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Buhari’s budget padding unmasks corruption in a potential Akufo-Addo gov’t - Part 1

Fri, 26 Feb 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: WHY FÜHRER AKUFO-ADDO IS NOT BUHARI

No one could ever have thought that political corruption `will dare stare Muhammadu Buhari, the public visage of Nigeria’s anticorruption crusade, in the face. Nigerians voted en masse for Buhari on a positive campaign of neutralizing the Boko Haram threat, fighting public corruption, and bringing hope to a rich country otherwise brought to its knees by systematic failure of leadership across a span of two generations. As should be probably expected, however, it is both disappointing and disheartening to read bad news constantly being associated with the Buhari presidency.

Yet not too long ago, it seems, Nigerians truly wanted change and saw that in the potential incorrigibility of a Buhari presidency. In a powerful ponderous essay, for instance, titled “The Challenge of Change—A Burden of Choice,” Wole Soyinka, one of the Thoths of Nigerian and African letters, shed light on the potential dilemma that confronted Nigerians on the question of political morality and what this question generally means in terms of their being forced to make a hard choice between Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, considering the lackluster performance of the Goodluck presidency and the contradictory legacy of Buhari. He writes:

“It is pointlessly, and dangerously provocative to present General Buhari as something that he provably was not. It is however just as purblind to insist that he has not demonstrably striven to become what he most glaringly was not, to insist that he has not been chastened by intervening experience and—most critically—by a vastly transformed environment—both the localized and the global. Of course we have been deceived before. A former ruler whom, one presumed, had been purged and transformed by a close encounter with death, and imprisonment, has turned out to be an embodiment of incorrigibility on several fronts, including contempt for law and constitution. Would it be different this time round?...”

Obviously, Soyinka was undertaking a cautious valuation of the Buhari past where he summoned the latter’s troubled legacy in a somewhat nebulous juxtaposition with his [Buhari’s] potential for transformative change in a hypothetical post-Goodluck presidency, this, again, in spite of Buhari’s inglorious checkered political bequest to his beloved country. It is the case that Soyinka essentially saw a potential change in the evolving political personality of Buhari for the better, given the logical power of hindsight and of Nigeria’s turbulent political history, hence the pontificational interrogation of his political conscience: “Would it be different this time around?”

Regardless, that hopeful campaign Buhari championed now faces a confused mixed-bag of grinding political and moral contradictions which the enormously inquisitive political conscience of Soyinka, under the gavel of moral critique thanks to the emotional and factual timeliness of history, has managed to methodically unravel for his wide readership including members of Nigeria’s ruling class. Alas, Soyinka’s enormously inquisitive political conscience is unlike the slumberously slavish personality of the voting psychology of the Ghanaian electorate, a veritable political fact to date. His unsleeping inquisitive political conscience does best what the Ghanaian electorate fails to do. This assessment or perception is generally reflective of the political geometry of the voting public across Africa, a place where people are more likely to vote on ethnic and religious lines rather than on issues-based or competence voting. .

In other words, we should rephrase Soyinka’s penetrating question and ask it this way: Would the presidency of Führer Akufo-Addo be any different from President Mahama’s? Why do we ask this particular question anyway? Well, we ask this simple question because some members of the NPP are quick to tout the anti-corruption credentials of Buhari as though they also belong to Führer Akufo-Addo. Thus, analogizing Buhari’s near-impeccable anti-corruption credentials, we dare add, to the non-existent ones of Führer Akufo-Addo is the height of moral and intellectual monkey-business, smells of moral complacency, and demonstrates ignorance of the facts.

