By Remi Oyeyemi
`Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.’
– Daniel O’Connell
From the look of things, it is becoming more evident that the Buhari Presidency is being vanquished by the Corruption that was the template of electioneering for the dethronement of President Goodluck Jonathan and the enthronement of President Mohammadu Buhari. Corruption in its silent, invisible and deceptive innocuity is quietly gliding like unstoppable waves overwhelming the beaches of the Nigerian political landscape.
President Buhari promised to fight Corruption anywhere and anytime. He told us that Corruption has become the bane of Nigeria’s development and it has to be tackled head on. President Buhari and his handlers made Nigerians believe that he has what it takes to tackle Corruption in his pedigree and his personal integrity. Buhari was held up as the paragon of incorruptibility who would not tolerate any corrupt individual around him and would not aid and abet, either directly or indirectly, any corrupt person or group of persons to fleece and loot Nigeria or allow such to hold Nigeria and her poor masses to ransom.
Nigeria and Nigerians bought every part of the sale pitch hook, line and sinker. Buhari is now the president. But he seemed to be one of the most unprepared persons ever to have assumed Nigerian Presidency, beaten to it in my own opinion by the man he chased out of power in 1983, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who lamented that he was forced to become president and that he never had any higher ambition than just being a Senator. Buhari who seemed lost on what to do right from the gate and is now finding himself at the mercy of Corruption for him to survive. Corruption, sensing Buhari’s loss of direction and patent confusion, seized the moment and took the driver’s seat. Having taken the driver’s seat, in its usual habit, Corruption has begun to drive recklessly and about to derail or compromise the Buhari Presidency
Unsure of how to react after losing the initiative to Corruption, unwittingly, Buhari has been giving in to Corruption. He is validating Corruption. He is enabling Corruption. He is supporting Corruption. And he is enthroning Corruption in all the important facets of his administration. Under the pretext that he did not have any interest in who leads the legislative body, he is tacitly empowering Corruption and subtly ebbing away at the supposed integrity of his administration. Buhari, it seems, has no qualms at disappointing Nigerians. And it appears that millions of his fervent supporters “ain’t seen nothing yet”, like Americans are fond of saying.
Look at the way and manner he handled his Declaration of Assets. He has not been able to fulfill his promises to Nigerians. This has resulted in a controversy and it was a messy one. As at the time of writing this, Buhari himself has not made any statement in regard to this subject and why he has to wait for a system that he has condemned to determine his course of action. Buhari is the Executive President of Nigeria. He can declare his assets and instruct the Conduct Bureau to make it open and override any red-tapism. He can set the tone and show leadership that Nigerians are expecting of and from him.
Buhari’s tacit and tactical support of Senator Bukola Saraki for the post of Nigeria’s Senate President is like making a suspected armed robber the Governor of our Central Bank simply because he was yet to be convicted in a court of law. Well, it does not look like it makes any difference anyway. This is because from the seat of Senate Presidency, he has enormous influence on what happens and what becomes of Nigeria’s Central Bank. It is amazing that with all his credentials as a dangerously corrupt person who stole an entire Bank – the Societe Generale, Saraki could easily get the support of a President Buhari who promised to fight Corruption. Below is an excerpt from a Global News report on Bukola Saraki:
“About 10 months after Bukola Saraki was elected governor of Kwara State years back, the House of Representatives summoned the then Central Bank governor, Joseph Sanusi to explain how Societé-Generale Bank overdrew its capital base by N11 billion. The governor was issued an order on 3rd March 2004 giving him only seven days to give a satisfactory explanation regarding the bank’s activities…….
It was found out that between the years 1999-2003 which happened to be the most critical period in the life of the SGBN, Bukola Saraki acquired 15 luxurious cars, which included a Ferrari. He and his wife, Toyin, also purchased houses in London worth 10 million pounds. On 29 November 2001, Bukola Saraki bought a mansion in London for £4,250,000.00. The house with title number, NGL805616, is located on 70 Bourne Street, London SW1W 8JW. The lease hold on the property was registered on 9th January 2002 with the land registry, Harrow Office.
