Muhammadu Buhari and Femi Adesina: What Are You Doing To Nigeria’s Future?, By ‘Tope Fasua
Nigeria needs justice and equity. Nigeria needs morality at this time. These men have raised the hopes of Nigerians and dashed it, creating forlornness in the heart and soul of Nigerian youths and even younger Nigerians who now pick up information about their country and her leadership and ingrain such in their minds at very early ages, stripping them of innocence, describing governance for the youths as a pure game of deception and maximisation of personal advantage…
I was rereading Mr. Femi Adesina’s vehement pronouncement at Mrs. Farida Waziri’s book launch and the part that got me was his claim that Buhari declared his assets openly in 2015 but chose not to declare these openly in 2019, and that it was his (Buhari’s) prerogative, since the Constitution does not say he should declare his assets openly. He also said that the moment he resumed as spokesman in Aso Villa, he had approached Buhari and asked about this ‘open asset declaration’ matter but the president simply asked him to show evidence where he promised such. Broda Femi said no matter where they searched that day, they couldn’t find anywhere Buhari had made such a declaration. Hmmm. As widely reported in the media, this is what Adesina said:
“In a private meeting with the president, one of the first questions I asked him was, this promise about public declaration of assets, when are you doing it and then he asked me, can you please show me where that promise was ever made?, and lo and behold, we searched everywhere, there was no place where the president ever said he will do a public declaration. And he told me: What does the law require? The law requires you to declare your assets and that is what I will do. And yet since that year (2015), they keep repeating it that he promised a public declaration. “So, sir, can you tell Bishop Kukah that I challenge him to produce that promise by the president because the president stands on it till tomorrow that he never promised public declaration. In 2015, he made his assets public. In 2019, he has declared that he has chosen not to make public. He has not broken any law. So, let’s not continue to repeat what is untrue, what is an inexactitude. That’s my message to Bishop Kukah.”
Well, I remember where the president made that statement. I have this document (attached) where the declaration was made, among other places. In times past, the Buhari people have said that this widely circulated campaign document was done by outsiders. At other times, they have said it was done by the Fayemi-led strategy team of Buhari’s 2015 campaign. But it was done. It was widely circulated, and neither Buhari nor any of his henchmen cautioned those who widely circulated this document, nor sought to have it removed from circulation. It is interesting to see people who claim integrity dash from one excuse to another, seeking straws to clutch onto. We have complained about being conned in 2015, and millions of our people have solidified the conjob in 2019. But I am still worried. At what point did we institute lying, public deception, lack of integrity and dress them in the garb of piety, such that old men, grandfathers, are ready to defend such? Does Mr. Adesina, and other defenders really, truly, hope that this mass amnesia would have affected everybody in Nigeria?
Worrisome though is the question pertaining to why our president choose to be more transparent in 2015, then less transparent in 2019? Why please?… If Mr. Buhari indeed declared his assets openly in 2015 (he didn’t, as far as I am concerned… he only put out some fuzzy documents saying he has some mud houses and 150 cows), then he should know that without declaring in 2019, he hasn’t done anything. His constituency is the Nigerian people.
Perhaps, more importantly, why would the leader of a globally-acknowledged corrupt nation not know that the public declaration of assets (if he is clean), will go a long way in helping the war against corruption? All Nigerians should note that in the beautifully-made, well-circulated and highly-consequential pamphlet, which won millions of ‘enlightened’ votes (perhaps mine inclusive) for President Buhari in 2015, the PLEDGE… Yes, PLEDGE… to declare assets OPENLY… AND ENCOURAGE ALL POLITICAL APPOINTEES TO SO DO… is the very FIRST PLEDGE. It is not a casual promise. Adesina would certainly have been privy to this document, as well as many instances where the same pledge had been repeated in the build-up to that election, but he chose to sidle up to the president and ask obediently a question whose answer was in the public space; after all Adesina was a journalist, columnist and editor. No excuse. It is not enough for Mr. Buhari to say; ‘Well I didn’t say so myself’. That will be a cheap, small-minded trick.
