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OPINION: Buhari Economic Politics and Nigerians Propensity for Corruption

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – General Muhammad Buhari, the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is not a new politician in Nigeria. I met him first at a public lecture he delivered to us in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria in 1976. He was already a Federal Commissioner for Petroleum (Federal Minister) at the time. Since then he has held many top level political positions in Nigeria. Our reader may Google him out. He is not a strange card either but a consistent individual, he has hardly changed, neither does he seem to be impressed nor intimidated by anybody. His kind of persons are few in our society but they are from the true socialist elitism; although he is overly religious. Whereas the society is completely engulfed in extreme inequalities his class of guys seems to believe in equality, equity and even distribution of wealth and power, whereas every society is run by corruption these guys think they ought to fight the gods of corruption and win without a scratch. Buhari and his cohorts are very ambitious idealists but working and living amongst the most corrupt individuals; and taking dictations from them. We have a scenario where evil dictates when light should shine and when it must not. Why will they not smell this? Their so called friends learn what language to speak, when to speak and where.

For example let us consider a situation when God wants a change; because our President, like most of us, is very deeply religious. Ordinary individuals don’t usually add change to their personal agendas. Instead we’d love to write the scripts for our lives; unfortunately, that doesn’t happen because what we want people to write about us is different from how we live. Hence when God includes the word change, He often means something different than we think. This is our basic assumption that what we mean by change is quite different from the change we need and should desire. What does the word “change” mean to you? Most of us, if we admit it, usually think about our circumstances, or those things that can affect us negatively in this world. Things like government, personal health, personal finances, job and employment, our family, or difficult relationships. These may trigger a desire for some kind of change in our lives. Therefore we assume that everyone and everything else could change. But us? Hmm noway, we are ok. No matter what our circumstances may be, we’re not always interested in even allowing God to change us let alone a Buhari or an ungodly APC party.

Now does God even care about us and whether we change or not? It’s not that God doesn’t care about our circumstances. The God who created this world, and make Nigeria society a unique part of the entire universe, loves us so much He sent His own Son, Jesus, to die for us. At least 30% of Nigerians believe this but less than 1% of those who believe may be practising their faith. God does care and God can use anything to effect his desired changes. God knows everything about us, our potential, our strengths, our weaknesses, our past, and our future. He has a plan for our lives as individuals and as a nation, and He knows better than us how to accomplish that plan. It’s a good plan, one that will not only be good for us, but one that will bring Him glory.

Currently Nigeria is only struggling through even in budget presentation, debates at the national assembly, it’s possible passage or eventual implementation. Things have changed. But we suspect that those who prepared the budget, those who are in the national assembly, the ministers or political advisers, and the press have seemingly refused to change. It is no longer sufficient to claim that corruption is fighting back or even that corruption is fighting corruption. The more fundamental issue is the government‘s over assumption on the level of corruption, his tools and weapons of war against the war and above all government’s set priorities. A simplistic approach is no longer adequate to fight against a systematic lifestyle like corruption. Government must fight it but not by surrendering on all other fronts.

The economic policy of the government must be visible even in appointments as it should be in probes. When you make a journalist the Federal Minister of education and a Professor of Education a Minister without portfolio it speaks more volume than just a mere round pegs in square holes. It means that the president is only willing to work with his perceived tested followers. Nigeria is rather a very dynamic society and where the best solutions are not derived from amongst partisanship. The best Nigerian brains are not in politics. On the other hands African culture believes that politicians are jobless and idle individuals who have nothing to offer themselves and their families. Hence they hang around colonial masters for whatever falls from their tables. That concept is what actually grows corruption whereby politics is left to the less capable brains or persons with antecedent of intriguing behaviour and shallow thinking. Up till now, and despite the cry for change, Nigerian academics and research institutions are never consulted. It is therefore very easy for some yesteryear politicians to call Nigerian institutions like the Police, the Army, EFCC, etc toothless bulldogs because they created them so. They choose who to bully and bite or who to wail and protect.

We fault both APC and President Buhari’s administration on many fronts, the most immediate one is on its simplistic assumptions and naivety. For example how do you think that you can depend on PDP institutions to bring a change for an APC government? That is not a corruption fightback but an APC misunderstandings. How do you think that you should not proof read a budget prepared by orthodox PDP officials who have also been working on “cut and past” activity and all their years and expecting a change? There is a need to overhaul the whole concept of change by APC if the larger society must benefit just the same way that there is a need to prioritise agendas. Corruption is evil but not doing any other things and be chained by the gods of corruption is equally evil. We cannot explain everything away as mere differences between the different arms of the same government, or because budget is yet to be approved, or other reasons other than inadequate visionaries.

Let us assure the government that we support its policies and wishing it succeeds. The difference between what we are saying and what the administration of president Buhari is doing is in his choice and type of weapons. This is one language our President most understand as a well trained army general. You can‘t win the war if your selection of weapons, the fighting men and women, the underlying technologies are all inadequate and wrong. The foundation of each house must be solidly on the rock or it fails and falls in the raining days.

Let us illustrate by vivid examples. First, if most of those who are currently being held by EFCC will eventually get off the hook and with apologies from the Nigerian government and claimed damages then what the news media are printing (particularly that our institutions are mere toothless bulldogs) will hunt this administration down. Secondly having made people, especially the unemployed youths, to believe that a change has come (to them a change means employment ) we mustn’t fail them. The third example is on agriculture not just for job creation but to guarantee food adequacy and distribution. This process was flagged off in Kebbi State sometime last year using rice production and farming. Unless the process continues and involving other crops like cassava, coffee and cocoa, palm oil, groundnut and cotton, orange and other beverages, the momentum will be lost. Government must continue to preach and practice machinised farming both to secure food and also for employments, for industrial development and producing improved varieties. The jingoism must be frequent and real.

Prof R. A. Ipinyomi

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