It is easy to fool a few persons a few times, one may escape with telling lies in the interim but in the long run, everything is brought to the open, what is long hidden is revealed and people and events are seen in the light of their true colours.
Not even the smartest con masters could carry their craft beyond a certain time frame. Inevitably, liars, fraudsters and cheats get exposed, disgraced and are without fail, ridiculed by those who had earlier admired or seen them as icons. Charles Ponzi, Victor Lustig, C.L. Blood and Gregor MacGregor all started out successfully in the game of make-believe before they were eventually exposed, ridiculed, jailed or publicly executed.
Like all scams in history, the scam that was Buhari’s “anti-corruption” has since been exposed by careful observers as either a tool of political intimidation, vendetta or harassment of those who share a difference in opinion with Aso Rock. If any doubt ever remained about the current “anti-corruption” war being a facade, it was summarily dispelled last week with the release of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2019 by international anti-corruption watchdog- Transparency International. The CPI ranks 180 countries on a scale of 0-100; the lower you are on the score, the higher the level of corruption. Those with higher scores have lower incidences of corruption in their clime. Nigeria’s 2019 score was 26. 26/100.
Observers consider it strange that in 2012 and 2014 when many believed that corruption in Nigeria was at its highest, the country’s score on the index was 27- higher than what it scored at a time Buhari and his clown of sycophantic supporters in the APC and across compromised media platforms want us to believe that the menace of corruption is being fought. The TI’s CP Index did also establish that Nigeria is now the country with the highest level of public sector corruption in the whole of the West Africa region and definitely, one of the worst in the entire continent.
It remains mysterious how a country whose president makes the loudest noise about “fighting corruption” tops the corruption chart in the sub region. But this is where the hypocrisy of the president lies. When last did you hear President Danny Faure of Seychelles or Paul Kagame of Rwanda talk about “fighting corruption” in the public domain? Have you heard any serious European or American politician tell voters that “fighting corruption will be the cardinal objective of my administration if elected?”
The fact is that no serious leader has any business “fighting corruption.” All that is required is to set up anti-corruption institutions as Olusegun Obasanjo did with the setting up of EFCC and ICPC, strengthen them by creating independent source of funding, appoint intelligent, patriotic and courageous individuals to run them, support them with training and maybe create some forms of collaborations with international agencies like the FBI in the US, the UK SFO and related agencies in Israel and other parts of Europe. Evidence from around the world have proved that corruption cannot be effectively fought the way Buhari is going about it, haranguing his enemies while shielding his political associates.
It is however important that answers to a few questions be found as we try to understand the perennial crises of corruption that has held Nigeria down since pre-independence days. Is Buhari really determined to fight corruption? Can Buhari fight corruption? Does Buhari understand corruption? This is where we begin to look at all the missing elements in the white noise that have gone uninterrupted in the last four years in the name of fighting corruption in Nigeria.
To begin with, I do not believe for a second that Buhari ever set out to fight corruption. He lied to Nigerians when he told them he was coming “to stamp out corruption.” Truth is: man had no interest whatsoever in tackling corruption- just like all his other bogus and hysteria-induced promises. A man determined to fight corruption would have avoided Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amechi, Godwill Akpabio, Danjuma Goje, Umar Ganduje, Sani Ahmed Yerima and the scores of politicians who financed and provided logistics for his campaign in 2015 and 2019 like epidemics. How do you fight corruption when you have exposed yourself to blackmail from the men who ran Nigeria (and the states) aground with their greed? Pray, has Buhari been able to satisfactorily account for his stewardship as the head of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF)? How much accrued to PTF? How much was deployed to the execution of meaningful projects? How much were misappropriated and used in the purchase of fake, substandard drugs? How about his relationship with the consultants he personally hired? Shall we also forget about the controversies surrounding the disappearance of more than two billion naira from the coffers of the NNPC in 1978 when Buhari was federal commissioner for petroleum? So why should a man with a sordid past and untidy relationships as Buhari be interested in fighting corruption?
A sad fact about politics in Nigeria is that there are too many gullible people who follow cunning politicians foolishly. Pray, what does Buhari really understand corruption to mean? Giving and taking bribes? Well, it is beyond that Mr President. The giving and taking of bribes is as cancerous as appointing very incompetent characters to occupy strategic positions in government, refusing to sack those whose actions and inactions lead to the loss of thousands of lives across the country, seeing Nigeria from an ethnic prism, using the office you occupy to advance family, ethnic or religious interests. What corruption could be as damaging as unilaterally removing the head of the country’s judiciary without adherence to due process? How about a sitting idly by while terrorists, armed robbers and other freelance crime merchants kill Nigerians for fun? Isn’t it extreme corruption that despite the billions being mapped out annually for fighting crimes and insecurity, thousands of Nigerians die annually from the activities of criminals and their sponsors?
How about the rampant extortion of motorists by security agents on the road in broad-day light in our urban centres? Do we forget to mention the numerous instances of job racketeering in offices, the extortion of students in universities and institutions of higher learning by authorities and lecturers, the corruption in the ports, Customs and other revenue generating agencies? What efforts have been put in place to put all of these in check? How many police officers are facing trial for collecting bribes on the highway? How many Customs agents are being investigated for sabotaging the economy through active collaboration with smugglers? Has anyone being arrested and prosecuted successfully for exploiting Nigerian importers at the Lagos ports?
Rigging elections have become more brazen in Buhari’s Nigeria. Even the judiciary now appears determined to put its seal of judicial authority on stolen mandates. Could any instance of corruption be more heinous than any of these? The most important question at this point is: does Buhari understand all of these to mean corruption? Moreso, can a man who has unresolved allegations of corruption from the 70s and 90s hanging around him really lead any sincere war to rid the polity of corruption? What new ideas has Buhari introduced in the anti-corruption war efforts? What policy measures and templates has his government put in place to effectively tackle corruption?
To understand even further, the joke Buhari misnames anti-corruption efforts, think about Ibrahim Magu, the man still acting as the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission even after the DSS had declared him unfit to occupy the office and the subsequent refusal of the senate to confirm him for the office. Does tMagu possess the pedigree, intellectual know-how and willpower to fight corruption without minding whose ox is gored? Compare Magu to the pioneer chairman of the EFCC; does the current chair of the Commission compare favourably with the fiery Nuhu Ribadu? Now to be clear, an EFCC chairman does not have to be as zealous as Ribadu to be effective, he just has to know the job. Does Magu know the job Buhari appointed him to do? How many high profile convictions have been secured under him? How many successful fraud investigations has the EFCC under Magu conducted? What is Magu’s relationship with leading members of the ruling party? How many senior officials of the Buhari administration is he looking into their financial transactions? What is Magu doing about vote buying? How many “vote buyers” has his commission arrested?
As the opening statement in this presentation tells us, you can pretend for a while but in the end, the truth will expose the fraudulent. Today, the truth is no more an object of speculation and the TI reports merely caps it: the Buhari government is neck deep in corruption, there is no “war” against corruption anywhere in Nigeria and if anything, the menace called corruption has taken a firmer, deeper roots in Nigeria; no thanks to the man who conned an entire country into believing he would do what he is incapable of doing.