Of Buhari’s critics, counsellors
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s critics are numerous. Whether they are sincere or not is debatable. Sincerity is judged by motives. Selfish or altruistic purposes? Critics have motives.
Since assuming office, President Buhari’s revelations of corruption are poignantly nauseating. His mantra of change is in focus and yielding results. Nonetheless, the anti-corruption crusade is frowned at by some elites, pleading to soft-pedal. Their pleadings for leniency are against the tide. That this country is enmeshed in corruption is stating the obvious. The differential between naira and dollar/pound sterling values is caused by corruption. Corruption breeds inefficiency. It is related to economic, social and political conditions. Besides breeding mediocrity, it is considered to be a most dangerous and destabilizing phenomenon. Tolerance of it breeds more of it; people detest its change, because it has become their culture.
The Holy Scriptures are against corruption. In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter five, verses 1 to 11, Ananias with Sapphira his wife sold a parcel of land, kept part of the proceeds of the sale and delivered part of it to the Church contrary to the usual practice. But Peter, in spirit, discovered the corruption which met with instant punishment of death. Great fear gripped the Church members and it served as deterrent.
In 2nd Kings, chapter 5, verses one to27, Naaman, captain of Syrian Army was a leper, came to Prophet Elisha to be cleansed of the leprosy. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha secretly pursued Naaman to collect money and two garments. Prophet Elisha commanded the leprosy of Naaman to cleave on to Gehazi; an instant reward of corruption.
To fight bribery (Rashwah) and corruption (fasad) is an integral part of the teaching of the Quran and Hadith. Devouring and misappropriation of the property of others, the Quran prohibits it in chapter 4, verse 29 and chapter 2, verse 188. Islam also condemns those in authority who spread corruption (chapter 28, verse 4, and chapter 89 vv. 10 to 12. The Holy Quran further says (chapter 31, verses 18 and 19: “Do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means nor offer it as a bribe to the people in authority so that you may swallow up other people’s property unlawfully while you know”.
Prophet Muhammad added his voice to say that all the parties to bribery “the bribery taker, the bribe-giver and the go-between” invoke Allah’s wrath and condemnation upon themselves. It is further reported that the “Messenger of Allah cursed the donor of rashwah and its recipient in all matters that involve a judgment or ruling”. Corruption undermines fear of God, morality, decency, social justice and good governance, rule of law, harmony, peace, progress and development.
Before the advent of imported faiths, corrupt practices were, and still are, abhorrent to our indigenous religions. The gods of iron (ogun), thunder (shango) and goddess of river (aiyelala) could be invoked to punish a culprit. Justice is their watch- word. And it is instant. Who says that crime of corruption cannot abate? This generation of looters shall pass away to leave the youths behind, and be enmeshed in the quagmire. It must be made clear that our leaders are responsible for the persistence of vices which the coming generations shall imbibe.
It is against the backdrops of the above Scriptural narratives and references that I view the criticisms by Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie. Being a lawyer, he was relying on the principles of “Rule of law” in his criticism of President Buhari. His criticism deviates from Prof. A. V. Dicey’s definition of Rule of law; it is a breach of it, for the looters are offenders. In the senior politics of this nation, Ayo Adebanjo played unforgettable roles. Having weathered the storm of treasonable felony trial in the early 1960s, as a follower of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, encouraging statements are expected from him in support of the President. The late Chief Awo was a stickler for discipline.
Indeed, Awolowo’s uprightness and strict discipline denied him the opportunity to rule this country, because his opponents would not cope with his disciplined administration, if he came to power. Therefore, for Ayo to develop sympathy for the corrupt people in the trap of the EFCC is worrisome.
For his stance on corruption, Chief Awo’s bone could rock in the grave. As for Okogie, he used to be an exemplary Catholic priest who once volunteered to die in place of a Muslim woman condemned to death for adultery by stoning, by an Islamic court. Indeed, his radicalism earned him humiliation during Ibrahim Babangida’s military administration. This radicalism seems to have waned in his old age. An apparent volte-face is most embarrassing to Okogie’s watchers and admirers. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s spirit and that of ’Kanmi Ishola Osobu, would shiver with disappointment in the great beyond.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary- General, does not come in as a critic of President Buhari, but as a counsellor. His recent suggestion that the 36 states should be merged to six states is not acceptable. The idea is diversionary and retrogressive, with the possibility of creating more problems than it can solve. States creation in the country has a long history, under different Heads of State, dating back to 1963, beginning with Mid-west, (now, Edo) that was carved from Western Region. That was followed by another creation in 1967.
Other creations were in 1976, 1987, 1991, 1996 and 1998. Therefore, if someone suggests the collapse of 36 states to six, is to put back the clock. The reasons for the creation were to enhance holistic competitions and bring governance to the doors of the people. A collapse of it has opposite effects. What I am opposed to is further creation of States. Patriotism is what is required.
‘Change’ is President Buhari’s mantra. In the history of mankind, change is an anathema; people have natural disinclination to change. But there must be positive change, in the interest of developments. In consonance with Shakespeare’s description of Brutus’s mood “of resolving to put an end to Ceasar, before Ceasar put an end to the Republic (of Rome)”, a paraphrase is desirable, therefore, that President Buhari must put an end to corruption before corruption puts an end to Nigeria.
• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, lives at Ikorodu, Lagos.
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