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Buhari vs corruption: Bringing a knife to a gun fight

By Tabia Princewill

It is no longer news that corruption is fighting back. Ironically, and rather curiously, its defendants are allegedly able to employ the services of those closest to the President to thwart his efforts at taming the beast. One remembers Goodluck Jonathan’s past claims that his own cabinet had been infiltrated by Boko Haram sponsors (he never clarified his statement) which points to the fact that virtually every Nigerian administration since independence has been infiltrated by nefarious individuals who fight progress, or any developments which are not personally beneficial to them, from within.

These “cabals”allegedly take advantage of their closeness to the President and ensure a “turn-by-turn” scenario which operates behind the scenes of Nigerian politics.


Unilateral prosecution

Meaning that no matter who is in power, the political elite which is unified in its desire (and ability) to plunder the nation’s resources always places its “boys” in key positions so as to ensure that business carries on as usual and that they are undisturbed by whatever the administration of the days’ plans might be.

We, the public, rather than calling for the unilateral prosecution of whoever is suspected of corruption, endorse factionalism (and therefore continue our own enslavement) by refusing to assess any information without viewing it through an ethno-religious or partisan lens, therefore ensuring that the politicians who benefit from this always find someone to defend their misdeeds, no matter how grave. To put it simply, President Muhammadu Buhari brought a knife to a gun fight. The political elite, many of whom benefit from the system he was elected to change, aren’t in support of his plans. As for Nigerians, many are too hungry and impoverished to realise where their interest truly lies.

One could ask, what came first, corruption and greed or poverty and unemployment? The former (corruption and greed) enables the latter (poverty and unemployment), while the latter reinforces the former. So one finds that Nigerians are still too complicit and accepting of corruption, all too willing to justify it, in a society where it doesn’t pay to be honest or hard working.

The latest scandal, involving Abdulrasheed Maina, the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms,who was reportedly readmitted into the civil service despite being wanted by the EFCC and INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) due to his masterminding a N100 billion pension fraud scheme, is yet another example of the President apparently being betrayed if not by his inner circle, then by a system that protects its own.

How does a fugitive, a man who is wanted both in Nigeria and internationally, return to the country without some form of high level protection? How did Mr Maina sneak back into the country without alerting the office of the National Security Adviser,   NSA, or the Nigerian State Security Service, SSS? How could he have been so bold as to come back and not go into hiding but rather, return to the seat of power which he stands accused of defrauding, without some high level help? Who assisted him and why?

The President needs to make an example of those who covered for Mr.Maina and put an end to the impunity which has always characterised the handling of such scandals in Nigeria. Not doing so will prove Mr.Maina (and all those who are brazen enough to continuously exploit Nigeria unchallenged) right in their belief that this country belongs only to a few rather than to all. Who are these men and women who surround Buhari? Why do they systematically seem to act in ways which disparage him, destroy his reputation and why has he not got rid of them despite their insubordination and clear acts of sabotage?

Festus Keyamo (SAN)

HE was recently quoted as saying: “Calling for a change (of government) around this time simply means we are saying PDP should come back. Calling for change right now means we are talking of going back to where we came from. Calling for the change of this new governing order means we are saying we should return to the culture of misrule of the past.

“What some people are saying is that it pays us to go back to that unacceptable place of the past, where executive recklessness, impunity,  indiscipline  and irresponsibility, merciless looting of the resources of the people of Nigeria etc.  were the order of the day.We gave PDP a chance and enough time to improve, but the party messed everything up. We must give this APC government  too  time to prove it’s worth.”

What is most upsetting about the acts of sabotage occurring in the Buhari administration, particularly in regards to the fight against corruption, is that it allows some shallow minds (and some malicious, ill-intentioned, corrupt elements) to claim that we might as well “return” Nigeria to the PDP (as if Nigeria belongs exclusively to it). Don’t fall for it, Nigerians.

Those who benefit from corruption are hoping we will prove ourselves to be docile, easily manipulated sheep. We must hold the APC and its government accountable, certainly, but why should we bring back an era that brought this country to its knees?

Goodluck Jonathan

THE former President recently claimed that the PDP did well in 16 years. One would have to define “well” using a very mediocre yardstick to agree. Where are the billions spent on power? Why was privatisation done in a manner as to favour only politically connected persons, thus ensuring that incompetent owners of our national assets are unable to work them to the benefit of the majority? Why do we still lack critical infrastructure and basic social amenities despite his government, in particular, earning huge amounts from the sale of oil at around $100/140 dollars a barrel?

Only people who either don’t know what that kind of money should have done for Nigeria or people who are part of the system which short-changed the common man, could agree that the PDP did well for this country. Nigeria earned N51 trillion from oil sales under former President Jonathan which is more than half of the N96 trillion Nigeria earned in 58 years.

During all this time, the PDP, its members and sponsors in both army uniform and civilian garb, have mismanaged this country’s finances and many of its members still have the gall to tell Nigerians a good job was done. We only have ourselves to blame. We allow it. We don’t ask questions till it’s too late; we accept lies and propaganda so long as its clothed in ethno-religious terms.

The former President made no mention of Diezani, Dasuki and others who claim they only acted on his orders. Nor did he care to explain how his wife, a civil servant, or her mother, could access the millions of dollars found in their accounts.

In a sane society, a man with so many scandals and allegations trailing him would have neither the confidence to speak in public, nor would his party want anything to do with him, for fear of being tainted by these unresolved allegations. But this is Nigeria where some people believe the common man is at their mercy. Prove them wrong by continuing to question their tales and clamouring for justice.

Court-ordered forfeiture of all money linked to BVN numbers

How is it possible to open an account without a Bank Verification Number? Corruption fights back and finds a way to circumvent every initiative meant to prevent corruption in the first place.

Till banks (and bankers) are fined and punished for ignoring regulation, the financial system will continue to aid money laundering.

Why would you want to hide the identity of the owner of a bank account if not because the money was obtained illegally?

The flimsy excuses given by some lawyers and bank executives in defence of obvious illegality is yet another excuse of the system protecting itself.

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