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Buhari’s philosophy, corruption and security


President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

Sir: President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to Nigerians at the eve of 2015 general elections was to fight corruption to a standstill at least that was the manifestos’ priority. Added to this, were solving security challenges with particular reference to the Boko Haram insurgency and revamping the economy.

At that period he had a sterling status of integrity as attested to by many political commentators with the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at the vanguard position. No doubt he was eventually declared the winner of the election defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who willingly congratulated him even before the final declaration.

Soon after the elections, though he scored a minus in his delay in forming cabinet, he left no one in doubt about his readiness to fulfil his promises when he issued executive orders commencing the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) previously introduced by Jonathan, and ordered the army to move their headquarters to the troubled zone of North East with the aim of defeating Boko Haram in the shortest possible time. To boost the corruption fight, whistleblowing was introduced with a guaranteed reward of a percentage of any recovered funds through any whistleblower.

He received the support of Nigerians and the international community through daily reports of seizures of looted funds, stories of looters, EFCC successes, plus the successes recorded by the Nigerian Army in the fight against Boko Haram, their recovery of lost territories and so on. With time the Army announced that Boko Haram had been technically degraded; Nigerians and the international community heaved a sigh of relief. Yes, ‘that is the man for the job’; it was the song that dominated public opinion. Mr. Integrity, Sai Baba, echoed and re-echoed through the media landscape, both the traditional media and social media.

Just when Nigerians were beginning to sing ‘Halleluiah’ the economy nose-dived, recession set in; no thanks to Baba’s long trip to London, because of undisclosed health challenges. As if to say that the administration had reached a point of diminishing return, Boko Haram started fighting back, regaining some lost territories with the Nigerian Army recording heavy casualties. Session agitations become pronounced in the south-east and south-south over perceived marginalisation and killings attributed to herdsmen initially called, herders/farmers clash.
Innocent Ezeugonwa, Mass Communication scholar and political analyst.

These killings soon spread to the national level, Plateau received the heaviest casualties, southern Kaduna, Zamfara State, Katsina and southwest states were later joined. This time around with high level of kidnapping for ransom and raping incorporated. Nigerians cried out, political elite cried out, General T Y Danjuma (rtd), Zamani, Asomata and others dragged the issue of killings to UK Parliament with the allegation of jihad (Daily Post June 6, 2019).

Obasanjo once again wrote open letters to the president (Punch July 15, 2019); the international community cried out. Yet to all these the Presidency dismissed them as noise-making and over politicised even when he has secured a second term ticket.

On the issue of corruption fight, the opposition parties started accusing the regime of selective persecution and that when some alleged corrupt politicians cross carpet to the ruling party they become saints. The presidency is also accused of silently encouraging the killer herdsmen through their actions and inactions.

Now the sentiment towards the session has moved to the south-west; the last straw being the killing of Afenifere’s leader, Chief R.F Fasoranti’s daughter, Mrs. Olufunke Olakunrin. Yet, the body language of the presidency remains somehow nonchalant.

The main point of this article is balancing corruption fight and security challenges. Agreed corrupt-free society is on the path for sustainable development, the need for sustainable development is for a better life for citizens.

With the rate of killings which the Afenifere group has dubbed, ‘Festival of killings’ (NAN and Daily Post July 23, 2019) going on in the country and with the group’s claim that between 2015-2019 estimated 30,000 people have been killed by herdsman/militia across the country. Who then is the presidency working for? Who will be the beneficiary of the expected development that will accrue from the fight against corruption? These and many more are the questions on the lips of Nigerians.

Innocent Ezeugonwa, Mass Communication scholar and political analyst.

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