If I were President Muhammadu Buhari, I will try every powers and tricks within my arsenal of governance to avoid the death of Nigeria. If I were Buhari, I will bring all the doctors l know – both the physical and the spiritual, all over the world to ensure that the country that had given so much to me; a country that took me from nowhere to somewhere, mostly made me somebody from being nobody, mustn’t breath its last under my custody.
If I were Buhari, I would have avoided everything, and anything that would have nominated and appointed me as Nigeria’s last Undertaker – the very Undertaker that would prepare it [Nigeria] for burial. If I were Muhammadu Buhari, I would have ran away, with terrific speed, from whatever influence; [be] of people, tribes’ leaning, religious inclinations or even the illusive joy of territorial conquest, that would be dragging me to any Hall of infamy, where l would be crowned; in midst of traumatic hailing of “Here comes the King that accelerated the death of that great Country called Nigeria”.
Wait a moment. Does Muhammadu Buhari have any iota of the fact that Nigeria is dying? Yes, he has the full knowledge that Nigeria – which might soon be referred to as “a country that was”; God forbid bad thing, is about to die. Are there facts of evidences that he has this knowledge? Yes, there are, and they are numerous. Can some of these facts be produced to confront the man – Buhari? Yes we can, and should be able to do that now.
On that night of a coup-de-tat, Sunday, December 31, 1984, a Major General Muhammadu Buhari arrived the Nigerian National scene with a bang, dismantled a functional Presidential Democratic Edifice-Government, under President Shehu Shagari, and installed himself as Military Head of State – Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
By that singular action, the man undemocratically, and rudely too; having destroyed every beauty of democratic norm, threw Nigeria into the Ocean of retrogression for years. He picked to fight two battles in that unjustifiable war he created. They were battles against Indiscipline and Corruption. One instrument he refused to introduce and apply in those battles was instrument of Justice.
The man, instead, chose to deploy instrument of pandemic chaos. He would arrest, pronounce those arrested guilty before putting them on trial in nefarious military tribunals and jailed them [those arrested] disproportionately to number of years that Adolf Hitler; that deadliest German’s Der Fuhrer, couldn’t have thought. One of those jailed like that was Bisi Onabanjo; the democratically elected Governor of Ogun State, which he dethroned. He was jailed just a little above One Hundred Years.
Let us take a few lessons from this preamble; if we shall call it so, of the past and juxtapose them against today’s President Buhari way of running a democratic government and see a few similarities between the old and the new. Such exercise will help to know two things about the man.
One, and this is very vital, is that Muhammadu Buhari, our incorruptible president, knows that Nigeria is about to die. Two, and it is also very essential, is that he has all the facts of knowledge about the “cause of death” for Nigeria.
In the past, which was military adventurism into Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari fought corruption. And now; which is democratic slide into the Nigerian political terrain, he came fully prepared to fight corruption. In all his endeavours; both the past and present, there is almost one enemy contending against him. Maybe, Buhari did not even know the enemy, and this is very detrimental to his success in this war against corruption.
What or who is this enemy contending against him? The enemy that is pulling Buhari down in his effort to “kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria” can be classified as a Group – and since a Group contains more than one individual, we should be expecting to hear about “people”. And this takes the narration from the realm of singularity to plurality.
They are, therefore, those around Buhari at any given time of his operational endeavours. They are his trusted managers – his henchmen, they are the very people he trusted with instrument of battles. They are his executors and foot soldiers – the very people he trusted for successful victories. It happened before and it is happening again.
One of the greatest achievements of the Buhari Military Junta, in 1984/5, was the decision to change the Nigerian currency overnight, more so when it was a top-kept secret. It was a terrible blow to the ousted politicians; whom we were told kept bags of Naira in secret places all over the country and around the world. As successful and applauding as that efficient operation would have been, the factor that dishonoured and dented it was the “sudden arrival of 53 suitcases from Saudi Arabia” one day, and these 53 suitcases, without being subjected to the Nigerian Custom Services’ inspection, passed through the Lagos International Airport under heavy military supervision – supervision coordinated and commanded by Major Mustapha Haruna Jokolo – Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s ADC. That was how Buhari’s integrity of that era was “killed and buried” by Buhari’s own trusted ally.
Now, let us come to the present. We shall look at few cases of play of events to draw our conclusion.
President Buhari’s first appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, immediately after he [Buhari] took oath of office in 2015, David Lawal Babachir, was the first to downgrade Buhari’s integrity in his battle against corruption, as the former enmeshed in a fraudulent scandal of “grass-cutting” contract. The only defender of the man in that stormy deal, even when the Nigerian Senate’s probe indicted him, was Buhari. And he remained defending him until a high level panel of three men – top Nigerians [Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Abubakar Malami – AGF, and Lawal Daura – DG of DSS] for that matter, indicted him. It was only after this that Buhari reluctantly removed David Babachir from office, but not without replacing himself with a cousin of his – Boss Mustapha.
