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Buhari Is Fighting Corruption Corruptly

PMB is showing that he is averse to fair hearing and due process. If this becomes the character of his regime, then, we are as good as through with this thing called democracy

Someone sent me an SMS penultimate Friday. He was reacting to my arguments in the Deification Of Being And The New Haram. He accused me of hate. He said “you hate PMB and that is why you write the way you do. But like it or not, PMB does not make mistakes and he will fix all the rubbish your people did to this country”. I reserved the right not to disclose identity, real or fake, of the SMSer. I had argued, in the ‘hate’ article, that PMB is fallible and should not be deified as that would mean herding him towards dictatorship, which, in the 21st Century, need not come in Khaki.

PMB had taken some ‘cleansing’ actions after that article. There had been changes at AMCON. After the change, Femi Adesina was quoted by cable.ng as admitting that there was indeed a breach of procedure in the AMCON appointment and that steps were being taken to correct the breach. It had to do with the observation of the law in the appointment of the AMCON boss. As it stands, and given my layman’s understanding of the law that governs such appointment, it does mean that PMB’s action, having not followed due process, is null and void.

Again, I have followed concerns over last week’s unveiling of PMB’s kitchen cabinet. The arguments have mostly tilted towards lopsidedness. Well, everyone has his/her view on what that represents. But I am more attracted to Garba Shehu’s explanation that the anomaly would be corrected with subsequent appointments. Great! This, again, is admission, by PMB’s spokesman, that the boss is fallible and does make terrible mistakes. However, the problem it exposes is that PMB is deliberately fallible. And that is the danger.

This deliberate fallibility is in his bid to clean up the ‘Augean stable’, no doubt. But again, we are welcome to a new world of understanding of the fight against corruption using corrupt means. By going back-in-time to unearth Col. Hameed Ali to become Comptroller General of Customs, PMB re-creates a problem Nigerians believe had been conquered. Probably, he did not see the damage that action is, on the psyche of officers of the service. I am told that a Colonel is equivalent of Assistant Comptroller General. If that is indeed factual, it does mean that PMB has deliberately corrupted the Customs system. Consequence would be the retirement of ACGs and DCGs of the Customs. It also means that the training, aspiration and dedication to duty and most importantly, the onerous call of service to fatherland, is myth. The dream of service personnel is to reach the top of the career ladder. Breaching it, like PMB has done, could be counterproductive. There is no logic that suffices in arguing that only Col. Ali is ethically clean to lead the Customs. I don’t buy that. Besides, pulling someone from retirement, 20 years after, comes with its own hiccups. There is generational gap. There is professional gap. There is technological gap. It also comes with abuse of stated regulations as regards the appointment of the CG of Customs. For emphasis, Section 3.11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No 24 Vol. 89 of 25th March 2002, speaks on the choice of the comptrollergeneral of customs and says it shall be by “appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (General Duty)”. To become a DCG at the Customs, one must have been appointed an ACG. The Gazzette said at Section 3.9.1 that one become an ACG “by promotion of a suitable Comptroller of Customs (General Duty) who has spent at least four years on the grade, earned four years’ good Annual Evaluation Performance Evaluation Reports not below ‘C’ grading and attended and passed the Customs Advanced Command Course”.

None of these work in Col. Ali’s favour. Having breached regulation regarding the appointment of the Customs CG, Buhari creates credibility problems for his government. Besides, his seeming deafness to voices of reason, as regards the appointment, points to fears expressed by those who know him better prior to the general election. So, he is simply proving those who don’t trust him right and those who trust him wrong.

But again, it comes right for a country that believed, and argued, that rehabilitating someone with a high office as that of president, more than 30 years after he retired, was a way forward. Doing that, we effectively elected to reverse. I had argued, on this page, that it won’t be easy for Buhari to work with the new age. His best acolytes and confidants are from the past. He is definitely going to be more comfortable with them having not mentored any in the past 30 years. He only has worshippers not persons mentored on leadership.

Career abridgment challenges this sort of appointment entails, caused an end to the appointment of retired soldiers to head other services, like that of Gen. Hananiyya at FRSC; or the appointment of an outsider, non-career personnel, like Osita Chidoka, to also head FRSC. PMB’s action is therefore a negative stamp on his regime. Recall, PMB appointed career personnel to lead NSCDC and the Immigration.Why is the Customs different? I fear internal revulsion.

Also, the action at Immigration is unbelievable. David Parradang is only on suspension. According to Civil Service rules, a suspended official is entitled to a case review. I also believe he is entitled to it. He ought to state his side to the story because officer recruitment into Immigration is not the responsibility of the CGI, but that of the board which also recruits for Prisons, Fire Service, Civil Defence.So, why punish Parradang for an offence that is outside the purview of his office? Is anyone hiding some nasty details with the hasty suspension? Also, at what point in the development of the services did the Board Secretary acquire powers to sign a letter suspending the CGI? Who removes the Service Chiefs? President or Military Board? Who removes the IGP? President or Police Commission? So, how be it that the Board Secretary that signed a letter suspending CGI Parradang, did not sign a letter appointing the new CGI? Ask again; what is the status of Mr. Parradang? Is he retired, dismissed or still on suspension? Is Buhari allowing some other persons to discharge powers of his office and blame it on his body language? Parradang deserves justice.

Buhari’s care-less dispositions to such issues that require strict adherence to regulations and the law, is reason why many fear that in his anti-corruption drive, fair hearing and due process will be first casualties. PMB is showing that he is averse to fair hearing and due process. If this becomes the character of his regime, then, we are as good as through with this thing called democracy. But sincerely, that would be fantastic because we asked for it. We had said we don’t like democracy because it makes a president a slave to due process and fairness. We wanted a strong man. Now we have one. Let’s resign to fate and live with it.


– ACHILLEUS-CHUD UCHEGBU              e-mail: achilleus.uchegbu@theunion.com.ng

  • emekuse

    Great article.

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