By Friday Peter
About every single Nigerian alive today rues the choice of President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode to power as a civilian president on the expectation that he was the antidote to the epidemic of corruption that has held the country back from emerging as a viable and competitive country.
When in his first term it became apparent that he has failed to show commitment to tackling corruption, he blamed the glaring failure on “corruption fighting back”. However, events of recent months have proven that the more things change the more they stay the same. President Buhari merely flipped the mat to have his assemblage of saints sit on the reversed side.
Mr. President is fully living the truism of “show me your friend and I will tell you whom you are”. Top on the list of those with access to the president today is Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, who also is among those manipulating him to the extent that the crisis in his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), has revealed. Bagudu alongside Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai and others were able to deploy their experience in running scams to get President Buhari to sign off, with his revered signature, on a fraudulent zoning list for the party’s national positions.
It is instructive that Bagudu remains this close to the President at a time when his name is making international news, not for providing quality leadership for the hapless population of Kebbi state, but for insisting on keeping the proceeds of the theft he committed some decades ago. The brazenness. Bloomberg reported that the United States authorities will resume legal proceedings to seize over $150 million that Bagudu allegedly laundered as far back as in the 90s. What would be discovered to be missing from Kebbi State’s coffers when Bagudu is done with his tenure is better left to the imagination.
As worrisome as it is that a character of this mold hangs around a President, who is futilely attempting the cut an anti-corruption persona, it is more worrisome to learn that the administration he leads has been abusing government powers to shield Bagudu from the international consequence of his theft of money that belonged to Nigerians. Another saint in the administration, Abubakar Malami, conveniently the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, cooked up the necessary legal hogwash to explain why Nigeria cannot testify against Bagudu for this monumental theft.
Interestingly, Malami is a permanent fixture among the group of shady characters that have practically hijacked the Presidency, with the likes of Bagudu, arrogantly prancing around as the puppet masters of the man whom Nigerians elected to clean out the mess of corruption but who sadly is now the strongest enabler of sleaze.
President Buhari continuing to hobnob with Bagudu after the latest US moves to seize the money he stole has outdone that nauseous moment when he went to Kano to raise Governor Umar Ganduje’s hands and endorse him for re-election after the viral video showing Ganduje stuffing wads of dollars received as bribe into his apparel. It is no wonder that those around the President have realized that, with President Buhari, the path to sainthood is to engaged in corrupt acts in a manner that is mind-boggling.
One can only shake one’s head in contemplative regret that there was a Buhari, the fiery spartan who abhorred corruption and vowed with his every breath to root out the evil from Nigeria when elected and given the chance to clean up the system. Today’s Buhari is different. He is one that jumps into bed with the very people he should be facilitating jail terms for. Buhari as the president has become everything he hated and railed against as a candidate when he wanted to become the president of the country.
But the country now has a problem in its hands. It is bad enough that President Buhari failed to tame corruption like he promised to. It is disheartening that he elevated corrupt people to positions of influence once their ethnic and sectarian affiliation aligned with his narrow jingoist leanings. It is alarming that corruption has been institutionalized in the years Buhari has been president and would have become a sacred vocation by the time his tenure ends on May 29, 2023. What should get Nigeria worried, however, is the disaster staring us all in the face by way of Buhari prepping the band of corrupt people around him as his replacement when he is done messing our system.
In this, the response of Nigerians must be united and unequivocal. A man who failed to deliver on his anti-corruption promise when he became president has no right to further inflict his lack of integrity on Nigerians. He has in fact lost the right to meddle in how his successor will emerge since he has repeatedly proven that he will always resort to his collection of saints to source a successor. Nigeria cannot survive another administration that would not make genuine efforts to tame corruption.
Nigerians must go further to socially and politically ostracize Buhari’s band of saints, who are archangels of corruption as they would invariably sink what is left of the country. If Nigerians unite on this, there would be no need to go through the hassle of barring thieves from public offices, it would be a matter of the people declaring this set of people persona non-grata.
Peter wrote this article from Kaduna.