In ancient Rome, there was a popular sharp practice among unscrupulous antique dealers and builders where flaws are covered up with wax to create a sense of perfection.
Over the years as this practice grew stronger, concerned professionals devised a way to separate their works from those of the charlatans hence they came up with a tag on their products called ‘sine cera’ which means ‘without wax’. These two words later formed ‘sincerity’ in our modern English language.
The ideology of sincerity isn’t one borne out of the need to create a sense of perfection but that of purity, truthfulness and distinction. For a cause to be tagged sincere it must be immune to selectiveness, hypocrisy and cosmetic justice.
Few days ago, the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces submitted its report detailing how funds released for purchase of military equipment and gadgets from 2007 to 2015 were diverted into private accounts and shared among cronies. While the report gave a blow by blow analysis of how funds were moved from one accounts to another, the committee also listed names of top military officials who perpetrated this act of extreme treason against the country.
Those indicted in the report include, former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh; former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu; former Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika; former Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah; former Chief of Army Staff, Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau; former Director of Procurement, Tukur Yusuf Buratai amongst others.
In a rather surprising turn of event President Buhari allegedly ordered that the names of both Dambazau (who is now the current Minister of Interior) and Buratai (current Chief of army Staff) be deleted and the report doctored to have the grievous atrocities linked to them expunged.
Further investigation by radical news media, Sahara Reporters, revealed that the indicted Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau was taking a billion naira monthly from salaries of military personnel as the Chief of Army Staff. Furthermore, Dambazau also played a key role in the looting of seven hundred and forty five million dollars ($745,000,000) funds meant for Logistics Support for Security Operations in the Niger Delta from 2003 to 2015 gotten from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS). All these President Muhammadu Buhari turned a blind eye on.
As if that wasn’t enough, the current Chief of Staff, Lt. General Buratai who was also indicted in the Arms Procurement report has been in the news for acquisition of a whooping $1.5million mansions in Dubai. While Buratai has wholeheartedly own up to the properties his defense on how he got the money through his snake farm is not only comical but an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians. If a mere snake farm is so lucrative to the extent of producing such mouthwatering profit enough to buy some of the most luxurious properties across the globe then investors like Dangote, Adenuga are in the wrong line of business.
Early January this year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) quizzed retired Brigadier-General Jafaru Isa who is a known associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and a member of the President’s Transition Committee. Unlike the usual tradition of charging accused to court where they proceed to seek bail, Jafaru Isa did not only enjoy the luxury of being questioned for just eight hours but was allowed to embrace the comfort of his house after a controversial part payment of 100 million naira was allegedly paid by him on the spot. Till date, no case has been instituted against Jafaru in any court nor has the EFCC moved to pursue his case to logical conclusion.
The nucleus of Nigeria’s democratic system is under extreme threat. Not just by the ravaging militants in the creeks of the Niger Delta, the blood tasty assault-rifle-wielding nomadic herdsmen on a killing spree across the country or the ‘technically defeated’ but yet bombing Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
Far from these known and almost used to horrors, one that creates an immediate risk to our federation and capable of setting the rulers against the ruled if not swiftly addressed is the unprecedented level of selective prosecution by the Presidency. Deleting Dambazau and Buratai from the report doesn’t only show a contradiction of the so much preached integrity and holistic war on corruption but a rape on the purity of transparency which ushered the administration into power.
Everyone seems to have been forgotten how Rotimi Amaechi siphoned almost three trillion naira as the Governor of Rivers State with awarding of capital projects to ghost companies owned by his cronies as revealed by the investigative panel set up by the Rivers State government.
The same Amaechi rather than being investigated and prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was rewarded with a ministerial position and even ensured the appointment of his cronies as the Chairperson of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Director General of the NIMASA.
Right before our eyes, the Central Bank of Nigeria led by the controversial Godwin Emefiele secretly recruited sons and daughters of Buhari’s associates into juicy positions in the apex bank. A move that does not only sever any sense of transparency but point clearly to the connivance of the rulers against the ruled. Emefiele was not queried nor interrogated by ICPC.
As if borrowing a leaf from the CBN, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler adopted the same process of secret recruitment which only favored sons and daughters of the privileged class.
What about those accused of being the brain behind the padding of the national budget? After the press releases and media face-saving charade, no one has been prosecuted for the avalanche of misappropriation and scheming against the Nigerian state.
President Buhari should understand that anyone with power can order the arrest of enemies and oppositions but only those with sincere hearts of justice can prosecute friends, families and associates who continuously make mockery and stand against the tenets of integrity he/she preaches. While it is politically right that the President rewards loyalty, such reward should never include a Presidential immunity against acts of corrupt practices against the country. Everything President Buhari stood and advocated for before and during the 2015 election, he has stood against. His steps negates the so much publicized zero tolerance for corruption posture and if he doesn’t retract his steps, he may go on record as one of the most paradoxical president in world’s history.
The major criticism against the Jonathan’s administration is not about him being personally linked to any corrupt practices but rather, that under his watch, his trusted allies and aides elevated sleaze to unprecedented heights in our polity while he blindly defended them without recourse to the authenticity of the evidences against them.
Corruption does not end with stealing of public funds. When corrupt individuals are shielded from prosecution and blind eye turned on their deeds, such decisions creates a nursery for greater atrocities. A Yoruba maxim says ‘It is not he who steals the Jar of Palm oil that has stolen but one who aided such fellow’
Boladale is on twitter @adekoyabee