The second one we should peep into is Buhari’s nomination and appointment of Ibrahim Magu, a top police officer, for the chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC]. The President did the rightful thing by sending his appointee’s name to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation. The latter, based on a damning security report, indicting Magu of corruption and many other malfeasances, rejected the man. Yet, in spite of the fact that the report from the DSS against Ibrahim Magu was made available to the President, he insisted retaining him as his anti-corruption Czar. Five years later, the bad chicken of Magu has come home to roast – albeit very shamefully.
The case of the President wife [Aisha Buhari]’s ADC; Police Chief Superintendent Sani Baba-Inna, and the N2.5Billion fraud that happened September 2018, [he was actually arrested on Friday, September 21, 2018] would remain a mighty minus for President Buhari on this battle against corruption, maybe on the line of investigating the matter and presenting same to the public.
What Nigerians knew was limited to what the wife of the President was quoted as saying, and this was what Aisha’s Media Aide said. “CSP Sani Baban-Inna has been her ADC since 2016 and has been associated with her ever since. To the utter dismay of Her Excellency, he has used the opportunity to defraud unsuspecting associates and officials as initial investigations have shown.”
Evidence of massive corruption was laid against the ADC, according to Aisha’s narration but what Nigerians did not hear or know was where the money; whopping sum of 2.5 billion Naira, returned to, at the end of the brouhaha. Nigerians would have loved to know for how long some Aides of Madam have been prosecuting such criminality against “innocent friends and business associates of her”. Since these facts of investigation were not placed on the public domain of Nigerians, what was hidden could only have remained liability on the integrity of Mr President in this battle against corruption
Let us touch briefly on another example of the enemies that are making caricature of President Buhari battle against corruption. We should be visiting the case of former Gombe State Governor; Senator Muhammad Dan Juma Goje, who was being prosecuted by the EFCC in court with embezzlement of N25 billion during his tenure, till last year when suddenly, Buhari’s crony; the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, suddenly took over the prosecution from EFCC, and a few days later, dropped all charges against Goje. The case of Senator Goje was out-rightly so messy that Buhari might not be able to recover from the dent until “thy kingdom comes”.
Senator Goje saw an opportunity to bargain himself out of court and jail volcano, and did not fail to utilize it, in the most bizarre way. President Buhari and his ruling Political Party [APC] have agreed those Principal Officers to be elected at the National Assembly, and Senator Ahmad Lawan had been marked as President of the Senate. Command had gone out to all APC Senators not to dare changing the status quo ante, laid down by the god of the land. Muhammad Goje suspected that he could be a threat to the President’s preferred candidate; believing that his ex-governors colleagues in the National Assembly would rally around him. This must have given him the audacity of throwing the challenge. What happened thereafter?
The Governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai, quickly arranged a meeting between President Buhari and the “spoiler” – Goje, in the Villa for a “balancing settlement”. At the end of the meeting, between Buhari personally and Goje, an unholy compromise was reached, to wit: Senator Goje withdrew from the Senate Presidency’s race, and 48 hours later, the Attorney General of the Federation took prosecution of the case away from EFCC, and thereafter [within another 24 hours] legally terminated trial of the 25 billion Naira fraud case. What a way to fight corruption war!
One more example before drawing the curtain on this discuss. President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Senator Godswill Akpabio for ministerial appointment and sent his name to the Senate for confirmation, at a time when investigation on fraudulent dealing; investigation properly being coordinated by the federal government’s own EFCC, was still hanging on the man. The only federal government person that spoke was Professor Itse Sagey; Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption. He wondered out loudly why “the President would nominate a man like Godswill Akpabio for ministerial appointment at a time when a monumental fraud investigation is hanging on him”.
The President advance the initial error forward a little, when he assigned the Ministry of the Niger Delta to Akpabio, lift the Niger Delta Development Commission [NDDC]’s administration from the presidency and add it to the Ministry of the Niger Delta, ordered a forensic auditing of the NDDC, and permitted an illegal Interim Management Committee [never known to the law that established the NDDC], under the controversial Minister to run the place, as against a Board. All these were happening after the President had sent names of Board Members to the Senate for clearance and the Senate had carried out the clearing.
Nigerians are never surprised at the unfolding of events at the NDDC currently, as the news of how over 40 billion Naira have been fraudulently siphoned by the IMC, allegedly – albeit President Buhari “great efforts in fighting corruption”!
But if the battle against corruption is made totally impossible, either directly by Muhammadu Buhari’s body-language, or by those that are his accredited henchmen [and women maybe], and with the instruction on Nigerians to “kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria”, as always being re-echoed by the same President, is there still any Nigerian that does not know that Nigeria is about to die?
Great food for greater thought!
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
Facebook: Godwin Etakibuebu
Facebook Page: Veteran Column
Phone: +234-906-887-0014 – short messages only.
You can also listen to this author [Godwin Etakibuebu] every Monday; 9:30 – 11am on Lagos Talk 91.3 FM live, in a weekly review of topical issues, presented by The News Guru [TNG].