From time to time, the odour of a painted sepulchre oozes out much as the managers try so hard to make you think there is a difference now from the past.
The stench this time, from the mishandling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) memos, is the latest.
Earlier in the year, the grass-cutters were on stage. Before then, it was a memo from a very clean spokesman soliciting for funds from the wrong places to travel to China. And as they all happen even in the house of fraud called the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where operatives are every now and then called to question, this administration still lays claims to a clean slate.
It is a thou-shall-never-be-caught setting, because the one that is caught is actually the corrupt.
Whereas it is true this administration has made so much hype of anti corruption fight and selectively picked some enemies of the party for prosecution, much more have been said than done.
What no reasonable commoner in Nigeria would align with is asking that corrupt public officers be left to go. No. Never should any be left to escape. The only grouse is that while corruption has no facial marks, or particular ethnic identity or party affiliation, no one involved in it should be spared.
So this administration’s undoing is the penchant to fight corruption against outsiders and spare insiders. And one national legislator once captured it aptly that the government of President Muahmmadu Buhari fights corruption with insecticide against outsiders and deploys deodorants on insider corrupt persons.
I acknowledge that some real corrupt persons in the past have been arrested and properly prosecuted, but until these odours inherent in this administration stop blowing up like volcano from time to time, no one would be convinced of any major departure from the old tradition.
In the beginning, this government, nay the APC, started with self deceit that it was something different from the old order called PDP. But they were just talking to the wall, because we know Nigeria as they do.
Today, 80 per cent of public office holders, elected and appointed in the present administration are of the old PDP affiliation. In fact, of the 30 APC gubernatorial candidates in the 2015 election, 23 left PDP in July 2013 to join APC. They are still there from the National Assembly leadership to the ministerial positions and many more. So the deceit was a man telling us in vaunt that he was poised to get a different result using an old equation. That is what they popularly call insanity. And what does that mean? APC and this administration telling us they will use the same old brigade and attain a different result is political insanity.
Even if we exclude the old PDP virus of corruption, were the rest different? While PDP managed the centre, those states managed by the opposition parties, were they different in anyway about corruption? Never. If in doubt, ask Ekiti what it is saying about former Governor Kayode Fayemi or the Lagos government’s allegations against Babs Fashola or Rivers State about Chibuike Amaechi.
All these men in power and their parties had one thing in common and nothing ever changed.
So, it was no wonder to people like us that know the way this administration has been shielding some former military officers and service chiefs that played great roles in the Boko Haram arms procurement. They are ministers today and very clean, while their counterparts that never joined the APC are haunted. Some were even service chiefs -turned -ministers today, and others are service chiefs even after service as heads of army procurement, at the same time their colleagues prosecuted are today also in office. Some face trial for the same offence others are shielded from, because they don’t belong to the APC. So it was little wonder that the NNPC stench blew open, because we knew there had never been a difference, save in hollow propaganda and deceit.
Details of the stench against the NNPC henchman is that he awarded “$10b crude term contracts; $5b direct sales direct purchase contracts; $3b AKK pipeline contract; financing allocation funding contracts worth $3b and NPDC production service contract of $4b.
In all, these contracts worth $25b were awarded in breach of legal and procurement requirements and the NNPC Board was never involved.
Again, key management positions were filled without the input of the NNPC Board. If the “legal and procedural requirement is that all contracts above $20m would need to be reviewed and approved by the board of NNPC, why in over one year of Baru’s tenure, no contract has been run through the board,” Kachikwu said in his petition to Buhari.”
All these happened over time and not a one-off incident. So if the zero-tolerance government kept quiet while all these happened over a period and someone constantly got approvals for illegalities as alleged here, then, how clean is this process?
Before this, a member of the Senate has been screaming and accusing the Inspector General of Police of gross corruption and nobody in the clean government ever cared to ask the IGP to explain any of these. Is that actually how to be clean and intolerant of corruption?
Earlier, we were dazzled in the Ikoyigate saga where over N44b in various currencies were uncovered. People were called to question and a panel was set up to probe it, yet till date, we never got a feedback on what the panel came up with. We have forgotten because all is well and corruption has a different name with Buhari’s administration.
Where is the outcome of the probe of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal?
If we take a census, is there any administration you can remember since 1999 that has had this constant, one-month-one-fraud volcano of corruption?
The frequent outbreak is just one of the indicators of the crusade of the government that shows you nothing actually changed or plans to change. We seem to see less as we look more and the whole drama confuses, especially since the double standard approach never took a decisive step to make a public show of anyone in the government indicted of corruption.
It is just as confusing as the other trend of signposting anti-corruption fight of the government with poverty and hardship among the masses and commoners.
Whereas the masses and citizens are better off in societies with less public corruption, Nigeria is different with this government.
The recovery of stolen money that is supposed to enrich public treasury and make more resources available to the running of the state does the opposite.
A society that fights corruption saves money by plugging the loopholes and diverts more money that used to be in private hands into public use, but in our case, the government workers are hungrier than before with a good percentage of workers in states and sectors taking their turns in industrial action because they can’t cope in silence any longer.
However, to prove some of us wrong, we await the outcome of the latest blow-up especially since some other sources have started circulating letters intending to expose Ibe Kachikwu too. So, whatever is the worth, we have to test the real character of this self-made zero-tolerance-for-corruption government.
Many exposures in the past had been glossed over, and anything more would have cleared every doubt that there is no seed in these vain claims we have been regaled with in the past 29 months.