Amidst the current regime of gloom and despair, President Buhari shocked a wide spectrum of Nigerians, when in a last effort to save one of his own, he wrote to the Nigerian Senate clearing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr.Babachir Lawal of the allegations of corruption leveled against him. After weeks of waiting, guessing and body language assessments, the President finally showed in a letter, saying, that he had found no skeleton in the cupboard of Mr.Babachir Lawal. In a move reminiscent of the tricks and fine-art of the old brigade of the Nigerian political class, the President to the chagrin of all, pointedly dodged the major question in what is perhaps the biggest scandal that has confronted his government – the question of whether Mr.Lawal abused his office by illicitly moving government money through a phoney company which he has a vested interest in, choosing rather to grab the lame excuse of the Senate report being a minority report.
Swiftly, in a furious and tempestous response, the Senate through the Shehu Sani Senate Committee on the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE), reacted by taking the Presidency to the cleaners, making a mockery of its corruption fight by drawing an allusion between the insecticide used in fighting supposed corruption outside the Presidency, and the deodorant used in privileging justice to the President’s men. With particular venom, the Civil rights activist turned Senator, concluded by calling the Babachir clearance letter, the final funeral rites of the anti-corruption war of the Buhari government. One must salute Shehu Sani for his bravery and consistency, a remnant of his civil rights background, however, beyond Shehu Sani, his now famous insecticide/deodorant satire is nothing but a representation of the few things that a few men still have the courage to say. What of the many things left unsaid, things such as – Can the Buhari government boldly beat its chest, and say that it has been fighting corruption since it assumed office? Can the government convince any right-minded Nigerian that there was ever any anti-corruption war, talk-less it now been murdered by the Babachir Lawal’s grass-cutting scandal?
The many contradictions that the Nigerian State is today will remain so, as long as men with heavy deficit in character and integrity, prostrate in intellectual credentials, and totally lacking in leadership recruitment, continue to hold the reins of power. For more than 56years, Nigeria has remained in a state of immobility and decay, simply because conscienceless men, cruel characters, and unforgiving merchants of power, cart away the patrimony of all, to buy hundreds of exotic houses that they may never live in; to purchase bullet-proof automobiles simply for the pleasure of conveying their wives and concubines to the hairdresser; and to acquire eye-popping private jets, all in a bid to escape from kilometers of bad roads whose money has been stolen, and fly over the millions of poor people living below. For that same period of time, as her ungodly leaders live in mindless opulence, the country is consistently fed fat with propaganda, while government in-government out continually whip up the peoples’ excitement and emotions with dazzling, mesmerizing and psychedelic photo-shopped slides of on-going super-highways, bullet trains, underground tunnels, 24 hours electricity, glittering skyscrapers, and hundreds of other sensational projects that never leave the projector screen. Sadly, dishearteningly and most disgustingly, the current government is not different. For a government under whose nose, monies that was to be used for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) can be stolen, that must be the lowest we have gone.
The current government missed its way from the outset, setting out with no clear roadmaps, engaging in the corruption called nepotism by unashamedly appointing family members into critical positions in government, and merging same with the motley crowd of greedy businessmen who are always around the corridors of power on nocturnal trips; such as a political contractor masquerading as SGF and a coterie of other individuals who have perfected their skills in manipulating the levers of powers. The government began to go the wrong way when upon assuming power it simply continued from where the PDP stopped, treating political power as a national bazaar, leaving serious national issues to the superintendence of cluelessness and behaving as a group with neither a teacher nor a class. It is therefore no surprise that in a staggering two years, no new laws have been made, no far-reaching reform is in the offing, and no meaningful policy direction has been crafted, rather all the People get is the silence of the graveyard from an absentee President; and to add salt to injury, the same Men who claim to be spartan and pious, who go after others recovering supposed “looted funds”, are themselves caught dipping their hands in the Cookie jar.
It is without gainsaying that the current government has never fought corruption, can never fight corruption and will never fight corruption. Why? The government itself is a product of corruption; created, glued together and packaged by stolen funds from Men who under very heavy body odour of corruption, fled the wilderness of the former PDP, to arrange the caricature called APC. Thus, from the day the President was sworn in, it was evident that for him to even think of fighting corruption, would amount to nothing but political suicide. Not one, not two, not three of the President’s boys today have various allegations of corruption hanging over them, yet not one has been handed over to the EFCC for prosecution. From Burataigate to Babachirgate, the list remains ongoing. Can it therefore be said that the anti-Corruption war is dead, when infact it never lived?
Apparently, the President is under a very heavy burden and an incarceration in morbid apprehension, which of course renders him incapacitated. What is that apprehension? The day this government acknowledges that one of its own is corrupt and removes that person from office, that day the entire government collapses like a pack of cards. In the last two years, the government having gradually lost the confidence of the people has precariously held on to its only lifeline – the supposed integrity of the President. That lifeline itself has been greatly decimated by the quiet pilferage by the termites and carpetbaggers who have become the Cabal in the Presidency, so much so that the President is now a Man on his own.
How does the President sack a Babachir Lawal, without funeral rites been conducted on his own integrity? Can he claim as a President never to have known of the shenanigans of Mr.Lawal? Can he claim not to have known that Mr.Babachir Lawal awarded a contract to a Company he had interest in? If he knew, why did he not act before the Senate moved in? How many other Babachirgate is still quietly going on in this government? Many questions, without answers. This quickly reminds one of former President Shehu Shagari, who while in office was confronted by a Reporter with the allegation that his Ministers have been stealing the government blind. What was his answer? He replied helplessly saying, “I have told them to stop stealing, but they would not listen”. President Buhari today cuts that picture; the picture of a helpless President, who is aides will not listen to.
From Magu to Babachir; between insecticides and deodorants, the daily revelations of disguised corruption and the attendant helplessness of the current President is all symptomatic of what happens when the architecture of State is solely erected on just one Man’s integrity – a Man who has become weighed down by his indebtedness to the dubious quest of a fiefdom who deployed all they had to bring him to power. Such a President can do nothing, and will do nothing. As a matter of fact, beyond Magu and Babachir, the days ahead will be very interesting as 2019 will not been fought on an empty stomach. If President Buhari is still as poor has he was in 2015 that it was reported that he had to borrow money from the bank to purchase his nomination form, many are waiting to see where the billions that will be used to prosecute the 2019 campaigns will come from. The fact of the matter is that we have never exited from the stronghold of Civilian dictatorship and the evil of corruption; rather we have simply just transited from one glorified leader to another. Between 1999 and now, we have carefully moved from an arrogant President, to a weak President, then to a clueless President, and finally to an absentee President. Certainly, the beautiful ones are not yet born – when that happens, even the unborn will know.
Olusola Adegbite, Esq. is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Faculty of Law,
Obafemi Awolowo University,