Buhari and How Corruption Can Fight Back, By Uche Igwe
For many informed Nigerians, Nyesom Wike’s government cannot be the source of any credible information about Buhari and Amaechi’s wrongdoings. They know that he is on a mission of political persecution and has constantly failed to prove his allegations beyond any reasonable doubt. The grand plan is to use every means possible to derail President Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts and make political capital out of it.
Since President Buhari’s visit to the United Kingdom for the anti-corruption summit, the media has been flooded with several kinds of commentaries. Many of them are filled with disingenuous insinuations while others blatantly promote disorderly falsehood to get underserved public attention. I attended that summit and was delighted with the respect and warm reception that was accorded to the Nigerian leader. He gave the organisers a dose of his no-nonsense style when he arrived for the event at about 7.00 am, before everyone else including the Secretary General of Commonwealth. I arrived the Marlborough House a few minutes after the Nigerian president and witnessed with delight, the commotion among journalists who were struggling to either get a glimpse of him or get him to say a word.
A few days later, the UK Daily Mail led the lot in a short but widely publicised piece published on May 14, where it attempted unsuccessfully to link the president and his minister of Transportation with imaginary corruption charges. Nothing can be more misleading than such article filled with shallow fabrications. I was shocked that many respected media organisations and columnists jumped into the fray without investigating the veracity of the information contained in the Daily Mail piece. Let me say without any equivocation that the said report was filled with various forms of factual incorrectness. I would have expected any serious media outfit to try to double-check on facts before running with a story alleging issues of corruption – at least from the little I know about ethical journalism. One may decide to overlook some of the fringe media outfits who also jumped into the fray and featured the article. But I cannot say the same for the intentions of Aljazeera and co-columnists like Abimbola Adelakun.
I am aware that both President Buhari and Minister Amaechi have handlers whose duty it is to supply accurate information to halt concocted stories like those spread by Daily Mail. However, as a citizen, I am concerned that such extraordinary claims not backed by adequate evidence should be subjected to scrutiny to expose that the UK media outfit is merely on a predetermined and probably procured hatchet job. Such untidy piece of journalism is reprehensible and potentially libellous to say the least. For instance, contrary to that report, Mr. Amaechi did not attend the summit and was not part of the presidential delegation. The video of the event is in the public domain for all to see. That Daily Mail could not notice his absence clearly shows that such a media outfit should not be taken seriously.
In addition, the whole issue of Mr. Amaechi’s donations to the Buhari’s campaign remains an old fable whose promoters have continuously failed to substantiate. It remains in the imagination of those bandying it around. For many knowledgeable observers, a majority of the campaign funds spent during Buhari’s Presidential campaigns were raised from ordinary Nigerians like me who made out of pocket donations here and there because we were tired of the ‘lootocracy’ under former President Jonathan. I remember that the donations were pouring in billions until the PDP government at that time got the Nigerian Communications Commission to block the scheme. They even attempted to trap the funds in the bank. Now how does the fact that someone acted as the Director General of the Campaign automatically make such a person as sole financier? Nothing can be farther from the truth.
The ongoing probe of the National Security Adviser otherwise known as ‘Dasukigate’ is about tracing how funds originally meant to be used to fight Boko Haram insurgency were diverted. The attention generated by Dasukigate is partly because the funds were part of the recoveries from the monies repatriated from those stolen by the late dictator Sani Abacha. It is purely a security issue, although the funds somehow ended up travelling through former President Jonathan’s campaigns to private pockets. However, Nigerians expect that anyone who is linked with the funds will be so prosecuted regardless of party affiliation.
The second misleading part of the article under reference is the allusion that the British tax payers’ money might have been used to finance the campaigns. I know that the British Aid Agency, the Department for International Development has offices in Nigeria. One will guess they should clarify this. The expectation is for them to provide any evidence of direct financial contribution to Rivers State while Mr. Amaechi served as governor or to the Buhari’s campaign organisation. That is the only way to validate the claim made by Daily Mail in this regard.
Now looking at the article written by Abimbola Adelakun, one will notice that she understands the biased motive of the Daily Mail article which she describes as a desperate move to get back at President Buhari, an outdated propaganda which according to her, that had nothing new to say. I concur with her description of the comments of Prime Minister Cameron as colonial condescension. However, I noticed that while she tried to pretend to be neutral, she betrayed her one-sidedness, especially on issues relating to the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. Those who do not know Abimbola could assume from the slant of her article that she had other intentions. For instance, as someone who is watching the Nigerian political scene closely, many readers expected Abimbola to know that tarring the former governor with fictional corruption charges has been the preoccupation of the Rivers State government under the incumbent governor Nyesom Wike for the past one year. We expected the columnist to have full knowledge of the story of the elections that produced that governor which was described as one of the most shambolic elections in the history of Nigeria. It is in the news that more than one hundred persons have been killed or beheaded before, during or since after that election under the murderous reign of the former minister for Education.
One of Mr. Wike’s major political credentials is that of a person with the mastery of violence, manipulation of the judiciary and sponsoring unguarded verbal missiles at his political enemies. Hanging corruption charges on the neck of Mr. Amaechi seem to be the only way Mr. Wike wants to pay back the defeated former President Jonathan and his wife who imposed him on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Immediately after he was declared winner of that flawed election, it is a well-known fact that Wike quickly put together a judicial commission which concluded its investigations without giving Mr. Amaechi any right of fair hearing. Even while the report of the commission is still being contested in court, Daily Mail apparently lifted figures from it and even amplified it to the sum of 500 million pounds! How can anyone depend on such a report to canvass a position and not be guilty of prejudice? How bizarre?
I suggest that those who have impeccable and verifiable evidence of corruption against either President Buhari or Mr. Amaechi should bring it forward and head to court. For many informed Nigerians, Nyesom Wike’s government cannot be the source of any credible information about Buhari and Amaechi’s wrongdoings. They know that he is on a mission of political persecution and has constantly failed to prove his allegations beyond any reasonable doubt. The grand plan is to use every means possible to derail President Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts and make political capital out of it. Any keen observer must understand that corruption is a potent political tool in Nigeria and any leader who attempts to fight it must expect a resistance from the beneficiaries of the status quo, such as Wike and his co-travellers. This must not surprise anyone. What is indeed surprising is that outfits like Daily Mail and Aljazeera with the support of commentators like Abimbola Adelakun could rest on such lies to try to mislead the unsuspecting public.
Uche Igwe is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics, University of Sussex, UK.