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APC’S Political Auctions And Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Fight

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The Insight

By Lateef Adewole

When you think you have seen it all, then boom! Another bursts. If there is anything remaining to be celebrated in the current administration, it is no longer any fight against corruption. The lows that the expectations have previously sunk, kept being surpassed by subsequently evolving events.

In the last two weeks, some events happened that made nonsense of all the noise about fighting corruption. Understandably, there are too many cases that have been abandoned, mishandled, albeit deliberately or completely thrown away, that we no longer keep track of them. Many people do not bother their heads about this administration waging any war against corruption any more.

It was with great shock that many received the news of the pardon of two corrupt and convicted former governors of Plateau and Taraba; Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, respectively. The two were convicted after they were found guilty of stealing public funds while at the helms in their states to the tune of N1.16 billion by Dariye and N1.6 billion by Nyame. These two cases used to be the flagship of achievement which the administration used for bragging right, that they were serious about the anti-corruption crusade before.

Truly, as at the time of those convictions, no one could dispute that claim, given that the cases have dragged for many years during the previous administration which could not secure judgements, until President Buhari, the “anti-corruption champion” came. However, that claim may no longer be valid and recent events seem to controvert it.

In the last six years, I have continously drawn attention to the seeming lackluster and insincerity in the fight against corruption, based on events that often happened. One critical basis for which the president was supported in 2015 was the “perception” that he is not corrupt and that he would fight it to a standstill. And truly, many “obvious” signs pointed to that, plus the manner in which we were serenaded with his ascetic lifestyles as evidences. I cannot begin to recall all of them here.

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In the history of Nigeria, one person who has occupied great positions of opportunities with “juicy” portfolios (in Nigerian parlance), including the highest office as a military head of state, but was not smeared with “personal or obvious” corruption allegations is General Muhammadu Buhari(Rtd.) of then. He held many offices in the Army. He was appointed Federal Commissioner for Petroleum, he was a Military Administrator of a state, and Chairman of Petroleum Trust Funds.

All these positions, many Nigerians would kill to occupy them. In all of them, apart from tangential allegations here and there, nowhere was he accused of directly stealing public funds, like it was often the case with many others who have had such opportunities. For many decades after being ousted, he was said to be living frugally, despite being a former head of state, unlike his contemporaries. His pictures up to 2015 could attest to that. His house in Daura then was a bungalow in a public Housing Estate. Not GRA! Same thing in Kaduna.

This is completely at variance with the lifestyles of other former heads of state or presidents, who on exiting office, always retired into opulence, living in palatial homes equivalent of the presidential villa; “The Aso Rock”, from where they retired. They all live on “Hilltops”, whether in Abeokuta or in Minna. These houses built, definitely not with their salaries while in offices. Some own their private jets, businesses, bank accounts in Nigeria and abroad, stuffed with huge funds, far and beyond their “official” incomes all their working lives. But, that “was” not Buhari we knew till 2015. He also was known for his anti-corruption fight while he was the head of state between 1983 and 1985, with his bossom friend, late Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon.

So, when his campaign towards 2015 was centered on fighting corruption, Nigerians believed him. However, their expectations must have been dashed countless times, with the latest pardon of convicted public looters as the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Who would have thought that a day like this will come? I can remember vividly how the current Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, then the spokesman for the opposition party, ACN, and his party, were very critical of the former President Jonathan, when he pardoned his former boss, Dieprieye SP Alemieyesigha, now late.

His case was not even as bad as this since he had completely served his jail term. These “new executive pardonees” have barely started serving their jail terms. To add salt to injury, rumours had it that they are likely to pick forms to go to Senate on the platform of APC, a party that President Buhari is the national leader, to make laws for us. What then is the difference between now and the PDP era they viciously attacked and condemned for corruption while in opposition, upon which they rode to power?

In the early years of the administration, I wrote an article: “APC and PDP: Two Sides of a Political Coin”. There, I stated that there was no difference between APC and PDP, based on the membership at the time, that over 60% of their members were prominent past members of PDP. Only minority from the Tinubu’s ACN caucus and Buhari’s CPC caucus, among the legacy parties, were never in PDP at one point or another, in their political journey. PDP was the incubating political party since 1999.

That my assertion about five years ago was further reinforced in 2022 and I have been vindicated, after the APC elected, or should I say “selected or anointed” their National Working Committee (NWC) members in their recently concluded nation convention. Over 80% of the key party positions, from the Chairman to the National Secretary, to Deputy National Secretary, to National Auditor, Women Leader, Vice Chairmen, and many others, are all former stalwarts of PDP all their previous political lives until 2014, some as recently as last year. They were former governors, lawmakers, appointees and NWC members of PDP. That is the kind of “ideology-less” politicians and political parties we have. They are all the same.

