Certainly, anyone enmeshed in such a scandal should not be anywhere near his party’s affairs let alone presiding over it as the chairman.
Looking at the number of times he tried to become a democratically elected President of Nigeria and his subsequent abysmal failures, it’s evident that what gave President Muhammadu Buhari the edge over others who contested against him in 2015, particularly, the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was his cult-like followership and consistent promise of fighting corruption if voted into power. It’s, therefore, disheartening that all these have become empty talk and consequently the bane of Nigeria’s social, political and economic development.
Prior to the 2015 general elections, Nigerians, cutting across class and creed, including some officials of the then PDP government, were full of optimism that Buhari would, if voted into power, stem the tide of corruption and all forms of illicit financial engagements identified as the cancer that has been eating deep into the garment of the country’s aspirations. Luckily for him, he rode on that optimism to win the hearts of Nigerians and subsequently won the presidential election.
Perhaps, the cliché that further strengthened the expectations of the larger segment of Nigerians was the iconic line in his inaugural speech where he declared that ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’. At that point, it appeared as though this line was a justification for the eventual emergence of Buhari. It gave people the fickle hope that he was going to be persistent and impartial in his drive to fight the monster of corruption.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long into the journey, for Nigerians to realise that they may have backed the wrong horse as Buhari’s entire anti-corruption crusade got draped in the toga of myth and mirage.
Nigerians soon realised that the expected anti-corruption czar was in reality an illusionist who was soon to be whitewashed with several unfolding cases of corruption, even more pungent than it was ever seen under the embattled former head of the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu. Other similar, yet glaring cases soon followed exposing the rot of corruption in the Buhari government.
They say corruption has too many faces. This is true of the Buhari administration as even the choices that the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, have made and are still making are somewhat laced with corruption. For instance, it beats sane imagination why a serving governor will be appointed to head a political party. Well, that’s happening in Buhari’s Nigeria.
I can contend that if there’s any person in government who is doing more harm than good to the Buhari administration in the eyes of the public, it is the Yobe State Governor, Mai-Mala Buni, who’s also the Caretaker Chairman of the APC. But like a horse destined for death, the president and his party have been deafened to the reality unfolding right in front of them.
Although, it’s never my intention to use this article to dwell much on the implications and ripple effect of the “visiting” governor of Yobe state’s usurpation of the affairs of APC, but his link with corruption and explicit obsession with those whose images have been dented for dipping their hands into our shared patrimony is becoming too smelly even for APC apologists. Simply put, Buni’s targeting of tainted members of other parties, like former minister of aviation in the PDP regime, Femi Fani-Kayode, and Sen. Stella Odua, whose name was mentioned in the recently released Pandora Papers is indicative of birds of a feather flocking together.
Recently, an online media, Sahara Reporters, published a damning investigative report alleging Governor Buni had violated the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) law. Using documents gleaned from the CCB and other sources including the oresidency to prove its allegation, Sahara Reporters said he was involved in what it referred to as “anticipatory declaration”, a criminal offence under the CCB law.
But for the immunity afforded him by the constitution, someone with that kind of serious baggage of corruption allegation should not be going about a free man. It becomes even unfathomable when one considers that this is happening in a government that claims to be fighting corruption.
Certainly, anyone enmeshed in such a scandal should not be anywhere near his party’s affairs let alone presiding over it as the chairman. Unfortunately, Buhari’s corruption crusade does not include holding people, especially his allies, accountable for engaging in corrupt practices. This is why Buni continues to parade himself as the APC national chairman. Sad!
But that’s not even the worse of it. In a bid to know and expose the truth, my curiousity compelled me to conduct a background check on Buni. It revealed that he’s neither from a rich family nor was he ever a successful businessman. So, if Buni neither inherited huge wealth nor was he ever a successful businessman, how, in the world, did he acquire the wealth he’s flaunting? How did he accumulate the assets he declared? Your guess is good as mine.
However, while I leave you to ponder, let me lay down some facts for you. First, Buni was a ward councillor, a special assistant to the former governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Gaidam from where he became APC national secretary in 2014. Six years after in 2019, he became the governor of Yobe state. Yet, he declared huge assets including houses, choice plots of land, filling stations, farm lands, exotic cars, huge amounts of cash in banks that are clearly way more than he could have earned in his previous employments. Yet it didn’t raise any eyebrow! This can only happen in Nigeria and, sadly, under the watch of President Buhari, the self-acclaimed Mr Integrity.
The revelation by Sahara Reporters is too weighty to ignore or swept under the carpet. No individual should be bigger than his nation and the extant laws of the land. Just like former Senate President Bukola Saraki was subjected to scrutiny by the CCB, Buni must be thoroughly investigated and if found wanting be appropriately sanctioned. Buni’s case should not be like that of the APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was also fingered in a case of false asset declaration but the matter just fizzled into thin air. If this circle of high level cover up is allowed to fester, posterity will not forgive President Buhari and the reputation of the CCB will forever hang in thebalance.
Finally, while Nigerians await the government’s actions on the matter, let me invite you to watch out for my next article where I will provide an extensive analysis on Buni’s Cash and Assets as declared in his 27-page CCB asset declaration form; Buni’s educational qualifications and why he is going around cajoling and arm-twisting those facing corruption charges to join APC and possibly have their allegations quashed. Needless to say this has been compounding the existing problems of the party, especially since it has failed to properly work out a reconciliatory framework. I will also x-ray how Buni has left Yobe state in the lurch. In spite of the glaring and enormous security challenges in his state, he is always gallivanting other states and Abuja, which has become his center of operation.
Kera, a journalist, writes from Kaduna.