Nobody is rattled by Executive Order 6 or President Buhari’s directive that it be implemented “in full force”. The order, which bans 50 Nigerians suspected to be corrupt from travelling abroad or selling their assets until their cases are determined in the courts, seems as weak as the government making a noise about it.

The administration’s lifelessness has been betrayed yet again by the inclusion of dead people’s names on the list of suspects made public so far. Some have since escaped to Europe or America. Shouldn’t we stop pretending about corruption fight? Were the incumbent administration sincere, it would have started the fight on May 29, 2015. What we have now is a lame-duck government grappling with primaries, campaigns and elections. It has no force to take on even chicken thieves.

When I was prescribing radical steps a president could take to restructure Nigeria, some eight or nine years ago, I was told that only a military dictator could take such steps, as the law would prevent an elected president. The witches and wizards that “elect” our leaders well in advance of voting day, I was told, have built a prison for every Nigerian leader: on inauguration you take an oath to obey a fraudulent constitution made in their coven. So from where does “executive order” come? In spite of its defects, the Nigerian constitution grants the president enormous powers.

A president truly dedicated to reforms could make good use of executive orders and work harmoniously with other arms of government to change Nigeria. I thought Buhari was the man for the job in 2015. As everyone soon found out, he was not. And I’ve since apologised to those I had misled. All he could do was talk about “kwaruption” and issue threats that were never carried out. Which thief is so stupid that they couldn’t put their affairs in order after three years? It’s too late now – no one has been waiting for Buhari’s EO6 of October 13, 2018.

Just 50 Nigerians are on the radar. Where are perhaps one million others? If only 50 Nigerians had assets suspected to be proceeds of corruption, then, we’d be doing very well as a country. But who is fooling whom? Houses in Asokoro alone built or bought with stolen public funds could be counted in hundreds of thousands. Civil servants whose legitimate earnings in 35 years can’t buy a decent bungalow own estates in Maitama and Wuse. So do retired generals and politicians. Some own properties in several other countries, just as all their children school abroad.

Any leader desirous of unearthing stolen funds could simply probe into the contracts awarded at all levels of government. Auditors, internal and external, dot every nook and cranny but are incapable of arresting numerous cases of theft through overinflated contracts, non-existent contracts, and direct transfer of money from the public treasury. Crooks are known to have infiltrated the legislature, the police, the customs and other paramilitary agencies. But the situation became troubling when I heard that even many EFCC and ICPC officials have been caught with their fingers on the same soup-pots they were employed to watch.

My recommendation has been for an impartial leader to seize all assets whose sources cannot be explained, at least until their owners show us the trees in their compounds that grow naira, dollar or pound bills. Chikena! If there is no enabling law, it won’t take rocket science to put one in place. We all have been complaining about the jumbo salaries and allowances enjoyed by officeholders, especially lawmakers who do nothing other than shout “aye” or “nay” twice a month. Why can’t a president whisper an order to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, so that a senator gets less than N1m per month and no more?  Today, fewer than 17, 000 officeholders take more than N2trillion – that is, about one-third of what the rest of us 200million Nigerians share – per year. Can’t an honest president do away with overinflated contracts, personal ownership of oil blocks, constituency allowances/projects, and security votes that are not accounted for? What happened to executive orders?

When a weak leader fails, he blames his failure on the limitations placed by the courts. How could EFCC operatives have broken into judges’ homes in the dead of night but weren’t sent to jail? It’s easy to manufacture excuses. But we can easily identify a serious corruption fighter – a leader like Murtala Muhammed who, first, gave up his own assets and forced others to follow suit.

What Buhari calls “corruption” is the lifeblood of the country’s economy. Government money sustains almost all private businesses here; seizing it means killing businesses that create jobs. Before implementing the TSA, or blocking “loopholes”, the government ought to have created an alternative – a better way of dispensing money to feed genuine businesses – until a new culture takes root. Now, many are dying of hunger and yearn for a return to “corruption” – it’s better to live with thieves than with murderers.

Crimes such as terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, and internet fraud (419) should not be expected to vanish anytime soon.  Whether there is oil boom or oil bust, most Nigerians will continue to live in misery – without jobs, food, electric power, clean water, good roads, and security. Those displaced by the system will always find ways to circumvent the law, for survival is the first law of nature.

Since Buhari claims he has been fighting corruption all these years, it’s safe to assume that corruption has won. In the twilight of his tenure, he is still talking about placing 50 Nigerians under watch. Who will continue to watch them later? Rather than strengthen institutions that would fight corruption at all times, his regime has made the existing ones weaker. The first time he clamped down on “looters”, in1984, he failed to demonstrate competence until he was overthrown. A new regime released the “looters”, returned their loot, and even apologised to them.

History is repeating itself. The wealthy class Buhari often accuses of corruption has since overpowered him and made him lie helplessly. He can’t survive their onslaught, as events of the next few months will show. EO6 or whatever emergency steps he takes now won’t make any difference.


Ndigbo’s Voice

Ohanaeze Ndigbo has issued a statement to support the selection of Mr Peter Obi as running mate of APC presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar. That should end the fights, tantrums and bad blood being generated or sponsored in the media by people who obviously are out to ruin Igbo interests. Untrained “journalists” and paid e-rats have been busy spreading lies on Facebook.

A dozen riffraff or political bandits from the south-east don’t qualify as “Igbo leaders” – they can’t speak for over 50million Ndigbo. And Atiku owed nobody an explanation before he could pick his running mate. He should be thanked for looking in the direction of the south-east and for choosing a competent candidate. End of discussion.

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