It’s true I have been a persistent critic of Buhari’s fight against corruption. But so was I critic of Jonathan & Obasanjo’s ways of fighting corruption
There were several reactions to my last week’s column entitled ‘Buhari’s Quest for Economic Emergency Powers’.
One of the points that attracted the most commentaries was the poser:
“… apart from questions of whether the President really needs sweeping emergency powers to resolve the country’s economic problems, there is even a more fundamental question of whether the current economic challenges are not merely economic manifestations of the President’s politics – or at least amplified by the President’s politics.
“For instance, to what extent has the government’s unintended de-marketing of the country through its probe rhetoric contributed to the drying up of foreign capital inflows in the country?
To what extent has the regime’s mode of fighting corruption – which is gra-gra driven rather than institution- driven, discouraged those with the money from coming out to invest?”
Some of the reactions were critical of my criticisms of the regime’s mode of fighting corruption.
I was reminded that the President’s anti-corruption fights have won kudos from world leaders and from a recent Buharimeter from the Centre for Democracy and Development.
There were the usual accusations that I was driven by “sentiments” and of “hating the President, and consequently have chosen not to see anything good in his government”.
I have always believed that every opinion expressed by any columnist or opinion writer is merely a modest contribution to the vibrancy of our marketplace of political ideas, which is the infrastructure on which our democracy project rests.
Consequently I do not expect that ideas I express will not be aggressively interrogated.
If I can take the liberty to interrogate the government and its policies who am I that people should not use various modes of expressions, including unorthodox modes such as name- calling and plain insult, to express their displeasure at my ideas?
Anyone who throws his hat into the public square should not complain if people match or kick it.
I will however like to address today the persistent allegations by a certain group of ‘Buharimaniacs’ that my writings are animated by a supposed hatred for President Buhari.
It is true that I have been a persistent critic of Buhari’s fight against corruption.
But so was I a critic of both Jonathan and Obasanjo’s ways of fighting corruption as a simple search of some of my articles on corruption will show.
In fact the titles of some of these articles are not pretentious about my cynicism for such ‘wars’.
Good examples of such articles include :
– “War on Corruption: Why EFCC Will Fail” (2009).
– “Corruption: Time for General Amnesty?” (2010),
– “Is Corruption Really the Problem”? (2013).
Under Jonathan, I consistently dismissed the war against corruption as a charade and called for conditional amnesty for all accused of corrupt practices so that the nation could reset the button on the fight against the malaise.
The three articles cited above (and there are more) will vividly show that those who revel in accusing me of hating President Buhari because I criticise his system of fighting corruption are either being ahistorical or grossly unfair in their criticisms.
That every regime has made the fight against corruption its key policy plank and yet the vice seems to continue unabated vindicates my position that we have been fighting the symptom of a more fundamental malaise using inappropriate tools (which I call gra-gra method).
Another area I have been critical of the Buhari government is on the general thrust of his government.
This again derives from my own belief on what constitutes the fundamental problem of our country.
I have always taken the position that the fundamental problem facing the country is the crisis in our nation-building process – not corruption or even poverty.
In fact in 2012, at the height of the Boko Haram crisis, I gave a well- received public lecture at the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa entitled: “Boko Haram as Symptom of the Crisis in Nigeria’s Nation-Building’.
In that paper I wrote:
“My position is that a more comprehensive explanation of the Boko Haram phenomenon is the crisis in our nation-building project.
“While the bombings and other unsavoury acts that are linked to the sect are very condemnable, it is germane to underline that Boko Haram is only one of several groups in the country that purvey terror and death.
“This is not an apology for their actions, but there is increasing tendency to discuss the spate of insecurity in the country as if it all began and ended with Boko Haram – or as if without Boko Haram Nigeria would be a tranquil place to live in…..
“Virtually every part of Nigeria claims it is ‘marginalised’ and there are concomitant groups calling for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (a euphemism for a meeting to discuss whether Nigerians want to continue to live together as one country or not).
“This is a clear indication that something nasty has happened to the effort to create Nigerians to populate the geographical expression called Nigeria…