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An amnesty programme for corruption?

By TAHIR IBRAHIM TAHIR TALBAN BAUCHI
The arguments in the race for the 2019 presidential elections have been bland, simply because Nigerians have been left with just two choices with very sharp and stark differences; especially in the areas of integrity, trustworthiness and patriotism. Intellectual ‘wanna bees’ have castigated Buhari as a candidate who is old and old fashioned, not economically sound, and lacking in fundamental knowledge of handling our dwindling economy, and even, not being IT savvy! Atiku even though aged too, appears to be more of the desired 21st century presidential material with vast experience in governance having been Vice president for 8 years and a huge employer of labor and also an owner of one of the most prosperous private universities.
Nigeria has been largely under-developed due to the lack of focused leadership, and a corrupt system of government that has been sustained by selfish individuals who have enriched themselves more than the state itself; and continue to do so as we speak, placing their disciples in leadership and other sensitive offices that sustain their game of self aggrandisement to the detriment of the greater majority. This hegemony of corruption has thrived for decades which has culminated into a country that is richly endowed with both physical and natural resources, yet nothing to show for it. Sadly, most Nigerians have supported this system like a tailwind, urging it on, everyone scrambling for his share of the largesse; and providing cover for criminality as long as one enjoys from it.
We now have a commander in chief who is facing this system like a headwind, brazenly fighting a corrupt system that has been entrenched for years; and has become the norm of our society to get enriched with public wealth. He is one character you do not cut deals with, or do business with; his honesty and integrity precedes him, and he is one public officer who has no corporate interests whatsoever to protect. He will not abuse his office or political power to get oil blocks, refineries, construction jobs, or other power holding contracts. He will not bid for dredging jobs or railway jobs, neither will he have interests in any of the hydro – power projects dotting the country. His decisions for the education sector are purely patriotic and will have nothing to do with protecting or supporting private varsities to the detriment of public ones. His positions will favor all lecturers and not just those running or having stakes in private varsities.
We now have a public service system where senior government officials are wary of their declaration of assets forms, billions are being forfeited which were ill-gotten, millions of dollars are being retrieved from the high and mighty, banks are being penalised for corrupt practices, ex-governors are being imprisoned for abusing their offices, corrupt judges are being prosecuted; the list is endless. In just 3 years and more, this fight against corruption has more laurels and accomplishments in terms of convictions and sums retrieved from the face-off with corruption than over the entirety of our current day democracy life span. For the first time, this monstrously destructive phenomenon is beating a retreat and we have seen remarkable dividends from the fight against corruption. We can feel it like the early rain drops on our faces just when the rainy season sets in. Sooner, the rain drops will drop aplenty and we may have to run for cover last we get drenched, if for instance, this administration continues beyond 2019.
Unfortunately, our IT savvy, 21st century, economic-team rich presidential aspirant has made it easy for Nigerians to second guess where he and his supporters are heading towards; back to the doldrums where Godfatherism, corruption and a government for my family and friends will thrive unabated. Younger generations have fancied a more vocal Atiku who seems confident and firing on all issues, carefully articulating his speeches and manifestos during his campaigns. What has remained naked and glaring for all to see is his penchant for corruption. He has openly said that he will enrich his friends when he returns as president! He has not minced words in saying that he will privatise core government establishments which we know cannot be left in the hands of private enterprise. During his privatisation programme as VP, an asset of over 3 billion US dollars was sold for 130 million dollars and all he could offer as explanation was that it was a mistake! Can we afford such gross mistakes on our national treasury again?
Atiku has also explained that he would concede territory and resources to Boko Haram if elected and one wonders, is that how he is going to allocate out Biafra and other parts of Nigeria to other secessionist groups? Is he going to allocate the oil wells found in Bauchi to Boko Haram too? Isn’t it fair to ask if their will be a Nigeria after Atiku is done with his friends enrichment and Boko Haram surrender agendas? Amnesty for corruption is a high heaven for criminals and criminality and it will encourage everyone to embrace corruption because, afterall, Mr. President will grant you pardon and you will be a participant of the Nigeria Economic Forum each year it has its week in Abuja! You will be a guest of Mr. President and his Finance Minister where you will be courted for your huge investment potential! Perhaps the EFCC will be rechristened Economic and Financial Crimes Amnesty Program and we will no longer need the Nigeria Financial Intelligence unit as their is nothing so intelligent about an amnesty program now is there? We may no longer need top cops too at the EFCC, and just settle for lawyers in partnership with NGOs running humanitarian services!
This sharp contrast between Atiku and Buhari is what makes the common man’s choice easy and unarithmetic. Its glaring that you can trust one and cannot trust the other. It is obvious that one is lacerated with accusations and allegations of corruption and the other does not have a spec or a dent of corruption on him. Buhari may not be your cosmopolitan dad, your 21st century capitalist who has fancy words or ideas of how to raise the GDP, bring in more foreign direct investment etc But he is one hell of a president that has made the entire country a huge site of Infrastructural developments and activities despite the country’s meagre earnings compared to yesteryears. Buhari is that guy who will not loot your treasury and will not condone anyone doing so; and will go to the end of the earth to bring your crooks to book. That is the fear of some, meanwhile, that is our reprieve!

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