Why Buhari must face trial: Any anti-corruption war in the post-Buhari era that ignores him will be a farce.
Clapping back at the former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, who recently criticised former President Muhammadu Buhari for running “the most incompetent government we have ever seen in this country,” Garba Shehu dismissed him as corruption personified.
Adoke was scathing in his criticism, not only labelling Buhari the most incompetent president Nigeria ever had and will never have again, but also saying that his ruination of Nigeria was enabled by a set of political morons he personally assembled. That was a total take down.
Expectedly Shehu, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, fired back: “The fact that this character (Adoke) is a free man, walking away from the industrial corruption their administration foisted on the 200 million-plus Nigerians is an Eighth Wonder.”
Had he stopped there, Nigerians wouldn’t have bothered because it would be, to borrow a cliché, “two fighting.”
Many Nigerians are of the opinion that Buhari and Adoke are two sides of the same corruption coin. But if there is a debate as to which government is more corrupt – the one Adoke served in or Buhari’s government, not a few will agree that Buhari takes the cake, the very point that the intrepid Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, made recently when he said that Nigeria “saw the ugliest phase of corruption whether in moral terms, financial terms, and other terms” under Buhari.
So, the joke is on Garba Shehu and his diminished principal when he insults the sensibilities of Nigerians by claiming that “the success of the Buhari administration in the direction of the fight against corruption is unprecedented.” He makes himself a laughing stock because Buhari’s administration has gone down in history as one of the most corrupt.
But I don’t blame him for such egregious insult. I blame President Bola Tinubu for giving Buhari a free rein instead of putting him in jail where he rightly belongs as he has done to Emefiele after he wilfully wrecked Nigeria.
Rather than pulling Buhari in, Tinubu is waging his own phantom war against corruption by arresting the suspended Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, and chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, even as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has been let off the EFCC corruption hook.
In September 2020, the Federal High Court in Lagos froze the bank accounts of Obasa, a political ally of Tinubu, following an application made by the EFCC but on August 16, 2023, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, granted a request from Obasa’s lawyers to unfreeze his three accounts domiciled at Standard Chartered Bank without any opposition from the EFCC.
The EFCC claimed only three years ago that these same accounts were being investigated “for the offences of conspiracy, diversion of funds, abuse of office, and money laundering.” So, what happened? Has the investigation been concluded and nothing untoward discovered? Or is it just a case of the covering of the sin of someone whose godfather and political ally is now the president?
But I digress. Back to Buhari.
Nobody is surprised at the game of musical chairs. Nigeria is in a mess. But the bigger tragedy is that the man who brought us to this sorry pass – Buhari – is enjoying an undeserved rest in Daura even as his successor is continuing from where he stopped in the pretentious anti-corruption waffle.
But no one is deceived. Just like Buhari, Nigerians know that Tinubu has no capacity to fight corruption. Nemo dat quod non habet is a legal rule which means “no one can give what they do not have.” But the nemo dat principle transcends the legalese.
As good as the Emefiele incarceration optics may be for the Tinubu administration, discerning Nigerians are neither impressed nor fooled. And they won’t be until the master puppeteer, the man who ruined Nigeria – its economy, politics and even social cohesion almost irredeemably – accounts for his stewardship.
Under Buhari’s watch, everything that could possibly go wrong for Nigeria went awry, not because of the inevitability of the decay, but because he errantly put Nigeria on a slippery slope, the very point that Muhammadu Sanusi, former Emir of Kano, made recently when he said Nigeria led a false life under Buhari.
Sanusi said under Buhari, sycophancy trumped every other thing even as grand-scale corruption became the rule so much so that “an inexperienced boy who has no record of service has a private jet and owns houses in Dubai and England” just round-tripping in dollars.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Buhari was simply irresponsible. In an interview with TheCable, Obasanjo said Buhari was reckless with Nigeria’s economy.
“Buhari was spending money recklessly. I know Buhari didn’t understand economics. I put that in my book. But that he could also be so reckless, I didn’t know,” he said.
Even Tinubu’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Olawale Edun, accused Buhari of superintending over an economy characterised by slow growth, double-digit inflation, weak and depreciating exchange rate.
“If we think back to the last time when the economy was stable, when it was growing, when inflation was low, and the interest rate was affordable, that period was about a decade ago. Growth was about six per cent in 2013 and 2014,” he said at his maiden press conference.
Former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, admitted penultimate week that the last time Nigeria experienced economic development was during Jonathan’s administration.
Fayemi, who was Buhari’s Minister of Solid Minerals for four years, also admitted that the protest which trailed the fuel subsidy removal during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 was politically-motivated.
Before now, Vice President Kashim Shettima had admitted that Nigeria’s economy under Buhari was a big mess, no credit to the waywardness of the administration that chained an otherwise great nation with poor governance.
As the Minister of Petroleum, corruption became so endemic in the oil sector that whatever crimes his predecessor, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was accused of became a child’s play.
Under Buhari’s watch, Nigeria effectively became a criminal enterprise and he was at the centre of the organised heist that went on at the Central Bank, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and all the other ministries, departments and agencies of government run by his minions.
The inexperienced boy that Sanusi spoke about was Buhari’s personal aide who operated from the presidency right under his nose. Was he not aware?
Nigerians need to know what happened under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development under Sadiya Umar Farouq’s watch. Nigerians need to know what happened with Hadi Sirika’s Nigeria Air project. It is not enough for Festus Keyamo, the new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, to suspend the project.
What about Abubakar Malami, former Minister of Justice, and the various criminal transactions he allegedly orchestrated including his handling of the sale of assets worth billions of naira forfeited to the EFCC by politically exposed persons?
While it is good that the CBN governor and his two deputies are being quizzed, Tinubu must go the whole hog. Buhari must be quizzed also. Not bringing Buhari to trial for corruption and crime against the Nigerian state will be catastrophic.
For those who may argue that it is too early, my question is: why is it not too early to go after Emefiele? When will the same forensic investigation going on right now at the CBN be extended to the oil industry where Buhari was the de-facto Petroleum Minister for eight years?
These questions are germane because any anti-corruption war in the post-Buhari era that ignores him will be a farce.
Will Tinubu, the man possessed by courage at his inauguration to pronounce a fatwa on petrol subsidy, summon similar courage to do the needful? If he does, that will be the day. But I doubt, which explains why Nigeria’s salvation is aeons away.
And that reminds me: where are all those people who were swearing, only yesterday, by the graves of their fathers that Buhari was the best thing to happen to Nigeria and demonising as haters and “wailing wailers” those who called him out for ruining Nigeria? They have moved on. They are the real enemies of Nigeria.