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OPINION: Mr. President, corruption will fight back! – By Fola Ojo

On Saturday, March 28, 2015, millions of Nigerians enthroned Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria. I joined them not because he springs from my state of Osun, or shares in my faith fruits, or travels in my trade route. We gave him applauses not because he showered us with gold; or put us in a choke-hold to get him elected. Buhari was favoured primarily because he may be the lone known and audible voice in Nigeria today who has the grit and guts not just to fight corruption, but to triumph over it. His determination in this regard is indubitable. Corruption has to be liquidated, and its carcasses tossed to the birds of the air.
I had once in a treatise likened corruption in Nigeria to the monstrous biblical Goliath that cannot be killed with Davidic ease. If Buhari represents the biblical David and corruption is the garroting Goliath, Mr. President should understand that corruption, like Goliath, will not fold up and watch a retired Army General take it out. Anywhere in the world where there is a raging war against the vice, the monster fights back in a blistering hellacious quirk.
Buhari’s extant corruption-killing strategy has been with both noise and poise. Utterances and pronouncements from the President about how he will castrate thieving in government have unnerved many whose lifestyles and day jobs are nothing but looting public funds. It is widely alleged that the immediate past administration squandered about N13.972tn in government funds through profligacy and pointblank heinous heisting from the public till. The unnerved are now feeling the heat; a few of them have recently briefly smelt the malodour of the jailhouse. The big treat is only a couple of weeks away when the guilty, now in a confused state and waiting for the Day of Judgment, will have their days in court. May that day come with speed in Nigeria.
Corruption has already begun fighting back. Some big shots are now trying to stall the process initiated to put the feet of plunderers to the fire. I have keenly followed over the years the utterances and pronouncements of the great Man of God, Bishop Mathew Kukah. His firm stance against corruption and injustice in Nigeria is commendable. Very generous I have been in showering kudos upon him. He won my heart a long time ago. In a public event in 2012, Kukah said these words about corruption in Nigeria:
“…We live in a state of ineffective law enforcement and tragic social conditions. Corruption has destroyed the fabric of our society. Its corrosive effect can be seen in the ruination of our lives and the decay in our society. The inability of the state to punish criminals as criminals has created the illusion that there is a conflict between Christians and Muslims…our attention is taken away from the true source of our woes: corruption.”
But last week, speaking as a holy member of the much-taunted National Peace Committee; we noticed a stealthy priestly pivot:
“…I will advise that rather than chasing the ‘thieves’, the President should address the issues of the misery and squalour that have become Nigeria’s lot, as development will raise the best army to fight corruption,” he said. In another priestly pivot, Kukah also inferred that President Buhari should refrain from probing some members of the last administration and “face his work”.
Does the bishop really want Buhari to “face his work”, and let those who have stolen saunter home to celebrate wealth illegally acquired? Does he really want former President Goodluck Jonathan left out of the whims of probes and investigations about missing money because he (Jonathan) has done Nigeria so much good by conceding an election he lost? The former President said it publicly that he had nothing to hide and would submit himself for a probe; and I believe him. I have an understanding of the priestly sentiments regarding the gesture of Jonathan after the election. Maybe, if he had not conceded, Nigerians may be fighting Nigerians right now on Nigerian streets in an unending pandemonium, and there will be no ammunition or serenity present to fight corruption. But Bishop Kukah’s suggestion that Buhari should touch not some “anointed” thieves will only put Nigeria deeper down in the pressure cooker of corruption and impunity.
Kukah should not ignore these facts; in a nation where the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation withheld and spent N3.7tn oil revenue without budgetary provision and approval, where out of N8.1 tn generated, only N4.3tn was remitted to the federation account; where a serving minister allegedly spent $2bn from the Excess Crude Account between November 2014 and May 2015 without approval, where the cost of running the NNPC is much more than running the Federal Government, where ministers stole one million barrels of crude oil per day without blinking, and where at least $150bn of Nigeria’s money is stashed in the US banks alone by plundering civil servants and politicians, hunting down thieving public servants is not only expedient, it is Godly. That’s why Nigerians hired Buhari. There is no other work to work in Nigeria as of today but to work on walking out corruption from our midst.
All manner of diseases and afflictions in Nigeria have their roots in corruption. Kill corruption and Nigeria lives; let it live and Nigeria is dead. Electricity megawatts will be mega-wacko if corruption is allowed a breath of life. Food will be in scarce supply, water will never flow from our pipes, education will stay in coma, hospitals will be in lethargic torpor, workers will never get paid for work done, and it will continue to be life in the Hades if corruption is let live.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been under construction for almost 30 years gulping trillions of naira; corruption has muffled the dream. The East-West Expressway project is stalled because corruption is killing it. The Second Niger Bridge is a nightmare and Nigeria is in a miserable state as a result of corruption. Fighting corruption is fighting for the nation’s life; and fighting corruption is why we hired Muhammadu Buhari as President.
If the fat cats among us are trying to prevail over the President to save those who have pillaged Nigeria, that is an example of corruption beginning to fight back. President Buhari has assured Nigerians that no amount of pressure will make him give up the war against corruption in the country. He must never buckle. Corruption and its cognoscente will come back stronger and tougher like exorcised demons if thieves are allowed to go free.
In conclusion, I submit that men who became rich and affluent through corrupt means are in constant bellicose and bitter competition with men who fight corruption. The two opposing cohorts are always in a grapple and in a never-ending cold war. The hearts of the corrupt are boiling in love with the continuation of status quo greed, graft, gluttony, oppression and self-centredness. Those who fight corruption must beware; and President Buhari should always have his antenna up. Corrupt fat cats will do anything to protect their pocket books even if it means derailing those who govern with the fear of God and with the welfare of the people in mind. Those who fight corruption, Mr. President, must sleep with one eye open.

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