“‘Strong leadership’ is, then, generally taken to signify an individual concentrating power in his or her own hands and wielding it decisively. Et the more power and authority is accumulated in just one leader’s hands, the more the leader comes to believe in his or her unrivalled judgment and indispensability. The more decisions are taken by one individual leader, the less time that person has for thinking about the policy and weighing up the evidence in each case. Since there are only twenty-four hours in the day of even the strongest leader, that person’s aides find themselves (often to their great satisfaction) taking decisions in the name of the leader. That is just one reason why the allure of ‘strong leadership’ being executed by a single person at the top of the political hierarchy should be resisted”.
-Archie Brown, The Myth Of The Strong Leader (Political Leadership In The Modern Age)
Brown, an emeritus professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, also wrote in the book under reference that “placing great power in the hands of one person is inappropriate in a democracy, and it would be unusually lackluster government in which just one individual was best qualified, as distinct from sometimes feeling entitled, to have the last word on everything”.
As I read those lines, my mind raced down to secret employments that had been carried out at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which had a stamp of nepotism on it. I also remember that Interior Minister, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau, had while telling the people of Kano of the decision to build more prisons (not schools, not hospitals, not factories) in the state for them, also exposed the fact that he had concluded recruitments into the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS). I recall too that someone had sent me a message informing that a friend of his was employed into the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) “without interview”. He had said “he just got an employment letter and was asked to resume immediately”. All these were yet to be sorted out against the law on employment into the civil service which mandated advertisement and respect for the Federal character principle, when it was revealed that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), had concluded the employment of over 300 Nigerian, who had also resumed.
These facts challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s touted integrity. It is not in doubt that ‘integrity’ was Buhari’s unique selling point during the 2015 general elections. Nigerians asked for him because they believed he was a man of integrity with the discipline not to allow certain corrupt practices happen under his watch. Buhari had talked very tough about his hatred for corruption and how that evil will kill Nigeria if it was not eliminated. He had announced his entrance into office with the declaration that being a man of integrity, he belonged to no one in particular. That profession was understood, by the public, that he will not give in to corrupt tendencies like nepotistic and secret employments into the civil and public service. That is why developments are CBN, which benefitted the children of highly placed Nigerians, FIRS, NIS and FAAN, are as shocking as the revelations of alleged stolen public funds by some state operatives during the life of the last administration. Unfortunately, the difference is that one occurred under a regime that should be vilified, no matter the circumstance, and the other is occurring under the watchful approval of saintly rescuers.
Simply put, the secret employments tell us that the veil of integrity cast on the President, was a fantastic myth, an illusion really. It was once created by fantastically corrupt minds to hoodwink a gullible public into opening up the gates to taking advantage of current positions to corruptly secure employments for kids and wards in high paying and secured federal government agencies, while condemning graduates, some of who made better grades than the favoured kids, into two-year teaching contracts that would pay N23,000 monthly. None of those employed into FIRS, NIS, FAAN, CBN will earn N23,000 monthly. That, in fact, may just be entertainment allowance.
There is high possibility that the secret and nepotistic employments may have been hidden from the President. But, like Brown said, in the face of a strong leader, who drives himself towards dictatorship, aides wield powers that they do not have. None of those supervising agencies that had engaged in secret and nepotistic employments have the powers to abuse the law. I recall that a Comptroller General of Immigration was removed from office because the Federal Character Commission accused her of employing a category of Nigerians into the service secretly and without advertisement. That was done under a leader that was said to be weak. Here we are, faced with a strong leader, who permits a rape of the constitution and due process requirements in the bid to satisfy a mindset.
As it is, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, comes down openly as, not indeed aimed at tackling corruption, but to decimate elites who had made his journey to the presidency such an arduous one. He therefore lacks the moral legitimacy to sustain the anti-corruption war if he overlooks the fantastic corruption happening under his watch by way of secret employments into the public service. Note that the listed agencies are not the only culprits. Many other parastatals and agencies are similarly employing in the guise of ‘replacement’.
The President still can do something: invalidate the employments; punish all those who had tarred his reputation with the brush of corrupt secret employments; ensure a competitive employment process that meets the criteria set out by the Federal Character Commission including advertisement in the media. Otherwise, his silence would mean endorsement of corruption and nepotism, and an attestation that he is actually at home with corrupt practices in so far as they are to the benefits of his aides and loyalists. If he says, by his body language, that he condones the secret employments, he would have, by that action, told the world, that his advertised strength and integrity is only an artifice.
Similarly, beneficiaries of such employments, ought to know that they are no better than those who receive proceeds of corruption. They may go to work, earn salaries and all, but they live with the burden that they attained such employments riding on nepotism and corruption. They also lack the moral rights to critique corruption in Nigeria. For as it is, they also must make restitutions by turning in their letters of employment and denounce the process that corruptly engaged them. They should rather be proud that they proved their mettle in a competitive employment exercise which would recruit the best hands. Until we see change in this direction, Buhari’s change remains a farce to hoodwink the blindly devoted.