“If any of my associates or party members is indicted of corruption, they cannot escape justice. There is not going to be any APC member or any close personality found guilty that would escape justice.” – President Muhammadu Buhari during an interview with the CNN anchor, Christiane Amanpour.
“Justice is justice… The most important thing is let justice be done.” – President Buhari during the same interview.
A big thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari for finally declaring his assets publicly. He deserves to be applauded for this. He has broken a new ground for this country. The implications and ramifications of this are momentous. Part of this is that everyone who wants to serve in his government would have to do the same. If they do the same, it would be more difficult to become a thief in the Buhari government. If appointees are not allowed to and cannot steal, obviously, they would not have a choice but to serve the country the best way they know how to.
With President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo setting examples in this regard, Nigerians are waiting for the public declaration of assets of everyone that is working in the presidency. The Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief of Staff, all his Senior Special Advisers or Assistants and their assistants, all other important political appointees and directors of important agencies of the Federal Government must all declare their assets. They are all invited to serve Nigerians as privileged servants and not bosses of the Nigerian people. Nigerians want to know what they are worth as they go into these offices. Nigerians do not want anyone to be a conduit for laundering our pilfered commonwealth. It is the only way Nigerians can ascertain that they are truly being served and not being sucked.
Although this public declaration of assets is just one aspect of several expectations from President Buhari’s administration, one would take it with gratitude while the President’s feet are continuously to be held to fire for other expectations, including the even distribution of resources among all ethnic nationalities; balanced, fair, unbiased and equitable fight against corruption; the prudent management of the economy and creation of jobs for our youth, as well as the provision of security, especially the defeat of Boko Haram. As public commentators, this is our thankless task – to speak for the voiceless and advocate for the weak and the disadvantaged.
The task President Buhari has taken upon himself is to cleanse Nigeria of corruption and all its vestiges. It is a laudable job that has to be accomplished and all Nigerians agree with this because they believe it is the only way the country can function like a humane society, where the welfare of citizens are a matter of priority. Thus, it was very uplifting when the President declared in the United States that if any of his “associates or party members is indicted of corruption, they cannot escape justice.” He insisted, “There is not going to be any APC member or any close personality found guilty that would escape justice.”
The questions on the minds of Nigerians about the investigations are many. They are worried that these men are too close to President Buhari for comfort. Ex-governor Amaechi was the Director of President Buhari’s Campaign Organisation. Fashola and Kwankwanso were heavy lifters for the efforts to elect General Buhari…Nigerians are now wondering if justice would ever come to be.
Now, the time for the President to prove this has come. This is the time once again to come through with his promise to Nigerians and the world at large. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has begun to investigate some former governors for corruption. These ex-governors, according to news reports, are Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State; Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Sullivan Chime of Enugu State. Press reports on this matter notes that there are other four ex-governors on the pending investigations list. Those on the pending list include Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa State.
On these lists are some of Buhari’s very close friends and party members. These include ex-governors Amaechi, Fashola and Kwankwanso. They are high stakeholders in the coming of age of the Buhari ambition to lead and govern Nigeria. Now, here they are with serious allegations of corruption hanging around their necks. ICPC has not chosen them at random or based on guess work. They have been pinpointed for investigation based on documented allegations.
The questions on the minds of Nigerians about the investigations are many. They are worried that these men are too close to President Buhari for comfort. Ex-governor Amaechi was the Director of President Buhari’s Campaign Organisation. Fashola and Kwankwanso were heavy lifters for the efforts to elect General Buhari. Fashola, especially, is a member of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet. Nigerians are now wondering if justice would ever come to be. They are concerned about the ability of the ICPC to be able to withstand the pressure that might be brought to bear on it.
President Buhari has to stand by his promise and ensure that any associates or party members of his indicted of corruption, does not escape justice. As President himself said, “The most important thing is let justice be done.”
Nigerians are worried if ever the poor and the dispossessed in the states governed by these friends of President Buhari would get any justice. Nigerians are worried that these friends of President Buhari have so much money at their disposal to buy justice and subvert the system. Nigerians are concerned that with corrupt justices or judges on the bench, justice might still elude the robbed masses. Nigerians are worried that the war against corruption may not be waged in these privileged quarters of President Buhari’s inner circle.
Despite the biases of Nigerians, they are largely a fair minded people. They could be forgiving and pardoning. If things are insignificant, Nigerians are ready to over look them. They would not want innocent people jailed or condemned for what they did not do. Nigerians would not want ex-governor Amaechi sent to jail if he is not guilty. Neither would they want Fashola nor Kwankwanso imprisoned if either of them has not stolen money.
But these men have been displaying stupendous wealth and richness. They appear to live well above their legitimate means. Nothing convicts one in advance more than through conspicuous consumption patterns. Some of them carry around humongous amounts of foreign currencies denominated in dollars and pounds in their Agbada and suits. Where did all these monies come from? What are the sources of these wealth with which they have acquired the high profile properties they now own? How much damage have they done to the polity through theft and corruption?
This is where Buhari comes in. He must give the ICPC the free rein to do its job. He must frown at any peddling of influence to sweep things under the carpet. Anyone caught trying to peddle influence and lobbying to allow the guilty off the cuff ought to be prosecuted and sent to jail. President Buhari has to stand by his promise and ensure that any associates or party members of his indicted of corruption, does not escape justice. As President himself said, “The most important thing is let justice be done.”