ANALYSIS: Anti-Corruption War; No Amount Of Lobbying, Spiting, ‘We Must Go There!’Featured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, August 28th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau – The campaign against corruption and move to deal with the alleged former corrupt public officials by the present administration is provoking so many intrigues and prompting many involuntary actions and corresponding reactions, especially from those whose hands have been found with ‘blood stain’ or their proxies. What is going on now, I feel is a good signal for the country and definitely lessons to public servants (career or political) on essence of accountability, discipline and productivity while in the office.
The trend although, appears somehow interesting, yet disturbing, as one wonders what could have happened to the heaps of many shocking revelations, the Nigerian public is being fed with, without the current battle against corruption or there is no change in the ruling party. Definitely, nothing like the unfolding absurd drama would have ever played out.
Almost everyday, Nigerians are being told that the looted funds by the corrupt officials were gradually being returned to the government’s coffer on one hand; while lobbies for clemency on the guilty as well as spiting (by the politicians) of one another to fight back, are ongoing on the other hand.
Recall, you missed my column a fortnight ago. This was on account of some in-house logistic factors. Then, I had determined to serve the readers my views on; should I say, the accidental or planned visit of the two former Presidents (Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo) a day after the other in the same week, to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. It is not at all debatable, that one of the key issues, if not the only, that featured in both the “closed door and open” meetings was the alleged corruption issue and debate to probe or not, as well as the extent the exercise should go, when it eventually takes off. It was the same week that members of the 2015 General Elections Peace Committee, led by its Chairman, former Head of State, General Abubakar Abdulsalami (rted) also visited Buhari.
The committee’s visit, given a section of its membership, immediately threw up public controversy, regarding its mission to Mr. President. The speculation that the Peace committee visited Buhari to persuade him to let go, the alleged gross misconduct against the immediate past administration perhaps, would not have survived for too long, but for the outburst by the vocal Bishop of Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church, Matthew Hassan Father Kukah, that the planned probe by Buhari’s government would be a distraction and somewhat a fruitless exercise, has further kept the debate alive; that indeed, members of the committee were on a ‘sent assignment’.
Interestingly, the man at the centre of the anti-corruption crusade, President Buhari had affirmed and vowed that he would not be deterred in his direction and focus, irrespective of who is involved and pressure mounted on him and his government. A nice one by Mr. President, if you care to ask me.
As I have previously and repeatedly mentioned, Nigerians have been taken for a ride by the previous leaders for too long; the level of sharp practices in the public offices have been so alarming and enormous, such that it can no more be condone, just as it is now more appreciated that an average Nigerian is the victim of every mis-governance. It is on this premise that the anti-corruption war is now popular and has since been enjoying massive public support, hence the spontaneous advocacy that the looted money should not only be retrieved, but the suspects should be prosecuted and sanctioned in line with provision of the laws.
For now, Nigerians are passing the messages that they can never be impressed by those attempting to distract the present government or make it lose focus on its anti-corruption stand and drives. The question then is, are the certain political class bothered about this, especially in advancing their antics?
Some relevant instances here. Since his controversial election on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has been in and out of one problem or the other. As he battles with his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership for being rebellious to its directive on one hand, he is again being buckled down by the resentment of his colleagues (APC members and now the PDP) on issues of interest, as well as allegation of corruption against him and members of his family by the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on another.
Among other sleazy allegations against him is the one linking his wife, Toyin, to money laundering – relating to questionable inflow of funds into companies traced to her. Already, Saraki’s wife had been summoned by the EFCC and questioned by its crack team. Toyin, although has been allowed to go, yet, the agency is still holding on to the allegation against her, giving the impression of her possible prosecution and others who were implicated.
It is believed that Saraki’s political opponents are behind his wife’s money laundering saga and leakage of other sordid alleged corrupt records against him, while he was still serving as an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor of Kwara State. But if indeed, the allegations ended up to be true, who cares about the investigations, prosecution and appropriate sanctions?
However, what is playing out now suggests the seemingly stalemated fighting among
the feuding parties and clashing interest, in the political arena, has provoked the attendant threat: ‘if you dagger me; I will dagger you back’.
In a clear show of fighting back, the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde is now under fire, over an alleged N1 trillion scandals against him, according to a petition to the Senate by George Uboh. The petitioner accused the embattled Lamrode of diverting the sum, recovered from some convicted former public office holders, including former Bayelsa State’s Governor, Dieprieye Alamieyesigha and ex-Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tafa Balogun.
Who would not suspect the allegation against Lamrode is a fight back or an afterthought, especially now that a faction of the APC Legislators (Unity Forum) in the Senate, has accused the upper chamber’s committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, of breaching the Senate’s Standing Rules as they alerted that due process was not followed, in invitation, appearance and hearing of the accused? On Wednesday, the EFCC representatives were rebuffed from making presentation and subsequently walked out by the committee’s members at its hearing.
Even if the damning allegations against the EFCC boss is later established to be fact, why the Senate’s Committee allegedly jumped the gun and appeared reckless in the manner it has been handling the matter? Of course, if Lamorde is found guilty in the end, of the alleged crime; made to lose the ill-gotten wealth and return the looted funds, so be it – good for Buhari’s administration and Nigeria in general. But I ask, why won’t the Senate President allow due diligence to hold sway, as he is being accused by his colleagues?
