Wednesday, January 21, 2015 11:12 am
Olumuyiwa Wahab Jimoh
In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the usurer cried out in court that the new judge was indeed one who had come to make things right again – A Daniel come to judgment. Though the eventual judgment that was delivered was not according to his desire and wishes, it was definitely in tandem with natural justice and good conscience.
The Nigerian nation is at cross roads presently and is in dire need of men of conscience to deliver her from the clutches of the wickedness that currently pervades its hallowed corridors of power especially at the federal level. At the federal level! They say that; when a fish wants to get rotten, it starts from the head. If the head is therefore good, invariably, the entire body will be sound.
Several analysts both within and without have situated the nation’s crisis of development within the ambits of the huge corruption that has become wholly systemic permeating every strata of national life with a deathly stranglehold on the nation’s administration manifesting as a direct continuous crisis of leadership straddling the military regimes and the PDP led federal government since 1999.
With this commentary, it becomes easy to see where the nearly N70trn (seventy trillion) Naira that has been budgeted cumulatively annually since 1999 went. For all intents and purposes, we cannot see this amount of impact on the lives of Nigerians especially on domestic infrastructure, social services and social welfare for the citizenry rather, we see a handful of individuals that are getting stupendously wealthy on just their relationship with the government at the centre. People who have become rich overnight just on rentier basis alone establishing a patron-client relationship in the leadership structure in Nigeria.
Corruption is at the heart of the current insurgency and the inability of the Government at the centre to conduct a successful containment operation against its activities in Nigeria. It is at the heart of the structural distortions in our security apparatchik making it incapable of delivering on its promises to provide safety for the lives and properties of the nation’s citizenry. This has more than ever before dislocated increasing numbers of Nigerians from their ancestral homes uprooting them forcefully from their cultures and traditions and making them internally displaces persons in a supposed time of democratic rule.
It is corruption singularly that has made us a major Oil producer to become paradoxically a major Petroleum product importer in the world today. It has ensured that our existing refineries are not maintained and new ones not allowed at all to be built so that we can continue enriching a few individuals at the detriment of the entire nation. This situation has created a macro-economic distortion that has placed exceeding pressure on the nation’s Foreign exchange market depressing the value of the Naira constantly despite the increasing revenue from Oil as its prices moved up from less than U$9:00/b in 1999 to around U$130:00. The paradox of increasing FX receipts and depreciating local currency persisted as a result and remained unresolved poisoning our national chalice in the process while the PDP led government watched.
It is corruption that has created all the import waivers that have made nonsense of the tariff regimes of the Government creating gaping holes in the nation’s economic policies for smart fat cats to undermine our nation’s quest for development and further restricting us to perpetual importers of almost all the basic needs of life including food and endangering our domestic production capacity in the process.
The common denominator therefore to our present development quagmire is corruption of monumental dimension; a locus that has refused to be dealt with because the PDP led federal government despite the multiplicity of the agencies and institutions created to deal with it has deliberately incapacitated them so that they cannot perform the duties for which they were established. We are therefore saddled with toothless bulldogs as anti-corruption institutions that are just mere window dressings to deceive the international community and our development partners that we are serious about fighting the scourge.
If both international and national commentators agree without equivocation that the dilemma of development confronting Nigeria today is located mainly in the level of deep corruption, then, the next logical conclusion would be that if we can find a solution to the malaise then, we would be able to redirect the course of our journey to development. In essence that the Roads will become better; the Railway services functioning again; Hospitals, Schools at all levels; potable water, Power and energy will become available; unemployment will be reduced, more people lifted out of poverty and Nigeria better able to provide security for lives and properties within its territorial boundaries. These are some of the opportunities that may become possibilities if we are better able to deal with this evil called – corruption.
How then can a nation deal successfully with the issue of endemic corruption? It requires building adequate institutional, legal and Administrative capacity. Much more, it requires appropriate and capable leadership to activate and drive its various processes in order to allow it to succeed. In essence to deal with corruption in Nigeria, we need very firm hands outside the institutions and processes that have been set up to engage it. What some people have come to call political will which is nothing more than the willingness of the leaders to take needed action to ensure that corruption is punished and its proceeds totally sanctioned and reduced. This requires stepping on toes big and small in order to ensure that the nation’s posterity is safeguarded and guaranteed.
What brand of leader do we then need to reverse this slide into further national decay? What qualities would such a person or group of persons possess that would allow them navigate successfully the treacherous waters called the political terrain in Nigeria? What depth of leadership character is needed to be brought to bear to tame all the corrupt hawks and their protectors currently parading the corridors of power and what leadership dimensions are needed to be deployed to block all the conduits and channels that have enabled and facilitated corruption in Nigeria especially since the advent of democratic rule in 1999?
