The drumbeats of war sounded so loudly in the run-up to the 2015 General Elections, that it reverberated in major capitals across the world, raising concerns that Nigeria could blow apart, if the polls were stalemated.
The prospect of a political quagmire loomed very large on the horizon. But like they say, all that is now history. The transition was concluded peacefully to the glory of God, and peace now reigns in Nigeria, apart from the perennial Boko Haram insurgency which is also top on the agenda of the APC government.
Every patriotic Nigerian should support President Buhari in his war against terror and its twin demon of corruption. His success or failure would ultimately be judged by the defeat of insurgency and the recovery of looted public funds by the government of his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in particular, because the most reckless looting of our national resources happened under his watch.
One is therefore disappointed by the discordant tunes coming from some members of the National Peace Committee, which includes former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Rtd., Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’Ad Abubakar III; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh; etc. The Committee only recently visited President Buhari for undisclosed reasons.
But Bishop Kukah, who addressed journalists on behalf of the Peace Committee after the meeting with the President alluded to the ongoing investigation of the PDP government of ex-President Jonathan, saying his group appealed to President Buhari “to be fair” in his handling of the probe.
I am amazed at the ecclesiastical affinity of Goodluck Jonathan. First it was Pastor Ayo Orisejafor and now it is Bishop Kukah. Both are now amalgamated in the Peace Committee. I submit that Pastor Ayo Orisejafor has exhibited himself as a general factotum of the imperial house of Jonathan and Patience Goodluck. He therefore debunks the definition of an emissary of peace on an unremunerated endeavor.
Bishop Kukah in his apologetic prolixity describes Jonathan’s governmental enterprise, inter alia, as “fantastic.” To my sanctified mind; this is not only imaginary but approaches the periphery of phantasmagoria.
He castigates President Buhari in subtle verbiage for what he perceives to be a sluggish pace in revving the engine of governance. He thus, abandons momentarily, the responsibility of his committee’s morality posture and immerses his Episcopalian garments in the quagmire of the political emporium. He almost loses his compass in a broken monologue of praise singing sycophancy in veneration of vanquished Jonathan Goodluck. Haba Aboki, with all due respect!
Question: What compels a chartered libertine who has been weaned on the mountains of divine servitude to descend to such lowly valleys of mundane terrestrials? What inspired such lisping accents of jejune political naivety? Is it peace committee? Seriously? Yeah right! Ha!
There are several other questions still begging for urgent answers: Who sent the National Peace Committee to Aso Rock to plead with President Buhari “to be fair” to officials of the Jonathan government now under investigation? Why is the Committee putting the President under pressure in his quest to rid the Augean stable of the filth of the corrupt PDP regime? Why are they pre-empting the President by assuming that he’d not be fair?
A mitigation plea by this Committee is not only premature but uncalled for, and is a direct insult to the injury that ex-President Jonathan’s 6-year misrule has inflicted on Nigerians, majority of whom are now impoverished and dying from the ravages of hunger, malnutrition and disease.
The Peace Committee is no longer relevant and should honourably and immediately disband, to save Nigerians from this gratuitous charade and national embarrassment. There’s no denying the fact that, at least, one of the committee members used to hobnob with ex-President Jonathan, and is a beneficiary of his patrimonial leadership.
President Buhari’s crusade against corruption must begin with a comprehensive probe of former President Jonathan, to send a clear signal that he means business. A serious fight against corruption must, therefore, begin with the immediate subpoena of the former President, who ran a large patronage network that spurned the unprecedented corruption that has brought this nation to the abyss. Under his leadership, his extravagant wife, Patience, functioned like a Deputy President, and must also be investigated, to ascertain the extent of her involvement in the squandermania.
Since a fish rots from the head, any credible and effective drive towards the recovery of looted public funds in the PDP federal government can only succeed, not just by investigating functionaries of that government, but by taking the bull by the horn: Probe the ex-President and his imperious wife.
President Buhari must know that Nigerians are firmly behind him. He must demonstrate to the world that he still has fire in his belly, by showing himself strong, fearless and capable of taking on the most sacred cows whose hands are soiled.
PDP chieftains and the erstwhile First Lady made an issue about Jonathan going to jail if President Buhari won the elections. In the twilight of his administration, Jonathan had warned that officials of his government would be persecuted. Well, this is cheap talk. The President has no power to send anyone to jail unless the court finds such person guilty. Moreover, there’s nothing new about jailing high profile leaders. Besides, it is in Jonathan’s interest to face a probe to clear his name if he has nothing to hide.
Late Politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the leader of the opposition in the first republic when he was tried and jailed by the Balewa government for treasonable felony. President Buhari himself was behind bars for 23 months with his No. 2 man, the late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, after their military regime was toppled in August 1985, 30 years ago.
The Peace Committee should stop whipping-up sentiments about the probe and allow justice to take its natural course. Whoever is aggrieved or dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation could seek reliefs from the court, which is open to all. The probe is across party lines, President Buhari has assured. Therefore, nobody has anything to fear if their hands are clean. Whoever is found guilty of misappropriation must face the appropriate sanctions prescribed by law. Period!
The ambience of peace we now enjoy was attained by team effort, not just the Peace Committee. The international community, especially American President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister, David Cameron, played commendable roles.
On my part, I dare say that I contributed to the success of the transition by resisting pressures to go to court to stop the general elections because of INEC’s refusal to allow our party, Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH, participate in the elections, despite the court verdict that voided the de-registration of our great party. I knew that a successful move to halt the elections would favour the PDP, which was facing imminent defeat from a determined and cohesive opposition, APC, which looked certain to carry the day. The PDP would have been grateful if anyone was able to stall the polls. It would have had a valid excuse to stay in power to continue to cover its tracks.
Former President Jonathan feigned ignorance of INEC’s intransigence in perpetuating the illegal act of disobeying a court order to relist our party and allow it to take part in the elections. He condoned the abuse of power and flagrant contempt for the rule of law displayed by the electoral agency; but now out of power, and at the receiving end of a new order that has restored individual liberties, Jonathan is desperately campaigning for the corporate respect of the rule of law. What goes up must come down.
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Rev Chris Okotie, a Pastor – Politician wrote from Lagos.