Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Five days to the presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday explained why Nigerians should elect him for second term on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In his address to the nation, titled: “Corruption threatens Nigeria and its elections,” he said in the last four years, he judiciously exercised the trust vested in him to combat the problems of corruption, insecurity and an inequitable economy.
The president reiterated that the base on which to secure the country, build the economy, provide decent infrastructure and educate the next generation is to fight graft.
He said: “There is no doubt that this administration has changed the way we tackle corruption. The choice before voters is this: Do we continue forward on this testing path against corruption?
“Or do revert to the past, resigned to the falsehood that it is just the-way-things-are-done? Or that it is just too difficult – too pervasive – to fix? I know which one I would choose. It is why I am asking Nigerians for another four years to serve them.”
While noting the challenges of fighting corruption, he added: “The vested interests at play can make this fight difficult. By way of their looting, the corrupt have powerful resources at their disposal. And they will use them. For when you fight corruption, you can be sure it will fight back.
“It even threatens to undermine February’s poll and – by extension – our democracy. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised concerns over laundered money being funnelled into vote buying. This is the problem of corruption writ large.
“It illustrates how it lurks in all and every crevice of public life, manipulating due process in pursuit of self-preservation and perpetuation; protecting personal political and economic interests at the expense of the common good.
“Indeed, those who have criticised my administration’s anti-corruption drive are those who oppose its mission. And though their lawyers may craft expensive alibis, they cannot escape that which binds them together: a raft of documents and barely legal (some clearly illegal) mechanisms – whether that be the Panama Papers, US Congress reports, shell companies or offshore bank accounts.
“Corruption corrodes the trust on which the idea of community is founded, because one rule for the few and another for everyone else is unacceptable to anyone working honestly.
“But as we have intensified our war on corruption, so we have found that corruption innovates to resist the law. This is not the sole domain of those Nigerians, but the international corruption industry: the unsavoury fellow-traveler of globalisation.”
However, reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said President Buhari failed the integrity test, as such lacked moral rectitude to pontificate on corruption.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, accused Buhari of soiling himself and his administration with corruption.
The main opposition party noted: “If there is any person whose corrupt activities have become a threat to the coming elections, it is President Buhari. Apart from financing his campaign with looted funds, the President has equally surrounded himself with politicians indicted for corruption.
“A clear reading of Mr. President’s statement shows that he is not yet aware that Nigerians have decoded his mastery of concealments of corruption in his Presidency and are no longer interested in his failed self-acclaimed fight against corruption.
“If Mr. President were to be aware, he would have discovered that his entire surrounding reeks of moral, institutional and integrity corruption. But since he has consistently claimed not to be aware of anything around him, it is imperative to let him know that the fish in his pond is rotten from the head.
“Clinical examples can be drawn from his campaign council. Nigerians are aware that not a few members of this council have been indicted on malfeasance bordering on corruption
“Is it not strange therefore that President Buhari who wants Nigerians to perceive his administration as fighting corruption, will cast a net into the ocean and bring out only corrupt people to run his campaign?”
“Rather than seeking for sympathy votes, President Buhari should simply admit his failure in governance and allow Nigerians to build their future by getting our nation working again under the leadership of Atiku Abubakar.
“It is unfortunate that Buhari having failed in his three plug promises of reviving the economy, fighting insurgency and fighting corruption, he has nothing more to offer this nation. That is why he is recoursing to whom God will punish and whom God will not punish.
“In governance the process is clear. If rather than arresting persons suspected to be corrupt, investigating them and prosecuting them, Buhari is now recoursing to God, instead of doing what the law has given power to do, then the whole of his manifesto on anti-corruption has crumpled before him.”