Sunday, October 26, 2014 8:24 am
*An Opinion article By Femi Aribisala
One thing is for sure: Muhammadu Buhari would like to be the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has tried three times and has failed every time. Finally realizing it is a lost cause, he said he would not try again. But now he is persuaded to try again. His supporters are impressed that he won 12 million votes against Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. However, they need to be reminded that he lost to Jonathan by over 10 million votes.
Since the third time did not turn out to be a charm for Buhari, what are we to call his fourth attempt? Listening to the declaration of his new-fangled presidential bid in Eagles’ Square, Abuja a few days ago, it seems this fourth time is going to be one big charade.
The sign was provided by none other than Buhari himself. Since his one credential is that he is a man of integrity who, as president, is expected to wrestle corruption down to the ground, Buhari decided to burnish his anti-corruption image by revealing that he obtained his 27.5 million naira APC nomination form with a bank loan. However, what this declaration did was to tell Nigerians that Buhari is a pretentious anti-corruption crusader. His Mr. Clean posture is nothing but a public relations gimmick.
In fairness, some of us have known this all along. Under Buhari’s watch as Petroleum Minister in the late 1970s, $2.8 billion (worth billions of naira today) was missing from the NNPC account. The matter was subject to Senate investigation under the chairmanship of Olusola Saraki in 1983. But before the report could be dealt with, Buhari conveniently overthrew the Shagari government in a military coup d’état.
Vera Ifudu, an NTA newscaster, revealed that Saraki told her in an interview that the missing money was traced to Buhari’s account at Midland Bank in London. For this disclosure, Vera was summarily sacked by the NTA. However, she appealed against her dismissal in court and won. She even received a handsome financial compensation for wrongful dismissal from the NTA. Instead of clearing his name as a man of integrity, Buhari refused to appear before the Oputa Panel set up to look into the matter (among under things) by the Obasanjo administration.
Buhari claims to be an anti-corruption crusader, nevertheless, he agreed to serve under Sani Abacha, one of the most corrupt Heads-of-State ever in the history of Nigeria. While there has been no proven allegation that Buhari corruptly enriched himself as Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund under Abacha, it is abundantly clear that this fabled anti-corruption crusader failed to curb the rampant corruption that prevailed in the organization. Group Captain Usman Jibrin, a board member of PTF, resigned from the organization in protest over Buhari’s irregular appointments of consultants.
In 2000, the Obasanjo administration set up an Interim Management Committee to look into the affairs of the PTF, under the chairmanship of Haroun Adamu. The Committee discovered that billions of naira was stolen under Buhari’s chairmanship.
Now the same Buhari who would not or could not curb corruption in the PTF wants us to believe he will fight corruption as president of Nigeria. However, he has chosen the APC as the political platform on which to undertake this. But the APC is an unscrupulous political party that is chock-full of corrupt politicians. It is the party of Murtala Nyako who was impeached as governor of Adamawa State for converting state money to personal use. It is the party where Buhari himself and others went cap-in-hand to Otta to beg Obasanjo to be their “navigator.”
Surely Buhari knows that he cannot fight corruption by being the presidential candidate of the APC. Whatever anti-corruption crusading Buhari had in him in the past must have ended when he decided to join the APC. Should he become president, does he intend to probe his corrupt party-members? Has he made them understand he would be coming after them once elected? If he has, does he really expect them to help him get elected so he can retrieve their stolen loot and send them off to jail?