- The moral burden
He rode on the mantra of change and anti-corruption to the presidency. His antecedents as former military Head of State that was very impatient with the corrupt oiled the wheels of his presidential campaigns. From the Northeast across the Middle Belt to the hinterlands of the South South, he won converts who hoped that it would be a matter of months after the May 29, 2015 inauguration for Nigerians to begin to see, feel and taste the goodness of an almost corruption-free Nigeria under the superintendence of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The patience of all while they awaited the ministerial nominees that would disciple fellow Nigerians in the new anti-corruption thought was thus, understandable.
Alas, the revelation of his list of ministerial nominees and the fallouts of the screening exercise by the Senate in the past two weeks have cast doubts on the “No corruption” signal the president posted to Nigerians months ago. Apart from a few names that could stand the test of credibility and honesty in governance, many were and are still not sure whether most of President Buhari’s nominees would pass his very own test of a public servant free of tendencies that he had set out to fight.
Dead on arrival?
With the clearance of the former governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi by the senate as one of the prospective ministers, stakeholders are of the opinion that it may signal the death knell of the much trumpeted anti corruption fight.
A judicial panel of enquiry set up by the Rivers state government indicted the administration of the former governor over the sale of public assets. The panel said that the administration of the former governor could not account for N70 billion, being proceeds from the sales.
The judicial commission mandated the state government to recover the said money. Amaechi has however denied such indictment and said it was a political witch hunt.
The former Rivers governor is not the only appointee of president Buhari who has a lot of allegations hanging on his head. The former governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Fashola is also accused of corrupt practices while in office.
A civil society group known as CACOL had petitioned both the EFCC and the president alleging that the former Lagos governor used N139 million to sink two boreholes and used another N78million to upgrade his personal website as a governor. Despite these allegations, the former governor made the ministerial list.
The All Progressives Congress rode to power, vowing to clamp down on corruption and perpetrators of corruption. However, there are concerns in many quarters that the fight has derailed. Others are of the view that the fight is targeted against political opponents.
For instance, the APC governorship candidate in Kogi, Prince Abubakar Audu is still being prosecuted by the EFCC over alleged N11billion fraud and yet the party gave him a ticket.
Also, former Bayelsa governor, Timi Sylva is still being hounded by the EFCC, yet the party gave him its governorship ticket for the upcoming election in the state.
These obvious infractions in the fight against corruption, have led many concerned Nigerians to ask whether the anti corruption fight is not dead on arrival.
Paul Nwogu, a legal practitioner and social crusader doubts whether the president can come good in his avowal to fight corruption. “The president cannot shield his party men and fight his opponents. The president promised not to have anything to do with anybody carrying baggage, any compromised individual. But from what we have seen so far, the president has not kept that solemn promise of his. If he allows all these men with corruption allegations and probes on their neck form part of his government, it means that he cannot muster enough moral courage to go after other people equally accused of corruption.
“There is a huge moral void the president has to fill if he does this. But let’s watch and see and give him the benefit of the doubt. He is a man of integrity who has vowed not to interfere on behalf of anybody”, he said.
The same is being said of the Fasholas, Fayemis among several others that have so far been screened, and some okayed by the Senate for appointment as federal ministers.
It will be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had said the list of ministerial nominees is not worth the several months of suspense Nigerians were subjected to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the unveiling of the ministerial nominees by the Senate, the leading opposition party said “by a mere look at the list, one can tell that there is nothing to be excited about, especially considering the length of time it took the President to come up with it”.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement on Tuesday, said “looking at the list, it is hard to put a finger on why it should take any serious-minded and focused government, six months after its election to assemble such a regular team.”
The party said “the list and the length of time it took have further confirmed the fact that the APC-led administration is driven by propaganda and deceit, a development that raises doubts on the sincerity of its anti-corruption crusade.”