APC and Buhari: Bank­ing on cor­rup­tion

The Punch - - VIEWPOINT - Azuka On­wuka

T0809-8727-263

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he All Pro­gres­sives Congress and Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari are smart thinkers. hav­ing re­viewed their three years in of­fice and come to the re­al­i­sa­tion that there is no ma­jor achieve­ment to flaunt in the build-up to the 2019 elec­tion, they have de­cided to make cor­rup­tion, which is not tan­gi­ble and easy to mea­sure, the cen­tre of their cam­paign. In­ter­est­ingly, the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party has fallen for this strat­egy.

Last month, at the 2018 Bola Tin­ubu Col­lo­quium in La­gos, Buhari spoke about cor­rup­tion by the past ad­min­is­tra­tion; Vice Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo spoke about cor­rup­tion by the past ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Chief Bola Tin­ubu, who is the Na­tional Leader the APC, spoke about cor­rup­tion by the past ad­min­is­tra­tion. Rather than talk about the in­se­cu­rity and hunger in the land, the two par­ties be­gan to pub­lish names of al­leged cor­rupt peo­ple.

If you ask Pres­i­dent Buhari or Vice Pres­i­dent Os­in­bajo a ques­tion about the killings in the coun­try, he will find a way of link­ing it to the is­sue of cor­rup­tion and then start talk­ing about cor­rup­tion. The rea­son is sim­ple. There is no­body to blame on the is­sue of killings in Nige­ria (even though last week in Lon­don, Buhari shock­ingly blamed Col Muam­mar Gaddafi of Libya, killed seven years ago, for the killings by herds­men).

They know that cor­rup­tion has be­come an en­demic prob­lem that has stunted the growth of Nige­ria and im­pov­er­ished Nige­ri­ans. Nige­ri­ans are an­gry at the way their rich na­tion has been stolen blind over the decades. They know that if even half of what is daily stolen from Nige­ria is saved and used within Nige­ria, there will be a great turn­around in the for­tunes of Nige­ria.

There­fore, Nige­ri­ans look up to any leader that prom­ises to fight cor­rup­tion as the saviour of Nige­ria. The APC and Buhari re­alise this and ex­ploit it to the max­i­mum, por­tray­ing them­selves as lead­ers who have no tol­er­ance for cor­rup­tion.

Sadly, the records do not show that this ad­min­is­tra­tion is se­ri­ous about fight­ing cor­rup­tion. Cor­rup­tion is still as wide­spread as it has al­ways been. Those who thought in 2015 that Buhari’s en­try as Pres­i­dent would see cor­rupt of­fi­cials smoked out and pun­ished in all sec­tors no­ticed that there was noth­ing se­ri­ous be­ing done and there­fore con­tin­ued with their cor­rupt ways.

In three years, the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion has pros­e­cuted cor­rup­tion cases more in the me­dia that in the law courts. It has also not led by ex­am­ple. It seems the ad­min­is­tra­tion gets its great­est sat­is­fac­tion from ad­dress­ing press con­fer­ences or is­su­ing press re­leases about those who are al­leged to have en­gaged in cor­rupt prac­tices, es­pe­cially those who are not mem­bers of this cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion. Once the masses take up the hoopla and start talk­ing about the an­nounced case, the case grad­u­ally dies. The case usu­ally gets thrown out by the court or even de­layed by the same gov­ern­ment that is pros­e­cut­ing the case, like the case of Col Sambo Da­suki (retd.), who is ac­cused to be the ar­row­head of cor­rup­tion of the last ad­min­is­tra­tion, but whose case has been put on hold by the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion in the past three years.

The ac­cu­sa­tion made last year by Se­na­tor Shehu Sani, who is a mem­ber of the APC, that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Buhari uses de­odor­ant to fight cor­rupt in the Pres­i­dency cap­tures the se­lec­tive at­ti­tude of this ad­min­is­tra­tion to cor­rup­tion. It re­minds one of a sym­bol of jus­tice who wears a blind­fold that cov­ers only one eye but leaves the other eye open. No doubt, she will dis­pense jus­tice with sen­ti­ments.

It is not sur­pris­ing that Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s re­port re­leased in Fe­bru­ary 2018 showed that per­cep­tion of cor­rup­tion in Nige­ria wors­ened be­tween 2016 and 2017, drop­ping from 136th po­si­tion to 148th po­si­tion among 180 coun­tries, on the an­nual Cor­rup­tion Per­cep­tion In­dex.

