By Dr. Dons Eze
If General Muhammadu Buhari had not had the opportunity of being elected President of Nigeria in 2015, and reelected in 2019, almost every Nigerian would still have the belief that Muhammadu Buhari is the best that could happen to Nigeria as far as the war against corruption is concerned; that Buhari is the only person who could have cured Nigeria’s endemic corruption problem.
Thank God, about thirteen million Nigerians voted for Buhari in 2015, and about fifteen million also voted for him in 2019, and the man has since then been President of Nigeria, and thus has fulfilled his life-long ambition of ruling the country, which he had sought for three consecutive times without success.
Initially, many Nigerians who cast their minds back to 1984, or who were told about what happened in 1984, when Buhari was Military Head of State, and how he prosecuted his War Against Indiscipline (WAI) and corruption, were full of expectations, that this time around, since a “new Sheriff is in town”, as his spokesman, Femi Adesina, had described his Oga, corruption would have been a thing of the past because President Buhari possessed the magic wand with which to cure all the ills afflicting Nigeria.
Unfortunately, Buhari came, saw corruption, but so far, has not conquered it. Instead, corruption has continued to thrieve, to grow wings, and has become very much alive under his watch.
The reason is because Buhari has a peculiar mindset. He has a holier-than-thou attitude, the “me against them” mentality. Buhari believes that every other person outside his inner circle is a thief, or wears the badge of corruption, and thus must be hanged. He does not know that human mind is deceptive, that the person who is laughing with him may be nursing, in his mind, some serious ill-feelings against him.
In 1984, when Buhari was Military Head of State, he branded all other people not wearing khaki military uniforms, civilian politicians, as corrupt, and got many of them locked up in prison for periods which ranged from between 20 years to 200 years!
This time around, Buhari sees members of the opposition political parties, in particular, PDP members, as “fantastically corrupt”, apologies to former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. In consequence, he decided to release his attack dogs, the EFCC, led by Ibrahim Magu, to start going after them, to start chasing them from pillar to post.
Not looking back, Magu began to hound many high profile opposition politicians, to force them to disgorge their ill-gotten wealth. Everybody clapped, believing that the “new Sheriff” was fighting corruption. But they did not know that the man was on a vendetta mission, fighting those who had made his road rough when he was seeking to actualize his age-long ambition of ruling Nigeria as civilian President.
Buhari saw Ibrahim Magu as a perfect match, as fit and capable of prosecuting the political vendetta war. Even when the Directorate of State Security (DSS) had written adverse reports against Ibrahim Magu as unfit to lead the anti-corruption war, as head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Nigerian Senate for three consecutive times, refused to confirm his nomination, President Buhari still stuck to his guns and kept the man in acting capacity for five good years.
This had made Ibrahim Magu become swollen-headed and all powerful. The reason was because Magu had an Abraham as a father in the person of Buhari’s late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. So, nobody could touch Magu, nor dare put an eye into whatever he was doing. He therefore got himself busy relooting recovered loots – monies, properties, etc.
But with the death of his godfather, the all powerful Chief of Staff, things begin to fall apart, and the centre no longer holds. Everything begins to crumble. Adams Oshiomole was booted out as National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (“only God can remove me”!). Now, it has come to the turn of Ibrahim Magu, the “untouchable”, the dog who had been eating bones hung around its neck.
Meanwhile, while Buhari and Magu were busy trying to remove specks in other people’s eyes, they fail to see the big logs in their own eyes. The entire system is stinking – budget paddings, a recurring conflict between the executive arm of government and the legislature; deployment of bullion vans on the eve of general elections, aimed at corrupting election officials; procurement of judgements from the courts, when the No. 4 person suddenly emerging as No. 1; police and military men asking for “rogers”at check points, or the greasing of arms of security men manning state boundaries, etc.
All over the world, corruption is no longer fought with bravado, with brute force, as we currently do here in Nigeria. Corruption has become scientific, and so are fought scientifically. The introduction of Bank Verification Number (BVN), and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), are some of the measures used to plug leakages in the system, but how far they work here in Nigeria, is a different story altogether.
If for five years of fighting corruption by an administration that prides itself as the fight against corruption as its number one priority, and corruption still persists, not abetted, or has even become worse, then we can conviniently classify the fight as failure, which is unfortunate.