Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance – these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.” – Sir Isaiah Berlin, 1907-97, British Philosopher.
I have heard the argument that corruption is not the greatest problem with Nigeria. I say it is. I have heard that anti-corruption should not constitute the chief policy of President Buhari’s government. I say it should. I have heard that anti-corruption is an ill-war. I say it is not a war, but an imperative collective goal, one that must line every organic structure and element of governance. I have heard those who argue that President Buhari appears selective in his disposition against corruption. I differ, since it is only natural that in fighting corruption, the pendulum must devolve from the known to the unknown. Hear this: if we do not vilify corruption with vehemence, those who will assume leadership positions now and in the future would yet think it is BUSINESS AS USUAL. And if we do not make anti-corruption the chief policy of government, we cannot slay sleaze and malfeasance; we cannot build pillars of deterrence and monuments of reference against thieving; we cannot retrieve the looted and stolen resources which are necessary for economic growth, job creation and infrastructural development; and posterity shall wonder why we mouthed CHANGE. Again, the fight against corruption shall diminish strong persons and yield strong institutions which are cardinal to national growth, rectitude and prosperity.
Slaying Sleaze and Corruption must remain a component ideal and must be the structural continuum that weaves the bedrock of the needed salvation of enterprise, of values, of morals, of mores and of dedication to national rebirth. An open-minded X-ray of the position of the cynics of the anti-corruption resolve of the new Sherriff in town reveals the fact that they have chosen to ignore, downplay and or sentimentalize the enormity of the ill that corruption epitomizes. They criticize Insurgency, Kidnapping, and Armed Robbery, but forget that those are simply the collateral damage of corruption.
They lampoon our decrepit roads and decadent infrastructure, forgetting that resources appropriated for repairs, maintenance of same, and or for the building of new ones are often looted and embezzled by those who should otherwise be the custodians of public trust. They condemn our comatose medical facilities and the fall in the standard of education, oblivious of the trillions stolen by those who should make them better. They decry the rot in the system and yet criticize a frontal quest to clear the rot. Indeed, corruption is fighting back.
Those who claim that their critique of the new anti-corruption paradigm is a call for caution, precaution and transparency are cynics whose scepticism swims in the waters of partisan bias and regional prejudice. In the contrariwise, true nationalism and patriotism shall applaud a frontal effort against corruption, be they from 1960, 1999 or from 2010. The cynicism of cynics notwithstanding, I am for an era that must create for my children and indeed posterity sufficient monuments of deterrence and pillars of reference such that sleaze and corruption shall be Shibboleth, and profligacy, looting and thieving treated as anathema. It is imperative to state here that ethnic obsession and tribal jingoism; that religious and regional bigotry; that youth restiveness; and that our national distrust festers because of fiscal infraction and profligacy. Yes, because of corruption. Corruption is our greatest malaise, corruption is at the heart of the breakdown of values, be they fiscal, moral, political, ethical and otherwise. It fosters ethnic jingoism and arms tribal paladins. Sadly, rather than unite against corruption, some view the fight against this monster from and through sectional, religious and regional prism, ignoring indeed the invidious theatres, estates and theatrics of this Frankenstein Monster.
May I stoke a fire albeit with the lighter of TRUTH: there is no selective resolve against corruption, and the fight against corruption is a vehicle being perfected, one yet in the works, thanks to Mr. President for the Prof. Itse Sagay – led committee. When the anti-corruption vehicle assumes full flight, however, it is obvious that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will be her chief victim, as the PDP was the party in power for 16years at the centre. It will conceivably and naturally be at the ratio of 90 to 10, and so let querulous critics waiting to wail blue murder know this truth.
For those who like me criticized the early appointments made by Mr. President as lopsided, our Dear President has said that there is going to be balance in the entire appointments as provided by the Constitution and reflective of our national spread. I therefore think that those who predicate the lame argument that such seeming imbalance presents Mr. President as corrupt are quick and the debate not tenable as several prime appointments are yet in the mill. President Buhari is not corrupt, but I understand that wailers will craft any reason conceivable to wail and fault the anti-corruption resolve of the new Sheriff in town.