Expectedly, Saraki had swiftly distanced himself from the allegation, claiming he knew next to nothing in the saga. Indeed, Nigerians hear him well and very clearly too.
These men can continue to fight themselves from the tooth to nail; wash their dirty linen in the public; Nigerians care less about that, rather, what they care and keen about is how the huge stolen money as well as properties are discovered and returned.
Similarly, another absurdity is going on in Rivers State, South South Nigeria. The “Caretaker Governor”, Nyesom Wike, is being accused of financial misappropriation. And in what again looks like paying back in the same coin, Wike’s protagonists have approached court and since obtained judgment, restraining the EFCC from investigating their pay master. Wike himself had set up a panel of inquiry to investigate spending of proceeds from the sales of the State’s assets as well as contracts awarded by the former Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, in eight years of his administration. Well, the supporters of the former Governor have hailed the EFCC
readiness to beam its searchlight on Amaechi’s government. I believe the end of the back and front Rivers corruption debate and drama, will certainly and soon sift the grains from the shaft – then, Nigerians will know who the pretenders are, as well as the victims of the sectional politics.
On the raging corruption allegation and counter, among the politicians, I believe it is a good development. Even if some of the allegations could not be taken far, it will at least, expose the types of the characters we have in the public offices, their past and some of their present misconducts. All of these will determine their public assessment and rating and most importantly, “choice for, or against” them, when they come forward again, to ask for people’s mandate. Here, I am referring and addressing the electorates with dignity and who are sincerely committed to a new dawn in Nigeria.
Finally, the politicians who are engaging in spiting one another or lobbying for glove-handed treatment for the suspected executive thieves should be told and warned that, the anti-corruption train had taken off, and no one could stop it from forging ahead and arrive at its desired destination! From the Nigerians, the clear message all the way is on “The War Against Corruption And Total Cleansing To Our Public System, We Must Definitely Go There!”
Buhari’s Shocking Appointment
I must confess that I was not comfortable about the key appointment announced Thursday by President Muhammadu Buhari. Of the six key appointments, only one appointee made the list from the Southern part of the country. The issue I am dwelling on, is a very sensitive one, I am very much aware of that fact. Personally, I hate starting ethnic, religion, colour and race debate. Still, due to the Nigerians orientation and perception on issues relating to the above factors, I’m afraid many pro-Buhari might not begin to review the level of their trust in him. I absolutely agree that loyalty and trust are really paramount in the just announced appointments; yet, the question is: Did President saying he could not find the suitable persons from the South, with respect to merit, competence and loyalty to fill about two more out of the positions? My candid opinion is that the latest appointment was lopsided. Of course, have heard Nigerians, positing that we must grow beyond sentiment and begin to push for merit. I appreciate and key into the argument, yet one must be careful such that, the person you person are defending is not surreptitiously guilty of the same blame. Despite this shocker, I wish President Buhari well in the task ahead of him and the country as a whole. Still, he must be very conscious of the Nigerian setting; the people’s perception for now and ‘sentiment’ of his party’s men. We need good governance and not distracting politicking.
In the meantime, this one sided appointment should be a bitter lesson for members of
the ruling APC, especially in the Southern part of the country. What played out Thursday might continue, if the ruling party members in this part of Nigeria, do not stop henceforth, their treacherous politics. The antagonists of Chief Ogbonaya Onu; former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Chbuike Amaechi and his Lagos State’s counterpart, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) should stop their spurious allegations, nonsense and image denting mantra. These names have been speculated for some of the positions announced by Mr. President yesterday, but for the endless and mischievous diatribe against them, I guess forced Buhari’s second thought. It’s a pity. I heard the APC stalwarts were not happy. Well, my advice to the leaders in the south is that they and their followers must begin to check themselves for the collective good. Afterall, ‘I see you in the image you present yourself’. I think President Buhari as an elderly person, is sending strong message that the Southern APC members and their leaders must behave themselves. Only the wise will and can catch the message here.
Tinubu’s Rebuttal Over Attack On Fashola
My focus on last week’s analysis was on the cold treatment meted out to the former Lagos State Governor Fashola. For good reason, I was not evasive in dragging his party (APC) National leader and his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu into the political attacks on Fashola. Perhaps the piece and others, prompted his rebuttal which was published in some national dailies Thursday (yesterday). I must confess that, reply by the Jagaban was characteristically detailed, inspiring, crispy and philosophical. Obviously, I need not re-echoing the piece. I give it to Asiwaju again. Still, if the Lion of Bourdillon would not mind, I personally still have issue with his refutation. Simply, I found it lopsided, especially with respect to the issue I raised – his absence at the books launch, in BRF honour. In fact, not only you, but all the party’s leaders. Therefore, if I may ask, why the absence, yes I remembered you sent a respected representative. Why the absence of all party leaders could be a coincidence? Again, does the Pathfinder has an explanation for Fashola successor, Akinwunmi Ambode’s absence too? Asiwaju, my respect for you remains unshaken, yet, I and others in my shoes will be so glad, if you could respond accordingly.
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