It has become clearer that Nigeria is in dire need of a leader at the national level who will possess the exceptional characteristics that are needed to combat the single issue of corruption upon which we have identified as the major source of our development nightmare. However, what are those crucial qualities that any redemptive leader is required to possess to deal specifically with corruption? This is anchored on the point that once we can identify such qualities and can then identify it in any of the leaders aspiring to become the nation’s President come May 29 this year, the wise thing then is to give all our support and energy to him to ensure that he wins in the election of February 14. I think this is a fair approach to the opportunity the leadership election issue which this year’s elections have allowed us.
To combat corruption successfully in Nigeria, we need a leader who is in himself not corrupt. The maxim that says “he who goes to equity must have clean hands” applies adequately here. A leader cannot be pretending to fight corruption while he is also very corrupt. It is either he clears out the competition so that he can enjoy the loot alone or he works to enable his cohorts in the continuous effort to loot the treasury dry to thrive. A man that has a graveyard in his bedroom cannot be a good candidate that will seek to root out skeletons from the cupboards of others in the society. We are therefore in dire need of having a leader that is shoulder above corruption, one to whom all manners of corruption and corrupt people stand contemned in his sight.
After digging deep inwards to search himself to be sure that he is free from corruption, the leader must have the capacity to be firm and decisive in applying the law equally and without equivocation or allowing the law to operate freely without undue interference. It means that he ought to be the type that will never be swayed by primordial sentiments in dealing with issues of state. He acts above cronies and puts the interests of the nation above the interests of his friends. He must therefore be strong willed and not easily swayed by emotions, threats and intimidations. These ensure that every intending itchy finger would think twice before embarking on any corrupt activity.
More so, he should be a leader that has the unusual knack for selecting effective and strong team with the right discipline to deliver on the job. It means that such a person must be disciplined himself; a stickler to due processes and always willing to enforce the statutes. They say that “birds of the same feather flock together”. A disciplined leader will invariably attract disciplined team and vice versa. A disciplined leader will not compromise the battle against corruption neither will his anti-corruption czars. There is no better guarantee for success in this battle than this combination.
Much more, such a leader must have had the requisite experience in combating this scourge identifying it as the most dangerous factor holding us down as a nation. The need and urgency for immediate action must have overriding place in his heart and therefor shall constitute the driving force of his policies and actions throughout his stay in office.
One would still be at a loss why we have chosen to go this way instead of the usual; the man is this and the man is that. As patriots, we have chosen to lay bare what the problem is and what is needed to solve them. It then becomes easier for the electorate and reader to assess the two major contenders for the post of the nation’s president come February 14th – the incumbent Goodluck Ebele Jonathan or General Mohammed Buhari.
The core of our developmental challenges having been laid bare thus far in our discourse; what is immediately required to halt the continued slide into decay having been situated within leadership framework and understood within the context of the opportunities provided by the 2015 elections; qualities of the required leadership for the rescue mission from the grips of corruption having been located, the next logical thing to do is to find out which of the two candidates is best qualified to deliver development to Nigeria and help the citizenry enjoy the benefits of democracy.
Under the PDP led Federal Government since 1999, and, especially within the last 6 years of our democratic journey, the scourge of corruption has deepened multiplying suffering within our body polity and alienating an increasing number of people from their share of national resources. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has presided directly over this last 6 years of deepened corruption which has not shown any signs of abating. We have always remained one of the top contenders to the most corrupt nation in all measurements by global watch dogs.
The fact that under his watch, Corruption has expanded both in character and in reach assuming dimensions that were hitherto unknown to Nigeria before says a lot about the character and disposition of this President to corruption. His failure to at least keep corruption at the same level which he met it instead of allowing it to grow is enough to tell every discerning Nigeria that he is not the one we are looking for to fight the battle for us. It is because of his embarrassing failure to fight corruption and its consequences that it has become a major issue of discourse in Nigeria today.
It is either that he is corrupt himself; condones corruption or he is too weak to rein in this monster. If any one of these three is true, then it automatically excludes him from the kind of leader that has the capacity and capability to reduce corruption to its barest minimum. It is a contradiction that a government that claims to fight corruption would preside over the decimation of the Police pension fund and even when Maina was at the centre of it, he was allowed to go scot free.
As if that was not enough, the Oil subsidy thieves some of who have turned into supporters and sponsors of the PDP and promoters of the TAN and who were clearly identified on national television as men who have questions to answer, have thus far not answered for their evil deeds to the Nigerian state and her people. The former Minister of Aviation whose case was so obvious and needed no special investigation to bring to book has since gone ahead to become a PDP senatorial candidate in the forthcoming general elections without paying for her sins.
Nigeria today continues to lose humongous amounts of resources through the NNPC accounting gerrymandering but nothing serious has been done under the watch of GEJ to stop this unremitting haemorrhaging of our national resources. We are here talking about issues that are in the public domain not of those that have not been uncovered. When these are factored in, the enormity of the problem is better imagined.
The EFCC that used to be a very vibrant anti-corruption agency under the leadership of Ribadu has since become a forgotten entity because it has almost stopped its activities of prosecuting the war against corruption being the purpose for its creation. I would not remember the last time anybody either in Government or public life has been prosecuted in the Law courts for any serious crimes of corruption or even when they are prosecuted at all, the last time a conviction was procured against any of them. Nigerians truly are beginning to forget that this Agency still exists. The same can be said of the ICPC which has remained worse than a Paper tiger under GEJ.
