Corruption: APC as Buhari’s handcuff By Ike Abonyi

To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/Many political watchers believe that even if the President would not be able to do much in other areas of governance like tackling the economy, he would at least be able to plug holes and prevent the brazen stealing going on in the country’s public service. He was also expected to discourage attention and prominence being given to persons who in one way or the other have illegally enriched themselves with public resources.

President Buhari was looked upon as coming with some kind of moral rearmament that could enhance positive societal values. Not unconnected with this backdrop therefore, Nigerians started hearing of the search for ‘saints’ who would assist the President to this expectation.

When the President started concentrating all his appointments in one geo-political zone, violating the constitutional requirements of federal character principle, his defenders said he probably was experiencing dearth of ‘saints’ among those known to him from the other zones and had to resort to the ‘saints’ within his own proximity, the Northern region. Unfolding events in the last five months of this administration areshowing that what the President is reaping is the harvest you get when you go to the farm with the wrong seed.

If, as the saying goes, what you sow is what you reap, how then can a government that surrounds itself with corrupt persons and which climbed to power sponsored with stolen money realistically wake up to say it can sincerely clean the Augean stable that had remained unclean for 30 years? This is even when there are rising doubts regarding the possession of the ingenuity and wizardry of Hercules who diverted the River Alpheus to clean the Augean stable.

After five months of waiting and searching for saints to form the cabinet and have technocrats brought in to tidy the mess in our socio-political and economic national life, what did we get, the same regular team with nothing new to indicate the expected change. Close associates of the President said most of the names in the ministerial list were not his intended ones, but he needed to accommodate the party, hence his decision to bring in some politicians, obviously including corrupt ones to prevent a revolt from the APC.

Perhaps this is the same way he would not be able to execute some cherished ideas, especially as it concerns corruption, because they would injure the susceptibilities of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains some of whom really should be in jail for their corrupt records but are now hiding under the umbrella of the ruling party.

If not, how do one explain the recent decision of a political party that came to power crusading to kill corruption before it kills Nigeria to turn around to find no other candidates to fly their flag for gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states but two former Governors of these states who are being persecuted by antigraft agency of the federal Government running in billions of naira. Though our law recognizes the innocence of a suspect until found guilty, it does not remove the moral burden of a suspect aspiring to His Excellency position. Is that not a subtle way of intimidating the agency to leave them alone that the offence of their thievery may have expired?

In Kogi state, for the November 21, 2015 governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu, a former governor who was once declared wanted by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for corruption, and who is now facing charges before the court, for breach of trust, embezzling and misappropriating of N10.9 billion meant for the development of his state is the only person Buhari’s party found worthy to be their flag bearer.

So also in Bayelsa state, where the APC is fielding, for the December 5 election, Chief Timipre Sylva, also a former governor of the state, who is similarly before the court on charges of embezzlement of a staggering sum of N19.2 billion belonging to the State.

Nigerians were already waiting to see President Buhari come forward to raise the hands of these two men as his own symbols of change in these two states so that they can sing farewell song to the anti-corruption crusade, but that would not happen because a concerned Buhari has covertly registered his protest to the party’s position by distancing himself from the candidates notwithstanding that they are of his party. According to his media aide, Femi Adesina, President Buhari would like to place on record that he has not adopted or endorsed the flag bearers.

“The attention of the President has been drawn to the pictures and news flying around that President Muhammadu Buhari has adopted the candidature of Prince Audu Abubakar. Let it be known that the President has not endorsed the candidature of both APC Bayelsa and Kogi candidates; he is yet to do the official endorsement pending when all the conditions of His Excellency are met.

“His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari has therefore ordered the removal of his pictures from the campaign materials of Prince Audu Abubakar and has directed the Director General Prince Audu Abubakar Campaign Organization to comply with this directive effective immediately,” the statement said.

The reaction did not end there, the President went further to disqualify Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was slated to head the National Campaign Committee for the coming Kogi governorship election for APC, forcing the disgraced APC leadership to shop for a replacement in Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello.

By this development of President Buhari distancing himself from the ugly situation created by his party, the picture is now clear to Nigerians who is the albatross to the President’s anti-corruption war. He has also vividly brought to the fore the insincerity, shameful irony and display of crass hypocrisy, the fact that a ruling party that prides itself as an anti-corruption crusader, will field candidates being held on corruption charges.

It is also a clear indication that the President and his party are on different pages in the anti-corruption book and the loud message here is that all the talks about fighting corruption by this administration may have been dead on arrival.

God save Nigeria if President Buhari fails in his anti-corruption fight.