The truth shall make us free, says the Bible. We all must try to speak the truth and give credit where credit is due. I am fully aware that there is always a political overlay and undertone in writing this kind of article, but I feel compelled to write it and damn the consequence because all that it takes for evil to triumph is for concerned citizens to see evil and look the other way. I am neither a politician nor a card-carrying member of any political Party in Nigeria. I therefore feel qualified to speak up in the hope and belief that the younger generation can learn something.
The New York-based SaharaReporters Media Company, led by their publisher and CEO, Omoyele Sowore, has become the most effective champion fighting corruption in Nigeria. I don’t care about what sick and grumpy old man President Buhari and his Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, might have been saying to the contrary from their bully pulpit in Aso Rock. Buhari is a huge disappointment any way you cut it, if the truth be told.
I used to think the whole world of Buhari in years past, but not anymore. I considered him the lesser of two evils compared to Goodluck Jonathan who led the demolition derby of the PDP for 6 terrible years before he was ousted in 2015. I actually went all out to campaign and write articles supporting change in Nigeria because I thought I knew Buhari as an honest leader who was going to stop or minimize all of the malfeasance and financial strangulation of Nigeria by the PDP and that the APC was going to be far better than it has proved to be.
Yes, Buhari did a few laudable things to stabilize the Nigerian economy by introducing the bank verification number (BVN) to the Nigerian banking sector, thereby achieving through the back door what the National Identity Program could not do and by more or less making the BVN a limited social security scheme for Nigerians who are old and rich enough to keep and run a bank account. Making sure that all government revenues are no longer paid into multiple amorphous accounts like it was under all of his predecessors as President was a smart move and a master stroke, but it is hardly enough.
All of those initiatives have helped to bring some accountability to the squander mania and looting of the Nigerian treasury by the ruling elites of Nigeria, but he should and could have done more but did not, because he was either too sick or too weak to fully help himself. He surely does not possess some of the natural attributes and inclinations of a Murtala Mohammed, President Kagame of Rwanda or President Magufuli of Tanzania who believed in leading by example and who did not send mixed messages by what they say and what they end up doing, as Buhari is doing.
Above all, Nigerians have now discovered, much to their dismay, that the PDP and the APC are nothing but two sides of the same coin. One is decidedly worse than the other but they are both irredeemably corrupt and pathetic.
For instance, the PDP and President Jonathan refused to bring General Momoh to book for his role in rigging Ekiti elections for Governor Fayose and the PDP on June 20, 2014 but chose to victimize Army Captain Koli who chose to expose the rigging. SaharaReporters exposed the rigging, but President Buhari was just too complacent to address the horrendous development with utmost urgency, and when he took action he seemed to have done it with palpable hesitation and reluctance. General Momoh ought to have been fired or retired immediately after Buhari took office, and Captain Sagir Koli ought to have received immediate gratification and recognition for what he did as a worthy whistle blower.
Jonathan made his Security Adviser, Colonel Dasuki, his ATM to loot the Nigerian treasury. Buhari is doing pretty much the same thing today by allowing Dr. Baru, his Managing Director at the NNPC, to break all the rules and protocols and to turn the NNPC into his own private estate because he saw himself as a sacred cow who has the ear of the President and could bypass his boss, Kachikwu, to award contracts worth $25 billion without any outrage from Mr. Clean the President.
There are few individuals, like Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and a few others in the APC who appear less corrupt and would probably have done a better job than Buhari if elected President, but Nigeria suffers from the jinx of putting all its bets on the weakest link in the chain more often than not.
Corrupt and tarnished individuals like Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and other vampires like Dino Melaye are both APC senators but they are looting the Nigerian treasury as if they have never left the PDP. President Buhari is just too weak and too crippled to call them to order or sanction them in any way. The APC controls the majority in both houses of parliament but Buhari could not use that majority to abrogate or amend the immunity clause in the obnoxious Nigerian Constitution to meet the popular demand of the great majority of Nigerians.
