Perhaps the most glaring of the indices to measure Goodluck Jonathan’s failure is the fact that today, we have in the opposition Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), a 72-year old retired Major General of the Nigerian Army. A man I would not have canvassed for a mere four years ago. A man against whom there is genuine grievance in some segments of the Nigerian society. So how did we go from the euphoric mania of “Goodluck not PDP” to “Anything but Goodluck” in the span of four years? It is interesting to note that the cornerstone of GMB’s campaign has been the same anti-corruption din, augmented with a renewed focus on education and a promise to improve the lot of the average Nigerian. Put simply, GMB is offering us what he offered us four years ago with a few other things thrown in. Yet his offering has become very palatable to a vast swathe of Nigerians that he poses a very credible threat to the reelection bid of Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ).
There is an audit mantra that states that an auditor must not only be independent, but must be seen to be independent. The perception of independence is just as important as actual independence. A similar rule can be used to evaluate elected rulers; an elected ruler should not only be free of corruption but must be seen to be incorruptible. For someone who became president despite unresolved allegations of corruption dogging his heels as well as his wife’s, the perception of integrity was one he had to build – and build quickly. Like I wrote in another essay, his body language from the onset would quickly betray this expectation. This is no president in a hurry to be seen as honest.
One would not need to scratch the pot to exhume allegations of corruption, passively or actively abetted by President Jonathan. The continued ascendance of Chief Bode George in the PDP fold, the dominance of Esho Jinadu aka Buruji Kashamu, unresolved EFCC case against the president’s wife, daily crude oil theft that exceeds the daily production of many oil producing countries, Stella Oduah’s bullet-proof vehicles and recurrent airport renovation, Diezani and the flighty billions, a hobbled military, the unending romance with Alameghesia… to be frank, the list is endless and each new revelation is more depressing than the preceding ones. Yet in all, I mean ALL of these cases, the president has not been a passive bystander, but an active catalysts in fostering these characters and imposing them on the nation. He pretty much issued an endless stack of “get out of jail free” cards to his cronies. The idea that Nigeria would be deemed just as corrupt as Russia and more corrupt than Pakistan is a tad mind-numbing. That however is the sad reality.
Often one encounters the argument that the main opposition groups is not any different from GEJ’s band of merry men. If we yield to that very tendentious argument for a minute, this is actually a huge indictment of GEJ’s inability to successfully prosecute criminal cases of corruption against anyone but the most hapless. This means, GEJ is not only actively abetting corruption in his own fold, but he is also unable to confront it when others brazenly loot their assigned treasuries. That, in my opinion, is exponential failure. One of his re-election campaign speeches shows the depth of depravity of this man – “how much did Jim Nwobodo ‘stole'”? None, but the most debased of politicians would utter that in any civilised society. Yet, our very elegant president did – in public!
There is a surfeit of academic publications on the adverse impact of corruption on the development of the economy and social infrastructure, but GEJ would rather ignore those warnings, but would rather create an environment that breeds plunder and more plunder; and when there is nothing left to plunder, simply plunder some more.
It would be a comedy but for its tragic consequences that this man has come back to seek our votes – with next to nothing to show but a litany of looting and misery, and a sack of promises – “I will improve”. His track record, sadly, is the direct antithesis of the promise being peddled by GMB. Indeed, the best advert for a GMB election bid has been a recital of GEJ’s track record. If GEJ loses the elections next weekend, it won’t be because GMB has done anything different, it would be because GEJ looted his electoral stock blind.