If in doubt, Kukah and his colleagues need to engage that 27 year-old who graduated from university and has been unemployed for three years, and has no hope of landing a job anytime soon and tell that young fellow that Buhari should “tread softly” in tracking down the wealth of the nation stolen and hidden abroad which when repatriated will be used to create jobs. Or, need I recommend to Kukah and his committee to visit Diaspora Nigerians most of who have given up hope on ever returning home as Nigeria’s Nigerians because of the damage that has been inflicted on the national psyche by those entrusted with the responsibility of running of the affairs of the nation?
I am not a protagonist of conspiracy theory. By training and as part of my core value, I am a purveyor of facts, information and data. And in consonance with one of the first rules of my hallowed profession, whenever I am in doubt I have been taught to delete. I say all that as a way of pointing out that the facts, as there are available today, are indicative of the change that had been blowing in the wind on Nigeria’s political landscape for quite sometime. It did not take rocket science to figure out that most Nigerians at home and abroad had grown inpatient and weary with the trajectory of the country under the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
At home, mass unemployment, crippling power outages, urban brigandage, poor and non-existent infrastructure, such as bad roads, poorly maintained airports and such other public buildings, a bloated and corrupt civil service, unethical business climate, a demoralised and badly compromised military and law enforcement agencies had become the norm. Add that the urban guerilla warfare being waged on the rest of the country by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and all you have is a country that needs just one misstep to become another Somalia or Iraq.
Abroad, Nigerians were fast constituting some of the largest groups of migrant communities anywhere in the world – from Mongolia to Katmandu down to the Amazons. Not too long ago, I was on official assignment in the Caribbean and was flummoxed to find a community of Nigerians on the tiny Island of St. Marten working all sorts of trades. And most of the Nigerians I run into around the world tell me without batting an eyelid that they would rather eke out a living anywhere in the world than lead a hopeless life in the land of their birth. A recent Pew Research report had indicated that of every 10 African immigrants in the United States, six of them are from Nigeria.
A few years ago, our organisation had a stint providing consulting services to an organisation – Association of Nigerian Physicians in The Americas (ANPA) – which is almost 4,000-member strong and made up of some of Nigeria’s best and brightest in the field of medicine. Most of the ANPA members are specialists in their various disciplines – gynaecologists, oncologists, cardiologists, brain surgeons, and so on, and are employers of labour, and highly productive members of the American society. And in other spheres of human endeavour in the American milieu – academia, banking, manufacturing, real estate, nursing, law, IT, and security services – you will find Nigerians who are excelling and have literally, and sad to say, resigned their fate to living away from home for the rest of their lives. One of them recently confided in me that he had expressly instructed his adult children to ensure that his body is interred in the American soil whenever his days on earth are over!
…he does not need the so-called advice of the National Peace Committee who met with him recently ostensibly to prevail on him to “tread softly” on his anti-corruption agenda.
The bottom-line is that the Nigerian nation has suffered tremendously from self-inflicted wounds by those who have been charged with managing its affairs, especially in the last eight years. I am aware that there are some others who share as much passion for Nigeria as some of us who will argue that the rot actually started a while ago. I will give them that. However, incontrovertible facts abound to indicate that the level of corruption in the country reached an all-time high during the life of the last administration. Some may point to the Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar regimes or the Olusegun Obasanjo civilian era as equally guilty of corruption. My response is that the Babangida, Abacha and Abubakar juntas operated by fiat while a case against Obasanjo as a leader remains unsubstantiated.
In the case of the Jonathan government, intelligence data gathered so far from both local and international agencies point to a case of a country that was plundered and its wealth siphoned out of its shores by its leaders and their cohorts. From all indications, the Muhammadu Buhari administration is in the throes of building a case against officials of the immediate past administration. And as he has recently promised locally and on international stages, Buhari has pledged to adhere to the rule of law in his crusade to kill corruption as a way of life in Nigeria.
Let me state that I have no reason to doubt Buhari. He understands that he has one shot at leaving a legacy for himself by restoring international confidence in Nigeria and thus writing his name in gold in the annals of the nation’s history. He spent 32 years in political cold preparing for this season. Nothing convinces me that Buhari is in this crusade for himself. He truly looks like a man on a mission. And he must not be distracted.
That is why he does not need the so-called advice of the National Peace Committee who met with him recently ostensibly to prevail on him to “tread softly” on his anti-corruption agenda. As much as I will admit that the committee is made up of some reputable members of the Nigerian society, and I also acknowledge the laudable role they played in peace-making during the uncertain moments of the last contentious national elections, I think their recent visit to President Buhari and his equally mercurial Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was totally in bad fate. Catholic cleric, Mathew Kukah who spoke on behalf of the group was a shade disingenuous when he told State House press corp that all the committee was “worried about” was the process of Buhari’s campaign against corruption. He added: “It is no longer a military regime and, under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilt”. Did he need to say that? Not only was that totally uncalled for, that statement reeks of condescension.
He went on to say: “Again, our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody. The former President’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that”. To many Nigerians at home and abroad, Kukah’s statement is outright balderdash. I respect Kukah and his often impassioned statements about Nigeria. However, he and the other members of the committee – if he is speaking for them – simply don’t get it.
On the strength of their recent misadventure, I believe that many Nigerians will like the National Peace Committee retired. I know that there other well-meaning Nigerians at home and abroad who can take their places on the committee – those who understand that for Nigeria to enjoy sustainable peace, a war against the cankerworm of corruption must be fought.
Let me remind them that Nigeria is a country in trouble. Perhaps, members of that committee who are privileged in their various rights cannot grasp the low to which the morale of Nigerians have fallen. Nigeria’s problem with corruption presents a drastic solution. And every drastic situation demands a drastic solution. If in doubt, Kukah and his colleagues need to engage that 27 year-old who graduated from university and has been unemployed for three years, and has no hope of landing a job anytime soon and tell that young fellow that Buhari should “tread softly” in tracking down the wealth of the nation stolen and hidden abroad which when repatriated will be used to create jobs. Or, need I recommend to Kukah and his committee to visit Diaspora Nigerians most of who have given up hope on ever returning home as Nigeria’s Nigerians because of the damage that has been inflicted on the national psyche by those entrusted with the responsibility of running of the affairs of the nation?
I am also flabbergasted by the assertion by Mathew Kukah about “what he did will remain spectacular”. If he is referring to Jonathan, I think Kukah and his colleagues are deluded. We all know that Jonathan had no choice than to concede defeat to Buhari. Anything else, would have been uncivilised and would have attracted stiff penance. On that score, I believe that Jonathan’s concession was more an act of self-preservation than that of putting nation above self as much the rhetoric would want us to believe.
Meanwhile, I counsel the National Peace Committee to lay off President Buhari and give him room to fulfill the mandate that he has been overwhelmingly handed by the people of Nigeria. And let me re-assure Kukah and his committee that Buhari and Osinbajo “ain’t scared of you”, to use my best street vernacular.
On the strength of their recent misadventure, I believe that many Nigerians will like the National Peace Committee retired. I know that there other well-meaning Nigerians at home and abroad who can take their places on the committee – those who understand that for Nigeria to enjoy sustainable peace, a war against the cankerworm of corruption must be fought. And in every war, there are bound to be casualties, a price that the teeming population of Nigeria’s jobless youths will like to see someone pay for the sake of securing the future of the country for our progeny.
Kukah and his committee have sorely missed the handwriting on the wall and have pathetically misread the mood of a large segment of the population – the youths.
Good night, Bishop! You and your colleagues.
Charles Anyiam is Editor-In-Chief of The African Times-USA.