I knew Buhari way back when he was only a Captain in the Nigerian Army and before his promotion to Major, as I was Assistant Secretary Army in the Nigerian Army Headquarters for close to three years at the time. Like most northerners in the Nigerian military, I knew Buhari as a ramrod straight Fulani guy from Daura. He has always been a sacred cow but was a very upright and disciplined one at the time. As he progressed by promotion in the chain of command, he had become at one point in his career the Military Governor of the North Eastern State, out of which no fewer than 6 states have now been created, and long before 1983, when he finally became Head of State for 20 months through another coup led by himself and Tunde Idiagbon.
Before his tenure as President, Buhari always held the most lucrative and juicy jobs in Nigeria and could have easily become a multi-millionaire like Olusegun Obasanjo, Theophilus Danjuma,, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Buhari is no longer the Buhari I used to know. The man who has to borrow some N27 million to buy his party’s nomination card for President knew he had to do something to help himself. The complete transformation or metamorphosis has already taken place. The man may never have seen the four walls of a university and many dispute the fact that he even completed high school, but the man is not a dummy by any stretch of the imagination. Buhari surely knows how to chart his course to get to where he needs to be in the Nigerian military establishment but not how to drain the swamp of corruption in Nigeria.
Buhari’s hands are not completely clean, either. His alliance and camaraderie with the Jagaban Asiwaju Tinubu’s ACN in the Southwest was a good and strategic move that paid off big time and got him the civilian presidency on a platter of gold after three failed attempts over a period of 30 years. He knew enough not to resign as President despite his failing health so the State and Nigerian tax payers can continue to pick up his hospital bills.
The guy is alive today because of oil money from the South and he is still bent on running again even if he has to be carried to his swearing ceremony on a stretcher from his hospital bed in large part because the North would never let anyone rob them of their chance to complete their 8 years in the seat of power. Any President who would make Ayo Fayose look rational in some of his criticisms of him cannot be a dependable leader in my opinion. Buhari is that kind of leader right now.
Buhari has lost credibility as a corruption fighter. His new policy is to join them if he cannot beat them. As I see it, the true corruption fighters in Nigeria are Rudolf Okonkwo and Adeola Fayehun of SaharaReporters with their regular slots on YouTube. If I had to choose a President of Nigeria today, my first pick would be either Omoyele Sowore, Rudolf Okonkwo or Adeola Fayehun for their stances on corruption and other malfeasance in Nigeria.
Buhari’s poor handling of the recent feud between Baru and Kachikwu demonstrates that the president is past his prime and should simply retire so he can take care of his health. In the feud, Buhari has sided with Dr. Baru and to award contracts worth $25 billion without going through the Tenders Board or his supervisory Minister.
The born-to-rule NNPC Managing Director has direct access that was denied the junior Minister of Petroleum, who dances around in his village as a titular War Chief wearing a toga made from the skin of a leopard like the public crier who accompanies the Oonirisa everywhere he goes. Kachikwu is nothing more than a paper tiger in his role as junior Petroleum Minister. The tail is wagging the dog in the NNPC. He and Dr. Baru finally went to Abuja to have the President adjudicate their feud. Guess who won? It was Dr. Baru for sure. Buhari is just too weak, too biased and compromised to lead any corruption fight in Nigeria.
Rudolf Okonkwo and Adeola Fayehun of SaharaReporters have put their search light on the scandal with their satire programs on YouTube in language all Nigerians can understand. What baffles me in the unfolding drama is the fact that nothing would appear to have changed in Nigeria. Corruption is worse off today anywhere you look in Nigeria, including the judiciary where it is so hard to get justice. There are few saints and local champions to be found, here and there, but they are clearly in the minority and they are unsung heroes who hardly get noticed.
