It is quite remarkable that Nigerians who regularly lament the lack of ideology in our practice of democracy and agonize over the seeming preference for “carry-go” democracy among politicians, have failed to recognize the elements of an ideology in the policy thrust of the Buhari Administration. It is disappointing that despite unanimity on the devastating impact of corruption and desperate demands for ethical re-orientation, the chance emergence of anti-corruption crusade as the main agenda of the government of the day has failed to inspire a determined resolve to develop it into a national ideological blueprint.
The issue of lack of ideological anchor for our democratic dispensation has not received the attention it deserves so far largely because of the type of political leaders who have emerged to “deepen” democratic principles. It is beyond contention that President Buhari’s adoption of anti-corruption crusade as the focus of his political mission and vision long before getting elected excited the ordinary Nigerians whose unwavering loyalty eventually brought him to power.
The status of corruption as the main cankerworm plaguing our country’s potential to be great in all important aspects of nationhood is therefore of greater concern to the masses who are also its helpless victims. The demand for anti-corruption to be the theme of our national ideology and the anchor of our democratic dispensation is the clamour of the people but obviously not the priority of its leaders. President Buhari is resolutely entrenching the crusade into government policy and implanting fear of prompt detection, disgraceful prosecution and prolonged incarceration in the minds of the corrupt constituency, while the masses’ lost hope of getting “good leaders” to bring back their looted entitlements as citizens is revived.
The consistency and effective imposition of deterrent measures especially by the EFCC in the last four years is an unprecedented initiative by government to demonstrate the will and the capacity to confidently walk the talk of “eradicating corruption”. Inevitably, what we may fittingly call BUHARISM already lends itself to becoming the national ideology, if only we can drop our clannish mentality and rally round our most appropriate and potent reformer’s clarion call.
While President Buhari has effectively discharged his burden of promoting national orientation by courageously transforming the paper tiger of mere campaign chorus into a hungry lion prowling the corrupted corridors of power with a deterrent appetite, our other elected leaders would rather feast on corruption. Going by the frequent flexing of legislative muscles and orchestrated elite criticism and fault-finding against the President’s agenda, the stumbling blocks to needed reforms are many and manifestly unyielding.
The free-lancing exploits of lawyers and the aloofness of judges also impede the effectiveness of the anti-corruption crusade by “technical knock out” of too many prosecution processes, while in states governors rule supreme over “loyal” legislatures’ oversight functions at the pitiful expense of their states and citizens, to complete the disabling environment for the anti-corruption crusade.
There is a clear and present danger for sustenance of the highly impactful anti-corruption policy thrust of the Buhari Administration beyond 2023 when the term limit will necessitate exit of President Buhari. But only the most unpatriotic and retrogressive Nigerians, particularly those who thrive on abuse of public office for self-aggrandizement, will want to see any impediment to the progressive strengthening of the anti-corruption crusade . The challenge of institutionalizing the anti-corruption crusade stares us in the face as we all know that the incumbency of a sincere and deeply committed President is essential to its success and sustenance. Any laxity or premature termination of the deterrent initiative will definitely provide the dreaded opportunity for corruption to fight back ferociously and overwhelmingly.
The ideological anchor is vital in order to infuse the ethical values of the fight against corruption into the patriotic consciousness of the generality of Nigerians, so that they can acquire the vigilance, zero-tolerance and courage, not only to insist on prioritization of the anti-corruption crusade in all political parties’ manifestoes and expressed commitment of all aspirants to elected office, but also to serve as whistle-blowing sentinels at large. Once the national sentiment is aroused and mobilized against the scourge of corruption by intense mass ideological sensitization, the challenge of institutionalizing the policy will be substantially overcome. Woe betide any official or agency, or even judge or court, that compromises in dispensing justice without fear or favour in corruption cases!
The importance of a concerted effort by the political leadership in the country to be actively and sincerely committed to the anti-corruption crusade cannot be over-emphasized. The ideological push should eventually galvanize the groundswell of mass support to drive the crusade deeply into the hearts and minds of the politically-active population to adopt the anti-corruption credentials of political aspirants as a criterion for electability.
President Muhammadu Buhari has successfully earned the rare reputation for integrity and courageous leadership by his voluntary choice of the fight against corruption for consistent advocacy and effective entrenchment into government policy. In only four years of the Buhari Administration, Nigeria has come a long way from merely paying lip service to actively fighting it tooth and nail to the extent of instilling fear in the restless minds of the corrupt civil servant and politician, entrenching a deterrent where impunity reigned.
This has translated into more prudent management of public resources, enhanced timely execution of public projects and gradual rekindling of public confidence in government as a vehicle of development and welfare. The remarkable thing is that it took the principled focus and committed determination of one uncommon political leader and elected President to make this a rejuvenating reality. Transforming his decades of advocacy against corruption and the unprecedented exemplary adoption of the crusade as main policy thrust of government, into the nation’s first concept of ideology is a befitting tribute to make his legacy a lasting beacon for generations unborn. Long live Buharism, good riddance to corruption!
Wambai writes from Bauchi