Sleaze and Corruption remain the most odoriferous bane to our national soar and must be treated as such. Sadly, this frontal dish of truth will be assailed with missiles from sectional, regional and religious trenches, but for COUNTRY, we must remain TRUE to the God of TRUTH. Rather curiously, why does truth annoy, what is arrogant in the whip of truth? When people see white and call it yellow, can we call them wailing wailers, or should we just look the other way? Just asking: your conjectures and input are humbly solicited. As a Buharist, I offer these words of advice to Mr. President. Sir; incumbent on leadership all over the world is the ability to find the best men across all and every divide. There is an unwritten code for balance in every democracy and polity, from the UK to the US, from South Africa to Australia, from India to Bangladesh et al. Democracy is about plurality and inclusion, every region and religion has great men of credibility, integrity and experience. Do not oblige the accolade of praise singers who see you as infallible for such is manure to corruption and corruptive proclivities. It is noteworthy, however, that rather gracefully, Mr. President took wailing cynics to the cleaners through his Spokesmen, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina, who humbly admitted that balance in Federal Appointments is imperative and shall be maintained as it does not excuse mediocrity. Yes, need I say also that great minds fought from different trenches to berth this CHANGE and so many of them are competent to serve Mr. President and nation. To advocate the abolition of the normative of federal balance is to corruptively seek a redefinition of the margins of fairness, of justice and of equity. May I state without equivocation that Mr. President is like a husband married to six wives; he therefore must engage the best of all his children from the wives. He can get square pegs for square holes and round pegs for round holes by looking beyond the corruptive inveigle of court jesters and praise singers. As a patriot and a nationalist, I believe that the way to peaceful coexistence; that the way to oneness, true nationhood and confidence; and that the way to the brotherhood we crave must be watering the path of fairness.
I passionately believe that the present organizational minimum must be to get the best from the divides that make up Nigeria. And thank God we have a President that listens. Excellence cannot possibly excuse exclusion, and to those who think otherwise, there is nowhere in the world where the Chief Executive of a public trust is told that it does not matter who and where his staff come from. Excellence is not the exclusive preserve of any stock, colour, creed, clan or tendency.
I cannot conclude without lampooning the evident mischief and manifest scepticism of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode regarding the triteness of our union. I repudiate with vehemence his position that the Nigerian foundation is satanic. Rather laughably, it was not satanic when he was Special Assistant to Obasanjo, and when he became the Minister of Aviation, it was perhaps Godly. Wailing can be sickening and ungodly, particularly where one elects not to see his country beyond the prejudice of the electoral defeat of one’s principal or candidate.
Countrymen and women, conscious of the fact that racism is a deeper wound, a greater bias and a more infernal prejudice than ethnicity, we must aggregate at the place where truly though tongue and tribes differ, in brotherhood we stand. Yes, if South Africa, if Australia, if Canada, if the UK and the US et al can diminish the bias of race such that from a 13% black population, an African American President can occupy the White House, then we can thin down our dichotomies. If Ghana, a brother nation with more than five major tribes and counting, is not blaming the British for the ills of colonialism, we must concertedly resolve to make this union work. In the final analysis, what we need is responsible and responsive governance; what we must do is to slay sleaze and corruption; what we must encourage is the rejigging of the moral and ethical plexus of our public institution such that all corruptive and corruptible normative must be shamed; and the imperativeness of a profound national orientation paradigm must constitute the organic pathway to patriotism and make the boisterous nation we seek the unassailable quid pro quo. I believe that Nigeria is God’s tool for wonders, I am confident that Nigeria is God’s purpose for a new Africa and by Jove, the leader of the new world, Lord Lugard’s inadvertence accentuated by colonial greed was therefore providential and serving of both cosmic and supreme good. God Bless Nigeria.
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