“Justice cannot be for one side alone but must be for both.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
To a keen observer of 2015 APC presidential campaign,
the question as to whether Buhari will probe past governments on been elected was somewhat obfuscated. At the prologue, the statement “I will fight corrupt officials,” was the common denominator in the gamut of all that Buhari said. When the drama actually started, the question was fillip-flopped. At the epilogue –in the wake of shift to 28 March, Nigerians awoke to the news headline: “Buhari: I won‘t probe past govts.”
APC and Buhari in this their last ditch effort to win the election observed that probing past administrations will amount s to waste of time and distractions. According Buhari, “anyone who embezzles even a single kobo afterwards, will not only be made to refund it, but will face prosecution as from May 29, 2015 if elected.”
With the election done and dusted, and with Buhari now the elected president of Nigeria, the script was changed. Buhari deemed it fit to be himself –at least for a moment. Hence another headline popped up: “Buhari will probe only Jonathan’s government.”
Why this about-face? And why must it be only Goodluck Jonathan’s administration? Inferentially, two reasons will do:
1. Buhari is a man that craves for international recognition and trust. And he can’t gain that without probing the corrupt officials.
2. The decision was the child of the trauma he suffered after his inauguration –whether to belong to some people or to nobody and everybody.
The announcement generated a helluva –as expected –of hue and cry across geopolitical zones, ethnic cleavages and political divides – even among clergies. The revered political scientist and catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese –Hassan Kukah –in an interview with the channels TV averred that Buhari should “stop talking too much about probe and concentrate” in his work. He stated uncompromisingly that “probe is not a substitute for governance.” Bishop Kukah didn’t go Scott free but was bombarded by missile of disparagement from citizen journalists that dwell in the ambience of twitter. The sultan of Sokoto – Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar on his own part, advised Buhari that “those found guilty [of looting] should not only have their assets seized and forfeited to government but also they should face jail sentences.” Nigerians at the beer parlours and follow members of Free Readers Association were not left aside they did contribute in the said issue.
In all these arguments, one thing is crystal clear : For our democracy to work, corrupt politicians should never be canonized but should be brought to their real place –Kirikiri maximum prisons –so that upcoming ones will understand that leadership is a double edged sword that ought to be wielded with caution and utmost propriety.
But in so doing, justice, impartiality and fairness should be the watchwords. And this usher us into the primary task of this piece –puncturing Buhari’s selective prosecution.
In jurisprudence, selective prosecution comes to bare when a person or group of persons are selectively picked in a pool of like minds to be prosecuted not just because of the crime they committed but because of their ethnic group , colour, ideology –and in this case because of the administration they worked under.
This was the case in the infamous Obasanjo’s administration when the Ribadu led EFCC was transformed into political witch-hunting machine. Many corrupt politicians then didn’t know that the anti-graft agency exist because they were dancing every tune that their piper –Obasanjo –played. Just a little fall out, EFCC will be knocking at your door. Contact Alamieyeseigha and Ibori for the rest of the story.
So is Buhari trying to wear the cloak of Obasanjo? Why must it be only Goodluck Jonathan’s regime? And why will other administrations be spared? Buhari by this decision is telling us that nothing has change in Nigeria. He has leaped into the bandwagon with the inscription –operation brings down all the GEJ men! He must have studied Obasanjo’s regime very well –Ribadu must be laughing now!
Even before the announcement, Goodluck Jonathan has already leaned to the defense of selective prosecution. In advising the then incoming Buhari’s administration the former president maintained: “if you are very sincere,” in fighting corruption, “then it is not only Jonathan administration that you probe.” Continuing, he observed that a probe that centered solely on his administration will amounts to “witch hunt.” “…in Nigeria, there are a lot of many things that will be probed, very many things, even debts owed by states and debts owed by this country from 1960 up to this point .”
This unsolicited advice by Goodluck Jonathan was not just more logical than emotional but it also x-rayed the dumbness that beguiled the former’s administration. He knew all these and did nothing! But that said, Buhari should have listened to him.
In a country like Nigeria, where many people analyzed politics through the binoculars of ethnicity and religion, Buhari should have known that selective prosecution portends an enticing box calling Pandora to open.
Adesina’s argument in supporting his Oga lacks logic! Many legs are sticking out in IBB’s regime; they are sticking out Abdulsalami’s regime; they are sticking out in ObJ’s second coming and Nigerians are yet to know the bazaar of looting that took place when Yar’adua was having a date with the grim reaper in the Saudi hospital. So why must it be only Goodluck Jonathan’s government?
If Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade is to be credible, it needs to be applied against the third and all the fourth republican administrations and not just that of Goodluck Jonathan alone. All living corrupt leaders must be brought to book.
Having said that, fighting corrupt leaders is just a one side of corruption coin that Buhari’s administration is expected to fight. The other side is the corruption with the followership.
Nigerian society itself is awash with corruption. Rarely do you see an aspect of Nigerian society that has not been brought down by corruption. So you see fighting corrupt officials alone is not enough.
So the only way to reduce corruption to the barest minimum in Nigeria is by restructuring our institutions to checkmate itself –that is the secret behind American success story.
Corruption in Nigeria is hydra headed and it “fights you back when you fight it.” For Buhari to adequately fight corruption in Nigeria, he must live above party politics, Sagay’s led panel must be enjoy independence, and more importantly, he has to divorce his beautiful wife Aisha and be betrothed to the legal damsel –Themis.
Asikason Jonathan wrote in from Lapai, Niger state.