By Godwin Etakibuebu
It shall forever remain a mission impossible. It would always be a futile attempt into a fruitful journey of discovery. It would draw a positively negative end – a melancholy in perpetuity. A voyage of no return shall such an attempt remains. Let’s go back, laying the foundation, before bringing the blocks upon it.
President Muhammadu Buhari meant well, probably, from the beginning by declaring he was against corruption in Nigeria. Being a military man per excellence; Sandhurst Royal Military Academy-trained, he must have been equipped enough to fight corruption – exclusively a-la-carte the military way.
Muhammadu Buhari grew through the political ladder, even as a military man, on his way to the top of his professional career. On this, he had a befitting mentor in the person of Mathew Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo; another military man, who retired from the Nigerian Army with the glorious rank of a Four-Star General, after being decorated as Military Head of State. The latter returned back to the Nigerian political terrain as a democratically elected President, with a two-time tenure.
Obasanjo carried his stooge along well; through the Nigerian transportation sector, and into the most lucrative Oil Sector, when he appointed him to the top of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. All these appointments exposed the young officer – Muhammadu Buhari, to the different dynamics of the Nigerian economy, which must have included the working mechanism of corruptive principles in the Nigerian System. He acquired full knowledge of corruption ipso facto.
And as of the time the same young military officer returned to the Nigerian top enclave of political leadership; through the Nigerian military’s trademark of coup-de-tat in 1984, he was more than qualified, and vast totalitarian, in everything in Nigeria – principle of corruption inclusive.
Muhammadu Buhari stepped aside. No, he was pushed aside, by another ambitious military officer, in the person of Ibrahim Babangida; who retired with the laurels of a Four-Star General. He [General Ibrahim Babangida] did not accomplish his mission probably. Or he did not accomplish the expected mission of the Nigerian military intervention into the Nigerian political life.
One person that must have drawn this conclusion vehemently would have remained Muhammadu Buhari, we perused. Such presumption, by keen observers and followers of the Nigerian political metaphors, was absolutely justified as Muhammadu Buhari came back into the ring, three times which spanned over a period of twelve years, tried to secure the presidency of the country, like a wounded Lion.
He displayed zeal and uncontrollable enthusiasm in each of those three appearances. He had one slogan; a slogan he developed from the ordinary to the cosmetic of emotion – albeit physical and spiritual emotions. And the slogan was his ambition to “kill corruption before the latter kills Nigeria”. He captured Nigerians mood very carefully in dancing around the country with this slogan. He pointed out, at every point of his appearances, what corruption meant and the quantum of destruction it [corruption] has done to Nigeria. He painted graphically the perfidious path Nigeria was being led through by this monster called corruption, and the number of days left for Nigeria, before the final whistle of death – a death to be cause by corruption, would be blown.
Most Nigerians bought into his “well-packaged” talk of bringing an end to corruption in Nigeria, if only he was democratically elected into office as President. He eventually won, through the help of Ahmed Bola Tinubu; another witchdoctor in the art of packaging political endeavours, and a few other micro political players. Expectedly therefore, most Nigerian believed that the man [Buhari] would hit the ground running and these group of disciples commenced the Nunc Dimittis music on corruption.
Four years of Buhari first tenure is done and gone. And he has completed one year of the second-leg tenure also. It means that time has come, most fervently, and pathologically too, to crosscheck the place of corruption in Nigeria vis-à-vis the promise the man made. Has he been able to eliminate – sorry, let’s use the language reduce – corruption in Nigeria? Or, is corruption still on the same template it occupied before his [Buhari] arrival – albeit second coming? Or are we to say; by signpost of unfolding events, that corruption has grown to become an octopus that may soon swallow Nigeria? Still yet, and this is the real challenge: has corruption not killed Nigeria, given results of recent exposures from all Nigerian Institutions, Corporations, Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies?
To start with, the path and route President Muhammadu Buhari created for his voyage, of eliminating or “killing” corruption from beginning, ab initio, was fraught with perfidious consequences. His appointments to the strata of Nigerian Security outfit were loaded in the bedroom of nepotism. In the military, the rollcall at the level of Service Chiefs, except the Chief of Naval Staff, were all from a particular geographical zone, tribe and religion.
I am not considering the office of Chief of Defense Staff because the truth is that, as “highly prestigious” as the office looks, from its inception when General Alani Akinriade was appointed; being the pioneer CDS, the occupant of that office is always a “decorated Commander without troops”.
Then you may want to look into other most sensitive arears like the Directorate of State Security [DSS], the National Intelligence Agency [NIA], the Directorate of Military Intelligence [DMI] and others. You may want to add the headship of some parastatals, like the Nigerian Customs Services, the Nigerian Immigration, the Nigerian Prisons, and all others, into the bargain, and the conclusion of marshaling offenses of Nepotism against the President becomes inescapable. Nepotism; as defined worldwide is the greatest form of corruption.
