Whenever the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people from the core issues of governance failure.
Like a fit of de javu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed; a fellow who comes across as more of President Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise.
The list was all too familiar as the unveiling was just a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan particularly his appointees in government who have been named and shamed severally in well-coordinated media trial.
First on Lai’s list was Uche Secondus, chairman of opposition PDP. Lai had this to say of Secondus “on the 19th of February 2015, he took 200 million naira only from the office of the NSA’’. An unidentified former financial secretary of PDP was similarly accused of ‘’taking’’ 600 million naira only from the office of then NSA.
Lai also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul who deployed his media power to promote Jonathan by De-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for ‘’taking’’ N2.1 billion from the office of then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of PDP Olisa Metuh is on trial for ‘’collecting’’ 1.4 billion naira only from the office of then NSA. Lai’s expanded follow up list includes the usual suspects; former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former president Jonathan who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of 2.1 billion dollars through the office of then NSA, Sambo Dasuki.
The choice of words like ‘’took’’ and ‘’collected’’ deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for maximum propaganda effect, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at gun point.
While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to APC on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari with their share of loot have been forgiven.
For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursements of funds that were used to oil Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and defiance of several judicial rulings. Whereas, Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain who became a founding member of APC and financier had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s EFCC failed to appeal the 19.5 billion naira fraud case.
For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over 500 billion dollars in sixteen years, it’s confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively of PDP looters but only captured the last two years of its last lap in power and only included Jonathan’s associates who supported him against candidate Buhari and monies related only to his electioneering funding.
Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by its resort to naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name; rather some names were either missing or omitted. This is so because the bulk of PDP big wigs who ‘’destroyed’’ Nigeria in sixteen years are firmly in control of the APC from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council.
Majority of APC elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members into APC such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who were prominently named and shamed, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters. More curious are missing names of some accused looters with marital ties with the first and second families.
Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed MD of Federal Mortgage Bank and now son in law of President Buhari who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about 3 billion naira and reportedly being investigated by EFCC is missing on Lai’s list.
Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya. Arguably one of Africa’s richest women with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in over two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been severally accused of acting as her front to launder illicit money estimated at over 13 billion naira and other fraudulent activities of state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare and Damilola the daughter of vice president Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.
In a clear display of arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organizations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort. The tone of generalization of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria as a harbinger of corruption should make all members of PDP [ both former and present] and their collaborators in other parties guilty hence qualifying them for naming and shaming as well as liable for criminal prosecution.
Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is corrupt and devoid of integrity because his selective war on corruption is a form of corruption itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptized into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current looters continue to loot Nigeria while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation both under the abundant grace of Buhari.