Candidate Muhammadu Buhari was widely celebrated as ramrod on values. President Muhammadu Buhari, by Aisha’s “other room” testimony, has become rubbery, being swung and flung at will by unsteady hands, billowing in ill-air. Despite this confirmatory revelation, millions are still with the president. They believed the Candidate and still believe the President. When you serve a god with inadequacies, because your worship is to it, you will always have rationale for the glaring limitations. If Ogun worshippers are involved in road carnages, even when they just finished appeasing it, it would be because the deity isn’t properly placated. Buhari is one president anywhere in the world with true worshippers. To them, he is faultless, can’t be faulty and should not be faulted. The only problem is that such small letter “g” gods are always totally abandoned when the under-belly is completely exposed.
Despite the overt vendetta angle to the anti-corruption crusade, even his worst political enemy won’t deny him plaudit for the vigour brought to the fight. He is pounding the enemy’s camp, though accused of always reaching for the glove compartment when his “own” are involved in alleged corruption mess. Buhari and his “yes” men have denied the obvious. The glaringly obvious is now on his integrity laps. It will be difficulty wishing it away.
That wish-away is Rotimi Amaechi, Buhari’s Minister of Transport, one of the main financiers of his successful presidential bid, who reportedly has the heart of the president to the point of daring his powerful Chief of Staff Abba Kyari and getting away with it. The former Rivers helmsman is a textbook definition of Nigerian politics; grit, steely determination, reckless courage, spendable wealth and all warts. He was almost Vice-President. In fact, he should have been, considering that he arguably single handedly denied his kindred in Niger-Delta, another four-year presidency in a nation of ethnic cleavages ahead of nationalism. It, however, appears his own haven’t forgiven him, with his failed electoral forays since he helped demolish Goodluck Jonathan presidency.
Amaechi’s love-hate relationship with the judiciary is a Nollywood box-office. Without being on the ballot, judiciary made him governor. Days before stung judges, particularly the duo at the Supreme Court, began singing, a very senior judicial official had confided in me that the DSS invasion of judges’ homes and arrests, might recreate Armageddon in our polity. He mentioned Amaechi as the sole troubler of the judiciary whose activities might crash the on-going political experience. This particular official says he is keeping a Pandora Box that would shake the nation to its root. He claimed Buhari knows Amaechi and another Buhari honcho as the central theme. The revelations therein are reportedly tying the president’s hands from completing the squeezing of the stung judges or further stinging alleged corrupt judges.
His man, Amaechi, is putting him in a cul-de-sac.
What are the options before a president with anti-corruption emblem? He can choose to believe Amaechi’s denial of all bribery, bullying and inducement allegations from Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro and hear no evil afterwards. Only that there will be two problems with that option. First, the president must also believe the denial of the stung judges, irrespective of the claimed circumstantial evidence against them and ask them to go and sin no more. Second, Buhari must be ready to sacrifice a huge chunk of what is left of his anti-corruption integrity, because he has made the anti-graft crusade so believable to a public baying for blood, that once your name escapes into the public domain as having an alleged corruption baggage, you are already guilty as accused. In today’s Nigeria, a suspect is presumed guilty until otherwise proven. Don’t blame the irrational public, blame irredeemable looters.
I doubt if Buhari would want to take this highway to perception perdition. You don’t go stinging bees and turn back humming the Beatles platinum. The cases built against the judges must run their course. The anus of other judges suspected of farting on the Bench must also be smelled out and thoroughly burnished. These Bench-foulers are public officials though of restricted calling (are they now that tempered?) who should also dance naked in public if found wanting. I’m also for them stepping away from the Bench for the duration of their cleansing. An accumulated leave without a semblance of punitive intention should satisfy all parties. You may want to argue like NJC that there is a procedure which their temporary exit won’t fit into. But would recent happenings in the justice sector fit into any procedure whatsoever? Unusual decisions are always products of unusual times. The season is here in Nigeria.
A cabinet colleague of Amaechi had confided in Gibbers that the major thrust of Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade is name-and-shame, leaving the baying public to pull the noose lever. It was a carry-over from the opposition days. The strategy practically won APC the presidency, with almost everybody in the yesterday’s government tarred with the despicable brush. One memorable case was Aviation Minister Stella Oduah’s. The call for her exit from Jonathan’s cabinet was armouredly strident. Her principal held out for a while before his biceps couldn’t contain the dead-weight, Oduah’s case had become.
I suspect Buhari may want to adopt Jonathan’s approach, concerning Amaechi. Oduah was reportedly special to Jonathan as Amaechi is now to Buhari, though in diverse ways. For Buhari to judge how dead-weight Amaechi’s alleged corruption cases have become, he should simply consider public reactions to the mention of Minister of Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu in another bribe-for-judgment scandal, with both ministers allegedly dropping the president’s name. While Onu’s alleged involvement sent the public reeling, only shoulders were hunked and eyes cockeyed over Amaechi’s multiple cases. In the early days of his presidency, a foreign tabloid had targeted Buhari’s visit to run a ruinous editorial on the president’s new cabinet, with Amaechi emerging as the poster-boy of what an anti-corruption regime should not look like. Buhari shrugged it off. Doubt if he can afford such a puff and huff now.