INTEGRITY: AGAINST WHAT STANDARDS?

The Oasis Reporters

December 29, 2018

The person of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has largely been seen and described by many of his admirers as an epitome of Integrity or incorruptibility.
For a start let us work based on a simple definition of the noun ” Integrity ” which the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines as ” The quality of being honest and fair “. Another word closely allied to integrity is “Incorruptible” the same Dictionary defines it as “very honest; incapable of being corrupted or incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted “.

Muhammadu Buhari because of his lifestyle dating back to his years in the military was largely seen and adjudged as an honest person. He once served as Military Governor of the then North Eastern State and as Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister after which he became the General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army. It was from this position that he became Head of State for almost 2 years only to be overthrown by the gap – toothed General Ibrahim Babangida. His regime which had the very tough Major Gen. Tunde Idiagbon very firmly in the driver’s seat is still being remembered for the efforts it made in trying to get the nation to do things the right way and did very well at enforcing discipline.

In much of the North of this country, Muhammadu Buhari was simply being referred to or addressed in the Hausa language as “mai gaskiya” which translates to ” The Honest One”. The high standards of personal and official discipline in the conduct of affairs in this nation much as it won the regime many admirers, it paradoxically became its albatross because a gang of largely like minded officers conspired and staged another coup which toppled him. He was to spend some time in detention until his eventual release and retirement to a quiet life until Gen Sani Abacha, as Military Head of State appointed him Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund in recognition of his integrity and or incorruptibility.

Questions however arose regarding the choice of Afri Consortium a firm owned or headed by a certain Ahmad Salijo, a Fulani and Quantity Surveyor from Adamawa State. The conduct of business by Afri Consortium particularly in the award of contracts under the PTF appeared not to have be transparent enough in the eyes and minds of many critics and while the criticism was gaining ground, Mr Salijo died in very suspicious circumstances and more sadly and regrettably, the cause of this sudden death was never investigated. it can very safely be concluded that the PTF died with Mr Salijo.

After the PTF folded up with the demise of its creator Gen Sani Abacha, Muhammadu Buhari returned to his usual quiet lifestyle. In due course, Muhammadu Buhari who many saw as a dictator while he was a Military Head of State decided to try out a role in the democratic space. He joined the ANPP taking a shot at the presidency but lost. He did not give up as he tried again to be president twice more and lost a third time, the last time in 2011 on the platform of the CPC. After this defeat , he announced his decision to retire from the political space but wait a minute, do politicians actually retire?
In the case of Muhammadu Buhari the answer, an emphatic No because he could not resist the temptation of coming out of retirement to contest in the 2015 general elections which his political party the APC very easily won.

But as we have all been witnessing, it is much easier winning power but quite a different thing managing the power. Muhammadu Buhari’s incorruptible credentials have taken a bartering not essentially because anyone has advanced any credible case of corruption against the person of the president but for other tangential reasons. The centrality of the issues in the argument include how the president’s integrity can remain intact when he is surrounded by a cartel of bandits. Some of those surrounding the president or meeling along the corridors of power in Aso Rock have variously been accused of being fantastically corrupt previously. By becoming very close associates of the president does it automatically exculpate them of having been corrupt?
There has been an anti corruption war underway prosecuted by the anti corruption czar, Ibrahim Magu which many Nigerians have been saying is targeting only political opponents. The anti corruption czar himself had variously been accused of being fantastically corrupt if the tales of properties he is said to own in Dubai is eventually proven to be true.

In reply to the critics of Buhari’s anti corruption war, the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed did say that the APC was investigating PDP’s yesterday adding that any party that would come to power aside the APC could or should investigate their today. This response is soothing news to us since it will provide the opportunity to conduct an anti corruption surgery on the cadaver of the APC when the time comes for surely that time is coming much earlier than Alhaji Lai Mohammed may be expecting.

There is the VEXED question of drawing a fine line between material corruption and moral corruption. The evidence of material corruption can very easily be seen and evaluated but what about moral corruption?
When for example the police arrests a group of suspected criminals there could well be a few persons who may not be the actual criminals sought, the police will normally have to meticulously sort out the guilty from the innocent but in doing that, the innocent suffer. What about a situation in which corrupt money is deployed to help an otherwise honest and seemingly incorruptible candidate win in an election ?
What judgement should society pass on the candidate who benefited from the outcome largely influenced by corrupt resources?

The major problem with our democracy is largely attributed to the immunity enjoyed by the Executive. This amorphous and formidable rampart has provided a multi lane highway for those enjoying it to act with utmost impunity. The case of Ganduje accused of taking bribes is a case in point.

Still on moral corruption, how can a president claim he was unaware of the fact that violent Fulani terrorist jihadists were engaged in a genocide in an area less than 200 kilometres from the seat of government?
Assuming that such a leader does not read newspapers or watch television would not his close aides be briefing him of the happenings on a day to day basis? Could not the president as father of the governing APC not have known that corruption was rife in the leadership of the APC with Chief John Odigie Oyegun and other co travellers in charge? The leadership of the APC was serially corrupted by the likes of the dictator of Kaduna State until it was almost grovelling on the bare floor in search of a leadership change. The talkative Adams Oshiomole did initially give some hope of revamping the fortunes of the party, sadly though he is fighting to rid himself of allegations that he practically was auctioning tickets of the party to contest in next year’s general elections to the highest bidder, the case of Senator Shehu Sani and Uba Sani refers.
I need not mention the influence of the Aso Rock CABAL that the president’s spouse has at different times is said to have spoken about. All these happening during the watch of Mr Integrity, what manner of INTEGRITY ?

Written by Col. Gora Albehu Dauda (rtd)
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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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