Buhari, Probes And Governance

By Julius Oweh
The most potent electoral value of General Muhammadu Buhari that shot him into victory is his famed integrity and avowed crusade to combat corruption in Nigeria. Impunity and corruption assumed the most bizarre form that it stunted growth and development and that the vast majority of Nigerians could not witness any transformation in their lives despite the huge money available via the sale of the black gold. Since 1999, successive governments have been feeding the masses with drought of leadership that found expression in poverty and the tumbling living standard of the people, the owners of electoral sovereignty. Buhari and the APC exploited this loophole and rode to power on the crest of `change` mantra and to fight corruption so that the people could derive maximum benefits from the common patrimony. Since the movement of the president-elect to the Defence House in Abuja, a horde of fortune seekers under the veneer of paying courtesy calls on the man of the moment have reminded him not to relent in his promise against corruption, urging him to probe the misdeeds of previous administration. The president-elect himself had also harped on the theme of probing some of the transgressions of the previous administration.
The litanies of the proposed probes are many and varied. The president-elect said that he shall probe all electoral offenders including members of the army, the police and secret service officials involved in electoral offences. He also promised to probe the service chiefs, the defence budgets and the prosecution of the Boko Haram war. Not yet done, he thundered that his administration shall probe the allegation of the missing 20 billion dollars of NNPC money. He is also quoted as saying that there will be probe of some bullet proof cars associated with a former Aviation Minister, now a senator-elect. And to cap it, Buhari promised to look into past probes of previous administrations with a view of implementing their recommendations. It is also on record that Buhari in one of his campaigns stated that he would not probe President Goodluck Jonathan as a person. But one is aghast with this litany of proposed probes and how such probes may not be linked to Jonathan.
The prospect of probes, no doubt is a good remedy to the ills of corruption that had held the development and progress of the nation down for decades. Despite the stupendous oil wealth, the life of the average Nigeria is narrative of poverty and destitution. Many key social infrastructures are in shambles because of a drifting and corrupt infested leadership that has made a profession of amassing wealth. If the proposed probes are to recover some of the ill gotten wealth, then there is nothing wrong with that. But for a fleeting second, the probes should not be instruments of vendetta and score settling. Furthermore, the president-elect should not see himself as the sole administrator of the country and that the legislature and the judiciary should be allowed to do their jobs. In the frenzy to clean the sleazy Augean stable, the president-elect should thread cautiously and be on the side of the rule of law. The constitution must remain his compass in charting the ship of the nation in the turbulent and shark infested waters.
Governance, let it be stressed again, is not about the past but the present and the future. A good leader is marked out by his ability to look over his shoulders, sees the mistakes of his predecessors and how to avoid them. A representative government is about ministering to the security and welfare of the people. The president-elect should not be consumed with the passions of probes; rather such ventures should be directed to the various arms of government. The national assembly should be given the support in their oversight functions and all government functionaries especially ministers overstepping the bounds of propriety and responsive governance should be made to be responsible for their actions. Similarly, the EFCC and ICPC should be well fortified to carry out their anti-graft roles and should not be used to hunt perceived political opponents.
Beyond the passion for probes and recovering government funds, the Buhari administration should tell the nation what it has brought on the table. Nigerians are expecting great administrative feats from the man and would not be convinced of the latter day confession that Buhari is not a miracle worker or a magician. Nigerians are not in the state of delusion or political hallucination. They are incensed about the epileptic power supply and would be happy if the problem is fixed. Nigerians want a president that would build refineries and stop the petroleum subsidy scam. Nigerians want their president to institute fiscal federalism and a government that will start the exploitation of the various solid minerals awash in the country. They will be happy with a government that will diversify the economy and make sure that every kobo got from the sale of crude oil is well accounted for. In the presidential election, the vote for Buhari and APC is not for them to engage in some kind of political alchemy but to solve problems that peak up the living standards of the people.
What Buhari and his team of APC co-travellers should realise is that there would never be shortage of pieces of advice from well meaning Nigerians and dissemblers. It is left for them to separate the chaff from the grains. The challenge of governance is beyond the probe of past government activities and officials. Recover what could be got from past government misdeeds and officials and let the courts, the national assembly and the various anti-graft agencies do their jobs. But to be unduly immersed in probing past administrations and officials and leaving the critical issues of governance is not my idea of what a progressive and forward looking administration should be. All looters of public funds should be sanctioned within the bounds of constitutionalism and the rule of law. The idea is to pass the message strong and clear that governance is a call to service and not to amass the wealth of the nation to self, family and friends. The Buhari administration may not be judged by the number of probes and the recovered loots. Rather the government should be zero tolerant on corruption, positively change the living standards of the electorate and fortify the security and unity of the nation. It is on this score that history and posterity shall judge Buhari.