A lack of wisdom on how to channel his integrity to effectively combat corruption has seen President Buhari elevate sectionalism to near state policy.
Over three years into the Muhammadu Buhari administration, its failure to effectively tackle corruption, as highly anticipated by the Nigerian people is premised on certain fundamentals. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of Nigeria’s peculiar corruption problem by the Buhari administration. This improper diagnosis of Nigeria’s corruption ailment has led to a fundamental error of judgement as to what constitutes corrupt practices that lays the foundation for economic and financial crimes as well as administering a wrong antidote.
Nigeria’s corruption problem is made peculiarly entrenched because there is a foundational dysfunction whereby its sub-national ethno-geographic constituents are pulled apart but locked horns in mortal combat for its internal resources commonly referred to as the national cake. Under these prevailing circumstances, corrupt practices such as nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, and influence peddling all leading to conflicts of sectional and national interests are functions of cultural tendencies that are deemed necessary to secure advantageous share of the national cake. Added to this is the reality, that Nigeria’s political culture is premised on primordial sentiments of ethnicity, geography and religious sentiments with reward systems firmly hinged on a direct patronage system entirely at the expense of the state, thereby unintentionally legitimizing corrupt practices. This elaborate system of patronage is further affirmed by the zoning and rotation of important positions of authority and power to ostensibly distribute Nigeria’s common wealth evenly.
Another unintended consequence of this system is the over concentration of attention of the sharing of the national cake, which in reality is the revenue from Nigeria’s oil mineral resources to the detriment of increasing the size. The fixation on the equitable distribution of the national cake, which has degenerated to an equitable distribution of loot by the ruling elite and no effort to increasing its size, Nigeria’s fast diminishing oil mineral resources can longer cover the basic needs of its 200 million people. This has provided the perfect setting for citizen financial inequality, inadequacy and insecurity resulting into widespread poverty induced financial malfeasance at the expense of public treasury to achieve basic living standards.
By 2015, majority of Nigerians had reached to a consensus about the unsustainability of the status quo and opted for a change. In voting for change, Nigerians vested their democratic choices on Muhammadu Buhari, a man whom they believed was high on integrity, incorruptible and rich in moral authority to reduce corruption in the system to a less than the prevailing incendiary level. However, a lack of knowledge and wisdom on how to channel his integrity to effectively combat the scourge of corruption has seen President Buhari elevate sectionalism to near state policy, thereby deepening the roots of corruption with its branches spreading out wider than ever before. Buhari’s faulty diagnosis of Nigeria’s corruption problem by misrepresenting a deep national malaise as only peculiar to opposition partisans has led to selective war on corruption, which has succeeded in perpetuating the vicious cycle of grand corruption. The politicization of the war on corruption, which has seen dubious clever by half characters emerge as champions of Buhari’ war on corruption, has a direct consequence the happenstance of Okoi Obono–Obla.
Initially self-designated as a Special Assistant on Prosecution to President Buhari, but now appropriately addressed as The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Obono-Obla who is also an APC chieftain from Cross Rivers state, has since become a poster boy of how not to fight corruption. Always eager to hug the klieg lights, Obono-Obla comes across as a rabble rousing chatterbox; as he often struggles to incoherently put forward his usual cocktail of illogical defence of government glaring selective hence ineffectual so-called war on corruption with falsehood laced with inverted reasoning. For someone who forcefully thrusts himself forward in feat of overzealous overdrive as an apostle of Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, Obono-Obla’s discernable personality contradictions would soon be unravelled, thereby calling to question the credibility of Buhari’s war on corruption.
Bothering on what many consider as Obono-Obla’s hollow and shallow blabbing on matters of legal jurisprudence, a dig into his academic background became inevitable. Following credible media reports about certain discrepancies in his secondary school certificate as well emerging facts of gross misconduct bothering on harassment, extortion and financial recklessness in his management of the SPIP, the House of Representatives constituted a special investigative committee under the chairmanship of Aliyu Ahman Pategi, to unravel Obono-Obla’s hidden skeletons. Following extensive public hearings and painstaking investigation on the matter, the House committee indicted Obono-Obla for WAEC forgery and financial recklessness. In arriving at this conclusion, the House committee relied substantially on the testimonies of WAEC officials and the auditor general of the federation report, which revealed financial malfeasance at Obono-Obla’s SPIP.
In a statement revealed at the end of the investigative hearing, Ahman-Pategi said “whereas the WAEC result (Examination No. 09403/247 May/June 1982] with which Chief Obono-Obla obtained admission and studied Law at the University of Jos as Okoi Ofem Okoi showed that he made five credit passes, including Literature in English, official letters from WAEC dated 11th and 17th April 2018 and signed by Mr AA Okelezue and Mr Olu Adenipekun, respectively, showed that Obono-Obla was absent for Literature in English.” The Deputy Registrar of WAEC, Mr Femi Ola while testifying under oath also affirmed Obono-Obla’s WAEC result, on which basis he was admitted into the law faculty of the University of Jos as well as appointment as the Chairman of SPIP as “altered”, “not genuine” and “invalid”. For a fellow with multiple personality fraudulent disorder, it becomes believable when he is accused of extortion, blackmail and vendetta by some of his suspects/victims. Curiously, Obono-Obla’s reaction to his WAEC result forgery scandal gives more room for speculative guilt. Rather than summon the courage to challenge the assertion by WAEC authorities to the effect that his result is ‘’altered’’, ‘’not genuine’’ and hence “invalid”, or debunk the claim of the auditor general’s report on his financial malfeasance, Obono-Obla as usual has deployed the use of Ad hominem in a futile attempt to deflate this scandalous fraud by calling out the National Assembly for acting on behalf of “looters”.
Buhari’s cluelessness about how to tackle corruption may be the only explanation for engaging the services of a discredited fellow with questionable character such as Obono-Obla in the so called war on corruption effort of his administration.That the University of Jos has not withdrawn Obono-Obla’s Law Degree, which he apparently obtained on false premise and the Body of Benchers yet to withdraw his certificate of call to the Bar, in line with the recommendations of the House of Representatives, can be attributed to the failure of President Buhari to lead by example by sacking and prosecuting his appointee for the crime of forgery as well financial malfeasance. This is only consistent with Buhari’s selective war on corruption. The likes of Obono-Obla can only thrive and continue to constitute public nuisance that collectively assault the sensibilities of Nigerians with the activities of his SPIP nothing but a mockery of the otherwise serious task of comprehensively tackling the scourge of endemic corruption as a result of the integrity failure of President Buhari.