Editor’s note: From the look of things, the major focus Nigerians have on the present administration is on the issue of war against corruption. But who and how President Muhammadu Buhari would target is the subject matter at the moment. Adekoya Boladale, Legit.ng’s contributor, writes about the administration’s status quo and why the president ought to take the Halliburton probe seriously, making those indicted in the financial scam to face the course of justice.
President Muhammadu Buhari's continuous war against corruption has continued to generate lots of divergent reviews on his level of sincerity and compliance with the oath of office which he took before stepping into the presidential villa.
To be fair to the Daura-born president, his election beyond the glamour and drumbeats is one that comes with so much responsibilities and high demand for performance. The reason for this is not far fetched. Apart from the show of acceptability and love which the result of the presidential election stamped, his emergence was based on trust and the belief that he will make a better leader. A betrayal of this trust will not only affect his credibility and integrity but will dent the glorified purity of democracy itself.
Electorates would not only be forced to lose interest in the way the president will govern but to a large extent may also no longer trust any individual vying for public office no matter how angelic such fellow appears. They may even be forced to ignore public affairs altogether; a move that may result to a total collapse of the federation.
So, the need for Buhari to perform is not only in keeping to his campaign promises but a matter of national security.
The status quo
Albeit the need for self-validation, the recent move by the presidency seems worrisome. In a bid to prove critics wrong, the presidency seems to have been infected by the fear of negative evaluation, sensitivity to criticism and desire for praise.
Public administration seems to have been replaced with photographic system of government and theatrical politics where the act of governing the people is done via press releases, speeches and sensationalism.
Let's believe the presidency has obtained an unofficial one-point agenda that centers on fighting corruption, such agenda must be pursued holistically.
The process of fighting corruption is one that is devoid of media persecution or playing to the gallery. Nigerians have passed through this road before and as such, it is nauseating seeing the play all over again. In all sense of bluntness to the president, the war on corruption is not a noise making exercise (apologies to Akin Oyebode).
It is time the president proved to Nigerians that beyond the garment of publicity and image laundering which his aides seem to have worn in the past few weeks, he has what it takes to stand against the beast sucking the lives out of our nation.
The Halliburton probe and the stolen billions
Such move, if he chooses to accept, will include a full and proper prosecution of players and actors in the globally acknowledged mega bribery scandal known as the Halliburton probe as against the report of a back channel agreement to grant amnesty to those indicted even after publicly announcing the desire to resurrect the case.
The uniqueness of this particular case is not because it warehouses the biggest financial scandal in the history of our nation. That position has already been occupied by the 1991 $12.4 billion oil windfall proceeds siphoned by a former head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, the $16 billion National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) fund stolen by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and of course, the $20 billion revenue from sales of crude oil robbed by the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan. This scandal has however ridiculed the integrity of our country and cast aspersions on the sweat of our founding fathers as a result of the position the indicted individuals held in our nation's history. Pursuing it to a logical conclusion will be the beginning of a rebirth for Nigeria.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had reported that the $182 million bribery scandal had three Nigerian presidents, a vice-president, a minister, intelligence chiefs and corporate titans as beneficiaries. Alas, the past public office holders who were indicted in this scam are now friends and political allies of the president.
As it stands, both Obasanjo and Abdulsalam Abubakar are friends of the villa with Obasanjo making daily overtures to the president either as secret visits or on most occasions of public glorification. Atiku Abubakar who was also indicted in the scandal was one of the strong poles who bankrolled President Buhari's election and also a potential chairman of his party's Board of Trustees.
To make matters more critical, the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari was also reported to have received $1,700,000 of the said bribe.
Therefore, the true test of the president's anti-corruption war lies on how rigorous he handles the Halliburton case. Not because others are not equally important but as a strong signal to all Nigerians that if these assumed 'powerful' individuals can answer for their crimes then truly, nobody is above legal prosecution.
Buhari and our expectations
President Buhari has a lot going for him. He is a man of great personality, incredible track record and enviable pedigree. His determination to ensure a better Nigeria is undoubted but such good can only last long if he detaches himself from the canker worm that continues to pest on his public acceptability.
This is the time to truly show the world how distinctive he is. Any president can bring looters of public funds to questioning but only few can ensure individuals like those involved in the Halliburton scam are brought to book.
Boladale is a public affairs analyst, political commentator and consultant on intra governmental affairs. He is on twitter @Adekoyabee.
The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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