“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been’”- JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (1807-1892).
This didactic follow up to my piece WHEN PEACE MEETS CORRUPTION derives from an unflinching and remarkable penchant for optimism; yes, from a matchless proclivity for seeing the cup as half full not as half empty. The body language of President Mohammadu Buhari fuels this optimism even more, particularly now that there is hope that corruption and sleaze shall soon meet the guillotine.
Some may query my optimism and argue that such faith must stand on some empirical indices. I will not repudiate that position as the ranting of sceptics because it may just be an innocuous critique hinged on the hope that things will, should and must work, and that hope should and must be predicated on progressive and proactive temperaments and templates. On that score, I shall hasten to say that the words, nuances, commitment and avowals of Mr President are a precursor to interesting times.
Interesting is the functional word here, I cannot be more confident and hopeful that the days ahead holds out interesting and prolific times. For Critics, Opposition Politicians and Journalists who think that Mr President is slow and have dubbed him ‘Baba Go Slow’, our Dear President has conceded to a slow but an eventful start, we all know that within the first three months of his watch over this enterprise we have seen profound positives.
His shuttle diplomacy and its attendant global confidence building as well as the concomitant surge in foreign investments in Nigeria; the improvement in power supply; the thinning down of the frontiers of corruption; the rejigging of the Military to tackle terror; the repositioning of the NNPC along the lines of financial rectitude; the new single Federal Government account regime; and the surge in our Federation Account are halcyon mementoes of the pretty times in toll.
With an obfuscating call to slay sleaze and mortify corruption; with a yearning to deal an unhindered and monumental blow on electoral malfeasance; with a pervading call to cut job loss and diminish the poverty that stems from the melt-down that perennial power outage inspires; with workers’ yearning for a living wage because they are saddled with a take home pay that barely takes them home; with Billions of Dollars and Naira yet in the hands of those who pilfered our collective till; with our Federal roads decrepit; with violence, kidnapping and brigandage the norm in the Niger- Delta; with insurgency and terrorism in the North; with Kidnapping and Baby Factories the fad in the South East; and with Armed Robbery and ritualism the forte in the South West, Mr President has his job well cut out.
Our President must commit himself to the strident call to ensure a clean break from the past. Like he said at the Chatham House in London ‘If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria’, so the time to slay sleaze is now. He must purge the seat of government and ensure that a drastic departure from the past where governance was a Bazaar and profligacy the norm is etched on our national canvass. He must hasten to this task so that our critics will not lampoon our seeing the cup as half full, and deride our positivism.
Negativism is no one’s gain, but for politics the opposition would rather keep the watch on Mr President and by Jove on us his believers, they are sceptics not because they have chosen to overlook the interest that the horrendous sleaze that raped and left our economy bare-chested generates; they are critics not because they have decided to undermined the attention that monumental fraud, contract scams, alarming bribery and corruption throws up; they are profuse in their criticism because they are scared of the effect that a frontal affront on corruption holds; and Mr President must realise that more than any moment in our history, the time to slay sleaze and mortify corruption is now.
As you probe the immediate past regime, Nigerians are not oblivious of the multi-billion Dollar Siemens Scam and so is the Halliburton Scam. We are aware that the foreign conspirators in the scam are presently in jail serving time for sleaze; we are aware that the men who today bestride our political kaleidoscope as freemen were indicted in those malfeasance, the path to the new paradigm that we crave must therefore be such that the Nigerian conspirators in the Siemens and the Halliburton scams face the same fate and forfeit the benefits of corruption.
How more interesting and ennobling will it be should the corrective sword reach the street of the $13 billion or $16Billion Dollars Energy/ Power Scam (both figures shamelessly bandied at different times under the Obasanjo Administration), to ignore such monumental sleaze will cast an uncanny air of abrasive Puritanism, revanchist propensities and partisanship on the anti-corruption resume’ of the present regime, which I am sure that Mr President shall repudiate through proactive steps against sleaze. There must be no sacred hippos.
We are not oblivious of the melodrama that attended that scam, we remember how those who set out to find the looters of $16 Billion Dollars or so, ended up in Court for sharing 6Billion naira allegedly meant for Rural Electrification. To slay sleaze and corruption such monumental infraction and thieving must be revisited and so should the trillions of naira purportedly spent by previous regimes on Subsidy on Fuel and Allied products. We must redress the injustice and damage done by political actors and their collaborators to our public till and our collective morality.
We must nudge and encourage Mr President to do the needful else we would be caught in a cesspool; we must not give to the opposition reasons to adjudge us victims of excessive faith in Mr. President; we must applaud the fight against corruption and critically assess every step such that this government shall not at any point be guilty of abdicating her responsibility to the people by giving carte blanche to a cartel of villainous wolves to whom thieving and sleaze is faith.
Slaying sleaze and corruption will raise a new moral margin for a people and a nation whose mores and values have become thin. It will rekindle the burnt out coal of patriotism and teach posterity to label sleaze anathema and make corruption Shibboleth. Mr President must continue the ride to the Isle of rectitude and responsible leadership for such is the urgency of now.
We must reduce the hoopla that attends the present anti-corruption regime by diminishing the trial of corruption in the media, thank God that Mr President is naturally taciturn, and he must resist the urge of making outlandish pronouncements about the war on corruption, what Nigerians demand in the minimum are monuments of reference and pillars of deterrence, those who stole must be caught, tried, convicted and their loots returned to government coffers. Yes, we must slay corruption and sleaze. God Bless Nigeria.
Chris Nwaokobia Jnr
Director General CHANGE AMBASSADORS OF NIGERIA CAN.