But the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion knows that there are peo­ple who will be­lieve what­ever this ad­min­is­tra­tion says be­cause of ei­ther eth­nic loy­alty, re­li­gious loy­alty or party loy­alty, or a com­bi­na­tion of two of them or all three fac­tors. These peo­ple will jus­tify any­thing this ad­min­is­tra­tion says and de­fend it ve­he­mently.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion also wants to use fear to make the peo­ple re-elect Buhari and the APC in 2019. The mes­sage is that if the PDP or any other can­di­date is al­lowed to take over power in 2019, cor­rup­tion will re­turn with vi­cious­ness and crip­ple Nige­ria. But if one does not want that to hap­pen, the op­tion is to vote for Buhari again to en­sure that he cleans up Nige­ria.

This mes­sage is re­peated at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and re-en­forced when­ever there is an op­por­tu­nity by the APC top of­fi­cials to speak to the peo­ple. This is the APC strat­egy. It is what will be talked about un­til the 2019 elec­tion is over.

This way, Buhari will not be called to ques­tion on what he has done as re­gards se­cu­rity and the econ­omy. If you ask him why the econ­omy has been per­form­ing badly, it will be blamed on the “mas­sive loot­ing” by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions. If you ask why mil­lions of jobs are be­ing lost, it will be blamed on the “pil­lag­ing” that was done by the past ad­min­is­tra­tions. If you ask why peo­ple are be­ing killed ev­ery day by killer herds­men and Boko haram, with the gov­ern­ment do­ing lit­tle or not, con­trary to its prom­ise to fight in­se­cu­rity head­long, you will be told that it is be­cause of the “day­light rob­bery” by the past ad­min­is­tra­tion that made the po­lice and the army not have the nec­es­sary weapons and tools to com­bat in­se­cu­rity. If you ask why the cur­rent gov­ern­ment has not been fru­gal or why dif­fer­ent agen­cies have been em­bark­ing on secret re­cruit­ment, you will be told that the “brig­andage” done by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion has dev­as­tated the na­tion that many peo­ple do not ap­pre­ci­ate the sac­ri­fices this ad­min­is­tra­tion is mak­ing for the peo­ple.

So rather than have a ter­rain where achieve­ments are dis­cussed for the pub­lic to see, the APC peren­ni­ally en­sures that the PDP will be busy de­fend­ing it­self against al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion that it will not have the time to dis­cuss con­crete achieve­ments of the PDP and the APC. Iron­i­cally, the APC that ac­cuses the PDP of cor­rup­tion is filled with past PDP top shots, from the Sen­ate Pres­i­dent to the Speaker of the house of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to min­is­ters to leg­is­la­tors to gover­nors and to the APC party of­fi­cials. Once they cross over from the PDP to the APC, they are washed clean and be­come saints. Iron­i­cally, some­times even those who left the PDP three years ago to join the APC are the ones ac­cus­ing the PDP of cor­rup­tion.

Some may think that the APC is de­lud­ing it­self and will not be heeded. But the APC knows what it is do­ing. It is a strat­egy used in ad­ver­tis­ing. When a brand has no spe­cial unique sell­ing propo­si­tion to flaunt, the ad­ver­tis­ing agency uses razzmatazz. Razzmatazz can­not be quan­ti­fied be­cause it is not tan­gi­ble. It can only be as­sessed through per­cep­tion, which is based on sen­ti­ments. And the more it is re­peated, the more it sinks into the sub­con­scious of the au­di­ence. You can show them all the log­i­cal and ra­tio­nal rea­sons why such a brand is not the brand to buy, but they will still tell you that what­ever you say, they will stick to their brand.

In line with this, what­ever the PDP does to have a pres­i­den­tial de­bate in 2019, the APC will find won­der­ful rea­sons not to at­tend it, be­cause it will be an av­enue to ask ques­tions and show con­crete achieve­ments. Such a de­bate is not in line with the strat­egy of the APC for the re-elec­tion of Buhari in 2019.

If the PDP wants to beat APC cor­rup­tion strat­egy, it has to come up with its strat­egy to counter it. The pri­mary thing is that the PDP must stop al­low­ing the APC to dic­tate what should be dis­cussed. The PDP must move away from the de­fen­sive to the of­fen­sive.

---Twit­ter @Bran­dazuka

azon­wuka@ya­hoo.com

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