Avoiding corrupting practices in anti-corruption campaigns

by

Noel Ihebuzor

Anti-corruption rhetoric and dramatics are now very popular in Nigeria. I totally support campaigns to rid this country of corruption but I also insist that such campaigns must carried with the right level of professionalism, detachment, neutrality, integrity and honesty. Anything short of these is plain dishonest. Anything short of these really amounts to the continued enthronement and celebration of corruption in efforts to combat it. where anti-corruption are not neutral, detached and honest, then they are likely to abuse their powers and influences, applying inconsistent rules and procedures in their treatment of persons and agencies. Double standards also represent critical threats to anti-corruption campaigns as they throw up different evaluations and reactions for the same behaviour. Such practices, where they occur, amount to corruption!

Here are a few reflections on this subject matter.

  • Double standards are outcomes of corrupt thinking. A nation of double standards will thus remain corrupt.
  • You cannot have one set of scales for persons in one party & another for persons in the other. Such a habit results from a corrupt mind set.
  • If you practice selective hysteria for allegations of corruption against persons in one party, then your mind is gradually being corrupted.
  • If you practice selective targeting in your campaigns against corruption, then your campaign is already steeped in corruption.
  • Anti-corruption practices must be fair. They must be conducted without any trace of favoritism or fear. Fail to do these and the campaign fails
  • To be credible, anti-corruptions must be consistent, even handed and transparent. They must be devoid of all forms of double standards.
Advertisements

The Manner of Manna – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

The 18th Sunday readings speak to our times.

These are hard times.

Food insecurity stalks the globe. Humanity grapples with the challenges of moral choices, consumerism holds the hearts and minds of men and women hostage, and rising savagery and wars with heavy undertones of bestiality bedevil our world. Merchants of misinformation and disinformation, of division and gain seeking distortion deceive people and lead them blinkered on to slippery slopes of false boundaries and exclusions.
The “Moseses” we see around us are false ones, all big talk and no action. They are sellers of false promises and dope, experts in denials, double talk, retractions and somersaults. The few “Amoses” we had have become compromised and most have abandonned themselves to selective amnesia and expedient associations.
We are in the desert. The desert seeks to invade us with its aridity and sterility.
Yes, these are hard times, but we must hang on there in faith, refusing to surrender to despair. We must stand firm against the invasion of any sense of futility.
God is there for us. Just like He heard the pleas of the Israelites, He will hear ours. In the same manner that He fed them with Manna will He also feed us. But ours will be a manna that feeds the body, nourishes the spirit, removes despair and restores the buoyancy of the soul. Positivity will return and in time, true leaders will emerge who will lead us to inclusive development, a development that welcomes us all, includes us all and where dividends and benefits of democracy are shared not by how one voted but by a spirit led sense of equity, justice, fair play and love.
Happy Sunday

Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

One hears a lot of things these days. But one has learnt never to believe most of them as we are now in a time of easy retractions and of claims of either being misunderstood, being misquoted or being quoted out of context. Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina, both presidential spokespersons, have now become experts in such methods of denial.  But wilI their skills stop speakers from speaking and hearers from hearing what was said at those increasingly frequent moments when the mouth appears to run ahead of and faster the brain?  “Mouth run” is a hazard and the best cure for it is a padlock but such a solution is painful and also violates a fundamental human right.

I hear the General has now decreed, yes, decreed that the probes into corruption in Nigeria will now be limited to the period when President Jonathan was in power. Femi Adesina has come forward to defend and justify this cut-off line that his principal has now drawn in the sands of Nigerian time. Note that this new cut-off line represents a departure from earlier indications that the period of “PDP misrule” (1999-2015) was going to come under serious probe.

The first question then is – what really prompted this departure? Logistics, fear of OBJ, fear of offending northern sensitivities by any focus on the short period of the Yar’Adua presidency? Nigerians are no fools and can read beyond the lines.  And lines that are purposefully drawn to include some and to exclude others represent the worst forms of arbitrariness and dishonesty, both of which have no place in good governance.

The second question is why the narrow focus? There are myriads of corruption allegations all over Nigeria starting from accusations of a $2.8 billion scam, to outright screaming headlines of an alleged heist by Halliburton that are yet to be closed out. Allegations such as these merit the attention of anybody genuinely interested in fighting corruption.

The third question is this – why this exclusive focus on the federal level? Are we suggesting that crooked deals at the state and LGA levels are unworthy of attention and prosecution?

