From the breezing climate of the East to the ancient brown roofs of Ibadan, the rocky lands of Abeokuta up to the desert plains of the Nigerian savanah, the message of change rumbled through households, ransacked villages and huts. Some say it is a message of hope, some believe it is an oath for development while to others it is simply the struggle for a new beginning.
No matter how you caption it, the General Buhari’s twelve years aspiration to retake the presidential seat was one laid down on various promises against a perceived failed government. But amidst the promises of free lunch in schools, drastic reduction in prices of petroleum products, constant electricity, stipends to unemployed youths among numerous others, one which the whole world and indeed truly progressive Nigerians will focus on more is his overemphasized war on corruption.
While General Buhari’s blueprint on how he intend to effectively fight corruption and bring perpetrators to book still remains oblivious, the credibility of his administration and integrity of his person will be neck-deep on how ferocious he clampdown on individuals and organisations who have brought ridicule to the image of our country at home and in diaspora, men and women who have abused the sanctity of our national pride and brought our country to unparallel ridicule amongst the comity of nations.
There have been rumours and counter rumours about the back door arrangement and clemency being doled out to some classes of individuals. Let me say unequivocally, that such move if allowed to see the ray of daylight will be the beginning of the end for the incoming administration. The issue of the anti-corruption crusade is one that Nigerians will take no negotiation or give amnesty on. More so, it is the feet of iron with which the incoming walked itself into the villa, to jettison it for the feet of clay in the name of amnesty will definitely translate to monumental blow-off of goodwill.
If General Buhari is going to live up to his promise and show his true resolve to fight graft and its siblings with the last drop of his blood, then he must hit the ground running. One of such anti-corruption step will be having the alleged drug baron and international fugitive, Buruji Kashamu extradited to the United States to answer for his crimes.
Kashamu beyond words have become the point of ridicule and stain to the purity of democracy. He has not only bastardized democratic institutions through back channel graft activities but through his name, malfeasance has been knighted into the sacred name of Nigeria. For myself and many fans of the movie, ‘Orange is the new black’, knowing that the villainous ‘Alhaji‘ described in that movie still enjoys unabated freedom inspite of a pending extradition request from the United States government is disgusting, and as a Nigerian, coming to terms with the news of such individual emerging as an elected Senator is not only traumatic but despicable. To say the least, Buruji has made burlesque of our judicial system.
The answer to the question on the possibility of such feat remains elusive. While General Buhari may be willing to make such move, will political gladiators who now feature as power brokers give room for such?
In the past few days, headlines of tabloids and bulletins have been awash with news of Kashamu making overture to the opposition’s National Leader, Bola Tinubu and even though Tinubu has issued a rejoinder against the gesture, the response reads more like a man whose name have been persiflage with allegations of sharp practices in Lagos and South west looking for an avenue to rewrite his narratives. Buruji has a deep pocket and as such making friends with the likes of Tinubu at close door can not be wished away as evidences have shown that Kashamu has more than political relationship with Tinubu especially with records of the drug Lord supplying official vehicles for local governments in Lagos State between 1999 to 2007 while Tinubu was Governor.
The Judiciary is another area that requires focus especially in the quest against corruption. The honour associated with the bench has since left it with reports of bribery and allegations of favoritism against Judges. Expecting justice while the status quo remains will only make mockery of any genuine move to bring perpetrators to book. How then can corruption be effectively curbed when the judiciary is stained? How can we tame the beast of grafts when only the judiciary has the power to try alleged criminals? This is a topic for another day.
While the over 15million Nigerians who voted for Buhari on March 28 continue to hope for change from May 29, it is important that General Buhari ensure that his actions and activities against corruption meets up with the high hopes and expectations of the voters and not diluted policies where plea bargaining reign supreme.
In the next few weeks, Nigerians hope to read news report on can of worms opened, former public office holders sued, private companies acquired via illegal public funds nationalized. But while we wait, nothing will be more relieving than waking up on May 30th with the news headline ‘Buruji Kashamu whisked away to US’
Adekoya Boladale is a political scientist and scholar on good governance, a social commentator and consultant on political and intra governmental affairs. He is the Convener, Advocacy for Better Leadership (ABEL), Nigeria.