The Sun News

Anti-corruption: The Presidency scores own goal?

When the APC and the Presidency hinged their very existence on anti-corruption crusade, it all looked amusing to the informed. It reminded one of how and why coups had failed Africa generally, and Nigeria in particular. Coups have neither brought stability nor economic fortunes to the Nigerian state. As every Nigerian, for instance, acknowledges, Nigeria today is more divided than at any other time save, perhaps, while some of us were Biafrans and the rest of them poor, poor pitiful Nigerians. Today again, it is trite knowledge that our existence under the colonial masters, and the First Republic were our golden eras. That is to say our paradise is alas in our past. And a signpost to this is that under APC and Buhari, the dollar is being auctioned at about 500 times a naira. Just a few years ago a naira was the better of the dollar.

So, what went wrong? The answer is ignorance. A coup maker is defined more by ardour than brains. And to worsen matters it is an ardour that is armed with aggression and the will to sacrifice other people’s blood. So, the coup makers pass off their alleged passion for doing good, as the skill-sets needed to do good.

And to top up the delusion, the coup maker grades himself a high end nationalist. But facts on the ground, both as outcome of his actions and his choice of co-conspirators and SMC/AFRC/cabinet members reveal him as the worst, even if a closeted partisan. That is to say from Major Nzeogwu through Generals Ironsi to Gowon up to Abubarka, there is not one, repeat, not one Nigerian coup maker, who is not by practice even if not by profession a sectionalist, a partisan of religion, tribe or region.

Perhaps, it is in the DNAs of coup. The point is clear. A partisan coup, all coups by logic are partisan, cannot play out a national or universal agenda. So, coups failed for the reasons that coup makers are generally an ignorant, anti-cognitive lot. And worse, coup makers would not even in their delusion know that they are partisans, one and all. That is, they are fashionably ignorant that their game is playing the nation while their mission is in being sectionalists.

And the present fight against corruption is like a coup maker’s dream, beautiful dream but nightmarish reality. Like the coup makers, the drivers of the anti-corruption saga start with circular self-definitions. They first presume, not even that they are not corrupt, but that they can’t be corrupt. So, for them, their innocence is a fixed constant. It is the others who are hell, who can be guilty.

This stance makes their fight against corruption unscientific. It is almost persons-based, personalities-cult drama. Now for this anti-corruption saga to affirm its coup makers’ heritage it is established that the APC and the Presidency are actually northern, anti-national coalition in outcome, personnel selection and praxis.

Now, the update on corruption is that despite the self-righteousness of any parties, any man can be corrupt or corrupted. Corruption is not genetic and is not to be found in only ‘‘cross-eyed’’ persons. Corruption is a social ill. Like we said in our book, Corruption in Africa: Resolution Through New Diagnosis, whenever one aggregates power one aggravates corruption. So, whoever you are, you will become more corrupt as you accumulate greater powers, net-powers. Literally, power corrupts, absolute power co-opts absolutely.

So, by concentrating power in the hands of fellow northerners or regionalists, the present administration has done nothing than aggravate corruption. For those who have laboured to study these things, all that was needed was for time to pass and have things reveal themselves. And the time apparently has come. So also, the collateral revelations. And they are coming from the innermost recesses of the Presidency.

First, there is the matter of the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF. The matter is interesting. His enemies claim to have documents that he compromised his positions and shamelessly profiteered by awarding contracts to firm/s he has interests in. He is in denial. Great. But there are questions. The firm in question, which the SGF admits to having/had proprietary interests in, is an ICT firm. According to records, the firm has no credits of doing agricultural or grass clearing businesses.

And, suddenly, it landed sweetheart contracts for agricultural or related works. This fact of giving a technical/agricultural brief to an ICT firm, rubbishes the transparency and anti-corruption credentials of this regime. This is without prejudice to all the other damning evidences in the matter as provided by the senate and other parties.

And there is the issue of Ibrahim Magu, the Presidency’s ‘‘own scion’’. Magu’s own is even more interesting. It comes with a complicated web of alleged sister agency rivalry. It is alleged by Magu’s defenders that the damning reports on him – which included nearly all the sins in the Bible – were cooked up by the State Security Service, SSS, aka DSS.

Well, if a whole agency under the Buhari administration can cook up reports, then the war against corruption of which the DSS is a key arm is already damned. That is, there is no way Buhari will win this one. The point is, if it is found the DSS is cooking reports on Magu, it reasonably follows that they may have been at the business of forgeries under this administration. Man is a creature of habit. Thus it may not be absurd to begin to suggest that all these alleged DSS claims of corruption were actually devilish brews concocted in their fanciful imaginations. If, however, the DSS is right, then Magu, who has been strutting around a scion of god, has not only betrayed himself but posted the Presidency to ridicule. At least, the president’s claims are that his appointees are fellows he can trust. And to think that those the president can trust are not trustworthy in themselves is to have the Presidency lose out by own goals?

However, let us take a closer look at the defenders of Magu. Premium Times took it upon itself to offer defences of the Magu man: ‘’ALLEGATION 4: On 24 June, 2016, he (Magu) flew Emirate airlines first-class to Saudi Arabia to perform lesser hajj at the cost of N2.9m. This is in spite of Mr. President’s directive to all public servants to fly economy class.’’

‘’Insiders say while it was true that Mr. Magu indeed flew first class to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, he did not pay for the ticket with public funds. We could not, however, confirm this claim independently.’’ FACT-CHECK: Senate Confirmation: How SSS lied against EFCC boss, Magu December 17, 2016. Premium Times.

First, it looked curious that it was only in this matter that the Premium Times could not ‘confirm’, while it could authoritatively pronounce on all other weighty and definitely more intricate matters.

The greater point, however, is that Magu has no history of personal or family fortune – [his parents are not billionaires]. So, how come he insists on and has the money to be flying first class? Since he did not acquire the taste for first class luxury from family or inheritance so, how does he finance it? And one does not fly first class and be living on the ground on cow or third class basis. So, Magu, it can be assumed, has to live in pure luxury to match his first class flier habits. He has to live to match.

What it means is that even if the first class luxury tickets were paid for Magu by angels, some other angels must be paying for Magu to live to match his first class flier habits. That is when Magu deems it non-demeaning, to live on the ground, like the rest of us, he has to live it up. If you flew first class, you can’t next be driven by Keke Marwa on landing. A Magu, you need a gold-plated limousine to match.

And if Magu, who earns a modest official salary, can appropriate for himself the finest state of luxury travel, first class is next to owning a private jet, then his sources of income and capacity for transparency, or living within his means are in doubt. That is to say Magu is open to fixing things with the financiers of his first class flier lifestyles, if he does not finance it by himself from sources known and unknown.

For a man like Magu, his first brief is to live like Caesar’s wife, beyond suspicion. In failing in this little but signal task, it may be safely conjectured Magu can fail and, in fact, may have failed in bigger, closeted ones.

Anyway, we are not troubled by all these. We have seen these movies before. And we have written about it. In the book, Corruption in Africa: Resolution Through New Diagnosis, we warned that there was nowhere in logic or historical experience where a person had succeeded in aggregating power and morality in one hand. The more powerful you are, the more corrupt you become, in the immediate time or ultimately. It is an iron law and cannot be broken by Sai-Babarism or dramatic gestures. And this is the paradox the APC regime has to face. It can’t be fighting corruption and all the security apparatuses are in the hands of regionalists, who pre-define themselves innocent whatever it is they do. It is instructive that Channels Television in one of her takes on the SGF corruption saga aired a soundbite of him where he was vicious in attacking alleged corruption in others. Now he is in the dock and he is saying it is all balderdash.

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