2016 Budget: When A General Keeps Silent

By Solomon Okocha
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The old soldier knew that there was something dark and sinister about the version of the 2016 budget which was initially submitted to him by the National Assembly. Baba was very certain that Nigerian politicians had been so immersed in the dirty waters of corruption; he knew very well that they would surely pollute the budget with their chronic appetite for free billions.

In spite of their political grandstanding, loquacious mud-slinging and diabolical vituperations, the Nigerian civil war veteran, a professional at discarding war/political propaganda and maintaining his ground no matter what, didn't buckle under their nefarious pressure, he never does.

They went as far as asking for the resignation of a top Minister in Buhari's cabinet, they even threatened the President with impeachment; but the General only laughed at the folly of civilians who had never fired a single shot in their entire lives.

In their immoral greed and inordinate quest for the common wealth of Nigerians, they forgot the fact that time is also a veritable component of warfare. With time, muscles weaken, the mind grows frail, and the fountains of power are reduced to nought. He gave them time. Some called him a feeble man, many others referred to him as 'Baba-go-slow'. Was he perturbed? Certainly not. He was only focused on teaching them a very important lesson in rules of engagement; never take your opponent for granted.

But you see, the beautiful thing about doing good is this: you will never be alone. So also it was and still is for Buhari. It was therefore not a surprise when the impoverished and disenchanted populace of Nigeria firmly stood by their anti-corruption czar throughout the whole budget brouhaha. In fact, not a few youths led by notable Nigerians stormed the premises of the National Assembly in protest over the conspicuous mutilation and padding of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

With high-pitched and warlike chants, the protesters demanded for the abolishment of the controversy-laden Legislature. For three days and three nights, the ever vigilant masses of Nigeria completely occupied the corridors of the Nigerian Senate and demanded for sanity to be restored to the hallowed chambers. Trust politicians, they immediately changed gear when they realised that the people had awoken from their lengthy slumber.

To cut the very long story short, the budget was passed without anymore ado, paddings and mutilations were erased, and normalcy returned to the land. Not quite. In all fairness, normalcy did not return. The General had set up a revolutionary process in motion; politicians are bound to betray each other when the stakes are very high. President Buhari knows this too well. He knew that time would expose the 'budget mutilators' and the 'budget padders'. It was just a matter of time.

But this time around, it did not take too long before karma started doing her good works. Little did President Buhari imagine that in less than a year of the whole budget debacle between the Legislature and the Executive, that there would arise a whirlwind of political intrigues in the National Assembly, rotating around the same issue of mutilation and padding which the General had tactically evaded. General Buhari's silence then was a strategic move to enforce a long term victory over institutionalised corruption in Nigeria.

~ Solomon Okocha

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