THE major selling point for Nigerians’ embrace and acceptance of General Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence as the civilian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, was his previous handling of corrupt Nigerians in his short stint as a military dictator. Given his insistence that the fight against corruption would be his most prized focus, Nigerians were more than ready to enthrone him in order to save the nation from the human cankerworms and politicians whose alimentary canals only digest gold and currencies.
UNFORTUNATELY, seven years after, the regime had only fought corruption in bulletins and Presidential speeches. Corruption seemed to have embraced digitalization and liberalization under this regime. While the democratic processes of fighting corruption were fingered as being the clog in the wheel of anti-corruption crusades and policies, the escalation in corrupt practices and the recent ‘magnanimous, depressing amnesty’ of the Council of State to two confirmed public looters was an eyesore, and salt to the wounds to faithful Nigerians.
The Hope considers it a slap in the face of faithful, loyal and honest Nigerians that Jolly Nyame, the former Governor of Taraba State whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in February, and Joshua Dariye who was convicted and jailed for stealing N2 billion of public funds within a period of six years were given leave to enjoy their loot, by a government that vowed to fight corruption. Both were to serve 10 years in jail for their crimes against humanity. Now, the Council of former and present leaders of Nigeria, who in themselves are not cleansed from the stench of corruption have gone ahead to free their cohorts from judgment on the flimsy excuse of old age and ill health. How many prisoners with lesser crimes are languishing in various jails under the same conditions without amnesty?
OUR angst lay in the fact that the ‘amnesty’ has sent a signal of approval to corrupt practices in Nigeria. Given the huge billions misappropriated by the duo, it is plain that this government and previous ones are ready to protect the villains who loot our resources. To think that the Supreme Court had ruled out any foul play in their convictions and reduced the jail term, rational thinking would have prevailed for them to finish their terms, and serve as a deterrent to erring gluttons in power.
WHILE the fault may not lie at the doorsteps of President Muhammadu Buhari for the botched conviction of Uzor Orji Kalu, on technical grounds, the result remains the same, while the methods differ. Many are those breathing the air of freedom or housed in comfortable confinements while awaiting judgments. Some of the celebrated party leaders and prospective candidates still have pending cases of corruption on their necks too. Can one be sure that the Council would not pat them on their backs and bid them safe enjoyment of their ill-gotten loots?
IT is a proven fact that the monies stolen by the people in power have led to increased maternal deaths, unemployment, preventable accidents, bad health sector, backward educational institutions, moribund judicial system and increased criminality in Nigeria. We are strong to state that corruption in Nigeria must be treated as a treasonable felony.
WE have observed two unfortunate recurring narratives about the present government. The first is the red-carpet mercy granted to criminals, while the victims are left to rot and leak their wounds. Thus ‘repentant’ terrorists are given State ovation and privileged treatments, the victims of their murders, rape, abductions and dehumanizing orgies are left to bury their dead, bewail their losses and relapse to depression.
SO, the rampages continue. Secondly, this government does not heed calls to nip corruption at the roots; and rarely listens to public opinion. For example, many government institutions, parastatals, unions and ministries have publicly declared that the IPPIS payment platform of the Federal Government is riddled with corruption, yet this government insists that all workers must be enrolled on the platform.
AS it stands, given the recent amnesty to the draining pipes of Nigeria’s commonwealth, the celebration of the corrupt in the party and the theatricals accompanying the dissemination of justice in the case of the corrupt ‘people in power’ we can, reading between the lines conclude that the Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption is political and the barking of a harmless primate. This amnesty is a blow below the belt for Nigerians, a setback on government’s whistleblowing policy and a deliberate step in the wrong direction. We conclude that in all intents and purposes, the local and international signal of this contentious pardon is that this government is not willing to fight corruption, and when it pretends to, it is a plot against selected unyielding and helpless pawns on the nation’s chessboard.