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Part of the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari has remained the butt of public criticisms is not only his exasperatingly slow response to urgent national matters but also his nonchalant attitude to government officials entangled in corruption scandals as well as his inability to provide clear leadership and direction for the country. All these and more have led to a situation in which foreign investors are fleeing the country because they no longer see Nigeria as a fitting environment for business.
In various government departments, there are corruption cases involving senior public servants that are pending and long overdue for prosecution. Nothing has been done to progress some of those cases because the President has not directed what should be done, whether the culprits should be prosecuted or freed. In a country in which “eye-service” has become an approved way of conducting government business, you can see why anti-vice agencies have not moved on those cases because they are waiting for the Presidency to give them the nod or authority to start prosecution.
This is sheer hypocrisy. Should anti-corruption agencies have to wait for presidential approval before they prosecute corrupt officials? The inability of anti-corruption agencies to arrest and put on trial people accused of corrupt practices until the agencies have been given presidential endorsement is indicative of a failed society in which some people are seen to be above the law. That is farcical. While the law may not respect people in other societies, in our environment, the law is well and truly a respecter of persons, institutions, and social status. Our laws are constructed to respect high-profile members of our society who can commit crime and get away free.
Across the country, everyone is wearied by the poor state of the economy, failed businesses, high cost of living, crushing poverty, and heightened state of insecurity in which bandits of all ideological colours such as Boko Haram insurgents, militants, kidnappers, political assassins and armed robbers operate freely as they strangulate and slaughter innocent citizens.
In an environment in which security has broken down irretrievably, citizens are wishing that the 2019 general election should come sooner so that everyone can pass their adverse vote of confidence on undistinguished, failed, and self-centred politicians. Right now, there is a sense that the ship called Nigeria is drifting aimlessly in the high seas. Without a discerningly perceptive or clear-eyed captain in charge, disaster of immense proportions awaits the nation.
Amid the confusion, crime, and corruption that have weakened the nation, I was thrilled to see a news report published in the Daily Sun of Wednesday, January 31, 2018. The story was titled “Buhari: I’ll no longer tolerate killings, kidnappings.” The headline gave the impression that Buhari has finally stood up like a strong leader determined to make an impact on a country that is disintegrating rapidly. Buhari expressed his views in Port Harcourt during the opening of the Ninth General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN). He was represented by the Minister of Interior, Abdurahman Dambazzau.
In his message to the traditional rulers, Buhari expressed serious concerns about the amount of blood being shed across the country through the callous actions of kidnappers and herdsmen whom he did not identify specifically. He said: “I am very worried and saddened about the persistent killings and kidnappings happening in our country, especially the wastage of innocent lives in different parts of the country by whatever means it is done, particularly in Benue State. I have, therefore, directed that no effort should be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those that are carrying out the acts.”
Buhari also said: “Likewise, I have directed the Inspector-General of Police to relocate to Benue State to ensure that the killings are not only contained but that those involved are brought to justice.”
Impressive as these concerns might appear, reassuring as Buhari sounded, no one can make anything out of the President’s solemn pledges. We have heard similar pledges and strong words from Buhari in the past two years. However, no sooner did Buhari make those promises than the words disappeared in cyberspace.