The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has anchored his campaigns to fight corruption if elected president come March 28, 2015. But looking critically at the various political parties: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian People Party (ANPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a faction of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) that merged to form the APC had been in power in one way other in some states since 1999 without prosecuting anybody for corrupt practices. Are the aforementioned political parties that merged to form the APC saying there are no corrupt people in the states they controlled before they merged?
The manner the APC and its presidential candidate Gen. Buhari talk about corruption makes one thinks that corruption is peculiar to the Federal Government alone. If corruption is limited to the federal government, corruption will not be a problem in this country after all. This is because those that run the affairs of the country at the federal level are insignificant in number when compared to those in the 36 states. Thus, the APC campaigns have ignorantly exonerated the states of corruption; this is not the reality as corruption is also endemic at both the state and local council tiers of government.
However, the concern of this writer is that if the states controlled by the APC have not prosecuted anybody for corruption one wonders how the party will be able to achieve this feat when it assumes leadership at the federal level. This is owing to the fact that charity begins at home. If the APC controlled states have not prosecuted anybody for corrupt practices at the state level, how will it be able to contain it at the federal level? Maybe the APC believes it can combat corruption at the federal level under the illusion that their presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari combated corruption while he was military head of state. But did Gen. Buhari fight corruption as being promoted by the APC? Gen. Buhari did not combat corruption as military head but only succeeded in applying the power of the gun to intimidate and punish innocent Nigerian politicians!
When Gen. Buhari seized power from President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983, he arrested and hurled into jail the following politicians: Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Governors Ambrose Ali, Ape Aku, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Lateef Jakande, Chief Bola Ige, Sam Nbakwe, Bisi Onabanjo, Jim Nwobodo, Abba Musa Rimi, Awaal Muhammed Ibrahim, Melford Okilo, all of Bendel, Benue, Ondo, Lagos, Oyo, Imo, Ogun, Anambra, Kaduna, Niger and Rivers States respectively were tried in a military tribunal headed by Air Vice-Marshal Muktar Mohammed without being accorded fare hearing in the regular courts. His victim-governors were not granted bail so they spent all the period of the trial in custody as if they were already convicted! This negated the 1979 Constitution which was operational before Buhari seized power; that constitution presumed every accused Nigerian innocent until proven guilty. At the end of the phoney trial the captives were handed sentences ranging from 21 to 144 years!
Most ridiculous about this show of might and power derived from the barrel of the gun was those of Ape Aku, Chief Bola Ige and Chief Adekunle Ajasin. Ape Aku was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for borrowing N50,000 from Benue Breweries! When has borrowing money becomes a crime? The crime of Chief Bola Ige was that he donated N21,000 to his political party, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). The Buhari’s tribunal did not bother to ascertain whether the money was donated from his salary and allowances or proceeds of corruption. Chief Adekunle Ajasin was tried three times but was acquitted of all charges of corruption yet he was detained indefinitely because Buhari was dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial which was against his preconceived mind-set. Till date, Gen. Buhari did not show remorse over the flagrant incarceration of innocent Nigerians for the crimes they did not commit! Is this how to combat corruption?
Corruption is not new in the world; God regretted of destroying the world over corruption. That God regretted for destroying the world over corruption clearly demonstrated the fact that brute force cannot be used to combat corruption. Did Buhari’s brute force stop corruption in Nigeria? Never! Has capital punishment discouraged armed robbery and drug peddling? This is why President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for applying unconventional method to combat corruption; blocking the loopholes. The removal of middlemen from the distribution of fertilizers has helped to save about N1.1 trillion annually! So also is the introduction of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) which has helped to removed 50,000 ghost workers from the Federal Civil Service leading to the saving of N160 billion annually. Online banking and the use of Automated Teller Machines which enable account holders to withdraw money from any branch of their banks has also helped to reduce armed robbery attacks in the homes and highways. This is so because Nigerians no longer keep money in their homes or convey huge amount of money on transits simply because they want to buy goods in other parts of the country. This was not possible before the banking reform where one can only make withdrawals from the branch of the bank where the account is domiciled.
The APC should begin the war against corruption from the states it currently controls because charity begins at home; it should not wait until it assumes leadership at the federal government. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari did not combat corruption but used the power of the gun to punish innocent Nigerians.