By Mahmoon Baba-Ahmed
The saga of Nigeria is replete with ironies and paradoxes. Its citizens are clever and quick-witted, mentally sharp in the art of circumventing laws and order when committing acts that seems absurd or laughable but always consistent with what might be expected to happen. Actually, Nigerians, in and outside the country, are renowned for their ability to effectively counter restrictions imposed by a rule of law without actually breaking it. Their daily strides in carrying out prohibited acts or unconcealed indulgence in corrupt practices have really been exhibiting the distinctive nature of corruption in Nigeria.
There are two typical cases to aptly illustrate the above contentions. First was that of a Nigerian renegade, Chief Buruji Kashamu who escaped to this country from the United States over charges of peddling in dangerous drugs. Desperate pleas for repatriating him back to the US have not been granted by Nigerian leaders which, instead harboured and bestowed him with undeserved title in the hierarchy of the then ruling party. He was further encouraged to contest for a senatorial seat and won convincingly. Chief Kashamu, a celebrated felon, is now a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reclining comfortably in that hallowed chamber under the watch of a likewise principal also accused of wrongdoings in many deals.
What these cases have gone to show was that Nigeria was a fertile ground on which distinct cases of various types of unlawful acts by public functionaries thrive. In fact the issue of corruption has been the central theme in every discourse throughout the country for quite some time with politicians and government functionaries promising to eradicate it for good. The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari has almost over flogged that issue during his past presidential campaigns, stressing that he will terminate the evil by probing the military and other institutions whose reputation has been terribly soiled. Everyone was happy with that development because corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society and apparently everybody is partaking in it with unrestrained relish. A case in point was the recent happening in National Assembly where more than seventeen members have been accused of one form of offence or the other.
Corrupt practices have become rampant in the society and the institutions set up ostensibly to curtail them were unable to do so, especially as those administering them have also been totally wrapped up in that unwholesome deed. Now, with Muhammadu Buhari, an avowed anti-corruption crusader at the helms, it is expected that massive activities aimed at curtailing corrupt practices and catching up with their perpetrators would soon commence in earnest. He is widely expected to start with those dishonest and contaminated officials in his administration who have skeletons in their cupboards.
For President Buhari to pass the first acid test in eradicating corruption is for him to move swiftly in dealing with established cases of corruption which involved many officials either working directly under him or his close associates with whom he mixes generally. In that regard many people would like to see what may likely happen with the accusations labeled against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki over his alleged role in the malfeasances that took place in Society General Bank and other related cases. Similarly, President Buhari should ensure the expeditious granting of the request of the United States Government of repatriating a Nigerian fugitive, Senator Buruji Kashamu by ensuring prompt compliance with the rule of law. That is one sure way of restoring the National Assembly in positive light to all Nigerians.
Another area where President Buhari is expected to direct his attention with a view to reveal or uncover the monumental corruption is the Petroleum Industry. Now, Nigerians and the international community are eager to know what necessary steps the government of President Buhari would be taking to cleanse the pervading rot in the country’s milk-pot. It is significant and commendable to note how President Buhari intends to differ substantially in his leadership style from that of his predecessors by indulge in self-enrichment ventures, often squandering the riches of their countries to improve their status. It was on record that President Jonathan had ever proclaimed that stealing public funds in Nigeria is not corruption. That was why he was totally unable to tame the corruption monster, allowing his people to partake in it with reckless abandon, until it had totally consumed all of them.
The multi-facetted corruption in Nigeria is also defined in many colors some of which majority of Nigerians cannot comprehend, yet everyone now wants to know the pigment added to give a slightly different color to the trillions of Naira budgeted annually in addition to the several hundred million dollars realized from the crude oil sales that accrued in the federal government’s accounts, in the past and which were hopelessly squandered. In that regard , therefore, the main thrust of the probe promised by President Muhammadu Buhari should adequately address the allegations of corruption against the serving legislators apart from determining how vital national resources were applied or misapplied in the quest to develop the nation in the last six years.