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President Buhari Please Stop The Nonsense & Betrayals By Ilesanmi Omabomi

I hope the President does not see this as personal. What is at stake here is bigger than him. It is the future of the war against corruption and the survival of Nigeria. 

Nonsense and betrayal are the kindest words I can use in describing the President’s in the face of his Minister of External affairs Geoffrey Onyeama’s decision to rubbish his anti-corruption crusade by sacking, sanctioning or supervising the sacking of a whistleblower in his Ministry, Ntia Thompson, for sounding the alarm on corrupt practices involving $229,000 and N800,000. For a President whose sole claim to fame is his now floundering claim to be allergic to any and all manifestations of corruption his silence on this matter amounts to a mea culpa and a missed opportunity to give a new boost to his anti-corruption war that has been on life support and the receiving end of acerbic attacks in the last year. 

I am a big supporter of the President but not a blind one. My primary commitment is to Nigeria and its progress. In the course of that commitment, I am prepared to support anyone who is able to tackle any of the evils bedeviling the country. This is why I support the President in his war against corruption because it is more robust than what we had under the Otuoke shoeless boy, but the intensity of the war is way behind the severity of the problem. My support for the President is not unqualified or unconditional. One of my conditions is that he must stand by his troops irrespective of how brutal the war becomes. In this instance, he must stand by Ntia Thompson. I am not one of those looking for loopholes in the President’s ill-conceived and incompetently executed war on corruption as a justification for arguing that the war should not be fought. The war must go on and become more brutal. The enemies should be complete obliterated, and those wounded through friendly fire should be rehabilitated to the extent possible. If this is truly a war, then the rules of war must apply. I do not believe that the failure of a policy provides sufficient evidence for its abandonment. In fact, it may be the clarion call to intensify efforts. In that context, my role as a patriot is to find ways to advise refinement in the conception and execution of the war. 

Only a public policy neophyte will fail to see the chilling effects this sacking will have on the President’s whistleblower reward and protection program that was rolled out with fanfare a few months ago. This program is reported to have yielded information leading to the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of Naira, including $153m and over $9m from the former GMD NNPC, Andrew Yakubu Just to name two instances. The President’s silence is, with due respect, an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of the trust of Nigerians like Ntia Thompson who heeded his call to join his anti-corruption war. His silence in the political crucifixion of Ntia Thompson is equivalent to a commander abandoning his troops. As a retired military General, the President does not need me to remind him that abandoning your troops is a very serious offense, even in a political theater of war. Such an action often exacts a political price.    

In a country where you have clowns and morons parading themselves as ministers and top government officials, you wonder why the country’s Attorney General has not noticed the illegality of the Geoffrey Onyeama’s actions. You wonder why the Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun who rolled out this whistleblower policy with fanfare has failed to see the frontal attack on that policy by this sacking. You wonder why EFCC and Ibrahim Magu have not noticed the chilling effect the sacking will have on efforts to recover stolen funds and the call on Nigerians to contribute to the effort. Where is Lai Mohammed? Has he noticed the disconnect between his propaganda efforts that the President is fully committed to the fight against corruption and implications of the President’s unsettling silence in the face of the onslaught against Ntia Thompson? Why has the vice-President, himself a lawyer and a perceived intellectual, not been able to synthesize the holistic policy implications of this deadly silence given that he was the acting President when the news of the sacking first broke?

This type of unholy silence is one of the reasons why Nigerians do not trust those who lead them. This lack of trust is the combination of a feeling that their leaders are corrupt, incompetent, nonchalant, uncaring, moronic and living in a world too insulated from their everyday struggles. For any of these leaders who feel underserving of these harsh words, he or she should question why an incident so integral to the success of a war that every Nigerian is fixated on has not elicited any comment from a single senior administration official since the news first broke. It matters not if President Buhari just returned to the country. After all, senior administration officials told us there was no leadership vacuum in his absence, and they wanted us to believe them. This was an opportunity to prove it, and they goofed. If you talk the talk, you should walk the walk!

What Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has done is not just the sacking of a civil servant. It amounts to an affront and total repudiation of the anti-corruption policies of a government in which he serves. It is the latest in a long line of senior government officials acting in a manner symptomatic of a lack of support and belief in the President’s anti-corruption war. In a normal country, the President would not only have sacked Mr. Onyeama like yesterday, but the anti-corruption institutions would have ensured that he is cooling his heels in jail awaiting trial for actions supportive of corruption and undermining the welfare of Nigerians. The example would sound alarm bells from Maiduguri to Badagry and from Calabar to Sokoto because actions speak louder than words. But Nigeria is not a normal place! 

One of the reasons why the so-called Buhari bounce the nation experienced after his swearing-in on May 29, 2015, which saw increases in electricity supply, availability of petroleum products, commitment to the course and declines in corrupt practices and other nefarious activities have disappeared is a lack of faith in President Buhari. The boosts were based on his previous incarnation and his contemporary talk. Nigerians have found out that while he is still willing to talk the talk mostly through his subordinates, he is no longer able or willing walk the walk. This is the reason why people like Geoffrey Onyeama are doing what they are doing. They view the President as driving towards political irrelevance and impotence in a race car without brakes. It is up to you my President but remembers that the next rendezvous with the common people who employed you has already been set for February 16, 2019. It may not be Valentine Day February 14 election as was the initial date in 2015 but I believe Nigerians are willing to show love to whoever is demonstrably prepared and able to be decisive and holistic in their approach to the problems of Nigeria. 

I wish you a speedy recovery.

Ilesanmi Omabomi

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