The two sets of demonstrations across some major cities of this nation between Monday, February 6 and Monday, February 13, 2017, have prompted this medium, which all along had been silent on the mood of the polity to speak out as a watch dog.
It is undisputable that there is hunger in the land, which is also affecting this writer. It is not in doubt that there is recession and frustration in the country today, but if we are sincere with ourselves, whom should we blame most for the recession, the depression and the repression in the land? Is it Buhari or the past administrations of this country?
The protest, allegedly initiated by the celebrity musician, Tuface (Innocent Idibia), was eventually executed by radical showman, Charley Boy (Charles Oputa), when Tuface declined to carry on. This attracted different interpretations. Some believe it was a true wake up call to government while others say it was sponsored by some corrupt groups of politicians and public office holders, who are either under probe or about to be visited by EFCC; thus, want the downfall of Buhari’s administration so that the hydra headed monster called corruption can take over once again the driver’s seat of this great country.
A counter protest in support of the Buhari government took place to buttress the point that the about to clock twenty one (21) months old administration led by Buhari and Osibajo has lived up to expectation and has done marvelously well. The anti-government protesters did not only take to the streets, they used the media, especially the social media to articulate their perceived grievances, blaming Buhari for the present woes of this nation, especially the hunger, the deteriorating exchange rate and other accusations.
Despite the gigantic progress made by Buhari government in the fight against corruption, in the war against terrorism and militancy and the attempt to re-orientate Nigerians and key them to a new beneficial social order, looters of our common wealth and agents of corruption are hell bent on rubbishing the achievements of Buhari and Osibajo. Therefore, the time has come for citizens of this great nation with good conscience to stand out and speak out the truth. It is time to remind all of the African proverb that the chicken whose throat was slashed should blame the knife that killed it instead of bending its neck and blaming the pot in which it was cooked. We should stop blaming Buhari for the woes of this nation and instead, blame our corrupt politicians and wicked leaders.
The time has come to take to the street to demonstrate against the looters of our treasury as well as the beneficiaries of the loots and call for their incarceration and the total vomit of all they swallowed. They are the ones responsible for the present hunger in the land, the recession, the depression and the frustrations. The anti-government protesters may have behaved like the children of Israel in the Christian bible soon after they were delivered from Egypt and faced a little hunger in the wilderness. Many started blaming Moses for bringing them out of four hundred and thirty (430) years of slavery, opting instead to remain slaves in Egypt, assured of at least a square meal a day than dying in the wilderness seeking freedom.
The PDP led administrations between 1999 and 2015, especially the Jonathan’s administration, merely coated Nigerians with pain relievers while the nation had died inside. They milked the nation dry and cosmetically prepared and covered up the wounds/injuries and the fatal consequences of their actions. There was a false pretense that all was good, that fuel price was affordable, that the exchange rate was okay and that the only threat was Boko haram. But when the can of worn was exploded, the true face of a corrupt nation was exposed.
Thirty one ex-governors of states of the federation, some of who served two terms and are now sitting senators, are involved in corruption charges/investigations by both the ICPC and EFCC. They are accused of corrupt practices running into multi billions of naira. Their cases have been dragging and stalled by paucity of funds to prosecute their cases by the Federal Attorney General Office and other obstacles. Among the affected ex-governors is a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted and recently completed his jail term in the United Kingdom.
The list also contains the names of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the former Governor of Kwara State; Godswill Akpabio (a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State) and Ali Modu Sheriff (a former Governor of Borno State). Other ex-governors on the list are Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).
The list also contains the names of Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Boni Haruna (Adamawa); George Akume (Benue); Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo); Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto) and Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo). Others are Usman Dakingari (Kebbi); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Peter Odili (Rivers); and Lucky Igbindedion (Edo).
More worrisome is the case involving high profile politicians and politically active/exposed Nigerians, whose corruption cases have also been deliberately slowed down. They include the one involving the number three of this country Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose case has been with the Code of Conduct Tribunal since September 14, 2015. This Kwara born politician, who has challenged almost every step taken at the tribunal including its jurisdiction and composition, stalled the proceedings when the trial eventually began on April 5, 2016.
