When Amaechi Makes Buhari's Anticipated 'Ministerial List of Angels'

Rotimi Amaechi
One slogan of President Muhammadu Buhari that caught my attention during the general election campaign period was that ''If Nigeria doesn't kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria'' that statement seems very valid and heavy considering the well pronounced culture of seeing public offices as a gateway to wealth rather than an opportunity to serve by government officials.

Nigerians were tired of seeing calculated cases of corruption being swept under the carpet. The saga of the $20 Billion from the Excess Crude Account which dramatically developed wings and flew away, left Nigerians with many questions and a few answers. What about the nefarious activities of the former Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah, Halliburton scam, power project scam, the Closed Circuit Television installation scam of about $470 million, National Identity card project and many other cases that were trivially handled? The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC became relegated to leaving the 'Big Fishes' and going after internet fraudsters who mostly got away after paying their 'tithes'.

There was a need for a 'Sheriff' that will hold people accountable for their actions. Buhari has always emphasized his zero tolerance for corruption both locally and internationally. His declaration of assets if its to be used as a valid yardstick for measuring his integrity shows his level of transparency and trustworthiness. In Nigeria today, what Buhari boasts of after his advent in power since 1983 as a military ruler is what a Local Government Chairman may amass in a short period of a year or two. Zero tolerance to corruption entails a long distance from corruption which President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in. It has become clear to Nigerians that an idea of who is corrupt is not really an individual that is dishonest or has siphoned public funds but the political enemy of a politician in power. The anti-graft bodies have been used as a legal tool for blackmail, political lynching and victimisation since most politicians are fond of having skeletons in their cupboards. The ministerial nomination of the former Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi by President Muhammadu Buhari has stirred up much controversies in Rivers state even from the stage of rumours and media speculations with several petitions from Integrity Groups flooding the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC which have been unattended to simply because of his active membership of the ruling party, APC.

The Judicial Commission of Enquiry of Justice G.G Omereji set up by the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike who happens to be Amaechi's former ally and now sworn enemy concluded with the reports that Amaechi misappropriated a staggering sum of N53 billion from the N55 billion of the State Reserve Funds. Furthermore, Amaechi has been charged for the unprecedented sale of government properties and hospitals to private individuals without remitting the accrued funds into the state treasury. Amaechi failed to appeal to the minds of the masses when he failed to appear before the Wike instituted Commission of Enquiry for interrogation not even to satisfy history. Amidst all these political wrangling, Buhari went on to nominate him as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The scene of the presentation of the petitions of corruption from Rivers state against Amaechi in the Senate is appalling. The senator representing Rivers state constituency, George Sekibo was shouted down my APC members while a section of the PDP tried to give him support. This painted an ugly scenario and gave me vivid memories of my Secondary school days when we pupils showed excitement about the break-time. Amaechi may not be corrupt until proven guilty of corruption by a competent law court as the constitution demands but subjectively thinking, there is no smoke without fire. Amaechi's closeness to Buhari is synonymous to an angel dressed in white garment  having a field play with a pig. Amaechi's relationship with Buhari affirms the popular claims by the Nigerian masses that Buhari was strongly supported financially by Amaechi with his loots from Rivers state.

Can Buhari turn against the corruption that financially empowered him to be the president? Will he close his eyes and beat the fingers that fed him? As long as people like Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Amaechi, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former President Olusegun Obasanjo still loitter around the Aso Rock Villa, the opposition party will continue to mock the anti-graft war which is only happening actively on paper with indicted politicians still enjoying their loots in fast cars, first class hotels and light-skinned University girls.

I am a great fan of Buhari but I just have to accept the President isn't ready to pay the expensive price of the anti-corruption battle by sacrificing his colleagues who were part of the rot. A true leader has to be good and bad at the same time. Good to the law-abiding citizens and bad to the state saboteurs in confirmation of Buhari's epic inaugural speech of ''belonging to nobody and belonging to everybody''. The statement seemed significant then but today, it is like the usual tales we have been listening to in a new dimension.

According to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, the fight against corruption was the excuse of all the coup plotters during the military regime exploited to topple the government of the day. It was the easiest route into the hearts of the masses. Is it safe to say President Muhammadu Buhari is refining a throwback strategy?

Proceeding, the ministerial screening of the former Governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji Fashola has been applauded by Nigerians widely each time I play back how he handled questions as regards the allegations of spending N78 million on his personal website and using N139 million to sink two boreholes in Lagos state with a borehole officially costing just N200,000 ($1,000)  approximately Nigeria, I weep for my country. Fashola played on the gullibility of the lawmakers to reaffirm his stand as an outstanding lawyer. Fashola shamefully stating he doesn't sign cheques and also his lack of understanding of figures due to lack of proper training in economics/figures shows the historical problems of accountability battling this country.
Fashola reminds me of a line from the song of Nigerian Singer, Omawumi, ''If you ask me, na who I go ask"

Many good people in Nigeria are engaged in so many bad things with excuses of the trends in the hierarchical structure. Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was accused of surrounding himself with corrupt advisers despite being a good leader and I can categorically say that Buhari's recycled cabinet also puts him on that dangerous path.

Time will tell, our words may not carry power or relevance but history will forever have it on record that we spoke the truth.

I am the Village Town Crier.
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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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