Can Buhari and his party, the APC in all honesty parade themselves adorned with the garment of integrity in 2019?
With utmost respect to other political parties, the contest in 2019 election for the presidency is between APC and PDP, Buhari and Atiku. In 2015, it was a straight contest between the two parties. Then, APC, represented by Muhammadu Buhari danced to power gyrating to the rhythmic cymbals of integrity mantra. As the 2019 elections approach, the APC is again flying the integrity flag while hurling corruption pebbles on the PDP. APC’s every answer to steer Nigeria out of the woods is to echo how PDP and Atiku are corrupt.
This they do instead of addressing the major issues bedevilling the ailing country. It was the same method adopted by the PDP prior to the 2015 elections. Then PDP campaign slogan was to narrate how Buhari was a military despot. The result of that election is already a part of our history. If corruption and integrity are factors to determine who emerges the winner in 2019, then let us examine the two concepts and see how they are dialectically configured.
As a scholar, I am fascinated by the inevitable entangling of integrity and corruption having encountered them several times on the pages of literary texts. Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel, The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born resonates in my subconscious and provides an effective prognosis to interrogate Nigeria’s political reality. Set in Ghana’s post-independence political hierarchy, the novel captures a society deeply enmeshed in dilapidating forms of corruption at all levels. However, in the midst of suffocating heist and debauchery, there is the unnamed character simply referred to as Man who, against social and family pressures, upholds his integrity and refuses to be contaminated by the insipid air of corrupt practices. At the end of the novel, in all his professed integrity, he helps his very corrupt friend Koomson escape through the latrine when the military took over the reins of power in that country. By that singular act, his claim to integrity becomes inconsequential and proves Armah right that the beautyful ones, those without blemish are yet to be born.
Overtime, Buhari has paraded himself as a man of unrivalled integrity. To some extent and given that Nigerians were determined to embrace change in 2015, it worked for him. However, his claim to integrity has come under very critical examination and some people believe it is a hoax. If our protagonist in Armah’s novel, in all his grandeur of integrity will assist a corrupt person to evade the law, it is impossible for him to claim that he is without corruption since at the end of the day, he can be situated in the same corrupt habitation with Koomson. Can Buhari and his party, the APC in all honesty parade themselves adorned with the garment of integrity in 2019?
Atiku Abubakar is not new in Nigeria’s political aviary having served as vice president before. He has been fingered in a lot of corruption cases although his accusers lack any concrete evidence to that effect. As a political party, the PDP allegedly squandered the resources of this country for sixteen uninterrupted years. Atiku was the vice president for eight years, therefore it will be difficult for him to exonerate himself from the corrupt failings of his political party.
Given the above exegesis, we are confronted with two political parties, in fact two presidential hopefuls who are not totally free from the dews of corruption and who cannot, in good conscience lay claim to mother integrity without incurring the wrath of the gods. Therefore, let us consider them based on other indices.
Many people are of the opinion that although Muhammadu Buhari had a distinguished career in the military, he is not a good politician. They argue that he does not have the political temperament for the office of the president. Many have described him as an intolerant leader who possesses an all knowing, suzerain personality. That the Nigerian economy is in comatose is not a good advertisement for him and his party. That Nigeria has been described as the poverty capital of the world is a sore spot in the Buhari administration. Buhari’s sectional appointments into sensitive positions do not portray him as a leader with an all-inclusive consciousness. However, Buhari can lay claims to stemming the tide of consistent burglary of the exchequer. Certainly, the incidence of flagrant abuse of office and financial haemorrhage by public servants has been reduced in the last three and a half years of Buhari’s administration. The most recent commendable effort of the Buhari administration is the payment of pension areas which past administrations could not execute.
For sixteen years, PDP held sway. Some greedy public servants bled this country to stupor and negated every rule of decency in the books. That the party apologized to Nigerians after they were ousted is an admission of their guilt in attempting to liquidate the resources in this country. Whether PDP has purged itself of the urge to misappropriate and misrule is not yet known. In truth, the PDP years recorded a number of achievements among which is the inauguration of mobile telephony network GSM.
However, the emergence of Atiku Abubakar gives fresh hope to those who subscribe to the party’s homiletics. Atiku is an experienced administrator and a successful business man. He has a cosmopolitan outlook. He has graciously committed to restructuring the country and is seen by many as the answer to Nigeria’s polarized polity.
Nigerians should focus on how the candidates wish to navigate the country out of its present doldrums and disregard the stale profusions of integrity and corruption. Who between the two candidates understands global economic dynamics? Who between them is versed in the intricate economic and political prefiguration of the new world order? Indeed, who between them is inclined to tame the increasing tide of palpable poverty, bigotry of all forms and ethno-religious differences which continually threaten to disintegrate Nigeria? Who between them has the humility to empathize with Nigeria’s army of unemployed youths who have become rudderless given the progressive descent of our economic edifice? Who between them has the business intelligence to transform Nigeria by reviving our decaying social infrastructure, attract foreign investments and resurrect the naira? Who between them can provide an anecdote that will heal the psychological injury inflicted on Nigerians through many years of misrule and economic despoliations? Who between them has the capacity to usher in a new Nigeria?
Many people do not believe in Atiku and Buhari. They argue that the APC and PDP which both candidates represent are birds of a feather which have played roles in the enthronement of a superstructure which has submerged the body politic. Such people are justified if they choose to consider other presidential candidates. Some of the other candidates are eminently qualified in terms of education and economic intelligence. It will be a feat of global proportions if any of the other candidates wins the 2019 presidential election. In politics, nothing is impossible.
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Adiele writes from Department of English, University of Lagos via [email protected]