Appearing with a galaxy of Senior Advocates of Nigeria as his defence lawyers, they compelled the tribunal (CCT) to adjourn fourteen times to cross examine a prosecution witness, who completed his evidence against Saraki within three adjournments. The Chief Prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, described these fourteen adjournments, which took seven months as the longest cross examination in the nation’s criminal jurisprudence history. What about the infamous Dasukigate otherwise known as the 2billion dollar arms purchase scandal? Col Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser under President Jonathan and other co-travellers have all been docked at a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ademola, who is now also an accused person for corruption.
Since September 1, 2015, when Dasuki’s case began, it has worn different colours and shapes and is nowhere near conclusion despite the long chain of those named as beneficiaries of the huge amount of money allegedly diverted from its original purpose of purchasing arms to fight the insurgency in the North East of Nigeria but ended up in the pockets of politicians and their cohorts. Other notable cases include that of former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Oronsanye facing charges in two different courts for diverting over N300million public funds into his pocket. What about the PDP spokesperson, Chief Olisah Metuh also facing trial in two courts with his company before Justice Okon Abang charged with corruption, breach of trust and money laundering.
The military was not spared, former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh and his predecessor. They are charged with breach of trust and corruption and are standing trial before Justice Abang at a federal High Court in Abuja. The climax of the Anti-Corruption Crusade was when judges were also put in the dock on same charges of corruption they had been trying public office holders for. Observers believe that there will be serious legal fireworks in the country this year as the cases involving Justice Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Justice Ademola of the Federal High Court, Justice Ofili Ajumogobia and other judges accused of corruption kick off. These cases will run alongside those of Fani Kayode, former Aviation Minister and a former Minister of State for Finance Nnamdi Usman accused of laundering about N4.6billion. The matter was expected to fully flag off in Lagos in January this year.
At the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), different charges are pending for some of their MD’s and officers nor can anyone forget too soon the budget padding scandal in the House of Representatives, where a suit (SERAP’s) is being pursued. Niger Delta War Lord, Tompolo is facing a forty (40) count charge with others for diverting N34billion to their personal uses. Former first lady, Patience Jonathan, is struggling in court to defreeze nearly a billion naira caged in banks on the orders of the EFCC just as the MD of the Nigerian Air Space Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Ibrahim Abdulsallam is battling to save his neck for allegedly stealing N2.8 billion naira.
Five former Governors will be prominent in the news this year as their cases will rear up. They are Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State with his company facing thirty seven (37) charges on criminal breach of trust and corrupt enrichment. Rev. Jolly Nyane of Taraba State is also facing criminal breach of trust at a Federal high court. Imo State ex – Governor, Ikedi Ohakim is facing a charge of paying over N200milion cash as for a property in Abuja. Chief Rasheed Ladoja, former Oyo State Governor, who left office over eight (8) years ago, was re-arranged recently for converting over N4billion from the state treasury to his personal use. Former Abia State Governor Orji Kalu is still in court over N3.2billion alleged to have been diverted by him to personal use. Other public officers are former Chief of Air staff, Marshal Adesola Amosu and others accused of converting N21billion belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to personal use.
The list is endless and the depth cannot be fathomed as names of different people including Obanikoro, Fayose and other notables have been mentioned here and there. The latest in the news is the former Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, from whom was recovered more than nine million dollars in cash through a whistle blower’s alert.
The recent cases are typical. Report said $153 million and several properties were allegedly illegally acquired by a former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Shortly after, 62 houses were traced to a public official, coming just after 47 mint-new cars were recovered from another. Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said $136.67 million was found in an account with a fake identity; N7 billion and $15 million from someone and NI billion from another.
Many Nigerians, including the educated and economists, who ought to know better, gloss over the central role corruption played in the current recession. Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman of the EFCC, has no such illusions, telling an interviewer at the weekend that “about 90 per cent of the cause of recession is corruption.” We should continue to remind ourselves of the great disservice previous administrations, especially the lootocracy presided over by Goodluck Jonathan, did to Nigeria. Following the crash in oil prices, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Kuwait and other major oil producers had buffers from the last boom to fall back on, while Nigeria had squandered hers.
