General Buhari (Rtd) to Declare his Asset: The Musing of a Ghanaian
Advocates of good governance on the continent and beyond are closely watching events in Nigeria. From the need to curb the ongoing security threats by the Jihadi group; Boko Haram and the yearning to halt the increasing “scam” and corruption among elite politicians and public office holders, it is refreshing to learn that Buhari is making every possible effort to “sanitise” the atmosphere by declaring his asset. This would not only give him the legal anchor to hold his appointees accountable; but the moral backing to question officers whose actions and inactions are likely to dent the image of his government.
Corruption among political elites and senior public office holders has remained one of the greatest obstacles to “Africa’s road to prosperity”. I was shocked to learn that about 160 billion US Dollars was stolen from the ordinary Nigerian tax payer (in the previous administration) from botched oil deals that were done in the name of subsidies. Politicians and their business allies have colluded to rob the ordinary Nigerian of this colossal sum of money, which should have been meaningfully channeled into resolving very dire basic human needs. Some financial analysts even project that, these monies could provide a state-of-the-art university for each State; with some “balance” to embark on other equally relevant development projects.
The poignant thing is that, corrupt leadership is not peculiar to only Nigeria. Several African leaders have used their terms in office to enrich themselves and their immediate families. They have surrounded themselves with “a bunch of elites” whose primary aim is to syphon as much money and resources as they can; irrespective of the development implications on the people. After all, they can afford to “to live the best of lives” anywhere in the world. Why should they then care about the suffering of the ordinary citizen? As a result, it is therefore with excitement the “peoples of Africa” must welcome gestures such as the declaration of asset by General Buhari, as a step to transforming the face of leadership on the continent.
Like Obama reiterated in Addis, Ethiopia; what Africa badly needs is a crop of leadership that is closely connected to the people: one that understands the everyday realities of the common man on the streets of Lagos, Accra or Cairo; and the compassion to alleviate or reduce the burdens that weigh heavily on the shoulders of these people. Unfortunately, most of the leadership styles we are witnessing on the continent are ones with self-serving and inward-looking posturing. Some African leaders are so insulated from the realities of their people to the extent that, they can hardly appreciate the true-conditions and challenges confronting their people. Politics on the continent has become synonymous to “thievery”, when in fact, it is supposed to be a calling for genuine and honest service to the people.
With such happenings, the longer a particular party stays in power, the worst corrupt practices become. Sometimes I am “forced” to side with those who argue that, if we know politics is riddled with such grand corruption, the wisest thing to do is to continue voting for different parties to assume the reigns of power. As a means to making sure that “political corruption” is exercised in a manner to redistribute national resources. Political appointments would definitely differ when different political parties are given the opportunity to form governments upon election. Another plausible way to curb this is to change governments while mounting pressure on political parties through civil society activism.
Politicians, political appointees, apparatchiks and senior public office holders must be encouraged to declare their assets not only as a means to curbing corruption and other conflicts of interest; but, as a means of protecting their own integrity and credibility in the eyes of the people who they have come to serve. Despite the celebratory notion of wealth in our societies, I am sure the morally-minded African still views honesty and sincerity as a great virtue. Eulogy virtues still mean a lot to the ordinary African. Tongues would surely wag, when you use foul means to acquire your wealth. Such comments may not be passed in your presence; but can that be said in your absence?
It is my hope that, General Buhari (Rtd) would be given the needed support to continue with his agenda of ridding Nigerian politics of the corruption and scam that is denying the ordinary Nigerian the opportunity to lead a fruitful and fulfilling life. And in the process, help countries like Ghana to replicate such measures in controlling the resurging spate of corruption, since perception indices are beginning to assume worrying proportions.
By: Inusah Mohammed Awall