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One Chance With Buhari

UZOR MAXIM UZOATU              e-mail: maxim.uzoatu@theunion.com.ng

The deafening thunder of “Change!” that shot General Muhammadu Buhari into power as the new Nigerian President is fast turning into low whispers of disillusionment. There was the initial celebration of his inaugural speech, especially the line in which President Buhari stated: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” Unfortunately, before one could spell Daura, critics came forth with the accusation that President Buhari’s “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” was taken from Eric Burdon’s 1960s song “Out of Nowhere” without attribution.

These fault-finders actually argue that Buhari cannot escape the charge of plagiarism! We do know that Buhari did not write the said speech by himself, but it is incumbent on his speechwriters to acknowledge their sources before they shatter the much-touted integrity of Buhari on the gilded platform of intellectual theft! Another fallout of the inauguration of Buhari as President is the revelation that his wife, the First Lady Aisha Buhari wore at the occasion a mighty wristwatch that cost all of £34,500, that is, a whopping N10,453,000! The fashionistas tagged the Aisha Buhari watch as a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-Carat White Gold Diamond ladies watch costing about US$50,000!

The wife of a President that claimed that he was so poor he needed to borrow money from the bank to pay for his presidential nomination form is definitely putting his husband in very bad light indeed. Such gaudy exhibitionism is indefensible, to say the least, against the background that Buhari boasts of fighting corruption and squandermania.

Things even got tackier for President Buhari when he made his first two appointments in his media department where Femi Adesina would serve as the Special Adviser while Garba Shehu is penciled down as Senior Special Assistant. A presidential candidate that campaigned for a leaner government appears to be toeing the old line of “jobs for the boys” for the sake of it.

The question on many mouths is: What has changed? It is as though that the duo of Adesina and Shehu can only be seen as a mere replacement of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tag team of Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe. As if poised on an irreversible journey of reversing himself, Buhari who had promised during his campaigns to declare his assets publicly undertook a very secret declaration of assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau unlike late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who declared his assets publicly.

Many Nigerians did not find it funny that their newly-minted president is now asking them to use the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to get into the details of the assets he declared. It is against this background that the Stop Impunity Nigeria Campaign has asked the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau to make available to it the asset declaration forms submitted to the Bureau by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo within seven days as stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.

In an application made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and delivered to the office of the Bureau’s chairman on Monday, June 1, 2015, the Campaign, comprising the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Community Life Project (CLP), Human Development Initiative (HDI), and Media Rights Agenda (MRA), specifically asked to be given copies of the documents in the custody of the Bureau, notably: The Assets Declaration Form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by General Muhammadu Buhari on May 28, 2015 or thereabout in accordance with Section 140(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; and the Assets Declaration Form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by Professor Yemi Osinbajo on May 28, 2015 or thereabout in accordance with Section 142(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Taking the matter further ahead, the National Secretary of the Labour Party, Kayode Ajulo, pointedly accused President Muhammadu Buhari of failing to keep the covenant he had with the Nigerian people to publish his assets publicly. According to the fire-eating Ajulo, “As a lawyer and political stakeholder, I found it appropriate for me to register my constructive observation on some of the steps taken by President Muhammadu Buhari who officially assumed office barely three days ago.

The promise on the declaration of assets made to Nigerian voters was to woo voters for votes and now the voters have fulfilled their part of the agreement, it is left for Buhari to fulfil the other part, failure of which is a clear violation of the social contract he had with millions of Nigerians.” Ajulo’s words do so much harm to Buhari’s honour, to wit: “It won’t also be out of place for Buhari who is purportedly seen as an advocate of change with high enthusiasm to halt corruption to urgently take measures to seek amendment of the law relating to declaration of assets to include the requirement of public disclosure so as to bring it in line with international standards and best practices such as the UN Convention against Corruption.

Otherwise this present conduct can be best described as a charade to hoodwink Nigerians and other international observers. There shouldn’t be a middle ground; Buhari’s standpoint must be clearly defined, or else he would be building an albatross and/or moral burden for his government. This is too early.” Obviously Buhari has much work to do to win back the trust of Nigerians which is being lost very early in his presidency. Already local talebearers have coined a phrase for the change that Buhari promised Nigerians by dismissing it all into the kind of dubious vehicle locally known as “One Chance”!

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