In the famous document, titled “My Covenant With Nigerians’, the president (whoever put the document together) acknowledged the donation of the lifesavings of a 90-years old woman, Hajia Fadimatu Mai Talle Tara from Kebbi State. I am always uncomfortable with this idea of collecting old people’s entire savings. Is that not callous? But there stood the president, resplendent in Yoruba attire, smiling happily on the cover of this beautiful booklet. The document won millions of votes. Promises were made to the youths of Nigeria in it. In addition to the first promise to openly declare his assets and cause his appointees to do the same, the first section of the document played up the president’s anti-corruption legend. He said he will provide incentives for disclosure and transparency, show personal leadership, hold his staff accountable, inaugurate a National Council on Procurement, focus the Federal Executive Council on policy-making, review and implement Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI audits), work out a Whistleblowers Act with THE National Assembly, guarantee the ICPC and EFCC institutional autonomy and make the NFIU an autonomous and operational agency. The president may have achieved some of these (especially the parts that do not call into question his personal sacrifices). Maybe they want to deny the document altogether. But this is an important document, no matter how anyone spins it. They better not pick and choose what promises they want to own out of the lot.
Worrisome though is the question pertaining to why our president choose to be more transparent in 2015, then less transparent in 2019? Why please? The essence of asset declaration is to track increment in holdings and correlate these with what you had before and what you earned LEGITIMATELY in the period of assessment. It is not a static document. If Mr. Buhari indeed declared his assets openly in 2015 (he didn’t, as far as I am concerned… he only put out some fuzzy documents saying he has some mud houses and 150 cows), then he should know that without declaring in 2019, he hasn’t done anything. His constituency is the Nigerian people. If you go to the ministries today, you will see many people frantically filling their asset declaration forms. Some will be sweating profusely, as if they were writing something harder than JAMB examinations, sitting on the edge of their seats with the air-conditioning full on, as they try to ensure they don’t land themselves in serious trouble by revealing what they dare not reveal. They are thinking very inventively about where to hide the billions they have whacked over the years. Good luck to them. Their Oga is the Code of Conduct Bureau, which can use asset declaration to mess them up if they fall in the wrong political bracket or are just unlucky. We saw what they did to the number three man in Nigeria – the head of our judiciary, in 2019. President Buhari must know that WE THE PEOPLE are his ‘Oga’, and on this asset declaration matter, he has failed, forever.
Mr. Femi Adesina was with us on this side, lampooning Jonathan back in the day, from his perch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ha! These men have stripped the youth of Nigeria of hope. As such, just like Naira Marley said in one of his mad, drug-filled songs, ‘Ole ni everybody – everyone na thief!’
May Almighty Allah rest the soul of my friend whom I never met (except once inside the Hilton Hotel lift, while he was still governor), the simple, easygoing, patriotic, kind, truthful, altruistic, down-to-earth, quiet, law-abiding, real man of integrity, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The day this country is lucky to find another president that could hold a lamp to his feet, we may just make some progress. I recall President Jonathan confessed twice on national TV that Umaru forced him to declare his assets the first and only time ever. Once Umaru left, he ‘locked up’. Now see his life. Is Buhari not hounding his wife up and down, sealing hotels, confiscating ill-gotten properties? It is only more tragic that our own Buhari – the cynosure of the anti-corruption war has decided to tow the Jonathan path. Jonathan swore ‘over heaven and hell’ would be declare his assets. The same argument of the Jonathan supporters (that the law does not require open declaration) is the same tripe that Buharists are offering today. Anyway, we can see that Jonathan and Buhari are developing a great friendship in recent times.
Mr. Femi Adesina was with us on this side, lampooning Jonathan back in the day, from his perch at email@example.com. Ha! These men have stripped the youth of Nigeria of hope. As such, just like Naira Marley said in one of his mad, drug-filled songs, ‘Ole ni everybody – everyone na thief!’ Perhaps, as it has now happened, Nigerian children and youths are better off being Marlians than looking up to any of these outwardly-distinguished ‘gentlemen’ who have suddenly forgotten that ethics and equity are superior to law, and so is morality. These men are now peddling lawyering at the expense of justice, written laws as superior to leadership by example!
Nigeria needs justice and equity. Nigeria needs morality at this time. These men have raised the hopes of Nigerians and dashed it, creating forlornness in the heart and soul of Nigerian youths and even younger Nigerians who now pick up information about their country and her leadership and ingrain such in their minds at very early ages, stripping them of innocence, describing governance for the youths as a pure game of deception and maximisation of personal advantage, in other words neo-Machiavellian. I don’t see how these men can walk back the damage they have done to their own memories or to the future of this country. Again, we shall see.