Our president, General Muhammadu Buhari, is now the man of the moment both within and outside the country. The reason for this is two-pronged. One is that he has just emerged as the leader of the most populous country in Africa having defeated a seating president in March 28 presidential elections. The second has to do with the anticorruption toga and man-of-the-people image, which he wore during the electioneering and which many believe largely accounted for his victory at the poll.
Within the international community, President Buhari is seen as an unrelenting anti-corruption crusader, a man with the right credentials to rid the country of its stinking corruption, hence the overwhelming assurances of supports to extricate the country from the stench of corruption. The applause he has been receiving from the international community has buoyed him into action as evidenced in his utterances since his inauguration on May 29. He has continued to talk tough on corruption Said he: “Apart from insurgency, we shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism—the evil of corruption. Corruption attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character.
By misdirecting into selfish hands funds intended for the public purpose, corruption distorts the economy and worsens income inequality. It creates a class of unjustly-enriched people.” According to the president, “such an illegal yet powerful force soon comes to undermine democracy because its conspirators have amassed so much money that they believe they can buy government. We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival. I repeat that corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.”
The president, therefore asked Nigerians to join him in resolving this cancer that has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation, noting that along the way there would be victories but there may also be setbacks. He said his administration had received firm assurances of cooperation from the United States and other countries on the recovery and repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria. He noted that it was now up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort. Buhari was the country’s military head of state between 1983 and 1985 during which he waged stern war against corruption while his administration lasted.
The administration jailed several Second Republic politicians for corruption charges with some of them bagging 100 years prison terms. President Buhari was asked by CNN anchorwoman, Christian Amanpour, if would punish any member of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), indicted of corruption. His answer was in the affirmative. Nigerians have to see that. Perhaps, one group, which I believe, President Buhari has yet to direct his search light in his anti-corruption project, is this club of women led by his wife Aisha.
He must not underrate the power of women. They can make or mar ambitions; hence they must be carried along on the project. They must be properly educated on the danger of corruption and what they as individuals and the nation stand to gain from living in a corruption-free-society. The concept of First Lady is now fully engrained in the nation’s politics.
The Constitution does not create an office for the country’s First Lady or potential First Gentleman. However, official funding and staff have been allocated to the First Lady of Nigeria since the country’s independence. The First Lady is addressed by the title, Her Excellency, hence every woman in the country dreams of the day she will become the First Lady of either the country or the wife of a governor (so that she becomes the First Lady in the state), the wife of the senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, minister or local government chairman.
These ladies gallivant the streets of the major cities in the country in the name of First Ladies. Many of them float dubious NGOs to which public funds are diverted in the name of one funny project to another. Others use the NGOs to extort money from corporate organisations and foreign donors for projects that are never executed. Buhari must forbid his wife and her state counterparts from owning such NGOs because they are instruments of corruption.
The National Assembly has passed into law a bill prohibiting the act of “spraying” the Naira, our local currencies, at parties. The apex law making body also went further to recommend a jail term for offenders. But trust Nigerians for their ability to circumvent any law that stands in their way, an appropriate ‘solution’ has been found to this law. Now, instead of spraying the Naira, people have now resorted to spraying the United States Dollars and other foreign currencies, which are easily converted at the numerous ‘black markets’ in Lagos. Since the new law only forbids the spraying of Naira alone and not of other currencies, no law is broken. Many of the spenders of these foreign currencies, from our observation, are people at the corridor of power.
This was exactly what happened at the lavish party which was thrown on June 12th by the president’s flamboyant wife, Hajia Aisha Buhari, for Nigerian women and youths of the All Progressives Party in appreciation of her husband’s victory in the March 28 presidential election. The unreported part of the dinner was that dollars exchanged hands.
This detracts strongly from this administration’s anti-corruption stance. The dinner, held at the Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, attracted a large number of women across the country, including wives of APC governors. According to reports, the women, in their hundreds, were taken to Aso Rock in large capacity buses owned by the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company (AUMTCO), an agency under the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). While most of the guests who attended the event came with special invitations, some of them could not get seats because of the massive turn out at the occasion.
Prominent persons who attended the dinner included the APC women leader, Hajia Ramatu Tijani; former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Ameachi who was chairman of the occasion and wife of chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Hajia Asmau Yari. Others include wife of the Imo State governor, Mrs. Nkechi Okorocha; Dr. Hajon Sani; Wife of the APC national chairman, Victoria John Oyegun; wife of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gimbia Dogara; wife of the Senate President; Toyin Saraki and Bola Tinubu who was represented by Femi Ojudu.
Despite pre-election promises made by her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari not to have an “office of the first lady”, Aisha Buhari seems to have assumed the role, and in grand style too. A report by Breaking Times on 1st June 2015, which broke on the internet revealed how Aisha Buhari wore a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-Carat White Gold Diamond Ladies Watch that cost £34,500 (N10, 400,000) to the President’s inauguration on Friday, May 29 2015.