I assume that every regular reader of this column already knows that I am unimpressed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
It is a fact that I have never shied away from ventilating and I have several reasons for it. The first and probably most important is that the President doesn’t have a good understanding of what he set out to fight and how such fights should be prosecuted in a democracy.
I discerned that the very first day Buhari mounted a rostrum in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to launch the campaign for his presidential bid. As I watched him threaten to jail corrupt people and put an end to the devious act, I thought if he wasn’t joking, he would end up in frustration of his failed ambition.
I do not think anyone succeeds in the fight against corruption by brawn. A productive war against corruption is a fight of the intellect. Corruption is a lucrative endeavor for those who have the opportunity to venture into it. Because it is lucrative, there is also an economy that it attracts, which means it is a collaborative undertaking, so the moment you identify a person as corrupt and announce your offensive you attract a colony of members of that the attention of the economic class that corruption has created and if you are unprepared, your well-meaning war would soon turn on its head.
So a key requisite to any meaningful battle against corruption is the recruitment of collaborators, who do not necessarily have to be saints themselves but are in influential positions to help or frustrate a president’s desire.
You cannot fight an anti-corruption war without being at ad idum with the head of the national assembly and the judiciary. Sometimes, you get the impression that in this anti-corruption fight; PMB is poised to make every other arm of government but himself and those in his cabinet, look dirty. What lone-ranging!
Now, I consider this to be a factor of the lack of understanding of the anatomy of the situation he planned to battle which bred the President’s initial error and the serial missteps that have followed.
Of course, government and its supporters have very easily taken solace in the lame cliché “corruption is fighting back” to explain every backlash, such that no one but those close to PMB are above board to the understanding of many of their supporters.
I do not think there is any more profound fallacy than this tired mantra of “corruption fighting back” as is being bandied around.
I do not know how much the government thinks it will benefit from telling Nigerians this worn-out lie, what I am sure of is that it hurts the process more than they imagine, since that assumption summarily smothers the likelihood of any reinvention!
So the government has been with so much zeal without any skill. No introspection, no recalibration, it’s the jorojarajoro way, a la Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
It is this same passion without strategy that agencies of the administration have brought into its crusad. The past two years seem to have been determinedly focused doing everything to show Nigerians that the anti-corruption war is on course. And in achieving that, cases may not be resolutely investigated before being rushed to court, people can be shamelessly named and shamed, newspapers can be cajoled into subjecting people to presumptuous trials and monies can be recovered without their proprietors being identified and so on and so forth.
Concerning the last point, I find the recovery of monies and display of same for the attention of millions of Nigerians who do not know where the next meal will come from as indicative of the mindless incompetence that reigns in the almighty anti-corruption initiative.
An agency gets a tip off about some monies in some apartment and moves in without identifying its owners in the same way a market woman would. And then you advertise that incompetence to the world on the strength of your determination to show that you are doing some good work. At the end of the day, a sister agency claims ownership of the huge recovery and you suddenly go dumb!
What this tells perceptive people is that you are not on top of your game, that you only act on whims and that the government for which you work is a huge Babel where every single agency runs on ego and self-glorification. When such happens, we will neither find clues to the owners of the monies said to have been recovered, nor arrive at the end of the pervasive corruption that we hoped to fight.
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