The much-vaunted ‘integrity’ of President Muhammadu Buhari has been a tale almost every Nigerian has heard from different sources even before he became the leader in 2015.
However, this aspect of Buhari’s personality has been under severe scrutiny, especially when considering recent events during the run-up to the presidential election.
The recent actions of the Kano state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje after a series of videos depicting him soliciting for bribes flooded the social media sphere drew wide opprobrium from keen observers of the political landscape.
However, during the course of the presidential campaign, Buhari raised the hand of Ganduje to show his support for the governor’s second term bid on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
This led to a lot of people believing the touted integrity of the president is just the result of a well-oiled PR machine and that he is not different from the average Nigerian politician whose interest is anything but altruistic.
Buhari responded to the criticism of his endorsement of Ganduje by explaining that “under Nigerian laws, a suspect is presumed innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.”
What further brings this issue to fore was the shambolic behaviour demonstrated by thugs affiliated to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) but loyal to the outgoing governor of Ogun state, Ibikunle Amosun during the presidential campaign rally held in Abeokuta some weeks ago.
The hoodlums pelted Buhari with different objects after he raised the hand of the APC governorship candidate of the state, Dapo Abiodun with the security team hurriedly shielding the president from further attacks.
This prompted the APC to release a statement with an excerpt which reads, “This is one act of indiscipline too many. The APC will not condone acts of indiscipline, indiscretion and anti-party activities from any party member no matter how highly placed.”
Pardon my scepticism but methinks the president does not practise what he claims to preach with his stoic demeanour dividing the ranks of the ruling party as there are rumblings that he has favourites who are shielded from any sort of prosecution.
To further buttress my point, Amosun made reconciliatory moves by paying a visit to the State House last week; if this isn’t a president subtly encouraging anti-party activities, then I don’t know what else to call it.
Now picture this as the leader of a sovereign nation: a supposed party member arranged that you should be stoned if you dare raise up the hand of the party’s candidate.
He got suspended for this and other anti-party activities.
But you’re here smiling with him for the cameras a few days to the governorship election between the party’s candidate and his hand-picked candidate.
Either intentionally or subconsciously, Buhari does encourage indiscipline within the ranks of the APC which is a serious tar against his ‘integrity’ and war on corruption.
The bone of contention between Buhari and most of his critics is the double standard he applies on the issue of corruption against those in his good books and those in his bad books.
Most Nigerians would want the issue of corruption tackled decisively and dispassionately, no matter who is involved.
In fact, if Buhari’s cronies and even family members were made to face the law for any infraction, the public would give the President more support as a fair and honest leader.
This is how his ‘integrity’ passes the character test.