The fight against corruption is not one of “pick and choose”. A selective approach calls into question the ultimate intentions of persons posing as anti-corruption crusaders. It exposes them to legitimate accusations of witch hunting and of attempting to use state powers in the pursuit of personal vendettas. It is worth reminding ourselves that whenever the instruments of state power are hijacked for personal pursuits, we are dealing with a case of abuse of power, and abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Let those who are drawing lines in the sands of time note that line drawings driven by vendetta and spite will eventually turn around and catch the same drawers. Finally, credibility is a requisite attribute of all who must fight corruption. Acts by corruption fighters that undermine this credibility will eventually sink the anti-corruption crusader.

wEtin dey hAppen?

by

Noel Ihebuzor

Spiralling out of control, spinning,
tumbling into free fall,
our Nero chases rodents
his followers cheer on,
reason & vision drowned

I had just read a report of a Bomb explosion in PH this morning.

Yesterday, ChannelsTV reported that GMB made very critical remarks on the GEJ’s administration’s handling of the BH insurgency when the BBOG group, who were strategic allies in GMB’s campaign, came calling. He forgot to tell his audience that at critical moments in the GEJ government’s efforts to deal with BH, He (GMB) made remarks calculated to discourage any robust muscling up of effort. He forgot to mention that of some his unfortunate cooments sounded like poorly disguised apologia for the BH savages. Even worse was the fact that GMB was making those remarks at the BBOG reception against the backdrop of his own seeming inability to respond creatively to the recrudescence of BH carnage right under his nose and on his incipient 40 day old watch. I almost flipped. Your house dey burn, you dey chase mouse, playing blame games, looking for cheap popularity and offering hollow over-used excuses! So I hastily scribbled these incoherent lines in the poem above as catharsis. Forgive the imperfections.

Lessons from NASS

By 

Noel Ihebuzor

Lesson from NASS 7. Winners are not whinners. They take a fall, clean nyash and bounce back.

Lesson from NASS 6. The come-back kid always kicks ass.

Lessons from NASS 5. In defeat, organise more and agonize less.

Lessons from NASS 4. Numbers matter, but strategic leveraging is everything.

Lessons from NASS 3. Size matters but it is how you use it that matters the most.

Lessons from NASS 2. In defeat, don’t lose your head.

Lessons from NASS 1. In victory never get cocky or complacent.

Key lesson – Public display of control and “Dictat” breed resentment. Appeal is superior to ordering and commanding in building consensus.

D is for Drown and more – an instantaneous duet

By

Toyosi Arigbabuwo and Noel Ihebuzor

NI

Crown, drown, clown…..”

TA

for which town?

Abeg, chill naa, no vex

NI

I no vex, I no frown!

Dem jus fall my hand down!

TA

Me dey here wan wear LASTMA gown

I no know say you dey only play with noun

My fine white skin, don nearly turn to brown!

NI

na so so frown frown

when town vex come meet crown

sake of say ogogoro wey him down

wey make dem talk of drown

TA

E come be like this town

When dem goon

Say no be madness make the crown

Wan drown pipu for inside Lagoon

NI

Chei, Baba God him dey frown

Him no go gree sey make clean pipu drown

na float wey eagle feather dey float for water,

leg wey waka come go waka go,

nothing do am, nothing fit do am.

TA/NI 

Iseeeee! Aseeee!

**** Toyosi and I wrote this instantaneous duet as an expression of our strong disapproval of royal meddling in inter-ethnic amity! Readers in Nigeria will be familiar with the context.TA is Toyosi’s voice, NI is mine.

Flights of fancy and flights from reality – A million other things that damaged President Jonathan

By

Noel Ihebuzor

GEJ, a great president. a humble man, a silent achiever

This link line takes you to an article in TheCable that claims to examine “a million other things that damaged President Jonathan” in his re-election bid. It is wriiten by one Chidi Chima and was uploaded on Twitter via @thecableng #2015Elections .  Chidi invites his readers to also come up with and contribute their views on what they think “damaged President Jonathan”.

Chidi Chima skipped Region & Religion! The reader is invited to visit INEC’s results compilation for the 2015 presidential elections and to look closely at the votings in NE, NW & SS zones. Skewed Demography, Religion & Region were at play and were the real “damagers”. This is the harsh truth and we need to tell ourselves some of these hard truths, but Chima prefers to flee from them. If, for example, the SE zone had come out and voted and given Jonathan 750,000 votes each and kept Buhari below 10% of votes cast, as was the case in most of the NE/NW zones, the results would have been otherwise. So, the game changer and decider in these elections were once again Ethnicity and Religion, not any of these fancy reasons that Chidi Chima throws up! Finally, Chidi Chima will do well to study the results for the presidential elections for the FCT and Lagos where populations and religions are more heterogeneous – the results here could be taken to reflect a more balanced representation as to how a cross section of Nigerians inhabiting a common geographical space evaluated the Jonathan presidency.

