Like a bird let out of a cage, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, experienced “freedom” when the suspension placed on him by his colleagues for 180 legislative days in 2016, was lifted last week. The Kano lawmaker and former chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, was suspended for exposing the padding of the 2016 budget by the leadership of the House. The suspension lasted more than the stipulated 180 legislative days. However, he was not allowed to return to the green chamber at the expiration of his suspension because the leadership of the house demanded that he write a letter formally apologizing for allegedly lying against them. He wrote the letter and although it wasn’t fully read before the parliament, the speaker paraphrased it by saying he had apologized and met all the conditions given to him.
The silencing of Jibrin is a huge loss to the nation. Those who are trapped within the corrupt system will not have the courage to speak out and expose the shady dealings within the political class for fear of what will befall them. Events of this nature will act as stimulus to a growing culture of conspiratorial silence in the face of tyranny and oppression of the Nigerian people.
In the usual Nigerian way, the allegations levelled against the house leadership ceased to be investigated by the anti-graft agencies the moment the hammer fell on Jibrin, and the matter was quickly swept under the carpet.
Jibrin was prophetic in an interview he granted a Lagos-based television station at the inception of the budget padding scandal. He said failure by the President and the anti-graft agencies to act on the allegations against the House leadership, would sound the death knell on the anti-corruption war. Not only did the anti-corruption war suffer a huge dent in terms of public perception, it is currently viewed as a selective witch-hunt of political opponents. Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watchdog, gave us a clearer picture when its latest rankings indicated that corruption was on the rise despite the anti-corruption war.
Buhari’s handlers did him a great disservice by failing to encourage him to protect Jibrin. This failing contributed in no small measure in diminishing the president’s anti-corruption war in the eyes of many Nigerians.
As a parting shot, I must state that President Buhari’s war on corruption is at best selective. Though former President Olusegun Obasanjo was also accused of waging a selective war on corruption, he at least had the courage to prosecute members of his party, unlike what we have now where only members of the opposition party are prosecuted for corruption. Similarly, the ruling All Progressives Congress has become a house of refuge that anyone who has corruption cases to answer runs into and is free from prosecution.
Peter Ovie Akus,
Ifo, Ogun state