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OPINION: Needless Bickering Over Buhari’s Media Chat

By Buki Ponle

Baltimore, MD (African Examiner) – For a long time to come, the forthright explanation offered by President Muhammadu Buhari during his inaugural ‘Media Chat’, especially as it borders on human rights and the rule of law, will continue to evoke interpretations and misinterpretations by lovers and haters of Nigeria, respectively.

In that interview, the President agonizingly recalled how Nigeria had systematically been lowered into its current mess and about to be buried by serial looters, discoveries of new evidence against them as well as other alleged saboteurs. At the conclusion of that explanation, the President said the court would be the ultimate adjudicator.

It is, however, instructive to say that many Nigerians have yet to come to terms with the enormity of violation of their rights by known and unknown looters of our commonwealth. The killing of a man whose wife and daughters were raped, with some of his family members also killed during a robbery attack at his residence, evokes spontaneous sympathy, empathy, outrage and condemnation from relations and neighbours owing to the proximity, touching and graphic nature of the bestiality.

That gripping scenario is not only a violation of the human rights of the victims but a criminal and murderous act before man and God. Yet, when corrupt officials have been shown to have amassed wealth and stolen in billions what belongs to at least 170 million Nigerians, which gives them the wherewithal to subvert the system, some Nigerians defend the action.

Looters’ action is a collective rape, killing and maiming of the citizens, the destruction of the future of their children and the eventual disintegration of the society. What human rights’ violations could be more than this? Corruption has really ruined the economy and

has inflicted a lot of damage on Nigerians, financially, morally, socially, culturally and psychologically. Therefore, collective interests should always be put above individual interests.

Tampering with our collective wealth is the worst form of rights violation, and if a thieving man or woman disregarded the collective rights of their fellow citizens, they do not deserve our sympathy. The persistent blitz by the Boko Haram insurgency in its hey days, the degrading infrastructure development, especially as witnessed in road and power sector, decay in healthcare and education, joblessness, increasing  crime and prostitution among the youth, as well as grinding frustration in the national psyche are all spin-offs of looters’ activity.

If government had fixed a road, it could have mitigated or prevented automobile crashes in which Nigerians die everyday. The enormity of the perennial looting could translate into the country’s budget for years, and could hasten growth and development, as well as swell our foreign reserves.

Babies and infants die in their droves, especially in the rural areas, simply because of non-availability of some cheap preventive drugs. Maternal deaths and diseases are still pronounced in the country, while simple surgeries could not be performed even in tertiary hospitals. Yet, these looters and their cohorts travel abroad on chartered aircraft when they or their relations suffer from headaches.

Speaking specifically on the case against the former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, some analysts have claimed that the president is about to settle an old score with the Dasuki. However, the alleged discovery of arms and ammunition in Dasuki’ home, or the fresh evidence of alleged mismanagement of $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase, are more than enough to put the man on trial.

By the way, why do officials standing trial over corruption charges suddenly remember that they need urgent treatment abroad? Dasuki sought and was granted bail to travel abroad for treatment for an undisclosed ailment. The man must be super strong to have been attending the court trials several weeks after being denied that treatment overseas, or probably that treatment is being provided locally. A time like this calls for discretion on the part of the judiciary, for the sake of survival of Nigeria.

The President’s observation and comments on bail application need not be twisted. If there is a fresh evidence against a defendant, common sense dictates that he or she be charged again, based on the new evidence. So far, all the arrests by the prosecutor have been based on new revelations. It is, therefore, misplaced to describe the action as impunity which the PDP adopted as its survival game for 16 years.

And if I may ask: Why is the People’s Democratic Party afraid of justice? Instead of facing the reality, party members keep saying that the trial of corrupt officials has been targeted at their members, not minding that these members have cases to answer, going by the evidences put out there.

It is time Nigeria modifies the rule of law as long as it is in conformity with international practices. Fighting endemic corruption in Nigeria is herculean, and this calls for a collective effort, not a task for the President alone. Those who have been benefitting from the system will not allow it to succeed, but if every Nigerian is patriotically committed, the war is as good as won.

It is also pertinent to say that if the wailing PDP had deployed its arsenals for the welfare of the people during its 16-year rule as being done now in its pull-him-down war against the federal government, perhaps it could not have been crushed at the polls with ignominy.

Mr. Ponle is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Osogbo.


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