Buhari As Africa’s An­tiCor­rup­tion Cham­pion: Mat­ters Aris­ing

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - With Mon­ima Dam­inabo email: monidams@ya­hoo.co.uk 0805 9252424 (sms only)

One of the wel­come out­comes of the just con­cluded 30th Sum­mit of the African Union (AU) in Ad­dis Ababa Ethiopia was the dec­la­ra­tion of Nige­ria’s Pres­i­dent Muhamadu Buhari as the ‘An­tiCor­rup­tion Cham­pion’ of the con­ti­nent. Most poignant is the fact that the theme of the sum­mit was ‘Win­ning the Fight Against Cor­rup­tion’. His se­lec­tion there­fore des­ig­nates him even if no­tion­ally, as the ‘ar­row­head’ of the con­ti­nent’s fight against cor­rup­tion. The AU Sum­mit be­ing the as­sem­blage of the serv­ing Heads of State of the var­i­ous coun­tries that make up the con­ti­nent, is unar­guably the most pow­er­ful of the or­gans of the con­ti­nen­tal body. Its res­o­lu­tions are there­fore pow­er­ful as they con­sti­tute the of­fi­cial po­si­tions of the con­ti­nent on any is­sue. In the same vein, the se­lec­tion of Buhari as the con­ti­nent’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Cham­pion is a de­vel­op­ment of un­de­ni­able sig­nif­i­cance be­ing a mark of recog­ni­tion and hon­our, for both Pres­i­dent Buhari as a per­son, and the Nige­rian na­tion in gen­eral.

Ad­mis­si­bly, for keen ob­servers of the af­fairs of the Nige­rian na­tion, Buhari had launched and main­tained a steady cam­paign against cor­rup­tion in the coun­try’s pub­lic life both dur­ing his first ap­pear­ance as Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary Head of State (1983 to ’85) and his sec­ond mis­sion­ary jour­ney, this time as a demo­crat­i­cally elected Pres­i­dent (2015 to date). In one of his sig­na­ture pop­u­lar quotes, he had said rather graph­i­cally that “if Nige­ria does not kill cor­rup­tion will kill Nige­ria”. Not a few Nige­ri­ans ac­tu­ally rec­og­nize him as per­haps the most com­mit­ted leader, as far as the war against cor­rup­tion in the coun­try is con­cerned. In fact, even his present ten­ure as an elected Pres­i­dent was fa­cil­i­tated largely by his widely ac­cepted im­age as an in­cor­rupt­ible leader who would de­ploy the ca­pac­i­ties of his Pres­i­dency, to deal cor­rup­tion and corrupt pub­lic of­fi­cials in the coun­try, a red nose.

Hence his se­lec­tion by the AU as the con­ti­nent’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Cham­pion re­mains well placed, at least from the an­gle of his welloches­trated strug­gles against the syn­drome. From the look of things, some­one and or some peo­ple out­side the coun­try had os­ten­si­bly been watch­ing Buhari’s ac­tiv­i­ties in of­fice, all this while.

How­ever, his se­lec­tion also comes along with a plethora of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties which im­me­di­ately in­cludes the need for Buhari to ad­just his fo­cus to a big­ger pic­ture whereby he should not lose sight of his now gold-fish stature, as he no more has a hid­ing place. While his at­ten­tion can still be fo­cused on the anti-cor­rup­tion fight in his home coun­try Nige­ria, ex­pec­ta­tions of him hence­forth will in­clude his ex­pan­sion of gaze to the rest of the con­ti­nent, with re­spect to tam­ing the mon­ster of cor­rup­tion. At least he will be ex­pected to pro­vide ad­vi­sory ser­vices to other African coun­tries wher­ever and when­ever cir­cum­stances dic­tate or per­mit.

It is in that re­spect that the par­a­digm for him as a leader has sim­ply changed. He is now an African brand for ad­dress­ing a most de­bil­i­tat­ing syn­drome which has kept the en­tire con­ti­nent un­der siege, with no seem­ing hope of es­cape. His se­lec­tion is even more poignant as it is com­ing in a year when the con­ti­nent adopts the ‘Agenda 2063’ which is “a strate­gic frame­work for the so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion of the con­ti­nent over the next 50 years” … and which “builds on, and seeks to ac­cel­er­ate the im­ple­men­ta­tion of past and ex­ist­ing con­ti­nen­tal ini­tia­tives for growth and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment”. And as needs not be em­pha­sised, the only chal­lenge to the ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of ‘Agenda 2063’ re­mains the prob­lem of cor­rup­tion. Buhari there­fore has no choice but sub­scribe to the maxim of ‘who goes to eq­uity should go with clean hands’.