It is then clear that under the watch of this president, our anti-corruption institutions have one way or the other not been empowered or guided into succeeding in the original purposes for which they were established. If these agencies that report directly to the President are no longer working or are sub optimal in their output then, it is either that the supervisor has refused to supervise or has ensured that they are incapacitated thus unable to perform. Either way, the President has shown that he is either not interested in fighting the scourge or he is out to put the institutions for fighting it in a strait jacket.
The latest N21b campaign fund raiser is a clear fraud as it is an open bribe extended to the ruling Party – the PDP and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which will never happen under a President that is desirous of fighting corruption in all its ramifications. The portend of this latest case of corruption is that corruption itself has bought and secured a pride of place for the next four years if Nigerians make the mistake of returning the President to Aso – Rock come the 14th day of February, 2015. The implications are very dire for the nation given its consequences on our drive to join the elite club of the developed world.
Is GEJ then an enemy of corruption? NO. Is he corruption friendly? YES. These are the obvious answers given the way he has handled it thus far. And these, have not shown any signs of changing though he has just this week been promising to do something about corruption.
However, we are of the opinion that for a President who has been in office for the last 6 years and have failed to see its centrality in our quest for national development, another 4 years will not make any difference. We therefore believe that that gesture was a mere tokenism and afterthoughts manufactured as a feeble attempt to appease or deceive the dis-satisfied electorates who are bent on throwing his presidency out of office come February 2015.
Having come to this unfortunate conclusion that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is playing pranks with corruption despite all the damage it has done to our dream of becoming a developed nation, the logical question to ask is; is there any other who can do better?
Our readymade answer is YES. Amongst all the credible leaders in Nigeria who we believe can also grapple successfully with corruption, Mohammed Buhari is the only one who has presented himself for that office and who has fortunately secured the candidacy of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the forthcoming election billed for February, 2015. Mohammed Buhari is therefore the only candidate standing who can help Nigerians realise the benefits of democracy as he is the only one capable of fighting corruption to a standstill.
Why do we think that Buhari is an anti – corruption crusader and why do we think that he can remain true to this avowal even as the President of the Federal republic? We believe that a man is judged either by his achievements while in office previously (antecedents) or the innate qualities which he possess that may predispose him to greater success in leadership position.
His path as a leader during his career in the military and in public office as a Federal Minister of Petroleum, Governor of the North East, the Chairman Managing director of the NNPC, as a military head of state and then as the chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund PTF are filled with exemplary acts of discipline and anti-corruption policies and programmes. Within one year, he gave Nigeria the queuing culture re-establishing sanity amongst public sector workers in their attitude to public service. WAI has remained indelible in the minds of Nigerians despite the fact that subsequent governments discontinued it. Its ideals have refused to die.
It has to be remembered that it was his anti-corruption stance that led to his overthrow by the IBB military junta because the “Coupists” were afraid of what he wanted to do against their well-known tendency to malfeasance in office which they later manifested on succeeding through the putsch. Nigeria is still reeling in the rottenness which followed their ascension to power up till today.
Staffers of NNPC and PTF will testify anytime to this man’s zero tolerance for any form of corruption. Some of his Ministers bear testimony to this and one of them – Prof. Tam David West despite being the kinsman of the current President has remained one of his ardent followers ready at any time to give testimony on the anti-corruption posture of General Mohammed Buhari. This is no mean feat given the pervasive sentiments going around the nation currently.
Buhari’s candidacy is therefore truly that of a “Daniel come to Judgment”. Already, corrupt public and private officials are ganging up against his candidacy to ensure that he does not win and this can be further buttressed by the huge contributions that poured into the President’s campaign fund raising programme recently. Some of them out of fear are already beginning to relocate while others are concluding arrangements to immediately leave the nation when Mohammed Buhari emerges victorious. People like us find this information good because it shows that by his mere presence, corruption quakes and fears talk less of when he becomes the President.
The choice between Buhari and Jonathan is therefore a choice between Development and retrogression; a choice between solving our development quagmire and remaining in it and ultimately, a choice between anti-corruption and corruption. It is clearly a choice between Progress and Retrogression.
Our happiness is that this choice is in the hands of Nigerians. It does not lay elsewhere but in our ballots. We must put our money where our mouth is and must vote wisely. Next month exactly on the 14th day presents an opportunity for us as a people to cast out a government that has shown crass ineptitude in the face of developmental challenges and an unending appetite not only to condone but to promote corruption. We must choose Buhari for in him lays our path to development and the much sought after national salvation. He is the one who has come to make things right again for Nigeria. A Daniel indeed who has come to Judgment!
Olumuyiwa wahab Jimoh is the Vice Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government Administration and Chieftaincy Affairs. He represents Apapa Constituency 2 at the state Assembly.