Needless Bickering Over Buhari’s Media Chat

By Buki Ponle

For a long time to come, the forthright explanation offered by
President Muhammadu Buhari during his inaugural ‘Media Chat’,
especially as it borders on human rights and the rule of law, will
continue to evoke interpretations and misinterpretations by lovers and
haters of Nigeria, respectively.

In that interview, the President agonizingly recalled how Nigeria had
systematically been lowered into its current mess and about to be
buried by serial looters, discoveries of new evidence against them as
well as other alleged saboteurs. At the conclusion of that
explanation, the President said the court would be the ultimate
adjudicator.

It is, however, instructive to say that many Nigerians have yet to
come to terms with the enormity of violation of their rights by known
and unknown looters of our commonwealth. The killing of a man whose
wife and daughters were raped, with some of his family members also
killed during a robbery attack at his residence, evokes spontaneous
sympathy, empathy, outrage and condemnation from relations and
neighbours owing to the proximity, touching and graphic nature of the
bestiality.

That gripping scenario is not only a violation of the human rights of
the victims but a criminal and murderous act before man and God. Yet,
when corrupt officials have been shown to have amassed wealth and
stolen in billions what belongs to at least 170 million Nigerians,
which gives them the wherewithal to subvert the system, some Nigerians
defend the action.

Looters’ action is a collective rape, killing and maiming of the
citizens, the destruction of the future of their children and the
eventual disintegration of the society. What human rights’ violations
could be more than this? Corruption has really ruined the economy and
has inflicted a lot of damage on Nigerians, financially, morally,
socially, culturally and psychologically. Therefore, collective
interests should always be put above individual interests.

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Tampering with our collective wealth is the worst form of rights
violation, and if a thieving man or woman disregarded the collective
rights of their fellow citizens, they do not deserve our sympathy.

The persistent blitz by the Boko Haram insurgency in its hey days, the
degrading infrastructure development, especially as witnessed in road
and power sector, decay in healthcare and education, joblessness,
increasing crime and prostitution among the youth, as well as
grinding frustration in the national psyche are all spin-offs of
looters’ activity.

If government had fixed a road, it could have mitigated or prevented
automobile crashes in which Nigerians die everyday. The enormity of
the perennial looting could translate into the country’s budget for
years, and could hasten growth and development, as well as swell our
foreign reserves.

Babies and infants die in their droves, especially in the rural areas,
simply because of non-availability of some cheap preventive drugs.
Maternal deaths and diseases are still pronounced in the country,
while simple surgeries could not be performed even in tertiary
hospitals. Yet, these looters and their cohorts travel abroad on
chartered aircraft when they or their relations suffer from headaches.

Speaking specifically on the case against the former NSA, Sambo
Dasuki, some analysts have claimed that the president is about to
settle an old score with the Dasuki. However, the alleged discovery of
arms and ammunition in Dasuki’ home, or the fresh evidence of alleged
mismanagement of $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase, are more than
enough to put the man on trial.

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By the way, why do officials standing trial over corruption charges
suddenly remember that they need urgent treatment abroad? Dasuki
sought and was granted bail to travel abroad for treatment for an
undisclosed ailment. The man must be super strong to have been
attending the court trials several weeks after being denied that
treatment overseas, or probably that treatment is being provided
locally. A time like this calls for discretion on the part of the
judiciary, for the sake of survival of Nigeria.

The President’s observation and comments on bail application need not
be twisted. If there is a fresh evidence against a defendant, common
sense dictates that he or she be charged again, based on the new
evidence. So far, all the arrests by the prosecutor have been based on
new revelations. It is, therefore, misplaced to describe the action as
impunity which the PDP adopted as its survival game for 16 years.

And if I may ask: Why is the People’s Democratic Party afraid of
justice? Instead of facing the reality, party members keep saying that
the trial of corrupt officials has been targeted at their members, not
minding that these members have cases to answer, going by the
evidences put out there.

It is time Nigeria modifies the rule of law as long as it is in
conformity with international practices. Fighting endemic corruption
in Nigeria is herculean, and this calls for a collective effort, not a
task for the President alone. Those who have been benefitting from the
system will not allow it to succeed, but if every Nigerian is
patriotically committed, the war is as good as won.

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It is also pertinent to say that if the wailing PDP had deployed its
arsenals for the welfare of the people during its 16-year rule as
being done now in its pull-him-down war against the federal
government, perhaps it could not have been crushed at the polls with
ignominy.

Mr. Ponle is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Osogbo

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