APART from court jesters, palace comedians and lickspittle fake intellectuals mouthing anti-corruption nonsense, serious-minded Nigerians know that what we have witnessed in the county in almost four years now is mere anti-corruption propaganda nicknamed anti-corruption war.
When General Muhammadu Buhari appeared in Chatham House London in February 2015, he harped so strongly on fighting corruption if elected president. “In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning ?of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption,” he said.
“And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way with the force of personal example,” he added with all the conviction he could muster. The personal example was reinforced when he declared elsewhere that he was going to make his assets declaration public. We are yet to have that document three months to the end of his four-year tenure.
The APC on which platform General Buhari ran for the 2015 elections was largely a club of some of the most notorious fiddlers with public funds. I recall him telling me and another person in 2011 that “people will question my integrity” if he had anything to do with one of them.
Some of us were waiting for the Eighth Wonder of the World to see him fight corruption riding on the backs of so corrupt men. On assumption of office, the president was busy with all the rhetorics against corruption at all fora locally and internationally de-branding the country here and there. The EFCC moved swiftly against many opposition politicians accused of corruption with many unwary applauding that the Augean stable was about to be cleansed. What was a seeming move against corrupt practices soon became a propaganda war. The EFCC started brandishing questionable figures of “loot recovery” with Lai Mohammed publishing “looters list” now and then.
It didn’t take long for many of the “looters” to get the code. They started moving into the ruling party, having realised that once they joined the president’s party and hold the broom, it is a season of “Passover.” It took the chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to officially proclaim “once you join our party, your sins are forgiven.”
This was the reason it took several months to ease out Babachir Lawal who awarded government contract to his own firm to cut grass with several millions of Naira. It is this policy that ended the Kachikwu-Barau NNPC contract sleaze in a family affair manner. Then came Maina saga, the Yussuf fellow at NHIS, Ganduje bribery saga and several other corruption scandals swept by the “broom” under the carpet.
But perhaps the greatest expose of the whole farce of the anti-corruption propaganda of the administration was the viral image of two bullion vans driving into the residence of the national leader of the APC and the president’s co-chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The former Lagos State governor’s defence of the incident was so full of impunity and a clear demonstration that the whole anti-corruption war is a mere political joke. Reacting to a question from journalists who had accosted him during the election, he said: “Bullion vans? Are those ballot paper? Excuse me, is it my money or government money? I don’t work for government, I am not in [any] agency of government. Let anybody come out to say I have taken any contract from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last five years.
“They should prove it. I am on my own, and I am committed to my party. So, even if I have money to spend in my premises, what is your headache? I don’t represent any agency of government and I have money to spend, if I have money, if I like, I give it to the people free of charge. As long as not to buy votes.
“So, who are those watching my house and looking at Bullion vans? They must be mischief makers, they report falsehood, their lies are numerous, and it’s because they are jobless.”
Now compare his bullion vans defence to the case of the arrest by the EFCC of Uyi Giwa Osagie, lawyer of former vice president and presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for alleged money laundering on the eve of the botched February 16 presidential polls.
Osagie was arrested following the arrest of Alhaji Abdullahi Usman, a BDC owner based in Lagos, who was caught ferrying $2 million by air from Abuja to Lagos.
When the money was intercepted by the EFCC, Usman, who owns Hasbunallahu BDC Ltd, confessed that Uyi paid naira into his account. He converted it to $2 million pieces and ferried to Lagos and on arrival took it to Keystone Bank. There was no law that makes transfer of money which Uyi did a crime. Unlike Tinubu, he is not even a politician. The money he transferred is not in anyway alleged to be government money.
Tinubu can boast of his right to have bullion vans into his house with cash while Uyi was incarcerated for legally transferring money through bank with his crime being that he is a lawyer to Atiku.
….All eyes on Nigeria
Nigerians and the world waited with bated breath for the results of the rescheduled presidential polls as this column went to bed. The chairman of INEC just announced that as against the 6.00 p.m. Sunday time billed for the commencement of collation of results, it would now start on Monday at 11.00 a.m. We can only pray that God guides the leadership of INEC, including Amina Zakari, right in these crucial hours for the future of Nigeria.
In this moment of anxiety, I can only say the prayer of the Catholic Bishops for Nigeria in distress in 1993: “All powerful and merciful father, you are the God of justice, love and peace. You rule over all the nations of Earth. Power and might are in your hands and no one can withstand you. We present our country Nigeria before you. We praise and thank you because you are the source of all we have and are. We are sorry for all the sins we have committed and for the good deeds we have failed to do.
“In your loving forgiveness, keep us save from the punishment we deserve. Lord, we are weighed down not only by uncertainties, but also by moral, economic and political problems. Listen to the cries of your people who confidently turn to you. God of infinite goodness, our strength in diversity, our health in weakness, our comfort in sorrow, be merciful to us your people. Spare this nation Nigeria from chaos, anarchy and doom. Bless us with your kingdom of justice, love and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.”