Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga reports on the renewed public doubts over President Buhari’s anti-corruption stand following his nomination of persons with alleged questionable past as his ministers
The continued declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that he wants to be remembered as the Nigerian President that fought corruption to a standstill during his ongoing tenure, has been eliciting remarks from different political watchers, considering the recent development in the polity.
Many are taken aback by his continued statements of commitment to fight corruption while developments like the nomination of some persons with questionable past, just as candidates of his party for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states for instance also have allegations of corruption currently under investigation by the EFCC.
For many, those with such tainted past should not even be encouraged through any form of appointment even under the guise that allegations against them remain unproven and to do anything to the contrary would amount to trampling their fundamental human rights.
Responding to President Buhari’s anti-corruption avowal, Deji Toye, a popular lawyer and partner at The Lodt Chambers, said on social media that “The President cannot now narrow his deliverables to the single matter of fighting corruption. Fighting corruption is an ongoing work everywhere in the world.”
Another respondent, Alheri Dee-dee Loma- Osinuga, also posited that “He can’t fight corruption if workers salaries are not paid by the end of the month (October). Somebody should tell him because as I am, I am thinking of corrupt things as I am yet to receive alert.’’
Love Strong, another respondent said “He has the broom, right? Who starts sweeping his house from the street? He ought to start from his bedroom. He himself might need sweeping.’’
Nonetheless, Prince Adewunmi Adeyele, a social commentator supporting the President’s avowal to fight corruption, offered that ‘’We must act like good humans and have respect for the life of others. We must fight corruption to our religious houses and our homes, It must stop now’’
Furthermore, Ashaolu Gbenga, a respondent pinpointed that “If he sincerely meant to fight corruption then he should have started within his hemisphere. Even the Bible says God’s judgement will start within his own people.. I dont think we have any change yet. Until Buhari start the real business not this party, party, party things that he is doing up and down. Everyone knows what is good and what is bad. We are all grownups.’’
Also doubting Buhari’s declaration of total war against corruption, Tonte Tammy Eleki, personal. assistant to a Hon. member representing Auku-Toru Constituency at Rivers State House of Assembly, said “As long as Buhari is there, all APC criminals are holy. And the truth is Buhari does not come to fight corruption at all. Nigeria is still where it started in 1961.’’
Moreover, while the aforementioned respondents’ doubts his sincerity to fight corruption without being selective, some other Nigerians have also been wondering how he intends to truly fight corruption when some of his ministerial nominees that have been screened and confirmed by the National Assembly are among some questionable Nigerians that had one way or the other contributed to the mess the nation has been over the years, through maladministration.
Among those who consider President Buhari’s avowal to fight corruption to a standstill as mere political rhetoric, is Afenifere, the Pan- Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization. According to monitored media reports last week, the leadership of Afenifere, used the tag of ‘poster boys of corruption’ to describe some of the ministerial nominees of President Buhari. First Republic Governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa is also another sceptic who thinks that the ministerial list has confirmed the fears that corruption would be fought the elitist way with no firm legal and constitutional commitment which should take the issue to its roots for remedial action.
Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson of Afenifere had on Tuesday, asserted that almost all the nominees on Buhari’s list were one time or the other accused of being corrupt.
Seasoned journalist Richard Anyamele and Lagos lawyer, Mike Ogbamosa in a concise write-up sent to The UNION put it succinctly thus: “Our legal system is largely adversarial; requiring sufficient evidence to convict suspects. It is very unlikely that we will be able to get these evidences in the determination of most of the cases.
Most corruption charges will take years, perhaps decades to run through. But when a conflict/war drags indefinitely, it loses steam and public appeal. Thereafter the cause – in this case corruption, will rise to new heights. And if in any event due process is not seen to have been followed, it will be taken that trials were not free and fair and therefore justice was not done.
Nigeria must fight and bring corruption to its knees or corruption destroys her. But the magnitude of corruption is vast, pervasive. Given the spread, can government investigate and bring a quarter of the cases to trial and satisfactory closing? If not, will the exercise not be seen as unfair and vindictive to some parties?
Should government raise 10,000 investigators and lawyers and set up 100 courts, the number of cases that could be closed in four years will be like a drop in the ocean! Ultimately, the fighters will smile to the banks more than the government and corruption would not suffer serious dent.
It would be recalled that during a press conference over the weekend after the India-Africa Summit, which took place in New Delhi, President Buhari said he would not lose sleep over criticism by some Nigerians who said he was being selective in his fight against corruption.
Commenting on the tag given him by some Nigerians of being too slow in taking actions, he said “They call me baba go slow, but I will go slow and steady.”
He also used the occasion to make a clarion call on Nigeria elites to encourage him to get whoever had compromised his position in carrying out the responsibilities given to him. Adding that, he is resolute in the fight against corruption and would want to be remembered by the masses as the one who fought corruption to a standstill.
He further enlightened that his administration has three main focus namely– security, economy and the fight against corruption. But critics of his administration have been condemning his approach of tackling economic issues as too slow in coupled with the challenges of decayed infrastructure in a nation where people have no time to listen to mere political rhetoric but practical development as soon as possible,
In terms of keeping to time frame and deadlines in view of a three-month deadline promised by the APC administration to flush out Boko Haram from Nigeria’s north-east, Buhari posited that his administration is not concerned about meeting deadline, but to get rid of terrorism as soon as possible from the country.
The provision of $10 billion grant by India for African countries was among the major issues discussed during the one-day summit in New Delhi, where President Buhari used the opportunity to invite investors while assuring Indians and the international community that his administration is working towards making Nigeria an attractive economy to foreign business concerns.
His stand against corruption notwithstanding, some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been criticizing him as being selective in his so called fight against corruption.
As regards ministerial appointments, the President seems not to be bothered that the National Assembly had been divided due to his ministerial choices. The question is, how does he intend to fulfill his campaign promises to the masses if he is not getting the expected cooperation of the National Assembly for quick decisions taking and approval of executive bills or demands presented to the upper legislative arm?
The President’s inclusion of Mr Chibuike Amaechi, former Rivers State governor in his ministerial list pitched the senators of PDP against those of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in a tug of verbal arsenals and disagreement during Amaechi’s screening, while Buhari was away in India.
Though Amaechi and other ministerial nominees have been successfully screened by the National Assembly and confirmed for their various positions, Buhari has averred that he would reduce the number of ministries in order to be able to pay salaries as too many ministerial portfolios would drain the country’s treasury drastically.
It is based on the views expressed so far by Nigerians in the foregoing that one would look forward to how Buhari will stand by his words and tackle corruption to a standstill, as time unfolds The world is waiting.