Recasting President Buhari’s Integrity Canon
By Taju Tijani
Today, Nigerians are reflecting on how integrity in governance is more than compulsive for a nation like Nigeria that has been tirelessly and ceaselessly plundered, exploited, abused, raped and left to rot by deranged politicians desensitised by decades of high corruption.
Before the memorialisation of May 29, 2015 as a day of audacious magic that brought back the optimism of our collective will for a new Nigeria, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his circle of failures had been living insulated lives from the privations of those they pretend to represent – marginalised Nigerians.
Politicians, Ministers and advisers lost the ethical commitment to relentlessly and unflinchingly speak out against all odds, against Jonathan’s bad governance, against all entrenched privileges, and even against all hegemonies – real, imagined and self-induced. There was no gesture of defiance to save Nigeria, no challengers to bring us back from demoralisation, no statement of hope to cheer the intellect, no voices in their angry cadences to speak truth to power, no radical declension to stop the structural malfunction of a treasonous PDP government that lived and survived on turbo-charged corruption of incomparable global scale.
Mr Goodluck Jonathan had no radical determination to fix Nigeria. He made no concerted effort to swing the political pendulum away from suffocating corruption fetishism. PDP Governors became political predators and resource hyenas who developed demonic and tigerish attitude toward the total cleansing of our commonwealth. Billions of money was stolen blindly, carted away blindly to foreign banks and with equal measure was spent blindly on opulent passing fancies like billion dollar mansions, foreign homes, private jets, prestige cars, watches, sexual orgies, women and even on facelift.
Two things remain very striking about Jonathan’s government. First, the range of pandemic corruption. Corruption which should have been an offence to commonsense became agreeable in the political lexicon of his government. He was quoted as saying that “stealing is not corruption” in a moment of proven drunken stupor. He headed a corrupt government defined by financial recklessness which then became doomed as a sinking Titanic.
The brutal stupidity of blathering Okonjo-Iweala (Jonathan’s Prime Minister) lies and effrontery of normalising the abnormal showed the moral death of one our compliant educated conservatives in government.
It was a person like Okonjo-Iweala who lost the moral and patriotic battle to stand up to Jonathan and make a hell of a noise about the breathtaking bankruptcy of Nigeria’s economic condition. Rather, she played the welder-in-chief and soldered the economy with unutterable lies, innuendoes, false statistics, financial abracadabra and the ultimate insulting prattle like “the economy is fine.”
Secondly, Jonathan kept on living on delusion. He was not disturbed that he had become a mirage of the desert; a passing meteor, a dry well and even a melting vapour the very moment President Mohammadu Buhari took him on as a challenger. Jonathan then encircled himself with morons, demagogues, blind political prophets whose claim to political wisdom is nothing short of bringing the nation on its knees through selfish prognosis. Under Mr Jonathan, governance was drained of integrity, justice, core values, probity, fairness, protective structure and transparency. What he practised was primordial looting, clannish solidarity, blatant tribal marginalisation (the Yoruba), impunity and even political vendetta against the person of Rotimi Amaechi. He rendered his politics in token and parochial patterns.
Jonathan advisers fooled him with the idea that adversarial political messages against the person of President Mohammadu Buhari will swing the vote for him. But alas, Nigerians were ready to decide the Manichean struggle between integrity and banality, good and evil, freedom and slavery and the desire to change from the continuity of an evil administration. Voters voting pattern at the presidential poll was shaped by the sheer rational brutality and memory of 16 long years of PDP turning Nigeria into oasis of decadence, draught and economic paralysis. The soul of Nigeria was left in the hands of plutocratic technocrats and these hounds swallowed our riches in one gulp.
Even Femi Fani-Kayode, a commentator well known for inflated idea of his own brilliance, documented multiple insecurities, intellectual hooliganism, polemical rage, toxic propaganda, duplicitous effusions, errand boy mentality, hokey pokey game of political thrones, hectoring rhetoric, shifting allegiance, emergency cross-bearer for Jonathan’s sinking political roof and Pharisaic indulgence all combined to be more of moral hazard to the polity than the plan to capture hearts and minds through a monstrous spin of lies, slander, defamation, fantasy and invalidated charges against President Mohammadu Buhari.
What really mobilised Nigerians to recast their collective trust in Buhari is his constant emphasis on the two most fundamental values that have eluded our politics: honesty and integrity. Buhari’s integrity has morphed into Nigeria’s integrity as seen in the respect, honour and the ready assistance of President Barack Obama of USA to search, find and return looted public money back to Nigeria.
Of a truth, the architecture of leadership, all the theories and guidelines falls apart without honesty and integrity. Integrity is the keystone that holds government, organisation, home, business, community and friendship together. Integrity has to be sincere. Actions, words and deeds must be judged to be sincere. An integrity-driven leader has to set and respond to fundamental goals and values that will move the nation and followers forward.
Buhari’s standards, values and motives must be the template by which his appointees must act and react to eliminate the kind of ethical and geopolitical disgrace that characterised Mr Jonathan’s government. President Mohammadu Buhari’s job is to stay committed and articulate his values by constant preaching, persuasion and purposeful action. So far, his actions are mirroring what he says.
Buhari’s now famous slogan for the redemption of Nigeria, “For everybody and for nobody”, is a subtext for “I will stand for anybody that stands right.” It is then no wonder to see President Buhari’s many recent anecdotes and expressions aimed at looters, crooks, corrupt enrichment and unpatriotic parasites. Ever since he became the president, Mohammadu Buhari has continued to attract success, respect, support, admiration and a positive image by the sheer power of transparent honesty and integrity.
For our nation’s social, economic, political, intellectual, cultural and spiritual rebirth to stand on firm foundation, we all must recast our faith in the president’s integrity canon and emulate it in our new movement of nascent determination to reclaim Nigeria back from the brink.