Still Waiting for Buhari’s War on Corruption
I have been an activist on quite a few social causes, but I confined most of my activism in United States. However, as I observe deterioration of situation of things in Nigeria, last year 2018, I decided to prepare to take my activism to next level. First, I decided to travel to Nigeria to do voter registration. And last week, I arrived Nigeria to exercise my voting rights by participating in the national decision on who should lead this country.
I have believed Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s purported anti-corruption, strict disciplinary and highly principled credentials so much that I sponsored and organized an event in Empire State Building New York in about 2006 and invited him as the Guest Speaker. The reason I chose him as the Guest Speaker was to offer him a platform to speak to Nigerians in US about his vision and mission on how to make Nigeria better. He did not attend but he sent representatives who read his prepared presentation.
That was shortly after I sponsored and organized an event for at the same venue for launching of Sahara Reporters. Yes, you read me right: I financed the venue/event for launching of Sahara Reporters
During the 2015 presidential and national elections, I traveled to Nigeria but could not vote due to voter registration issue. If I had voted in that election, I have no doubt I would have voted for Major Gen. Buhari because of my belief then in his purported anti-corruption, strict disciplinary and highly principled credentials.
After Presidents Mathews Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Eberechukwu Azikiwe Jonathan alleged monumental frauds and corrupt regimes and attempted attendant social crisis and economic stagnation at that time, I joined many in calling for democratic change in direction and leadership of Nigeria.
Buhari’s victory at the polls was a big relief and the world, especially the global superpowers, one after another rolled out red-carpets while welcoming him and his entourage in their various capitals.
President Buhari enjoyed universal global goodwill more than any Nigerian president in modern times. I remember meeting a man in Abuja who was introduced to me as President Buhari’s nephew Alhaji Rabiu (Quantity Surveyor).
That was during Buhari’s first official visit to US after his swearing in. While we were watching a live television program showing the visit, slim Rabiu said in a very thick accent, “Look at how America welcomes Baba, Baba is a great man, everybody loves Baba everywhere he goes. Watch, Baba will bring peace in Nigeria, Baba will bring developments and prosperity everywhere in Nigeria”, etc.
But, first sign of trouble was when President Buhari could not be able to fill/form his cabinet. After several months and when he eventually did, they were made up of mostly incompetent politicians with lots of embezzlement and corruption questions hanging around them. Some of them were former governors that allegedly robbed their state treasury silly and used some of the money to support his election. Also, President Buhari made himself Minister of Petroleum Resources, the country’s financial lifeline.
Nigerians allover and the world as a whole were expecting President Buhari to declare total war against corruption and indiscipline. But that never happened. Rather, news coming out of Nigeria were discovery of hundreds of millions of dollars in toilet pitholes, toilet suckaways, cemeteries, unoccupied apartments, unoccupied 2-storey buildings filled with money, etc. Mass decamping of past government officials facing corruption and embezzlement charges from their various political parties to President Buhari’s party and slowing down of law enforcement actions on their cases.
There were also news reports about gross corruption in the armed forces resulting in very sad loss of our gallant soldiers in very suspicious circumstances. After the world was told that Boko Haram had been defeated, we continued to lose gallant soldiers and sometimes some whole military barracks in Boko Haram offensives.
It’s either President Buhari has not declared war against corruption and indiscipline, or his Minister of Information is not reporting it. Or perhaps, the news outfits are not reporting it. Either of the 3.
While youths of various tribes in Nigeria were protesting lack of jobs due to under-development, caused by corruption of past and present government officials, rather than listen to these youths cry for help, President Buhari sent men and youths of the Nigerian military to kill the protesting jobless kids and youths.
The slaughter of Nigerian kids, the jobless youths, youths who were ready to work but had (have) no jobs because politicians and government officials looted the funds meant for development and growth touched some of us the most. President Buhari will rather protect alleged corrupt politicians who decamped to his party than protect Nigerian protesting jobless youths. This is incredible!
Nigerian politicians and government officials love to quote and compare with US and UK. But no US or UK politician or government official will order the military to kill their own kids and protesting youths. And should any irresponsible leader gives such order, no US or UK soldier will obey such unlawful order.
How do I know? Because I learnt such from Fort-Sill School of Infantry and Artillery, Oklahoma during Basic Military Training and Advanced Military Training. One of the key lessons of UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), is the responsibility of a soldier to disobey any unlawful order given to him by superior or civilian authority/authorities.
Nigeria’s latest show of shame is this mismanagement of presidential and national election scheduled for February 16, 2019.
I take my desire and decision to travel to Nigeria from United States to vote in this election in Nigeria as not just exercise of my rights as a citizen of Nigeria, but a call to duty, a higher call to service.
But the election was suspiciously postponed at past 11th hour despite huge amount of money requested by the national election agency and fully granted. That postponement is colossal national disgrace that may perhaps warrant corruption and treason investigations by a responsible government to get to the bottom of it and to hold all those responsible accountable.
Prior to the past 11th hour postponement, there were news-reported suspicious cases of fire incidence at election storage offices guarded by security personnel. It’s unknown how many people have been arrested on any of those fire incidents. And if no one was arrested, the security agencies manning those sites need thorough investigations.
I have been watching various television programs and listen to various explanations of INEC officials regarding their reasons for the postponement. None makes any atom of sense.
Example: A man (CPS to INEC Chairman) was interviewed yesterday morning, Monday, February 18, 2019 on Channel Television, and one of the reasons he gave for the postponement was : Nigeria is a huge country and there are places they could not reach to distribute election materials because of bad terrains and bad roads.
My response to such senseless excuse: Because Nigeria is such a huge country is the reason your agency was given such a whopping huge amount of money Hundreds of Billions of Naira to implement the assignment. And if the terrains and roads are so rough for cars, Vans, and trucks, then rent/hire/lease bulldozers, payloaders (Caterpillar, John Dere, etc, helicopters, Nigerian Army, Airforce and Navy for super-heavy equipments).
This latest mismanagement of election is not only voter frustration and suppression, it’s could constitute threat to national security. News reports indicate Nigeria stock is falling since the postponement, investors are jittery and Nigerians are living in fear.
Buhari may still get my vote. Something is telling me he is still the anti-corruption and anti-indiscipline guy. But he has 3 days to proof that. All my options remain open at this time.
And despite the demoralizing and frustrating effect and heavy financial tolls this postponement of presidential and national elections have caused me, my determination to exercise my right to vote in these elections remains unshaken.
- A. (Political Science, CUNY)
Project Dev. Specialist & Businessman
Human rights activist, anti-corruption crusader, anti-slavery/abolitionist, etc.