It was reportedly bought with a loan from Fortis Bank, SA-NV. The house now has a free hold. The three-story structure is nothing short of a palatial mansion befitting only a king. The house is not far from Buckingham Palace road. The interior of the house speaks volumes about Senator Bukola Saraki’s high taste and love for good things; almost everything in the house, including door knobs, is gold plated. Toyin Saraki had previously bought No. 69 Bourne Street in 2000 for £2 million. In 2002, Bukola also bought No. 53 Ashley Gardens for £4 million; he used a front company known as 53 Ashley Gardens Limited.
Apart from his UK properties, Bukola Saraki owns several properties in Nigeria worth several millions of naira including a N700 million house on Victoria Island said to be fetching him N96 million rent annually. His friends and associates have posited that he was in the private sector when he bought his London property. He was the vice-chairman of Societé-Generale Bank at that time. The belief is that while the bank was experiencing financial problems, he, as an executive of the bank was acquiring multi-million pound homes worldwide.
This is the man President Buhari is offering to work with? This is the man that our anti-corruption president has supported to become the Senate President? He does not have to impose candidates on the Senate. He does not have to get involved headlong. But he can draw the line in the sand and insist on a person of integrity and character. This he has failed to do.
Then, there is also the 9 billion naira wardrobe saga. This is a humongous amount in a country where the Federal Civil Servants have to be paid their salaries allegedly with borrowed funds. Up till now, the Buhari Presidency has not made any pronouncement on this absurdity. It has kept silent conveniently. It seemed that the Aso Rock and the Eagle Square are one and the same on this pilfering of our commonwealth. There is no leadership from the president. The silent acquiescence is very troubling. There is no show of character by this administration. And this is just less than 30 days into his presidency.
Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, the former Vice President under Olusegun Obasanjo –Onyejekwe, is arguably the most corrupt Nigerian alive after Ibrahim Babangida. Yet, this man, reliable sources have confided, has the ears of President Buhari and is working in tandem with the president to control the levers of influence within this administration. Atiku seems to have an international reputation as a fraudster and is allegedly wanted in the United States for criminal and corruption charges. Between 2008 and 2010 alone, Vice President Abubakar Atiku paid over $160,000 through the Weidenfeld Law Firm to Qorvis Communications LLC to launder his image in the United States.
But unfortunately for Vice President Atiku, the USA is not like Nigeria. When you break the law, it does not matter what your status is, you are going behind the bars. It does not matter how much you spend to launder your image, you are going to jail. One of his accomplices is already rotting in jail. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, is presently rotting in jail for using his position to help iGate – which sought contracts with Nigeria and other African nations – and taking bribes in return. The FBI said it found $90,000 stashed in a freezer in his home. They are still waiting for Alhaji Atiku to show up and answer his charges. The combination of Abubakar Atiku and Senator Bukola Saraki with other unseen but heinously corrupt elements is already having deadly impact on the Buhari Administration.
When the controversy about the alleged 10 million naira wristwatch of Buhari’s wife broke out, one did not take it very seriously because it sounded frivolous and ridiculous. But as our forefathers in Yoruba land contended, “Bi ale yio ti ri, owuro ni a o ti mo.” Literally, it means that the morning signals how the evening is going to be. This is what this issue of the 10 million naira wristwatch is telling us at this stage. This is still the morning of Buhari Administration. What are we to expect as we move into noon and evening of this administration?
Some of Buhari’s followers are pleading for patience. They want Nigerians to give him time to settle down. But this man has been running for the Presidency for 12 years. He is supposed to be ready. He is supposed to know what he wants to do. He could not claim total ignorance of the system and the way and manner it operates. Buhari, because of his antecedents, is not supposed to be in quandary on what he has to do if he is really serious. If it is morally wrong for crooks to steal our commonwealth, then it could not be politically right for them to control the levers and influence of a Buhari Administration. If Buhari is so scared to reign them in, then he could not afford to give them free reign within his administration. It is time to come out on the side of Nigeria and Nigerians and wrest the control of the country away from Mr. Corruption. That was his promise to us. And we will hold him accountable.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
– John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961
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