There was one chief principle trending before and after President Olusegun Obasanjo’s battle on corrupt politicians: it was the verity Nigerians widely believed the law was made for the underprivileged while the moneyed flee evenhandedness at will as they barely get reprimanded or chastised. And then this second illusion: the war as was championed by the then anti graft war czar; Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was predicated on ‘selfishness and sectionalism. It was vendetta proof, witch-hunting, just as it was politically engineered.’
But Ribadu didn’t give a damn; instead he waxed stronger, and even went further to pronounce over 32 out of the country’s 36 Governors corrupt. Motivated, Nigerians were enjoying the rhythm; he went all out in hounding them into prisons one after the other, while dragging many to the cleaners (the law courts) on daily basis. Ribadu dared former Heads of states here. He threatened their kit and kin. He bounded their business associates while it lasted. He moved from state to state in search of looters. It was indeed, warfare as defined.
However, He was booted out of office by President Umaru Musa Yara’adua and his scholarly Attorney, Chief Michael Andoaka, SAN, who insisted the EFCC, lacked the powers to arrest, detain and prosecute at the same time. That was the closest we got in combating the cankerworm that has believably ‘eaten into the fabrics of the Nigerian society.’ That was how far we went in taming the Monster the late writer, Achebe, believed bottled the nation.
But give it to him – it cannot be gainsaid the Governors Ribadu accused and endeavored prosecuting before his eventual ousting, are still the same faces of corrupt accusations in different Law courts across the federation and beyond the shores of the country today. While a few numbers are still serving their sentences, others are at a lost as to how they could overcome the albatrosses of corrupt charges hanging on their neck. One should therefore, give some credits to OBJ, as he is fondly called in this regard.
Former President Obasanjo can be blamed of many other infractions while in power, but I bet you – history will be kind to him when his unrivalled war-odyssey against corruption, the corrupt, the corrupted and the corrupters would be revisited tomorrow in the country. President Obasanjo first, demystified the opening notion – the law was but for the poor – by hounding and bounding the prosecuted into prisons in handcuffs and utmost humiliation. It was one singular episode that moved us from the fourth most crooked country in the whole world down the ladder.
It is undoubtedly true one of the biggest undoing of the former president Goodluck Jonathan was – his inaction against the corrupt in the society. He was even accused of winning and dinning with them while they looted the country dry. It was justifiably true former Governor Alamiesigha of Bayelsa was granted clemency and national honors while Jonathan held sway. Former PDP chieftain, Bode George was also received with fanfare after serving his term in prison over corrupt charges. He even became a board of trustee’s member of the PDP then.
‘Jonathan was such a fine man’ people would say but he played down on the anti graft war, and he lost the aura that brought him to power.
The war against corruption is a war that must subsist. It is a war of strength and vigor. It is a war against the few privileged Nigerians whose children and associates throw parties around with our common patrimony while our roads lie comatose in dilapidation. It is a war of survival of the federation against a few individual-leaders who seek medication abroad while our hospitals decompose. It is a war about the soul of Nigeria against people who pocket our common funds meant for infrastructural resurrection and boom. It is a war aimed at ridding the nation of public funds diversion, misappropriation, laundering, looting and what have you.
And that is where President Muhammadu Buhari is, at the moment. He is at the war front at this second. No. he is in the middle of it. It is a war without end. I t is a war where everybody is nearly guilty in this clime. It is a war of tacticians requiring guerrilla methods. It is a war that fires missiles in return for AK 47. It is a war of determination where all manner of propaganda will be sponsored against the field marshal in view for a possible retreating and surrender.
In making his promise during his assumption of office genuine, Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is currently reputed for bullying the corrupt bourgeois and the political class, the then untouchable elements in the country into Kuje maximum Prisons. This, the administration has done unhesitantly and unapologetically. The former National Security adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, the Media guru, owner of AIT, High chief Raymond Dokpesi , PDP Publicity secretary, chief Olisa Metu and the host others can substantiate this resolve.
But the above cases are wholly different from the pervading trials of Both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. The duos have been accused of forgery. They were said to have mutilated the Senate standing rule, paving the way for their emergence as the President of the Nigerian Senate as well as the deputyship. The both have been dully charged to court by the Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami so as to defend themselves accordingly.
Following this development, many lovers of the affected Law-Makers have accused the Executive of ‘trying to emasculate the senate as well penalize the two principal officers of the legislature following their emergence as leaders of the parliament as against the choices made by the APC hierarchy.’ While same say ‘the prosecution is aimed at containing the growing profile of the Senate president as against 2019 Elections, others say a battle line has been drawn between the Legislature and the executive as all the president’s requests would be turned back at the Senate.’
Of all these positions shared, one thing is virtually Clear – the two Principal Officers may well, be on their way to Kuje Maximum Prisons as the president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is typically branded for its ability to do the nearest in meaning to the above expression. But before Saraki and Ekweremadu are bounded into kuje, the following pieces of advice are somewhat necessary for the executive, legislature and the citizenry.
First, to the executive: in fighting corruption, we must allow all the instrumentalities of this noble cause as entrusted in the hands of the executive a level of independence so as to ensure fairness and justice to all Nigerians irrespective ones belief, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. While Nigerians support each right decision of this government, the war against corruption should not take the place of job creation, employment, infrastructural boom and other necessary areas of governance.
To Saraki and Ekweremadu: there is nothing dreaded about trials, especially when you know and can beat your chest – you never indulged in forgery. It is just a normal process of defense or conviction in democracy. There is nothing bloodcurdling about charges against any leader in power, especially when there is no immunity saying you should not be tried. Just dust your files and face the deal like the leaders you are.
And thirdly, to the people of Nigeria: there shall be no forestalling of any democratic steps as they are well, parts of the system. The leaders can be taken to the cleaners at every now and then to revitalize their ingenuity, commitment and probity. It is a process of re-admission or rejection into the hearts of their followers.
Gwiyi Solomon writes from Abuja.