Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, takes VP Yemi Osinbajo to task on his claims that there is no corruption in the Muhammadu Buhari administration. She points out that officials of this present administration have been accused of corrupt practices; and opines that there is no Nigerian politician who has not benefited from corruption in one form or the other. She advises the VP to be cautious with his words; as she says “nobody holy pass”!
Name a Nigerian politician who is not corrupt? If you’re like me – who is like most Nigerians – you may have spent a good deal of time trying to come up with one name. See, corruption has eaten so deeply into the fabric of our system that one would be hard pressed to identify a single politician who has not been a beneficiary of corruption. And even if you find one who may have not stolen directly, it would be virtually impossible to be able to exonerate that individual from other indirect forms of corruption.
You may want to give certain individuals a clean bill of health; but then, you start asking questions like: How did this person get into office? Who were those who ensured that he/she won that particular seat? Where did they get the funds from to ensure victory? If this person wants to be reelected, who are those in the forefront of the reelection campaign? What are their financial track records?
Before you finish answering these questions, you may have struck off every name on your list and concluded that either by commission or omission, 99.9percent of the politicians in this country cannot beat their chests and claim to be corruption-free.
Until the day the day politics becomes less expensive and less financially attractive, corruption in the public space will continue to thrive. And that’s why I have been somewhat amused lately to hear Vice President Yemi Osinbajo make certain boastful statements.
While monitoring the APC ward congresses in Eti Osa local government area, Lagos, the VP stated: “As I have been saying all over the country, the difference between us and any other government is that we will not steal the money…we are confident in our party, and the reason we are confident is that we are not thieves.”
Before that, at the Seventh Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector Stakeholders, Osinbajo said: “The difference between this present administration and the other is that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is not corrupt.”
Okay. Well, I understand the need to speak in positive terms about the government he serves; however, one must be cautious when making ‘absolute’ statements.
We hear every day, that the president is a man of impeccable character; that he is averse to corruption in any and all forms, that he does not steal or condone theft. The man is a farmer afterall. However, while Buhari may be exonerated from direct corruption, can he really be declared not guilty, when it comes to indirect corruption?
And when I say indirect corruption in the context of the president, I am referring to those around him, who have been alleged to be involved in corrupt activities; and whose offences seem to have been ‘overlooked’.
Till today, there are questions swirling about the conduct of some officials in the present government who were instrumental to the president’s ascension to power. There are allegations of financial misconduct against former state governors…allegations which I must say have not yet been proven true or false.
Aside from that, there have also been allegations of financial misconduct in the NNPC, NHIS and with programmes for IDP’s in the north east. And these accusations have involved people who serve – and had served - in high positions. We can’t even forget the recent allegations of financial impropriety against a minister, raised by his former aide!
It has become a joke that in order to escape being probed, a politician only needs to join the ruling party. It has also been pointed out, that the only names which appear on the looters list are those of people in the opposition.
And all the while, the president and his vice have maintained a stance of moral (and even religious) superiority!
We cannot deny the fact that during the previous government, there was looting with great impunity on a scale which still beats the imagination; however, we cannot also turn a blind eye to current happenings, just because our leader is a self-proclaimed saint!
Yes, the president is waging a war against corruption; and yes, there is a whistle blowers policy which has yielded certain results; but this does not mean that the menace has been obliterated or has taken a break because there is a new sheriff in town. And this also does not mean that the sheriff’s men are spotless; so let us not kid ourselves and act so sanctimonious.
It would serve VP Osinbajo well to stick to statements like the one he made at some point at the forum for private sector stakeholders when he said “I am not saying that corruption under this administration has been completely dealt with; no, certainly not. Where corruption has become systemic, such as we have in our country today, you cannot deal with it in one fell swoop, it is impossible.”
Yes, Mr Vice President, that is the sort of remarks you should be making; not claiming that your administration is corruption free! As I said before, one would be hard pressed to name one politician in the country who has not benefited in some way or the other, from corruption.
We pray for a day where corruption would be truly named and shamed, regardless of which side of the aisle the accused pledges allegiance to; but that day has not yet come.
Corruption is corruption…whether directly or indirectly…whether by omission or commission…whether by silence or by direct aiding and abetting. When a man points one finger at his opponents, four others point back at him. Let us remove the log in our own eyes, before trying to take out the slime from the eyes of other people. As the great 2baba says, “nobody holy pass!”
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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