Monday, 12 October 2015



General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) became the substantive president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the  Federal Republic of Nigeria, following his swearing in on 29 May, 2015 by the chief justice of Nigeria.

President Mohamadu Buhari is not a new comer in Nigerian politics. He was the military head of state of Nigeria from 1983 to 1985. As a military leader, he was reputed to be a no-nonsense man that handled Nigeria with an iron fist for the two years he was in power. He was said to have applied draconian laws in handling state affairs generally, which made many see him as a dictator even till date. More so, the retired general from Katsina State in Northwestern Nigeria, is said to be incorruptible, courageous, bold, prudent and  economical  in management of state resources (though not all agree that he has all these attributes and virtues).

There is no doubt that a major challenge facing Nigeria since independence in 1960 is poor management or mismanagement of state resources on the part of persons at the helms of affairs. You may call it corruption if you like, as it encompasses all acts of unlawful financial practices in government and public offices in general . This has been the major bane of Nigeria since independence. It is responsible for the country's underdevelopment and the plethora of social, economic and political woes plaguing her as a state.

It is the view of some Nigerians that Buhari's economical and prudent nature and the fact that he is not ostentatious pust him in a strategic position to manage Nigeria's resources for over all national development. He was said to have patronise the economic class of the British Airways that he boarded to London recently and also rejected the luxury car provided by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron to convey him from London Airport.But can Buhari stick to this frugality that is has been known for? Will the political class not frustrate his efforts to fix Nigeria if he refuses to allow them access to Nigeria's wealth for their personal and selfish aggrandizement? Is Buhari really economical or is he pretending? How well can he cope and be liked by the elite in a country that is notorious for great opulence by the wealthy? Why did Buhari contest for the office of the Nigerian president that appears to be an exclusive preserve of the rich since independence? Only time shall provide answers to these burning questions.

The rate of corruption in Nigeria especially during the military era and in the past sixteen years since the country's return to democracy in 1999, has reached an alarming and unbearable proportion.  Corruption was one of the major factors that led to the fall of the PDP-led federal government in the last presidential election in Nigeria. The electoral revote that saw the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party ultimately  ushered into power, at the federal level, the former opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, with Mohammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria. Many analysts and commentators have contended that the emergence of Buhari as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a confirmation of the confidence reposed in him by those Nigerians who voted  him, and believe that he is capable of fighting corruption and fixing the country thereby, making it a better place for the benefit of every Nigerian.

There is a very remarkable and salient line from Buhari's inaugural speech delivered immediately after been sworn in as the president of Nigeria. To quote him: ''I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody''. This powerful statement credited to President Buhari has been trending in the conventional as well as the social media in the past few days he was sworn as president of Nigeria. Technically and diplomatically, President Buhari, by this statement made it clear that he is president of every Nigerian, including the common man, and that he is not liable or answerable to political godfathers or godmothers in Nigeria, therefore demonstrating clearly that he is not ready and willing to be at the beck and core of the so-called political big wigs, godfathers or those I have chosen to describe as 'political investors' in Nigeria.

The political influence or weight of political investors over political office holders in Nigeria, the president inclusive, CANNOT be overemphasized. These men and women, who are either past presidents, senators, governors, business men, traditional and religious leaders, etc, could be described as the pillars behind the throne. Many of them are known to operate from behind the scene but influence greatly, actions and decisions of political office holders in Nigeria, who most times, have appeared to be puppets or stooges whose actions are scripted and teleguided by these so-called godfathers or political investors in Nigeria.

In the case of President Buhari, we were told, during the course of his election campaigns, that he is a poor Nigerian, who even though had access to Government in the past, did not corruptly amass state resources and therefore, did not  enrich  himself at the expense of ordinary or poor Nigerians. President Buhari also told the world that he had obtained his APC presidential nomination form partly on loans as he was unable to raise the money for the form.While I express huge reservation here it is not my task to determine whether President Buhari actually obtained some loans to add to the money at his disposal for the purpose of collecting the presidential nomination form of his political party, the All Progressive Congress. I do know however, that President Mohammadu Buhari was one time military administrator of defunct Northeastern State in the 1970s, Minister of Petroleum under Obasanjo's military government, and more recently, Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Funds, under late General Sani Abacha's government in the 1990s.

