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Buhari’s anti-corruption conundrum


President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: BAYO OMOBORIOWO

There is common sense in the submission that the anti-corruption crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has slumped.

This is validated by the slipshod, ineffectual and selective manner the administration has so far executed the vaunted crusade.

There has been so much mismanagement of the process, so much misapplication of the momentum, and so much floundering of the philosophy underpinning the anti-corruption agenda. The corollary, thus, is a concomitant contention, which will be explicated shortly.

The Buhari presidency has politicised, ethnicised and socialised the fight against corruption to such dimensions and in the shapes and textures that presently assault our collective sensibilities.

It has segregated between corrupt leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who are being protected and their counterparts in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who are being hunted; it has drawn a line between corrupt Hausa-Fulani who enjoy sympathy and the corrupt others who must be treated shabbily; it has put a demarcation between the corrupt Muslims who are being preferentially treated and the corrupt Christians who are being persecuted not prosecuted. On these bases, the war has, at best, become a hollow ritual of comic tragedy.

Something creepy must have terribly afflicted the administration’s sense of fairness. It is sad that the administration has dimwittedly rubbished the base metal by which it ascended to power.

If there was a singular most potent force or promise of good that galvanised massive support for the candidature of Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, it was his anti-corruption posture.

Somehow, the anti-corruption aura around him was so palpable and tangible that a Messianic garb or vest was placed on him with approbation.

To be sure, Buhari traversed the nation like a saint triumphant and presented as a special guardian to a vast majority of Nigerians who had become dispirited, supposedly, by the perceived humongous corruption in the management of our commonwealth under the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari’s promise to fight corruption found anchorage in the people’s fancies and expectations.

Security and the economy were some of the other critical promises. The belief was that once corruption was dealt with, other issues would fall in place to produce a bigger and complete picture of national rebirth evidenced by economic survivalism, social renaissance and political revivalism.

But whatever must have afflicted this administration’s sense of fairness and its consciousness of the power of good conscience to predominate and moderate socio-economic and political interactions has certainly dealt it the unkindest blow.

Excepting so much had been wrong all these years with our sense of collective perception about Buhari, his existential history of public office as federal commissioner of petroleum resources, head of state and chairman of the defunct petroleum trust fund (PTF) without knowing it, the national consensus that produced his presidency cannot escape essential indictment.

The consensus has unleashed on our nation such cornucopian considerations that should not have a place in the 21st century Nigeria, to wit: nepotism, tribalism, ethno-religious chauvinism and the impunity that we complained about the immediate past administration.

Let me now attempt to explicate the contention, which every Nigerian of all shades and opinions can sufficiently speak to with the benefit of daily experience even if the contention has continued to resolve itself in favour of Nigerians, except those who believe that Buhari is God and, therefore, at liberty to do whatever he pleases.

The Yoruba have an appealing catchphrase that succinctly describes one who enjoys such liberty: ase eyi owu u-meaning the person who does what he likes. But a veritable idea cannot be driven in that writ-large fashion that questions the sincerity of the revolutionaries as the case is with our president.

Buhari cannot do what he likes. He is president at our pleasure and must rule in accordance with the Oath of Office that he swore to, among other things, do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Can he justifiably say he has done right to all sections of the country?

The obvious double standard that has, for instance, characterised the anti-graft war has pooh-poohed the entire movement for national moral rearmament.

The massive investment of public confidence in Buhari that was wrapped in an electoral mandate has proved, ex-post facto, that our prognosis was wrong. This is the conflicted and contentious reality.

If this reality had been precipitated by just one instance, it would certainly have been overlooked as an isolated case of leadership imperfection.

But in a situation where condonation of corrupt acts has become a pattern, we should be left with no other choice than to question the inclination and deprecate it.

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