muhammadu-buhari

The point is this: for the anti-corruption war to succeed, Buhari must be ready to take hard, unpopular decisions. He needs to think less as a politician, and more as a state builder. A president that hopes to change Nigeria must know that there is just one way to do it. Building strong institutions. Institutions that can say No to the President and not be afraid of recriminations or non-release of operational funds. How do you build strong institutions? By enacting strong, groundbreaking pieces of legislation. Send Bills to the legislature seeking to redefine how corrupt acts are reported and penalised. Impose heavy sentences on corrupt acts, and enshrine them within the constitution.

A problem is not solved until its cause has been identified. You see, problems are like pregnancies. So long as unprotected sex takes place (between a man and a woman!), pregnancies will happen. You cannot legislate against pregnancies. It is an exercise in futility. The only sure way to prevent the occurrence of pregnancies is to stop sex from taking place, or prevent fertilisation from occurring once sex has happened. If you like, send women to jail for getting pregnant. Or have them face firing squads. Or rip their bellies open (pardon my grotesque expression). If unprotected sex continues to happen (again between a man and a woman, as nowadays sex has a much broader scope – man with man, woman with woman, even cross-species sex is also now an item on the menu!), pregnancies will not stop.

The relationship between sex and pregnancy, and how pregnancy can only be stopped when sex is removed from the equation is somewhat similar to the immediate past president’s conceptualisation of corruption as a case of leaving goats with yams, and then raising all hell when one discovers that the yams, according to the goat’s explanation, have decided to take permanent abode in the bellies of the goats. Point: Goats will always eat yams if yams are left with them. You may dress up the goat, teach the goat table manners, or make it speak Queen’s English. Leave the goat with a yam just for an instant, and the yam will suddenly develop a longing for a passage through the commodious throat of the goat, who will gladly oblige its request.

The Buhari administration is making the right noises – exposing the acts and the cast, taking them to courts, and trying somewhat to abide by the rule of law. These are good and laudable steps. However, it seems that the present administration does not quite get it that as laudable as these steps are, they do not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem.

A lot has been written about Dasukigate, thus there is no need to add to that subject’s growing body of literature. In fact, I expect that Nollywood will shortly make a thriller out of the whole sordid affair. However, what should bother Nigerians now is how to prevent such a grand scale transfer of public yams into the stomachs of private goats from ever taking place again. If we fail to decisively deal with and answer this question, I predict again, that before the end of the present Buhari administration, there shall yet be another massive transfer of public yams into the stomachs of private goats. Another Dasukigate shall happen. Only that this time it would be rechristened, and shall go by a different name. You know, every pregnancy is unique. And such whatever-gate would be worse and more wicked, for it would no longer be theft in the midst of plenty, as Dasukigate is, but theft in biting scarcity and pervasive economic depression.

As said earlier, the question that should occupy us is: How do we prevent this “pregnancy” from ever happening again? We may decide to make a lot of noise about it, as this present administration is doing, which is not in itself a bad thing, as Nigerians need to know what happened, and how what happened, happened. We may take the perpetrators of this wickedness to court, and possibly have them jailed. Hopefully, because in Nigeria, when the criminal is a top act, his crime, no matter how perverse, oozes benevolence. His sentence is just a sentence, no longer than that – oh, return a part of your loot, say 0.002 percent, and come back for a Certificate of Merit for charitable return, on compassionate grounds, of stolen funds. Or it may be a three-year jail term that would not run for more than three months, with those three months being spent, not in a cell, but in a palatial hospital. In other words, once the characters involved are big fishes, no one can predict the outcome of their trials in courts. In fact, going by previous rulings on such cases, we can even expect that they would eventually go scot-free.

Body language is good, as our president must be seen as walking the talk, but body language cannot do this. Only law reforms can prevent another Dasukigate from happening ever again.

The Buhari administration is making the right noises – exposing the acts and the cast, taking them to courts, and trying somewhat to abide by the rule of law. These are good and laudable steps. However, it seems that the present administration does not quite get it that as laudable as these steps are, they do not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem. They do not address the problems. Only the symptoms. They may be capable of sending some corrupt thieves to jail eventually, but these means can only do that and no more. They cannot prevent another Dasukigate. They do not address the institutional decay that would allow such criminal acts to take place. We should also know that if there had not been a change of government, this heist would have remained covered up, at least for now. Only a change of government could have revealed the level of rot of the previous government. And only another change of government will be able to uncover the corruption that may be going on within the present administration.

The point is this: for the anti-corruption war to succeed, Buhari must be ready to take hard, unpopular decisions. He needs to think less as a politician, and more as a state builder. A president that hopes to change Nigeria must know that there is just one way to do it. Building strong institutions. Institutions that can say No to the President and not be afraid of recriminations or non-release of operational funds. How do you build strong institutions? By enacting strong, groundbreaking pieces of legislation. Send Bills to the legislature seeking to redefine how corrupt acts are reported and penalised. Impose heavy sentences on corrupt acts, and enshrine them within the constitution. Lobby the National and State Assemblies to endorse your Bills. Make the INEC truly independent. Set the Central Bank, and its Governor, truly free. Empower institutions by tweaking the Acts establishing them. Restructure the pseudo-federation we presently practice. Give resource control and responsibility to the state and local governments. Take the hands of the central government off most of the items on the so-called Exclusive List. Body language is good, as our president must be seen as walking the talk, but body language cannot do this. Only law reforms can prevent another Dasukigate from happening ever again.