Allow Buhari to perform
OUR leaders are at it again. Blowing hot and cold is their second nature; positive today, negative tomorrow – alternating periodically at whim. There is a Yoruba saying: “Awon ni Adegun. Awon ni Ade-ogun,” that is “Masters in ambiguities”– political weather-cocks known for their unpredictability. It is an open secret that corruption is deep in our system stunting developments. Every pore in our skin is filled with the sweat of corruption.
As defined by syndicate Editors Iain McLean and Alistairs McMillan in their Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, “Corruption obtains when an official transfers a benefit to an individual who may or may not be entitled to the benefit, in exchange for an illegal payment (the bribe)”. Corruption as a moral decadence takes different forms. It is a matter of Quid pro quo, meaning, something given or received for something else. The exchange can be tangible or intangible, depending upon the agreement between the giver and the receiver. The words, “tangible or intangible” are encompassing, with wide range of gifts, including filthy lucre and sex. Corruption is an abuse of moral integrity.
What brings forth corruption? Why does it exist? Those who are involved assert that poverty is mainly responsible. But I vehemently disagree with them. This is because the affluent are also involved in corruption; it is even more rampant among the rich people than the poverty-stricken lots. I am not entirely ruling out poverty as the cause, but among the rich or well-endowed materially, corruption is equally unbridled.
Therefore, if the rich are also corrupt, element of greed must be considered as another monumental cause of it. Greed is synonymous with acquisitive instinct. What else do the rich men hanker after? One legal practitioner informed me that there was a civil servant who acquired about 790 landed properties in his life time. I was shocked to the marrow, more so as the children were embroiled in internecine feuds over the huge legacies. The inheritance was the product of greed and not of poverty. Cupidity, that is.
Love for influential positions and Epicureanism cannot be ignored as partly the cause of corruption. The social malady is traceable to the love for high status in the society, to be able to influence and control the societal affairs and get what the corrupt people desire; everybody wants to be well-connected. Affluence and influence are together.
Now, the pertinent question is, “Is corruption good or bad?” This query may seem irrelevant, but it is necessary, because every issue has its supporting and opposing groups; there are two sides to any problem. This is why opinions are divergent on issues. Such divergence must not be misconstrued and be disparaged, but resolved. The supporters of corruption may argue that it enables objectives to be achieved effortlessly. On the other hand, the opposing group is sure that corruption is inhibitive to developments, because it encourages mediocrity and discourages transparency. So, if the malady stagnates social, economic and political growths, what should we do about it?
The social malady must be extirpated at all costs. Some opinion moulders, however, argue that it cannot be entirely eradicated. My standpoint is that if it cannot be entirely destroyed, it can be reduced to the minimum. During the election campaigns, corruption was one of the issues at stake. With the Muhammadu Buhari’s election, his war against corruption must be fought with all forces successfully. In Singapore, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Israel in the Middle East, corruption was fought and reduced in intensity. Why must Nigeria be exempted?
Muhammadu Buhari’s election into power is considered by patriotic Nigerians as a seismic shift in the political process. Why the National Peace Committee’s endeavour at a volte-face for Buhari?
The Guardian, August 12, 2015, in its front-page lead story reported: “Treasury looters for trial soon, says Buhari.” In the text, the National Peace Committee was ambivalent, using casuistry, “The Cleric Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, denied media reports that the meeting was prompted by reports that Jonathan had complained to Abubakar about alleged harassment of officials who served in his government by the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption”. Further in the text, Dr. Kukah said, “I think what we are concerned about is the process. It is no longer a military regime and in our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proved guilty. Again our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody. The former President’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that.”
An ability to read between the lines is hugely an asset in political observance and commentaries. The reading public can now understand what I mean. Why is the National Peace Committee playing the role of a defence counsel/solicitor and advocate-to ex-President Jonathan and his administration? Juxtaposed with the newspaper’s last two paragraphs, “A source at the meeting told The Guardian in confidence that Jonathan indeed complained to the committee about what he referred to as the selective nature of President Buhari’s war against graft.
“The source said Jonathan made it clear he would have preferred all previous administrations being subjected to the probe, rather than the present situation where only his administration is the target for probe.” So, what is the National Peace Committee trying to make us understand? The body is acting as if it has an axe to grind politically. A retroactive probe into numerous past administrations is a waste of time and resources, leading to nowhere.
What I am advocating in this narrative is that President Muhammadu Buhari must be allowed to perform. Curbing corruption must begin somewhere. There must not be external interference to tele-guide the present administration. Making a volte-face in its determination to tackle corruption is to encourage it. Tolerance of corruption breeds more of corrupt practices. The National Peace Committee must not transform itself into a parallel government, but should be disbanded, lest it usurps the responsibility of the Council of State. There is no individual or group of individuals who is above the government; only God is. Muhammadu Buhari’s hands are set on the plough, looking back is despicable – St. Luke, chapter 9, verse 62. We must commit ourselves to a new Nigeria. So let it be.
• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.