Historically, one of the things that would haunt the Buhari-led administration long after it is gone from power would be it’s failed anti-corruption fight. The fight that collapsed before it even started. It was part of the populist advertisement to swindle the unsuspecting people, the permanently vulnerable people, who are always trampled on. Buhari knew this vulnerability and used it against them. It was part of the consistent sinister plot and promises to get the votes from the people. Oh, we would stop corruption and jail corrupt people! The administration was married to this deceitful slogan and other varied versions.
Some three years ago, the federal government through its minstrels of discord, published what was termed illegal Looters List. And among the list were names of those in the opposition who had not been convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction.
The list was timely – pre-election year: to make the opposition look like criminals in the face of the same coned electorates. Somehow, that didn’t fly because the electorates knew that the fight against corruption had collapsed, it was one sided, no convictions and more importantly, the government could not call anyone a looter, only the courts has such powers. So the whole idea was thrown away from public opinion as rubbish and of no consequence.
Today, the APC or rather, the Buhari-led administration has become a sanctuary for alleged fleeing corrupt people. They either flee towards it for safety by themselves or are blackmailed and cajoled to join the coven. The pension fugitive, Maina, was brought home to an upgraded position in the civil service to the chagrin of most Nigerians. Senator Obanikoro had to decamp from PDP to APC to save himself. The allegedly corrupt Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, boss, Professor Yusuf, was reinstated by the President after finding him wanting by an administrative panel within the Ministry of Health for misappropriation of funds, Lawal Babachir, the former SGF, was found culpable of financial crime to the tune of 270 million Naira, yet the federal government gave him a clean slate until the insuppressible cries of the people made the government to sack him. He never went to trial, rather, he was a campaign director of sort and mobilizer for the Buhari 2019 election in his home state. Today, now grant interviews like a celebrity on national issues, unlike Olisah Metuh, who was not a dangerous criminal but was coming to court in handcuffs.
The then Chief of Staff, Late Abba Kyari, was fingered in a bribery scandal with MTN, the issue was tucked under an old mattress, and it found it’s demise there. The alleged NNPC 25 billion dollar illegal contract was explained away unsatisfactorily, and their secret account was never mentioned. Mr. Baru, the NNPC boss is still there.
All these aforementioned alleged looters and criminals never made the list of looters published by the government. Hailers would rashly tell you another government would bring them to book as if that’s the Global Standard Practice Against Corruption.
Senator Akpabio was allegedly blackmailed by the government to defect to APC because he had ‘problems’ with EFCC. He met the president in London, met Tinubu in Lagos and met Osinbajo and Oshiomole in Abuja before defecting… and APC, the ruling party gave him an uncommon welcome in his hometown with Oshiomole, the then garrulous APC factional leader, dancing to the big catch like a poisoned chalice. Today, Akpabio has been canonized to sainthood and his name has been written in the Book of Life, with a big portfolio attached to his badge where he can carry Ghana Must Go bags to the creeks.
Nothing was so hurting and insulting to our collective sensibility than seeing Orji Kalu, the Buhari Must Rule Again convener, who had billion of Naira and dollars cases with EFCC, being turbaned in Daura, the hometown of Buhari before he was sentenced by a competent court. He was titled the ‘son of a slave’ when translated literally by the Emir, with Buhari congratulating him. This was an obvious stigma on the anti-corruption fight. His colleagues in PDP were being witch-hunted, handcuffed, denied bail, prosecuted in the pages of newspapers before adjudication, smeared, illegally listed as looters…yet, Buhari facilitated the turbaning of this ‘son of a slave.’ We could see the maintained inconsistent integrity of President Buhari. Today, we are faced with missing billions; SERAP is suing Buhari over billion dollars overdrafts taken from CBN. Corruption has taken an evil face. Buhari’s children are singing “Sebi na national budget…” with careless abandon during his son’s prodigal marriage where state funds were expanded sumptuously.
The compound words; Anti-corruption has become by-words for deceit. Only the APC relics, the charlatans, the self made Puritans, the busybodies, the sub-humans, the trampled upon, the defeated, the hopeless, the gaslighted…still use the words.
These disappointments, and more leaves us to accept that trekking 800 metres and picking teeth are eve yardsticks to claim President Buhari is fighting corruption than the real anti-corruption fight.