November 2, 2017 IKE ABONYI
“If you love your country, you must be willing to defend it from fraud, bigotry, and recklessness even from a President” – DaShanne Stokes
At a conversation over a curtail in May 2016 by three prominent British citizens, the then Prime Minister David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Speaker of the British Parliament, John Bercow at the Buckingham Palace to mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, Nigeria was the topic and the issue was a scheduled corruption summit in United Kingdom.
The PM said: “We have some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the World.”
But the Archbishop intervened to say: “But this particular President in Nigeria is not corrupt… he is trying very hard.”
The speaker typical of a watchdog to government simply said: “They are coming at their own expense, one assumes?”
If that set up is to repeat itself today, the PM would be standing on the same position and would be right, but the Archbishop certainly would not provide same defence he did 17 months ago given the myriads of corruption scandals around the President and his henchmen.
All the evidences to show Buhari trying hard to fight corruption in the country have been smashed by the mortifying actions of his close aides and which is being underscored by the President’s apparent helplessness and inability to act.
Truth is that the Archbishop’s reading of Muhammadu Buhari which was widely held a year ago that Buhari is ‘trying hard’ to tackle corruption in Nigeria has been greatly dented by a number of actions and inactions that successfully portray his administration as bias and selective in the fight.
For instance, when the focus was on judiciary, the whistle blew loud enough to attract DSS operatives to invade homes of Judges and Justices with weapons at the unholy hours in search of corrupt money.
Also when it was legislators, the whistle blew reasonably loud to attract Police operatives to invade the homes of the Deputy Senate President and some other Senator’s homes in search of corrupt money and documents. Even the head of legislature in the country, the Senate President was on trial over corruption.
But when it was the executive, the whistle could not be heard as the obtrusive blowers suddenly became inconspicuous and inactive.
That has been the double standard that engulfed the system and has virtually grounded the anti-corruption battle of this administration.
The clever by half defence being put forward by the administration for some of these avoidable scandals has rather compounded the issues. The government action has become like a fun game of kids who when they are naked and close their own eyes, they think that their own nakedness is also closed to their playmates.
What all these scandals around the President are showing is not just the division therein but perceptible lack of creativity in the administration.
The poor and garbled excuses being proffered in defence of some of these malfeasances are so superficial that either they think Nigerians are fools or that their own IQs are so poor or they try to drag down everybody’s standards of comprehension of issues to their low level.
Incidentally, Nigerians have also not been sincere enough in their reactions to issues as they have continued to be protective of their leaders who has the misfortune of assembling cantankerous and clearly underwhelming team and finds himself handicapped and unable to change them. A development that has put untold stress on his image makers who are constantly struggling to wriggle out of the tight corners they are often boxed into.
Regrettably, Nigerians have this attitude of shielding their leaders and blaming subordinates whenever things go wrong but turn round to heap credits on the leader when things go well.
But Presidential system did not envisage that a President should share power with anybody, rather what it provides is checks and balances to curtail the excesses of the executive. Hence the creation of the other three arms, the Judiciary, the Legislature and the fourth estate of the realm, the Press.
In the past two years of this administration the first two arms, the Judiciary and Legislature have been sufficiently harassed and intimidated that they can hardly stand erect to be able to play their statutory roles. The Press remains the only arm holding this government accountable. Even as they lack the enforcement power, they have not failed to successfully herald the evil and bring it to the domain of the public.
The President in a Presidential system has this unparalleled power of life and death in all cases pertaining to executive decisions.
Many political watchers believe that Nigerian President is among the most powerful constitutional leader in the World.
When you hear Nigerians use the name of their President at randomly on virtually all issues, it derives from this enormous and near absolute power bestowed on the President by the constitution.
Nigerians believe that politically no patient should die in the hand of a doctor who had been given all the requirements needed to save life and if perchance a live is lost, the doctor should be held responsible for the shortcomings.
Similarly, a Nigerian President operating under the current constitution who is unable to take decision should blame it on his other deficiencies not on lack of trust and backing from the populace both legally and politically. It is therefore unacceptable that it would take the President almost six months to act on corruption cases involving his aides and expects a clap from the people.
If we had to pressurize the President before he acts on obvious corruption matters, what it means is that he may not have been embarrassed by the act. He no longer gets shocked and angry because the actors are awkwardly from within.
The Custom Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, wants the world to believe that the vehicle is grounding because of PDP is the vulcanizers, but nothing can be farther from the truth, nonetheless they had power to procure better tyres in the market.
When majority of Nigerians in 2015 rejected then President Goodluck Jonathan for Buhari at the polls many variables accounted for it. Top among them was the character strength of the candidates. Many Nigerians believed that Buhari had better required character strength to tackle the myriad of problems in the nation’s polity particularly the issue of corruption.
Rightly or wrongly, not a few Nigerians had believed that the worsening corruption index in Nigeria was a by-product of the poor political will of then President Jonathan.
The choice of Buhari even amidst other glaring gaps was largely to fill in this apparent yawning in political leadership. The decision was easy in coming because Buhari was already swimming in a very high moral pedestal difficult for anybody including the belligerent Nigeria media to counter.
But two years down the line, your guess is as good as mine that we all may have entered the wrong cavalcade. That we all may have fallen into the trap of the Goebbels (Hitler’s image man) kind of propaganda and are now enmeshed in a worse type of ineffective and shambolic Presidency where obviously nobody is really in charge.
But before we go into trying to apportion blames whether the current challenges facing this government is either from GEJ, PDP or Buhari’s aides, we need to first find out if the President is feeling embarrassed by all these.
There was a time the President use to feel embarrassed by mention of big figures coming from people as a donation and he often screams “how did they get such big money for donation?” But these days, he hears strange and obviously corrupt matters around him and he keeps mute raising doubt if he still gets shocked and angry about corruption.
When an elder is embarrassed by something, he shows it by his reaction but where he is reticent it can lead to several conclusions.
If the President is not embarrassed by the division in his kitchen which could lead to dishing out poison instead of meals, if as it now seems the President is not shocked by corrupt acts of his associates yet he sets dogs after outside thieves, why are we still fantasizing about fighting corruption.
What buck stopping on one’s table means is that final and effective decision should emanate from that table? This is precisely what Nigerians are expecting from President Buhari at this moment especially on corruption issues around him. God help us.