As the battlefield gets hotter, the federal government, the EFCC, the ICPC and the security agencies, committed to genuine cause against corruption, device new methods of executing the war. The latest joker is the whistle blower, which is already yielding good dividends. The federal government announced it has recovered several billions within a short time through this mechanism, which compensates the whistle blower and protects him or her security wise. If only the government will remain sincere in this regard, a lot of progress will be made.
Look at the pathetic legislature we assembled after the 2015 election victory of the APC, the dramatic emergence of Saraki as the Senate President, the 2016 budget scandal and attempts by the national assembly to hold the nation to ransom. They remain insensitive to the yearnings of the electorate, selfish and parasitic in their actions and do not add value to the call for meaningful change in the country. From the purchase of computers, which price the legislators allegedly inflated five times, to the 2016 budget padding, where they injected over 200billion without consulting or getting the executive approval, to the purchase of exotic cars for the Senate President (at over 300million) while the 107 senators will get new cars estimated at between one and four billion naira. Till today the real earnings of our law makers is a top secret shrouded in my term. They have usurped executive, legislative and judicial functions and have suddenly become the Lords of the Manor in this nation.
If indeed Buhari was sick, it could have been because of regrets in his heart that he had been fighting corruption almost alone and is being betrayed by his party men and many of his countrymen. Alternatively, it could be that Buhari is hale and hearty but feigned illness to test the people, who actually wish him dead (the traitors and treacherous partners (the Judases) and sift them out from the real faithful and loyal Nigerians committed to the positive change agenda of APC. Looking at the corruption picture listed above, one can see the depth, the breadth and the seriousness of this virus/cancer that has ravaged our nation.
The shocking revelations from the judiciary, the prolonged decay in the executive arm and lately the bastardization of the legislature have made the anti – corruption war to seem hopeless and irredeemable, but thank God that Buhari has restated in his 2017 New Year message not to relent in his fight against corruption. According to him, our determination to wrestle corruption to the ground remains unshaken. The fight, which will be guided by respect for the rule of law and due process, will not spare anybody or organ of government. It is a collective undertaking and resolve that must be seen to its logical conclusion in spite of certain distractions. This is where and why the rest of our country men should come in.
It is obvious that corruption has been fighting back since the defeat of PDP in the 2015 elections. Many PDP members, who pretended to be progressives and joined the APC (as Saraki), remain wolves in sheep’s skin. They have polluted the true spirit of APC and its change agenda and are sabotaging every measure against corruption. These are the people Nigerians should protest against. The treasury looters are the ones causing hunger and recession in the land and all the collateral damages we have been witnessing including naira devaluation, oil pipeline vandalization, insecurity in the land, etc. Our country men and women should be courageous enough to resist those, who are still busy enriching themselves and living in luxury, when the rest of us are hungry in recession. We should kick against these judges, ministers, governors, council chairmen, legislators and public office holders, who are still looting our treasuries instead of saving for the rainy day. They are the ones we should blame and not Buhari for the woes of this nation.
Who could have touched the untouchables in this country – the military chiefs, the powerful judges, politicians, legislators, if not Buhari? Even Obasanjo, as powerful a President as he was, could not do much and could not confront some of these entrenched looters. But Buhari did. If the nation had not lost the N100 billion dollars through vandilization of oil facilities in the Niger Delta last year, if the PDP ‘revengers’ and ‘avengers’ had not sabotaged the economy and security of the nation, if global oil prices had not crashed, Nigeria, under Buhari, would have been swimming in prosperity by now.
We keep wondering what would have happened to this country if Buhari had not rescued it from the comatose state he met it in 2015. These looters would have sucked the nation to sudden death and they will flee abroad with their loots. So, let Nigerians patiently go through this shock therapy we are receiving to recover the economy. It won’t last long. Hence, we should praise Buhari and Osibajo rather than blame them.