for most of the President’s aides, especially Garba Shehu, Femi Adesina and most prominently, Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed whenever they are confronted with pressing questions regarding the actions and inactions of the government on certain issues.

You can always notice how they struggle to defend the government and often times end up doing more damage in their responses. When they are met at a cross road, they bounce around the issues and then laughably point the finger at the previous government.

I for one, was pro-Buhari, and really hoping that his government was going to deliver on the much needed “change” Nigeria and Nigerians deserved. I know how many arguments and fights I got into just to sell Buhari to friends and colleagues, assuring them that if Buhari doesn’t even do anything else, at least corruption would be dealt with to the barest minimum.

Well, we all know how that has turned out so far.

As of today, many Nigerians have not been given much choice but to doubt the anti-corruption crusade of the President.

President Muhammadu Buhari campaigned on the promise that he was going exterminate corruption, an issue which was fingered as the nation’s biggest problem and then set Nigeria on the path of growth and development.

However, over two years later, it seems that the much promised fight against corruption by Buhari was no more than just a ‘bullet point’ on his manifesto.

Allegations of corruption have been raised against principal officers of his administration, but no actions have been taken. Instead, the President has maintained silence forcing many to believe that he condones corruption, especially when perpetrated by his cronies.

The President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, sometime last year, was indicted by the Senate to have been behind the reduction of the fine levied against South African telecoms company, MTN and in the process skimmed extra money to the tune of N500million as a bribe on the side.

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s report on the investigation of allegations of violations of law and due process was made against the Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), and a probe of Director of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke on the discovery of huge cash by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, for which NIA laid claim, has remained in the cooler for about two months now.

The EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu was indicted by the Senate based on a damning security report by the Department of State Services (DSS) accusing him of high-handness and alleged involvement in some corrupt practices.

Magu’s predecessor, Ibrahim Lamorde, who was removed from office on series of allegations of financial impropriety and subsequently declared wanted but now appointed as the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Special Fraud Unit (SPU) in Lagos.

Issues regarding allegations of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process in the award of $26 billion contracts by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, brought by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has still not been addressed by the President.

This and indeed many other allegations against Buhari’s men have been seemingly swept under the rug, even though Nigerians have on several occasions called for blood.

It is however not surprising that the Presidents silence on these matters have gotten many to believe that such questionable characters and their actions have gotten his endorsements.

The latest scandal, involving a former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina who was reportedly readmitted into the civil service despite being wanted by the EFCC and INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) due to his masterminding a N100 billion pension fraud scheme, is yet the most baffling.

Though President Buhari has graciously ordered for his disengagement from the civil service, This begs several questions like, how a man who declared a fugitive and wanted both in Nigeria and internationally, return to the country without the knowledge of security agencies – Nigerian Police, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NSA, Nigerian Immigration Service and others?

Let’s assume he snuck back into the country using the same ‘woman disguise’ method as earlier made infamous by a former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in 2005 when he escaped to Nigeria from British officials, how then was he reinstated back into the civil service and even, promoted as if nothing had happened?

Surely, he definitely had high level help and Nigerians are asking President Buhari to fish them all out and bring to book whoever is culpable.

The effect of corruption on Nigeria is of course, unquantifiable, hence The Guardian beautifully opines that “aside from soiling Nigeria’s corporate image in the international community, all the social, economic and political structures in the country have been ruined by corruption. Social services and infrastructure are in a shambles. The people are pauperized as the ordinary people are always the victims. While the people wallow in abject poverty and want, members of the political class and their business class associates bask in stupendous stolen wealth.”

Senator Shehu Sani consequently described President Buhari’s attitude towards corruption thus: “When it comes to fighting corruption in the National Assembly and the Judiciary and in the larger Nigerian sectors, the President uses insecticide, but when it comes to fighting corruption within the Presidency, they use deodorants.”

It is unfortunate that Buhari has not been able to keep his own house clean, thereby sending a vibe that maybe, he is alone in this fight. In all of these, it is sad to admit that the President’s body language has not given the populace confidence that it indeed has any intention to fight corruption or prosecute government officials that have certain allegations hovering around their heads just to send a clear message.

What Nigeria deserves is the type of president strong enough and with the will power to fight corruption and can convincingly practicalise Buhari’s famous “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” inaugural speech.

To be able to redeem his image and gain back once again the confidence and trust of Nigerians, President Buhari must speedily investigate and prosecute government officials and politicians, especially his cronies and show to Nigerians that he has the will-power and capacity to handle the demands of his office.

This will indeed calm public outcry and convince Nigerians that the President’s anti-corruption fight is not a mere slogan and also not one-sided. Anything less will portray his administration to be no different from previous self-aggrandizing governments who have enriched the elites at the expense of the poor masses.

Victor Enengedi, Editor at Tori.ng can be reached via Twitter: @iamkuffz, email: [email protected]