Ex­pect­edly, his emer­gence as the con­ti­nent’s anti-cor­rup­tion cham­pion had met with mixed re­ac­tions as while some are hail­ing him, oth­ers dif­fer. For in­stance a lead­ing voice in the Nige­rian Se­nate Se­na­tor Shehu Sani hailed the de­vel­op­ment as he re­ferred to Buhari as ‘Africa’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Czar’, a ref­er­ence to a past gen­er­a­tion of Rus­sian lead­ers. Who were re­ferred to as ‘Czars’. Mean­while the op­po­si­tion Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) dis­missed the de­vel­op­ment as “a joke”. Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by its Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary Kola Olog­bondiyan “it was clear that the AU lead­ers were not well briefed on happenings in Nige­ria, in­clud­ing the al­leged heavy sleazes go­ing on around the Pres­i­dency”. The state­ment fur­ther averred that the AU was mis­led by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, which in­tends to use the nam­ing as a face-sav­ing stunt for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

For­tu­nately, a va­ri­ety of shades of opin­ion on the de­vel­op­ment should spur Pres­i­dent Buhari to ap­pre­ci­ate the var­i­ous an­gles from which his per­for­mance as ‘Africa’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Cham­pion’ will be viewed not only by Nige­ri­ans lo­cally, but this time the African con­ti­nent and in­deed the en­tire world. In that con­text there­fore, and es­pe­cially for the fact that his suc­cess or fail­ure as a con­ti­nen­tal brand con­sti­tutes a plus or mi­nus for the coun­try, it re­mains im­per­a­tive for him to re­view the op­er­a­tional or­der of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, to en­sure that he puts his best foot for­ward.

For as a closer view of his ad­min­is­tra­tion eas­ily re­veals, all is not well with his setup at home, as he is op­er­at­ing with a struc­ture, that is turn­ing out to be out of tune with his vi­sion which he sold to Nige­ri­ans dur­ing his cam­paign for the pres­i­dency and at in­cep­tion of his ad­min­is­tra­tion. And if he has to es­cape the ig­no­ble dis­credit of many African lead­ers, whose tenures as con­ti­nen­tal fig­ures ended as mere ‘also-rans’, then Buhari needs to re­jig his gov­er­nance plat­form.

The im­per­a­tive for him to re­dress his plat­form’s weak­nesses de­rives from the var­i­ous faces of sleaze in his ad­min­is­tra­tion as well as en­tire po­lit­i­cal ter­rain of most African coun­tries and which have frus­trated the con­ti­nent from at­tain­ing its op­ti­mum in de­vel­op­ment for its peo­ples. Com­ing back home is the se­ries of shenani­gans by some of his trusted aides that man­i­fest on a daily ba­sis.

For in­stance while the dust is yet to set­tle over the sor­did cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the sacked for­mer Sec­re­tary to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Mr Babah­cir Lawal and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency (NIA) Ayo Oke, the in­cum­bent Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the same out­fit Ahmed Ru­fai Abubakar, the ques­tion­able re­turn to ser­vice and pro­mo­tion of Ab­dul­rah­man Maina, in­stances of ap­pear­ance of sleaze man­i­fest daily in the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Mean­while mem­bers of the Nige­rian pub­lic are end­lessly belly-aching over what they see as the lan­guid re­sponse by the Pres­i­dent to such in house sins by his close lieu­tenants.

Whether they are right or wrong, may be seen as a mat­ter for an­other day. But Buhari has no other cre­den­tials to jus­tify his ten­ure as Africa’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Cham­pion than his style of ad­min­is­tra­tion in Nige­ria.

In fact, even his present ten­ure as an elected Pres­i­dent was fa­cil­i­tated largely by his widely ac­cepted im­age as an in­cor­rupt­ible leader who would de­ploy the ca­pac­i­ties of his Pres­i­dency, to deal cor­rup­tion and corrupt pub­lic of­fi­cials in the coun­try, a red nose

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