Saturday, 15 August 2015



General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) became the substantive president of Nigeria on May 29, 2015. He has spent over a week in power as at today. Nigerians are waiting anxiously for President Buhari to constitute and present to them his cabinet that will work with him in piloting the affairs of state for the next four years.

President Buhari is said to be an incorruptible individual. He  has been in government before in Nigeria as minister of petroleum resources in the 1970s, and later as military head of state in the mid 1980s. He was also chairman of the defunct petroleum trust funds during the regime of military dictator, late General Sani Abacha in the 1990s.

There is this belief by some Nigerians that President Buhari is a man of integrity and that he does not tolerate any acts of corruption. I do not wish to comment on this as the parameters for mentioning  integrity and corruption  in Nigeria are subjects of contention and may not be in conformity with what obtains universally. Put succinctly,  corruption and integrity are two relative terms and there is no unison among Nigerians regarding what they mean.

Fillers emanating from the government of President Buhari suggest that he is taking his time to choose those that would make their way into his cabinet. The president was said to have turned down  ministerial nominations from some governors of his political party, the All Progressives Congress, insisting that he does not have a say in their appointments of commissioners. It was reported that the president is of the strong view that any Nigerian with links to corruption would not find his way into his cabinet. This sounds very fantastic and beautiful, but there are many questions that need to be answered: Is President Buhari going to appoint people from the moon for them not to have had traces of corruption in the past? Is Buhari not going to appoint Nigerians that have been and are still in Nigeria where corruption is an endemic and contagious disease?  If he (Buhari) is going to appoint Nigerians into his cabinet, how is he going to determine that they do not have any connection with corruption? Is President Buhari not going to carry along his party, APC's mechinery in deciding who who makes his cabinet and if yes, is he telling us that there are no corrupt persons in his party? These  and many more questions are begging for answers from no other person, but the president himself.

It will not amount to fallacy to state categorically that corruption is like a canker worm that has eaten very deep into every facet of Nigeria's life. An average Nigerian political leader or public office holder sees his position as a means to an end. That is, to fulfill his selfish ambition of amassing and looting public wealth for his personal aggrandizement at the expense of the ordinary citizens whom he is supposed to serve with state resources at his disposal. Very many persons who occupy public offices in Nigeria do end up serving their pockets and looting the country's wealth for their generations unborn.

It will not be out of place to think that President Buhari was given huge financial and material support by his party chieftains and members in the course of his campaigns. As I have noted in my earlier article, these persons who supported him to achieve his aim of becoming the President of Nigeria are political investors. Like normal investors, they have invested politically in the person of President Buhari. They are earnestly waiting to reap a thousand times, the dividends and gains of their investments in the president. We wait to see how the president is going to settle these political investors while also taking care of the interests of Nigerians who gave him the mandate to be their president and fix Nigeria for the benefit of every Nigerian.

Government in a democracy cannot be reduced to only the executive. It consists of three arms or branches: the executive, legislature and the judiciary. These three arms of government are expected to work together to achieve the aims and objectives of state, which amongst other things,  include the protection of lives and property of citizens and also to ensure their welfare .It is a good thing that  the recently elected  Nigerian parliament, the 8th National Assembly, will be constituted and sworn into power next week. It is hoped that they would work together with the executive, led by President Buhari as well as with the judiciary, to fix the major challenges of poor leadership, insecurity, corruption and high cost of governance, unemployment, energy and power crises, poor infrastructure, impunity, and many more that face Nigeria today.

I wish to conclude by saying that President Buhari's quest to raise a cabinet team made up of incorruptible  men and women of integrity seems to be a tall order or what some might call a Herculean task, in view of the fact that corruption is endemic in Nigeria and public office holders and their godfathers who recommend them for appointments are out to loot national treasury. This explains why many Nigerians doubt that it is not possible for the president to talk about having incorruptible persons in his government. However, there are two major options for President Buhari. First, is  to have a cabinet  dominated by Nigerians who have great love and passion for service to humanity rather than greed to siphon Nigeria's resources for their personal aggrandizement at the expense of poor people of Nigeria. Second, is for the president to run a lean government with reduced cost of governance and channel our economic resources into human and national development for the welfare of every Nigerian. On the extreme, with strong determination and courage on the part of President Buhari and with support  from the masses of Nigeria, it may be possible for him to run a government that is devoid of corruption and corrupt officials. Nigerians will be instrumental to achieving this feat. There is need for us to a have a change of heart or mindset towards corruption and corrupt officials in government. We MUST stop worshiping persons with stolen or ill-gotten wealth and realize that being in government is an opportunity to serve the people and develop the state, not steal state resources.

This article was originally written on June 8 2015, and published on my Google Plus account.


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