28th January, 2015
By Olumuyiwa Wahab Jimoh
Under the PDP-led Federal Government since 1999, and, especially within the last 6 years of our democratic journey, the scourge of corruption has deepened, multiplying suffering within our body politic and alienating an increasing number of people from their share of national resources. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has presided directly over this last 6 years of deepened corruption which has not shown any signs of abating. We have always remained one of the top contenders to the most corrupt nation in all measurements by global watch dogs.
The fact that under his watch, corruption has expanded both in character and in reach, assuming dimensions that were hitherto unknown to Nigeria before, says a lot about the character and disposition of this President to corruption. His failure to at least keep corruption at the same level which he met it instead of allowing it to grow is enough to tell every discerning Nigerian that he is not the one we are looking for to fight the battle for us. It is because of his embarrassing failure to fight corruption and its consequences that it has become a major issue of discourse in Nigeria today.
It is either that he is corrupt himself; condones corruption or he is too weak to rein in this monster. If any one of these three is true, then it automatically excludes him from the kind of leader that has the capacity and capability to reduce corruption to its barest minimum. It is a contradiction that a government that claims to fight corruption would preside over the decimation of the police pension fund and even when Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Force, was at the centre of it, he was allowed to go scot free.
As if that was not enough, the oil subsidy thieves some of who have turned into supporters and sponsors of the PDP and promoters of the TAN and who were clearly identified on national television as men who have questions to answer, have thus far not answered for their evil deeds to the Nigerian state and her people. The former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, whose case was so obvious and needed no special investigation to bring to book has since gone ahead to become a PDP senatorial candidate in the forthcoming general elections without paying for her sins.
Nigeria today continues to lose humongous amounts of resources through the NNPC accounting gerrymandering but nothing serious has been done under the watch of GEJ to stop this unremitting haemorrhaging of our national resources. We are here talking about issues that are in the public domain not of those that have not been uncovered. When these are factored in, the enormity of the problem is better imagined.
The EFCC that used to be a very vibrant anti-corruption agency under the leadership of Ribadu has since become a forgotten entity because it has almost stopped its activities of prosecuting the war against corruption being the purpose for its creation. I would not remember the last time anybody either in government or public life has been prosecuted in the law courts for any serious crimes of corruption or even when they are prosecuted at all, the last time a conviction was procured against any of them. Nigerians truly are beginning to forget that this agency still exists. The same can be said of the ICPC which has remained worse than a paper tiger under GEJ.
It is then clear that under the watch of this president, our anti-corruption institutions have one way or the other not been empowered or guided into succeeding in the original purposes for which they were established. If these agencies that report directly to the President are no longer working or are sub optimal in their output, then it is either that the supervisor has refused to supervise or has ensured that they are incapacitated and so unable to perform. Either way, the President has shown that he is either not interested in fighting the scourge or he is out to put the institutions for fighting it in a strait jacket.
The latest N21b campaign fund raiser is a clear fraud as it is an open bribe extended to the ruling party – the PDP and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which will never happen under a President that is desirous of fighting corruption in all its ramifications. The portend of this latest case of corruption is that corruption itself has bought and secured a pride of place for the next four years if Nigerians make the mistake of returning the President to Aso Rock on 14 February, 2015. The implications are very dire for the nation given its consequences on our drive to join the elite club of the developed world.
Is GEJ then an enemy of corruption? NO. Is he corruption friendly? YES. These are the obvious answers given the way he has handled it thus far. And these, have not shown any signs of changing though he has been promising to do something about corruption.
However, we are of the opinion that for a President who has been in office for the last 6 years and has failed to see its centrality in our quest for national development, another 4 years will not make any difference. We therefore believe that that gesture was a mere tokenism and afterthought manufactured as a feeble attempt to appease or deceive the dissatisfied electorate who are bent on throwing his presidency out of office come February 2015.
Having come to this unfortunate conclusion that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is playing pranks with corruption despite all the damage it has done to our dream of becoming a developed nation, the logical question to ask is; is there any other person who can do better? Our ready-made answer is YES. Amongst all the credible leaders in Nigeria who we believe can also grapple successfully with corruption, Muhammadu Buhari is the only one who has presented himself for that office and who has fortunately secured the candidacy of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the forthcoming election billed for February, 2015. Muhammadu Buhari is therefore the only candidate standing who can help Nigerians realise the benefits of democracy as he is the only one capable of fighting corruption to a standstill.
Why do we think that Buhari is an anti–corruption crusader and why do we think that he can remain true to this avowal even as the President of the Federal Republic? We believe that a man is judged either by his achievements while in office previously (antecedents) or the innate qualities which he possesses that may predispose him to greater success in leadership position.
His path as a leader during his career in the military and in public office as a Federal Minister of Petroleum, Governor of the North East, the Chairman Managing Director of the NNPC, as a military head of state and then as the chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund PTF are characterised by exemplary acts of discipline and anti-corruption policies and programmes. Within one year, he gave Nigeria the queuing culture, re-establishing sanity amongst public sector workers in their attitude to public service. WAI has remained indelible in the minds of Nigerians despite the fact that subsequent governments discontinued it. Its ideals have refused to die.
It has to be remembered that it was his anti-corruption stance that led to his overthrow by the IBB military junta because the “Coupists” were afraid of what he wanted to do against their well-known tendency to engage in malfeasance in office which they later manifested on succeeding through the putsch. Nigeria is still reeling in the rottenness which followed their ascension to power up till today.
Staffers of NNPC and PTF will testify anytime to this man’s zero tolerance for any form of corruption. Some of his ministers bear testimony to this and one of them – Prof. Tam David-West despite being the kinsman of the current President has remained one of Buhari’s ardent followers ready at any time to give testimony on the anti-corruption posture of Buhari. This is no mean feat given the pervasive sentiments going around the nation currently.
Buhari’s candidacy is therefore truly that of a “Daniel come to Judgment”. Already, corrupt public and private officials are ganging up against his candidacy to ensure that he does not win and this can be further buttressed by the huge contributions that poured into the President’s campaign fund raising programme recently. Some of them out of fear are already beginning to relocate while others are concluding arrangements to immediately leave the nation when Muhammadu Buhari emerges victorious. People like us find this information good because it shows that by his mere presence, corruption quakes, let alone when he becomes the President.
The choice between Buhari and Jonathan is therefore a choice between development and retrogression; a choice between solving our development quagmire and remaining in it and ultimately, a choice between anti-corruption and corruption. Our happiness is that this choice is in the hands of Nigerians. It does not lay elsewhere but in our ballots. We must put our money where our mouth is and must vote wisely. Next month exactly on the 14th day presents an opportunity for us as a people to cast out a government that has shown crass ineptitude in the face of developmental challenges and an unending appetite not only to condone but to promote corruption. We must choose Buhari for in him lays our path to development and the much sought after national salvation. He is the one who has come to make things right again for Nigeria. He is a Daniel indeed who has come to Judgment!
•Jimoh is Lagos State House of Assembly member representing Apapa Constituency II