“On 14 April 2014 at about 6:45am, two bombs exploded at a crowded bus station in Nyanya, Nassarawa State, killing 88 people and injuring at least 200.”[1] This was the closest onslaught in a series of disruptive acts to Abuja, the nation’s capital, where many might have imagined was safe. But yes, it happened in Abuja. First in Wuse, (24 June 2014) and the other in Kuje (2 October 2015) were it was reported that about 36 people died and 37 others injured. It is important to note however that these numbers are only but piecemeal to the reported casualties in Northern Nigeria around the same time.

In my thought, Goodluck might just have remained president if he had valued Nigerian lives any better. It was total chaos. People died in their numbers and almost nothing was done. We got used to the saying “the president condemns the attack” after another attack. People lost faith and honestly his good luck became bad luck. He was however not doing too badly elsewhere. The economy was relatively stable, foodstuff was marginally affordable, transportation was comparatively cheap (fuel #85), and the dollar always almost at about #200. But he lacked the political will to control his subordinates. His meekness or weakness brought an imprudent kind of corruption which was hardly associated with nepotism, impunity, or dismal poverty. We could simply not take it! Nigerians must not continue to suffer for the incompetence of a federal government whose interests were alien to them. We had been ruled for 16 years by a school of men whose interest was self-aggrandizing and self-centered. We needed change. A man of integrity, firmness and hostile to corruption. Yes, we knew that man, a rare gem, a disciplinarian, and what better time his free services would be most needed? And so it happened, oh! So we thought……

I almost began to question the reason for my dad’s harsh scolds sometimes in 2014 when I listened to this president’s speech in one of his early travels. I was continually told how wrong it was to wash your dirty linen in public because Perception he always said, was everything. From America to Europe he went about telling the tales of a people he governed of how insincere, corrupt, and dishonest they were. He surely is the saint sent to liberate us from imminent slumber. At the time, I did not feel so worried because I thought, with such utterances, rock-solid and unyielding plans would have been set in place to create saints out of the demons we had become.

Two days ago, a friend of mine from Trinity College Dublin was to write about his country’s economic plan in the past (3) three years. “What is this government’s economic plan, He asked? I looked up, I looked down. I went on google, I asked Siri. What was I to tell this lazy Nigerian youth? There is this theory amongst commoners that the economic situation in Nigeria today might just be the factor responsible for Nigeria’s unity. After his first eighteen months, no economic framework was visible. “With no clearly defined focus, the economy was just chugging along. The growth rate in the first three quarters of the year was flatly negative. Just two years ago, Nigeria boasted the largest economy in Africa..”[2] As expected, there was a worry for the hope of the common man as people took their lives in order to flee the president’s hammer. It will go uncontested that the factors of mass land, investments in human capital, investments in physical capital and Entrepreneurship are the major drives for sustainable economic growth. Which can we say the last three years has been invested on? Our mass lands turned into graveyards as power exchanged hands: Boko Harm to Fulani Herdsmen, structural investments run over by uninformed diplomacy, animal capital precedes human capital and entrepreneurship an effortless game for the lazy. In the last government, we heard of Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development [PRESSID], the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria “YouWIN”, and many others. Even if many of the above formations did not see the light of day, what can be said of today’s government? The only thing I remember is the renovation of the Nnamdi Azikwe international airport in Abuja. That’s it.

Consequently, it is important never to see this piece as a juxtaposition of the GEJ and PMB governments. As a matter of fact I consider and liken their administrations to two house owners with a mission to destroy their houses. The first begins by taking off the roof while the second destroys from the foundation. Which will fall first? Your guess

“I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy…”[3] “I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector…”[4] “…But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is his nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court..”[5] “…The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics…”[6] and “The third is passing the buck.”[7] A major factor that led GEJ out of office was his lack of control over his subordinates. I was born in the ‘90s and hadn’t had the experience of PMB ‘84 rule. What we have been told of him however always ended in such showers as strong, disciplined and a man of integrity. How come is he so different? Just maybe, the reports of transparency international that corruptions worsened in 2016 and 2017 might be correct. What kind of corruption is baba fighting? “I have said that the present administration is more corrupt than previous. I said so because what is happening in the system today is that individuals will steal public funds and pretend as if nothing is happening. And if we look at the things that are in place, the recovery of funds that is in place, they are all shrouded in secrecy. How much has been recovered? What do we have in the TSA? They are all shrouded in secrecy.”[8]

Alongside insecurity, Buhari’s smooth ride to Aso Rock flew largely on the wings of his pledge to eliminate corruption. But as it is clear that most of his aides are caught up in one corruption case or the other he simply turns a blind eye. In my thought, what makes corruption more sophisticated in the present government is its form. “There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the presidency which would seem to have been condoned,”“I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it?..”[9] My opinion is that corruption has remained so familiar under Buhari’s presidency even more so. From the struggles at the NNPC between Kachikwu and NNPC GM Baru; to the employment scandals at DSS, Central bank and Federal Inland Revenue; to the famous recalling of Abdulrasheed Maina, that exposed the inner dynamics of corruption in the civil service with a show of shame indicting the Attorney General Abubakar Malami, head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, “Chief” of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, and the Director DSS Lawal Daura. “It is apparent that Buhari’s government is unwilling to undertake a serious cleanup, even at a moment when cutting the cost of corruption could compensate for depressed oil prices. President Buhari’s top priority, just like Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, is not purging corrupt elites, but nationalizing them. For each of these administrations, the elites have the right to be corrupt, but only if they have proven their loyalty.”[10] What we simply have therefore is a new phase of corruption, one I would like to refer to as the nepotistic phase.

Impunity is the only explanation that can be given for the action of the head of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura and the then secretary to the government of the Federation towards Mr. Magu appointment and confirmation at the Senate. It should also not come as a surprise that the refusal by the director of customs to appear before the Senate prevented them from carrying out their oversight function which in turn gave another adviser to the president on corruption matters the effrontery to decide not to appear before the Senate.  Frankly, the pain I feel when such news confronts me is the disposition of the president. He remains calm and annoying quiet as if to say, yes, then what. Sometimes I wonder whether Nigerian politicians get into office deliberately to punish their electors.

Finally, everyone who knows Nigeria would agree that the above is nothing but a scratch to the woes of this country. We are indeed in an era where Court orders are disobeyed (shites, ipob, Dansuki, Dino etc), corrupt officials covered up and nepotism thrives. My summation is that Our Democracy is badly threatened. The rule of law is undermined and any attempt to ask questions brands you an enemy. Our problem as Chinua Achebe already identified is leadership, we have got every other ingredient. We must drop sentiment, tribe or religion. For my Friends who believe the present structure is incapable of forging any real progress, brace yourselves and be aware that doing nothing means nothing will be done. We cannot continue to exist for others to live. This country belongs to us and it is ours for the taking. This History of nepotism, corruption impunity and importantly less regard for the Nigerian people must come to a halt. We may seem helpless and may be vulnerable but surely not hopeless because we will fight to bring about positive change in Nigeria. God bless Nigeria!

Imonikhe Harrison

FCT Focal Person

Nigeria Youth 4 Peace Initiative

 

[1] Wikipedia: April 2014 Nyanya Bombing.

[2] Taiwo Ojoye: Buhari’s Economic Policy. Punch News, 18 December 2016.

[3] Olusegun Obasanjo: The Way Out; A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement. Punch News, 24 January 2018

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Kingsley Chinda, Naija.com, 2017

[9] Olusegun Obasanjo: The Way Out; A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement. Punch News, 24 January

[10] Churchill Okonkwo: This Buhari And His Caricature of The Anti-Corruption Fight, 25 October 2017

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