As the war on corruption takes its toll on people who allegedly took part in plundering the nation, Churchill Okonkwo has questioned the approach employed by the president.
President Muhammadu Buhari
We hate to make mysteries out of nothing, but we have to let President Buhari know that the knocks from acts of corruption with impunity by his aides is bloodying his nose. So, accept our sympathy, Mr. President, but as your passionate supporters, you owe us an explanation as to why you are not defending your nose.
We believed in your promise to take our interests into account in fighting corruption since you reappeared in the political scene in 2002. We stood with you in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Even though we are somehow happy that you are prosecuting the thieves that plundered the national wealth in the past 6 years and recovering huge sums of money, we are very worried that your approach is very generous. Why are highly placed Nigerians that embezzled billions walking free while street petty thieves are convicted and sent to long jail sentences without an option to refund? Most importantly, we are very disappointed that you have allowed the crooks within your kitchen cabinet to be openly bloodying your nose by their corrupt acts.
You are bleeding, Your Excellency. We are writing this open letter to you as an expression of our dismay when we heard it on good authority that the malnutrition currently ravaging the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Northeastern Nigeria was due to massive acts of corruption perpetuated by your aides and cronies under your nose. Under your watch, your aides set up phantom NGOs and used that to siphon funds meant for the IDPs. We have waited for you and the ALMIGHTY EFCC to act, but apparently, the SGF has disabled the key starter. As ardent believers, we are demanding that you overrule your SGF and act.
Just like you instituted a committee that investigated what happened to the billions of dollars meant for arms to fight Boko Haram, we challenge you to set up a similar committee to investigate and tell Nigerians what happened to the billions of naira meant for the IDPs. Failure to do so is tantamount to paying lip service to anti-corruption crusade. Declaring a state of emergency, and breaking fast with the IDPs is not enough to Nigerians. You can’t be “patching” and at the same time be encouraging “leaking”. You therefore owe us an explanation, Mr. President.
A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them? Mr. President, can’t you see that your aides are licking your lips for you? Did you not feel the heavy blow on your nose from General Buratai? Can’t you see that the SGF, your Chief of Staff and other crooked aides around you are operating with indomitable greed? Can’t you see that just like President Jona, these crooks are blooding your nose with corrupt acts?
Now, the poor masses that saw you as the last hope for the common man are walking around with their hands up in the air. Those of us who somehow still believe are worried about the troubling signs that you are apparently not in control. And the Jonathanians have been reminding us at every opportunity that “we told you so”, “we told you so”. They kept telling us that you are too old to know what’s going on inside the Aso Rock not to talk of outside.
Accept our sympathy, President Buhari, but soon, very soon, we may not be able to tell the difference between you and President Jona. Goats and yam vs. aides and backdoor employment; stealing is not corruption vs. misappropriation of funds is not corruption. Corrupt EFCC vs. EFCC that is under the remote control of crooked aides.
Your nose is bleeding, Your Excellency. We have been watching your fight corruption for just over one year now. We have been counting one by one (beginning at our thumb), the knocks you have received on your nose (on the same spot) from corrupting, omitting some and counting some twice only to sadly puzzle ourselves before we could reach the middle finger.
We shouted that a new set of cabals are caging you. In response, you asked for pen and ink. Your crooked aides brought papers too. You took the pen and dipped it in the ink and start to write. ‘What a glorious way to mess up my integrity, and the weapon with which I am doing it are my ‘honorable' aides.’ You looked towards the ceiling where President Jona's portrait and the goats used to hang, now replaced by that of an incorruptible man and his rampaging crooks. With shaky hands you dipped your pen a second time into the ink horn and started scribbling dizzily “. …”
Then, the phone rang; “Look at the President Buharis's nose!”
"What about his nose?"
“It's bleeding from the repeated violent blows from corruption”
"But his moral character stands very high."
"Yet, he is communing with crooked aides."
“But he has to work with ‘trusted’ aides.”
“I agree, but why is he not defending his nose?”
Click, and the line went dead. So, the debate stopped again.
We hate corruption with all our strength, although not much is left now. We are against maladministration and what we are witnessing under your watch is entrenchment of chronic systemic corruption in the process of fighting corruption. Our greatest dream was to see the beginning of an end to corruption with impunity in our country, but, your aides gave it a theological function, now it is more abstract. We are surprised that you have allowed your aides to tarnish your long standing reputation.
Even though there is still some progress here and there in your fight against corruption, we are not sure that the masses can see it now. The suburbs around the cities are grim. The inhabitants are fading away, driven into hooliganism and crime. Sometimes they wish they could abandon this country forever. But that is no longer easy after their countrymen exported our social vices to developed countries.
After 8 years in the labor market, I picked up a teaching appointment in a third grade private school at Nsukka, only to find out that my students are no longer interested in learning. If only Godwin Emefiele or Babatunde Fowler or Abdulrahman Dambazau is my friend. If only Atiku is my father-in-law. If only I know Asiwaju. If only…
- Written by Churchill Okonkwo