Jonathan, the real change!

My cousin and friend, Reg Ihebuzor,  with whom I regularly engage in discussions on development and politics, pointed out to me today that President Jonathan by his utterances and actions represents real change and that indeed the mantra of real change fits him like a glove. He reminded me of the following products of President Jonathan as proof of this real change mantra.

  1. Almajari Schools – never been done before
    2. Stopping corruption in fertiliser – never been done before
    3. Starting 2nd Niger Bridge – never been done before
    4. Revamping railways – never been done for 20 years
    5. Revamping 14 airport terminals – not been done
    6. Appointing more women in responsible positions – never been done
    7. National conference for effective federalism – never been done before
    8. You-win for youths – never been done before
    9. Reform of power sector – never been done
    10.Reform payment system in public sector to stop corruption – never been done.

He contrasts these evidences of real change with startling evidence of the rigidity of Buhari, of Buhari’s incapacity for change and his inflexibility, all the more startling given Buhari’s change campaign slogan. He cited the following as evidence of inability to understand change and to change :

  1. Arrogant Dictator – unchanged. “If you do not like Me, go and vote for the other party”
  2. Unchanging attitude towards his role in the PTF heist and the gross management ineptitude he displayed
  3. Unrepentant and unchanging attitude towards the post election violence by his supporters in 2011
  4. Unrepentant and unchanging attitude towards his current association with politicians with shady and corrupt pasts.
  5. Unchanging attitude towards retroactive laws that resulted in deaths. So, no apologies for retroactive laws
  6. Unchanging arrogance –  “I can’t change the past” and unwillingness to retract utterances he made in the past which are indicative of outright religious bigotry
  7. Unchanging attitude towards decrees 2 and 4
  8. No change in attitude towards his overthrow of a democratically elected government.
  9. No apologies for jailing democratically elected political leaders.
  10. No change in his attitude towards the unresolved certificate issue.

Whatever Buhari is, he certainly is not change. Buyer, beware! Choose wisely.

Change and credible criticism

by

Noel Ihebuzor

  1. The possibility of alternation is one of the biggest benefits of democracy, but meaningful alternation is reason and cost benefit analysis driven.
  2. Change is often mistaken for a “replace with anything” sell & mindset. That is not change. Change is value adding & positive.
  3. If it is not value adding, then it is not and cannot be change.
  4. Some folks believe that the surest way to market themselves as change agents is to engage in endless criticisms of those in power.
  5. They criticize, trivialize and oppose whatever it is that the person in power does.
  6. Such an attitude and mindset soon give rise to a malignancy which I call serial opposition disorder, SOD.
  7. SOD as a malignancy leads to the spawning of mindless and non-credible criticisms.
  8. To be credible criticisms must be context sensitive and more importantly provide valid and feasible alternative lines of action.
  9. Non-credible and invalid criticisms are usually driven by spite, ignorance, ambition, bias, arrogance and selfishness.

The APC’s Joke of a Scarecrow President


by

Shehu Dikko

shehuspen+paper at gmail dot com,  December 2014

Buba Galadima has given a world record twelve years of his life full time to the ongoing Major General Muhammadu Buhari campaign for president. He has been loud and often bombastic as the most audible voice of the campaign, and you must question his effectiveness, but he has taken on its critics frontally, directly. He has provided loyal support to Buhari: first in the erect ANPP of nine elected Governors; then in the limping ANPP reduced to just four Governors; then in the crippled CPC of a lone Governor; and now in the APC on crutches that has already lost one of its Governors since Buhari showed up there. Scratch that. Galadima is not there alongside Buhari anymore.

In radio interviews in Hausa and in a letter sent to the editor of the Daily Trust and published on 10th November, Galadima has said that “no interlocutor ever stood between him and [Major] General Buhari.” He has revealed that after the 2011 election, Buhari personally informed him that after three failed attempts at the presidency, he was not going to contest again, only for him to hear on the radio that Buhari had gone back on his word. Here is Galadima in his own words:

“Whatever anybody may say, the fact still remains that I contributed my widow’s mite towards the projection and promotion of [Major] General Buhari as a politician at a time when those ‘yan kwanta kwanta [highway robbers who command their victims to lie face down while they rob them] who for personal reasons hover around him today felt that he was an aberration and poison that could not be touched. . . . There are people who worked with [Major] General Buhari when he was in the military, public service, politics and school. Where are they in his political project today?”