President Buhari is known to have disdain and great intolerance for corruption and embezzlement of public funds. As has been noted above, he borrowed some money in form of loans  to collect his party presidential nomination form. Collection of party nomination form is not the main thing that cost money in an election but the actual electioneering and campaigns. In Nigeria, billions of Naira are injected into election campaigns from start to finish. In the case of President Buhari, we were told that he was sponsored and supported by market men and women as well as commoners from the length and breath of Nigeria. While I may I agree that this was the case to an extent, it cannot be disputed that President Buhari must have received huge financial support from big wigs in his party and those I refer to as political investors in Nigeria.

Political investors are persons who invest in politics for the purpose of profit making. In Nigeria, they include mufti-billionaire business men and women, political godfathers and godmothers, amongst them present and past political leaders, so-called elder statemen and women, and so on. A major characteristic of political investors is that they are business men and women who invest in persons wishing to contest for political positions or offices for the benefits they stand to gain. They are always  in government and continue to sponsor persons to attain political offices, not because they like such persons but because of what they stand to benefit in the event that they win political power.

For President Buhari, therefore, all those political investors who may have put in their financial resources into his political adventure did so because of what they stand to gain should he gain access to power. Politics is an investment in Nigeria. Those who put their resources into it do expect to get rewarded by the government they are supporting. In the light of the above therefore, one may argue that those who assisted President Buhari in one way or another to rise to the one number office in  Nigeria see him as a means to an end, that is their own political end. There is a saying that there are no permanent friends but permanent interests  in politics. I wish to state however, that there is no permanent interest in politics as interest too changes depending on the political circumstances and expediences of the time.

Buhari's political party, the APC, is an amalgam of various political parties, groups and interest who came together mainly for the purpose of wresting power from the PDP. There are political investors in APC just like in any other political party in Nigeria. Now that the APC has taken over power at the federal level and in more than twenty states in Nigeria, how does President Buhari settles the interest of those political investors who supported him, while also taking care of the interests of ordinary Nigerians. This question becomes very imperative  in view of the dwindling financial fortune of Nigeria as a consequence of the drastic fall n the price of crude oil in the international market, Nigeria's major earner.

A renowned political analyst and commentator has said that President Buhari needs to make sure he takes care of the interests of those that supported him to office while also using Nigeria's resources for state development for the benefits of every Nigerian. In his words, ''President Buhari has to make sure there is money in the hands of politicians''. However, the body language of President Buhari since he was sworn into power on 29 May, 2015, seems to suggest that he is not ready to use Nigeria's money to service political investors who had invested in his political ambition. He aptly demonstrated this when he said that he ''belongs to nobody', a clear warning to political racketeers and profiteers in Nigeria, that the new president of Nigeria may not be ready to use the country's money to service them in the name of godfatherism.

Does President Buhari have the nerve to lead Nigeria without using state resources to favour political investors or godfathers?  Only time shall tell. His economical and frugal nature does seems to suggest that he would be able to use our state resource to fix Nigeria. It has been categorically stated earlier in this piece that the appropriation of Nigeria's resources by the political class is a major reason behind the country's underdevelopment and the barrage of woes bedeviling her. In all this, the ordinary citizens are the ones bearing the brunt and consequences of corruption in Nigeria in form of unemployment, hunger,  scarcity and high cost of petroleum products, poor power supply and so on. As I conclude, I wish to say that many Nigerians are in favour of  the prudent or economical application of their country's resources to develop their country for their own benefit. Against this backdrop, they MUST support President Buhari in his determination to change what appears to have been the statuesque since independence: appropriation of the country's wealth by the ruling class and their cronies. They are those I refer  to as political investors here. The rest of us are the ordinary citizens or masses of Nigeria. If Buhari is able to fix Nigeria with our support, the country would be an Eldorado for every Nigerian. If he is unable because of the forces of political investors and godfathers who have been the stumbling block to Nigeria's development since independence, your guess would be as good as mine. We therefore need to support the president to rescue Nigeria from the hands of political investors that have held the country to the jugular since 1960 for the good of the rest of us.

Frank, Chukwuka Osimi is a PRO/MHO Officer, historian, writer and blogger. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. I take responsibility for any errors that may be found in this article. I wrote this article on 02/06/2015.

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