Then, let us look at most recent expositions of corruption’s blowout in Nigeria in the past few days – kindly accept definition of “few days” as meaning, sometimes, to be weeks, months or even years. Let us start from the Niger Delta Development Commission [NDDC].
At the NDDC, the blown out of corruption became un-proportionately monumental, as Senator Godswill Akpabio arrived the scene. We need to look at the enabling facility that sustained Akpabio in this recent mission good enough, and also, most importantly, we must identify the personality that created those facilities and sustain them for the enhancement of the prosecutor’s convenient operate.
Senator Akpabio was appointed by President Buhari and posted him to the Ministry of the Niger Delta. On arriving that ministry, Akpabio probably believed in the lucrativeness of the NDDC being added to his ministry of Niger Delta – albeit having his eyes on the “meat pile”. What did he do in other to bring his corruptive expectation to fruition? He demanded from the President the ceding of the NDDC from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and adding same to his ministry. The President obliged Akpabio’s request with automatic alacrity.
In the other hand, the President nominated names of would-be Board Members to run the same NDDC, for all the intents, as good Commission. The President did the rightfully legal thing in forwarding the names of nominee to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation. The Senate confirmed the names of those 15 that appeared before it [one did not agree to appear before the Senate and that one person was Joy Nunieh, who later became Godswill Akpabio’s appointed Acting Managing Director of the NDDC under an illegal Interim Management Committee] and forwarded its confirmation to the President. Then a very negative twist came into the narration and this negativity was backed by the President.
President Muhammadu Buhari never inaugurated the Board he assembled; which was the legitimate and legal thing for him to do, but instead, approved the illegitimate constitution of an Interim Management Committee put in place by Minister Akpabio; which was an illegal thing for him to do. He [the President] even wrote to the Senate President, intimating him of his approval of Akpabio’s IMC “to finish the forensic audit”, adding that “after that l shall constitute another Board Member for your confirmation”.
This is how Mr President helped in creating the most astronomically loopholes of monumental fraud [corruption] that thrived at the NDDC.
Now, we need to visit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission briefly. Here, the President [you will say again?] nominated Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the anti-corruption edifice five years ago. Of course, the President did the right thing by forwarding the name of his appointee to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation. The Senate demanded for security report from the DSS; a Security outfit of the Federal Government, under the strict control of the President, to enable it completes its assignment, as required by law. The security report given to the Senate spoke about a very corrupted man; who was not fit and proper to occupy the office of Chairman for the EFCC.
So the Senate rejected the man – Ibrahim Magu. But the President, who ought to know better of the unfitness of Magu to operate as Chairman of that Agency, insisted that it was either Ibrahim Magu or no one else. This game played out twice between the President and the Nigerian Senate, but the President kept Magu in that exalted office as acting Chairman. Five years down the line, Ibrahim Magu is now being presented to the world, through a petition written against him [Magu] by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice – Abubakar Malami [SAN]; a man that had occupied these two offices for the past five years, again, an appointee of the President.
The question again is: who created the instruments of sustenance for Ibrahim Magu to have effectively operated his kingdom of corruption for these past five years? It is President Muhammadu Buhari, with all due respects.
Time may be failing us to take a look at the newly created North East Development Commission [NEDC], which was given a takeoff fund of One Hundred Billion Naira just last year. Reports on our hands today is that there is not One Kobo left in the kitty of this Commission as “terrible invaders landed in the place and swallowed up the whole money” – courtesy of Buhari’s appointed Chief Executive officer for the NEDC, with some helps from his appointed Minister of Humanitarian Affairs; the beautifully distinguished Sadiya Umar Farouq.
What about another most recent sad revelation of corruption in another federal government parastatal, where the agency in question purchased three brand new vehicles at the cost of N49 million and sold same to the President’s son-in-law for N4.9 million? The Agency in question here is the Federal Mortgage Bank and the “lucky” buyer is the outgoing Managing Director – Gimba Kumo – husband of one of Muhammadu Buhari’s daughters – Fatima.
There are stories of massive corruption; never heard before in the annals of Nigerian history, erupting from all over the places, nearly in all branches of governments, at this time.
The sad conclusion is that, in all of them, there is poor judgement on those appointed to offices, or mechanism of developing policies’ of operation for those appointed is fraught with absolute negligence. If truth is the fact that the bulk stops at the president’s table, the president must therefore be held responsible and accountable too, to all appointments he made, in addition to all instructional orders he gave for functionality of those offices; either in purity or perfidy.
The escalation of Corruption in Nigeria now must be credited to the account book of President Buhari, because he is the man Nigerians voted and elected to office, and not any of his ministers or advisers, whom we never elected.
I rest my case.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
Facebook: Godwin Etakibuebu
Facebook Page: Veteran Column
Phone: +234-906-887-0014 – short messages only.
You can also listen to this author [Godwin Etakibuebu] every Monday; 9:30 – 11am on Lagos Talk 91.3 FM live, in a weekly review of topical issues, presented by The News Guru [TNG].