They are nowhere to be found. All the politicians that were its publicly visible backers at the commencement of the campaign a dozen years ago, and the many others who gave their all to it in the sincere belief that it held a promise of a better governed country have all abandoned it. Buhari has been unable to lead a political project team and to command and retain the loyalty of its executives. He was unable to do this even as a military dictator. This is why his military regime was short-lived and why his retired military colleagues have not been found near his political project. Now aged seventy plus, it has become too late to transform him into anything other than what he is: proven incompetent as a political leader.

Galadima tried harder than most to stay committed. But it was all in vain for no interlocutor ever stood between Buhari and his zero programme for his cult following.

No interlocutor ever stood between Buhari’s backers and a misplaced hope of leadership by example. Major General Buhari has provided no true inspiration to his frenzied crowd of followers. He has failed to make them disciplined. When they took to violent protest after the last election, he neither took to the vanguard of the protest nor did he call them to order. He fled. He claimed that he too was attacked. Leader? No.

No interlocutor ever stood between Buhari and his zero ideas on what to do about the problem of corruption in a democratic setting. In twelve years of campaigning, he offered nothing at all.

Alas, no interlocutor appears able to stand between those so determined to see to the triumph of proven incompetence sure to lead to disaster, likely to end in tragedy, and the fantasy that all you need to do to make corruption fly away is to erect a scarecrow in the presidential villa. Where has a scarecrow ever scared away dark nighttime creatures like the bat that lies in bed at noon?

All the creatures that belong to the day who have seen the scarecrow president project for the joke it is and abandoned it have been replaced by distressed-project managers and asset liquidators that were its critics and political enemies who have seen in Buhari’s leadership incapacity and in his fanatical following that has been used by many other opportunistic politicians before them opportunity to further their own calculated objectives which, going by their records, are far removed from the blind expectations of the fanatical poor.

As devious distressed-project managers well aware that they would have recouped their investments by the time there is any buyer’s remorse, they have spent so much on imported dangerous stage-managed promotion gimmicks, scrubs, deodorants and washing up liquids in an effort to conceal the fact of his leadership incapacity so as to make him marketable to necessary but hitherto wary buyers, most recently in a scrubbed speech broadcast to a national television audience to conceal a dismal performance in an un-shepherded television interview conducted a couple of days before.

Give them this article to read and they will see in it ways to come up with more stage-managed gimmicks and they will be sure to do so by lunchtime tomorrow, perhaps even show him sporting a tattoo and sagging his sokoto as he rebukes an errant area boy; they are that shameless.

As flagrant as any asset liquidators that we have seen they have also since proceeded to ridicule him and to disrobe him of any pretended garments of integrity. They have done so on the public highway, most recently in getting him face down to issue them a dud cheque and to “just keep a straight face” and ring up his bank manager to honour it after they had left the scene, and in getting him to give a written undertaking that he will employ the resources of persons alleged corrupt in furtherance of his campaign for the presidency.

What more do you need to be able to see that Buhari is a sad joke and that any expectation that he will make a positive and lasting impact as president is fantasy?

Buhari is not a simple man. He is a simpleton. He has spent years complaining that the PDP rigged him out of victory in previous elections. It’s on his bitter lips right now. Give him the office of the president and I can assure you that he will try to kick out at those who he believes did it. Yet the architect of the 2006 PDP plan to use the security forces to its electoral advantage is his replaced Galadima, Nasir el-Rufai, the man alongside whom he cried in 2011 and who made him renege on his verbal pledge not to run again. Yet one of his managers today, Audu Ogbeh, was the Manager of the PDP of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar men to whose homes he was led, supinely, spent, twelve years late, to beg for a piece of the action.

The desperate Major General has truly been reduced to taking commands from any and all comers. His current commanders are only the most venal of the lot: they are pitiless what’s the polite euphemism for bastards? He will try to kick out without any realisation that his long walk from failing to beat them to joining them has severely damaged his legs.

Waylay him on the private jet tarmac of his commanders and ask him to give you a written undertaking that he will kick out at el-Rufai, Ogbeh, Obasanjo and Atiku with the hard metal crutches you will supply if he wants your vote. Ask him to give you a written pledge that he will issue no cheque nor authorise any payment to any Alpha Beta or Alpha Beta disguised as Alpha Bravo or Charlie Delta if he wants you to echo a clear radio signal around the country that no Foxtrot will be issued a dud cheque either.

If he falls short of meeting these demands just laugh and dismiss the would-be scarecrow president as the joke that he is; but do help massage his legs and tuck him away in bed if, unlike his users, you are apt to pity the scarred and disfigured old man.