There are insinuations in some quarters that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption, is not only one-sided, but not likely to target any member of his kitchen cabinet.
Following the recent directive to probe the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal and other government officials, over corruption allegations, ISMAIL OMIPIDAN spoke with two leading Nigerians who disagreed on the matter.
Mr. Anthony Sani is the immediate past spokesman of the pro-North group, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF and spokesman of the northern delegates during the last National Conference.
What is your reaction to the call by the Senate to the SGF to resign over allegations of corruption?
The call by the Senate on the SGF may not command the confidence of many people, precisely because it does not appear the Senate has given the SGF the opportunity to defend himself in the spirit of fair hearing, as a result, many people are most likely to conclude that the call is politically motivated more so there are legislators who are under probe by anti-graft agencies who have not resigned their positions.
What should President Buhari do, considering his stance on the fight against corruption and corrupt persons?
Well, the best approach may be that President Buhari order thorough investigations into the allegations for the purpose of knowing the truth in the interest of justice and the fight against corruption, which needs to command the support and loyalty of Nigerians. This is coming against the background that many of those arraigned for corruption are fighting back by saying that they are not the only ones who are corrupt.
To me, all those who have been investigated and arraigned should concentrate on defending themselves rather than insisting that quota system be applied in the fight against corruption, despite their awareness that the fight against corruption is work-in-progress and may outlive Buhari’s regime. Happily enough, the President has ordered for the probe which is a good development.
Beyond ordering the probe, what message does President Buhari’s order portray to Nigerians, moreso against the background of accusations that the fight is one-sided and that there are untouchables in his government?
The order by President Buhari that the SGF and Magu be probed is to dispel the misconceptions held by some people that there are some sacred cows within his government. The President wants to live up to his promise that people should only fear the consequences of their actions.
In normal circumstances, government is not expected to use media reports, and make such orders, especially when regard is paid to how rumours swirl around in this country, many of them very unsubstantiated. The issue against Magu is a bit confusing in the sense that the DSS is not expected to give security clearance on Magu amid negative reports by the same DSS. So, it is either the reports on Magu are an afterthought, or DSS never gave security clearance on Magu before his name was submitted to the Senate for confirmation in the first place. That is why the probe becomes very necessary. The order for the probe would clear the situation by making Nigerians to know the truth in the interest of justice and that of the campaign against corruption.
…. It’s the cheekiest joke – Prof Kperogi
Professor Farooq Kperogi is an associate Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, USA.
How do you react to the call by the Senate to the SGF to resign over allegation of corruption?
Although the Senate isn’t itself the apotheosis of moral rectitude, its call for the SGF’s resignation and prosecution is absolutely in order. I’ve had the privilege to pore over the report that indicted the SGF. I’ve also spoken with several everyday people from Yobe who testified to the heartrending fraud that the SGF perpetrated against vulnerable IDPs. The evidence against the SGF is demonstrably damning enough to warrant his immediate arrest and prosecution.
In that wise, what should President Buhari do, considering his stance on the fight against corruption and corrupt persons?
People who are intimate with President Buhari told me several months ago in the heat of my unrestrained enthusiasm over his emergence as President that he was morally and temperamentally unsuited to fight corruption. They said the undue premium Buhari places on “personal loyalty” causes him to ignore, excuse, and even defend the corruption of his close associates. I was regaled with troubling tales of the mind-boggling corruption among his aides that he swept under the carpet at the PTF, The Buhari Organization (TBO), and at the defunct CPC, which merged with ACN to form APC.
Babachir (SGF) was a dominant figure in CPC; he knows Buhari well enough to know that nothing will happen to him for all his villainous rape of vulnerable IDPs in Borno and Yobe as long as he can impress the President that he is irrevocably loyal to him.
I had hoped that the President would learn lessons from his past and change—at least for the sake of his legacy, given that he is old and has the privilege of a second chance to rule Nigeria. Apparently, I was naive. Anti-corruption fight is perhaps now, the cheekiest joke in Buhari’s Nigeria. If Buhari wants to reclaim whatever is left of his fast depleting moral capital, he should not only fire and prosecute Babachir David Lawal; he should also do the same to other high-level kitchen cabinet members arrogantly luxuriating in obscene corruption.
But he has directed that the allegations be probed. What message does the directive send about his anti-corruption battle?
The presidential directive for the investigation of government officials accused of corruption was intentionally vague and deceitful, like most things by this government. It looks like something that was written on a whim. It also appears calculated to just deflect attention from the piercing, sustained, public searchlight on the corruption taking place right under the anti-corruption President’s nose. Notice that it deliberately lacks specifics such as timeliness for investigation, names of people to be investigated, terms of reference of the investigation, etc. Plus, given the government’s notoriety for invidious selectivity and double standard, I have no confidence that this government has the moral courage to find any of its key officials culpable of any infraction. The investigation will either be endless, because it isn’t sincere in the first place, or will come out with a predetermined verdict of exoneration-well, unless enough people of conscience rise up and hold the government’s feet to the fire. In any case, it turns out that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice doesn’t even have the constitutional power to investigate, which lends weight to the suspicion that the directive was nothing more than a flippant, hurriedly-put-together distraction.