In 1986, I attended an interview with 12 other candidates for the job of Deputy General Manager to the Allajah Steel Complex near Warri. Mr. Fred Brume was the Managing Director at the time while late Ambassador Martin Adelusimo Adegbulu and Chief Luyi Rotimi, a Deputy MD of the Nigerian Stock Exchange at the time, were all on the interview panel.
Chief Luyif Rotimi had come to stand in for his boss Mr. Alile the MD of the Nigerian Stock Exchange at the time. Mr. M.A Adeyanju from Ekiti was Secretary for Mines and Power in charge of the Steel Complex which was supervised by the Ministry of Mines and Power headed by Professor Tam David West as Federal Commissioner under President Ibrahim Babangida with Chief Oluyemi Falae as Secretary to Government as I recall.
I came first at the Interview with a score of 78 out of 100 with my runner-up scoring 62. I was to get the job by the unanimous consensus of the panel. But guess who eventually got the job? It was one sacred cow Mohammed from Kano who came from nowhere and who did not even attend the interview. It was the last straw that broke the Camel’s back for me. That was one of the reasons I decided to retire from the Federal Public Service, and to check out of Nigeria and to permanently relocate to America. Only God knows how many southerners were discriminated against like that and forced to flee the country out of frustration.
I tell this story not to gloat but to emphasize the need for change in our leaders and the born-to-rule streak of the average northerner and their feeling of entitlement to do as they like because of their state of origin.
I guess the northerners are not the only ones to blame, the few southerners like Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, were equally guilty of the same malfeasance, but the most guilty were the northerners who ruled Nigeria for close to 38 years of military rule in Nigeria and under civilian Presidents like Shehu Shagari and Umara Yar'adua.
I recall that the Sokoto Prince and London School of Economics product, named “Triple A” Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Finance for many years was a good example. He used to behave pretty much like Dr. Baru under President Shehu Shagari as I recall. He was even more powerful than the President. I am not knocking him now for what he did. He was, in fact, a very brilliant man and one of the best Permanent Secretaries to come from the North but he knew he was a born-to-rule and he did not shy away from using that leverage and influence.
Nigeria will never have peace and stability and there is going to be agitation for restructure or break-up and more autonomy and justice from the double standard and emotional bondage that most southerners are subjected to in the Commonwealth of Nigeria because the more things appear to change in Nigeria, the more they remain the same. I was pissed off by Dr. Baru’s behavior and the way it was handled by President Buhari.
The only organization I know fighting corruption in Nigeria with consistency and with the persistence of a demon is the SaharaReporters and their two ace reporters, namely Rudolf Okonkwo (aka Dr. Damages) and Adeola Fayehun, host of “Keeping It Real.”
You would have thought that Buhari and his government would have joined hands with Sahara to seriously confront corruption in Nigeria. But rather than doing that, Buhari and his government appear to see Omoyele Sowore and his SaharaReporters as enemies to be persecuted and pilloried and frustrated and discredited.
The current President of the Nigerian Senate Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye, one of the most corrupt senators and juggernauts in the so-called APC, have both declared war on Sahara and doing everything in their power to persecute and intimidate the company and to shut it down if they can with spurious charges and futile litigations that cannot be sustained or won in a court of law.
President Buhari is an accomplice in that effort because he is just too weak to call his party men to order or simply show leadership or some gratitude for what Omoyele Sowore and his team have been doing. I know Omoyele and I know he would never let go on his mission to wrestle corruption to the ground regardless of any harassment or intimidation by the Buhari or the forces of evil within his government.
Rudolf Okonkwo and Adeola Fayehun have become the gold standard for exposing corruption in Nigeria and fighting it with their God-given talent. I am therefore dedicating this article to the two amiable and brilliant reporters.
Take it or leave it. The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious and those like Omoyele Sowore, Rudolf Okonkwo and Adeola Fayehun and their team at Sahara who are bending over backwards to fight corruption in Nigeria and to make a difference despite all of the obstacles placed on their way by some individuals in the government.
I rest my case.