In the ancient Mali Empire, one notable figure that shaped the
course of that empire was Sundiata. Students of history will easily remember the circumstances that brought Sundiata to power. Mansa Kankan Musa had superintended over a vastly corrupt empire with emissaries absconding with bags of gold and diamonds meant to be used in wooing the tribal leaders of the emerging Songhai Empire. Sundiata took over amid uncertainties with a promise to change the fortunes of the fast decaying empire.
His first major assignment was to eliminate all those who helped him to power; introducing a regime of monster and brutality. Soon he was been compared with the monstrous Maghreb warrior, Samouri Ibn Lafiya Toure of the ‘earth-scorch” policy fame. Sundiata sought to put the record straight by dismissing such comparison but insisted that Samouri Toure was not a brutal leader or merchant of death as many assumed. A few years in power, the people of the ancient Mali Empire would actually come to realize that he was more brutal and sadistic than Sundiata; and the import of his dismissing Samouri Toure as not being too evil hit the people with brutal reality. In Buhari, you can see the Sundiata of Mali.
I have gone this far into antiquity to show that brutal leaders all over the world have always emerged under the veneer of changing the status-quo in favour of the society. This trend sign posted the emergence of Adolph Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Joseph Stalin in former USSR, Nimiery in Sudan, Jean-Bedel Bokassa in CAR and Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo.
This was also the trend that greeted Buhari’s jackboot dictatorship in 1983 and Abacha’s emergence in 1995. I have always maintained that Nigeria has a fundamental problem, which can only be resolved on a round table. In the run-in to the last general election, I followed painstakingly the campaigns especially that of General Muhammadu Buhari and the APC change mantra.
Like many discerning Nigerians, I came to the conclusion that both the APC and its presidential candidate then, now president Buhari, displayed galling emptiness and hollowness. I also came to the conclusion that given Buhari’s poor intellectual capacity (he did not attend any school and even his First School Leaving Certificate is shrouded in controversy), those promoting his candidacy had other reasons for backing him, essentially because Buhari lacks the requisite credentials to launch Nigeria on the path of genuine rebirth.
In the first emergence as Nigeria’s military dictator, Buhari and his military cartel constituted understandable despotic machinery by evolving and depending on outright and far-right fascist techniques to ensure their survival in power. Buhari saw Nigeria and Nigerians as a bunch of corrupt politicians, people who lack discipline; whose conduct must be wiped out in a single stroke segregative mechanism.
His promulgation of Decree No.4 and insistence of retroactive effect of death penalties for drug offenders signalled the entrenchment of a draconian dictatorship. His method of fighting corruption was to create centres of inquisitions and tribunals that hounded people into detention. Thirty years on, General Muhammadu Buhari’s perception of fighting corruption has not changed, basically because he lacks the capacity to identify the indices of corruption. Trapped in a web of political intrigues weaved by rapacious and predatory politicians within the APC, Buhari have today become a hostage to forces beyond his control.
The definition and understanding of corruption has been twisted to the point that past and present looters of the treasury are now being acquitted on the altar of political expediency and Fulani Hegemony as moral beacons of probity and prudence. This is pathetic.
It is no longer hidden that General Muhammadu Buhari does not see the late Gen. Sani Abacha as a treasury looter. For a man whose campaign messages dwelt on fighting corruption and wiping out Boko Haram to dismiss as “baseless”, hard facts on Abacha’s looting of the treasury is indicative of a cat sharing grains of rice in the midst of rats. For Buhari, Nigeria and Nigerians cannot, after ten years, prove the allegations of looting against Abacha with hard facts. This is a shame. The message is: You are complaining about Abacha; by the time my party and I are through with Nigeria, you would realize that Abacha was an angel.
For Buhari, Nigerians and the world accuse Abacha unfairly without hard facts. And here one is bound to ask what Buhari defines or understand as “hard facts”. If he does not know, I will offer him and the coterie of hangers-on around him a simple academic definition of “hard facts”. Simply defined, hard-facts are the assemblage of incontrovertible data derived from records and observation relating to an incident. Data are integral parts of facts and that is why they are stubborn and cannot be wished away no matter how hard one may try. If data are, therefore, concomitant ingredients of “facts”, then Buhari must be naïve and bum-brain to say or insinuate that there are no facts relating to Abacha’s loot.
Just check out this brief outlay of facts, which Buhari claims are non-existent! The Thisday edition of March 18, 2015 carried a story indicating that Switzerland would return $380million Abacha’s loot. Even after former president Goodluck had praised Abacha for his contribution to the nation, the United States ordered a freeze on $458m in assets stolen by Abacha and his accomplices. Just as Buhari was about being sworn-in as president, the Nigeria network on stolen assets, a coalition of 14 Nigeria civil society organizations had furnished the president with classified documents on details of the Abacha loot, even of the $227m stolen by Abacha and which was returned to Nigeria by the government of the principality of Liechtenstein in 2014. These are just some of the hard facts starring Buhari in the face upon which he still claims that the allegations or accusations against Abacha are baseless and not supported by facts. As a matter of fact, information available to me indicates that the Abacha loot amounts to over $37billion.
That Buhari would dismiss these hard facts as baseless and lacking in evidence simply shows that we have a cart before the horse; that all the noise about fighting corruption is a ruse, only lip-deep and not felt in the heart; that we are in a regime of corruption, the execution of which would confound Nigerians in the next couple of months.
Corruption in Nigeria is deep-rooted and if any Nigerian leader would look Nigerians straight in the face and say that looting of the Nigerian treasury by the Abacha clan is a figment of the imagination, baseless and lacking in factual evidence, then that leader is of all persons most miserable. That person must be living in the moon and not Nigeria. Buhari does not live in the moon so I assume that he came to this dangerous conclusion essentially because he lacks the integrity and capacity to drive an agenda for change primarily because he is part and parcel of the faux pas committed in Nigeria.
The current circus show by the Code of Conduct Tribunal and other related but selective incidents would not resolve the issue of corruption in Nigeria neither would Buhari’s lame-duck masquerading. All the indices of a dying country are today starring us in the face and we keep playing to the gallery. The consequences of this impending doom are frightening and far-reaching. We can avoid this catastrophe on a round table. The modalities have been outlined and what is required is the political will to come to the roundtable with equity and fairness.
Dr. Arthur A. Nwankwo
Chancellor, Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)