Posted by News Express | 28 January 2016 | 3,236 times
The former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, must have surprised not a few Nigerians when he stepped out the other day to espouse on corruption. The surprise derives from one important factor. Bafarawa is one of the Nigerians standing trial in court for alleged misappropriation of public funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), recently detained him for 21 days and later charged him to court. The trial will begin in the next few days. But in an interview published a few days ago by this newspaper, Bafarawa, surprisingly, had soothing words for EFCC. He did not accuse the commission of witch-hunting. He said the commission was doing its job. He only wishes the new leadership of the anti-corruption agency more wisdom in the discharge of its responsibilities.
For a man who feels that he was unjustly detained, you would think that Bafarawa would be harbouring ill-feelings against President Muhammadu Buhari. But he is not. Instead, he wants Nigerians to join hands with the president in order to stamp out corruption from our socio-economic and political fabric.
To also underline the fact that Bafarawa is not interested in accusing anybody or declaring himself innocent on the pages of the newspaper, he refused to elaborate on his detention and trial. He said he would prefer to leave that for the courts.
But those close to him will readily tell you that Bafarawa has every reason to feel aggrieved even though he has decided to be even-minded about it. They will tell you that it is ridiculous to accuse a man of Bafarawa’s stature of misappropriating One hundred million Naira. They are also quick to remind interested Nigerians that the One hundred million Naira in question was given to Bafarawa as the zonal coordinator of the Jonathan campaigns and that the money was shared among the seven states of the North West zone for the purpose of the campaigns. They also remind Nigerians that other zonal coordinators of the Jonathan campaigns, namely, Peter Odili (South-South), Jim Nwobodo (South-East), Ahmadu Ali (North Central), among others, collected the same amount as Bafarawa. But the former Sokoto State governor is the only one among the six that is standing trial. They feel that Bafarawa should be aggrieved for being singled out unjustly. But he is not.
If we follow Bafarawa’s trend of thought, we will say that he was in order when he asked Nigerians to support Buhari in the ongoing war against corruption in Nigeria. Bafarawa’s declaration did not come from the blues. It was a product of deep thinking and reflection. The former governor had reasoned that it was better to support the Buhari effort, even if it has loose ends, than throwing the baby away with the bath water.
Bafarawa supported his position with an analogy. He recalled the attempt made by Goodluck Jonathan as president of Nigeria to remove subsidy on fuel. The attempt was rebuffed and rejected by a powerful cabal. Jonathan capitulated. And subsidy remained. The country continued to bleed from the subsidy regime until the Jonathan government packed up.
Now, Buhari’s regime of change is dealing with the matter differently. It has insisted on removing fuel subsidy. And that has unleashed a lot of hiccups in the oil industry. Buhari may succeed in this venture at the end of the day. But Bafarawa’s argument is that if Jonathan had been allowed to remove fuel subsidy at the time he wanted to, his successor, Buhari, would be having an easy ride on that matter today.
The logic of the Bafarawa analogy is that we should all embrace the Buhari war against corruption, irrespective of its imperfections, so that those who will come after Buhari will not suffer and fret so much in their effort to sustain the battle against corruption.
To demonstrate that his support for the anti-corruption war is genuine and well thought-out, Bafarawa gives us an idea on what he thinks should be done. He wants the government, through its anti-corruption agencies, to open an office for public awareness on corruption. When that is done, Nigerians will properly key into the ongoing struggle to defeat corruption.
Bafarawa’s large-heartedness in this matter is noteworthy. This is especially so coming from someone who is facing corruption charges. What this means is that Bafarawa’s position is anything but self-serving. It is a patriotic call which Nigerians of goodwill must pay heed to.
I support the Bafarawa disposition to the Buhari anti-corruption effort. The president deserves our support and cooperation. Let the war be fought and won. Winning the war holds the key to Nigeria’s march towards a greater tomorrow. But just as Bafarawa is helping the president to get it right, I also think that he (the president) needs to be told the whole truth so that he does not run the risk of beating about the bush.
The war, we all agree, is a noble effort. But many sneer at it because of its sanctimonious undertone. My understanding of genuine corruption war is that it does not and should not shield anybody. Today, certain Nigerians are facing corruption charges for alleged misappropriation of public funds. That is the way it should be. But it worries me that nothing is being done about many others with alleged record of corruption who were in league with Buhari during the campaigns. Some of these elements were said to have bankrolled his campaigns with public funds. Nigerians expect that these fellows, whoever they are, should be called to question. They may not be guilty as charged. But let them be brought to trial so that they can prove their innocence.
If some people were accused of diverting public funds in the name of funding the Jonathan campaigns, there are also others who were accused of doing the same for the purpose of helping Buhari to fund his campaigns. Just as those who have been arraigned in the name of Jonathan may not be guilty as charged at the end of the day, so also may those who are believed to have funded the Buhari campaigns. But the people on both sides of the divide should be put on the same pedestal. What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.
When a war that is supposed to be no respecter of persons is made to wear the toga of selectiveness, those who are watching from the sidelines are bound to sneer. They are bound to cheer at the whole show. Some of us would like to believe that Buhari means business in this venture, but he should not let us run away with the impression that it is a magic lantern show, appearance not reality.
•This piece column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via email@example.com
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