Again, if someone told Nigerians before 2015, that the party, which President Buhari would lead in the following four or eight years, would one day, sell its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms at such an outrageous amount, as humongous as more than allocations of many Local Government Areas per month, it would be hard to believe. But it is happening right in our very eyes, under the leadership of the president.

To recall that it is the same Buhari who complained of the cost of the same nomination forms for his party in 2014, that it was too much at N27.5 million only. He even claimed that he could not afford it and had to borrow money from the bank to buy it. We hope “baba” has paid off that loan! The price increased to N55 million in 2018, but was later reduced to N45 million after criticism.

Now in 2022, the party have the temerity, and shamelessly too, to sell the nomination and expression of interest forms for the presidency at a whooping N100 million. Many of their party members were as shocked as the rest of us, and could not believe it. Even Dr. Chris Ngige said he had only saved N50 million for it as an aspirant. How will he raise the balance now or is that how his aspiration will crash-land before even taking off? The same for other positions. They have been increasing over the years. Now, candidates for governorship positions will cough out N50 million, Senate N20 million, Reps N10 million and State House of Assembly N2 million.

All these money are to be paid by “aspirants”, who will have to slug it out to get a single ticket for which many of them are contesting in each position. It is no guarantee but a “gamble”. PDP is following far behind with presidency N40 million, governorship N21 milion, Senate N3.5 million, Reps. N2.5 million and State House of Assembly at N600 thousand.

How can such criminally outrageous amounts be explained to poverty-stricken citizens dying of hunger? How can it be justified to the people by their leaders, under who their country became the poverty capital of the world and later moved to second position? How can this administration explain this to the students who have been out of schools due to ASUU strike in the past 67 days? How can workers, whose minimum wage is N30,000. and many states could still not pay, be convinced that this is normal? How can any Nigerian be made to understand this when the unemployment rate is now 33%, headline inflation 15.7 and food inflation 17.2%, naira on free fall, insecurities are on alarming increase? And on and on.

Even as a President of Nigeria, it will take him nearly four years of saving 100% of his annual salary of N28million to be able to raise N100 million. That position is quite attractive for anyone to be ready to gamble such amount to vie for primary election that is not sure. As if it will solve the problem, 40% discount was approved for aspirants under 35 years of age. This must have been done to hoodwink the youths and make them feel included and concerned for. How so?

In Nigeria of today, how many under 35 have ever seen or made N60 million and or can afford to cough out such amount to purchase the forms at that discounted price? This is so much for the deceptive “Not Too Young To Run” law signed by the same president in 2018. At every turn, the political leadership in the country always find ways to exclude the youths and ordinary citizens. The political positions are now for the highest bidders- auction! They have conveniently sold them to the moneybags. Is that the legacy the president promised Nigerians?

Since this APC’s political auctions started, we have seen “volunteers and good Samarithans”, who “love” their preferred aspirants so much that they have paid for the forms. In fact, there are some who have contributed hundreds of millions of naira for the same purpose for their chosen presidential aspirants. That is “political investment”. Sowing of seed!

When aspirants have to literally break banks, just to buy nomination forms, and then spend billions of Naira for the real contest as the candidates, at the general elections, how are they expected to recoup their “investments”, if not through illicit dealings? How can such political office holders be expected to fight corruption when the very foundation upon which they got into office was corruption-ridden? This is the bane of the country. No corruption would be genuinely fought as long as this kind of monetised political merchandising continues. We are going nowhere. Corruption fight is dead on arrival!

While all these shenanigans are going on, no one is talking about the train attack victims who are still in the kidnappers’ den again, like thousands of known and unknown others across the country. Many of these aspirants are not even engaging the people by tell us what they intend to do differently. How they intend to save the country from the grip of terror? How the economy will be rescued. How to save the downward drifting naira. How hunger will not kill the masses due to high cost of foods. Only to be jogging up and down.

We are a people like ostrich that buries its head in the sand. There are fundamental problems that our leaders refused to or did not want to address before all these election jamboree will take place. With this dysfunctional structure in Nigeria today, the country will be moving in circle, no matter who becomes the president. The need to get a truly people’s constitution has been overemphasised but the people in authority will have none of that, since they benefit from its anomalies. Many of these fundamental issues need to be addressed if we ever want to move forward as a country. Nigeria is not working as presently constituted.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

Email: lateefadewole23@gmail.com
Whatsapp: +2348179512401
You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole

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