The fact of the matter is that Führer Akufo-Addo, just like every other human being, is corruptible if not corrupt, a controversially interesting subject matter Nana Akyea Mensah meticulously took up in his September 8, 2014 Ghanaweb article “Akufo-Addo is a Corrupt Individual.” That is, Führer Akufo-Addo is not Buhari. Or vice versa, for both have different pathways of political profiles. Still, Soyinka drew an interesting picture of contrasts between a potential Buhari presidency, its enormous prospects for positive transformation of the Nigerian society, and if we could add for equal measure, the corruptible incumbency of Goodluck, conflictual political profiles which we think might parallel the upcoming electoral contest between Führer Akufo-Addo and President Mahama. Thus, Soyinka observes elsewhere (our emphasis):

“I have studied him [Buhari] from a distance, questioned those who have closely interacted with him, including his former running-mate, Pastor Bakare, and dissected his key utterances past and current. And my findings? A plausible transformation that comes close to that of another ex-military dictator, Mathew Kerekou of the Benin Republic. Despite such encouraging precedents however, I continue to insist that the bridge into any future expectation remains a sheer leap of faith.

“Such a leap I find impossible to concede to his close rival [Goodluck], since we are living in President Jonathan’s present, in an environment that his six years in office have created and now seek to consolidate.

“That is the frightening prospect. It requires more than a superhuman effort to concede to the present incumbent a springboard for a people’s critical leap...”

The question is whether we are justified to analogize the presidency of Mr. John Mahama to a potential executive presidency represented by the complex and dodgy character of Führer Akufo-Addo. This is not an easy undertaking in spite of the relative youthfulness of President Mahama and Goodluck Jonathan and the spate of corruption scandals that rocked both presidencies, and finally also, in spite of the respectable coevality of Buhari and Führer Akufo-Addo. Plus, Nigeria is not Ghana. Perhaps more importantly, both countries have had totally different trajectories in terms of political development and psychology, important observations a political analyst and even casual observers of post-colonial African politics cannot gloss over. Regrettably, though, political corruption is endemic in both societies. The recent budget padding under President Buhari is an excellent case in point.

Of course, Buhari has won many local and international commendations for his zero-tolerance policies regarding the fight against public corruption, but the seething presence of internal partisan corruption and bad nuts in his government present a potential if not real threat to his seeming incorruptible political façade. In other words, some carpetbaggers in Buhari’s inner circle have found a clever way to negotiate the moral curvature of his deeply moralizing political philosophy in order to exert the blanket of their creeping kleptomania over the country.

What this also means for us among other scenarios, is that, the convenient partisan political chorus being sung by the useful idiots and sheepish poodles of Führer Akufo-Addo as purportedly incorruptible, loses its moral traction of fruitful analogization to Buharian incorruptibility if the former somehow fails to correctly read the hidden intentions of the people he is likely to work or surround himself with.

The abject failure of Buhari to see this budget-padding profiteering politricks coming let alone putting stringent measures in place to forestall it comes across as a serious indictment of his political philosophy, a failure that could potentially undermine his moral crusade against the entrenchment of political corruption and positive transformation of Nigeria. African countries may thus be denied a teachable precedent on account of this abject failure in moral leadership. The question is: Can the politically tired Führer Akufo-Addo see what the determined moral crusader, Buhari, failed to see? We do not know. We could, of course, also ask the same question of President Mahama?

In fact if we can actually do so, that is asking President Mahama the same question we asked of Führer Akufo-Addo, then which of the two, we mean either Führer Akufo-Addo or President Mahama, is the lesser of two evils in terms of their respective capacities for exerting the authority of moral leadership against political corruption? This question is yet to be answered. On the other hand, Ghana’s National Constitution grants enormous political authority to the nation’s executive leadership, be it is President Mahama or a potential president Führer Akufo-Addo, but the constitutive powers this political authority enjoys are grossly applied toward the cancer of political partisanship at the expense of national development.

We are talking about the failure of duopoly to address the country’s myriad problems. This is all-too-well-known a fact to matter in any serious quantum of analytic elaboration and policy analysis. Kofi Amenyo’s insightful February 1, 2016 Ghanaweb article “Mahama Must Go, But Who Takes His Place?” offers an excellent diagnosis of what we are trying so hard to put across to our readership.

There is, however, enough evidence on the ground pointing to the fact that both leaders, Führer Akufo-Addo and President Mahama, have failed to exert moral leadership against political corruption. We are quite clear on how Führer Akufo-Addo somewhat managed to secure his candidacy on behalf of the NPP. His morally deceptive statement to the effect that “Where I am and how old I am at least, this is not the time I will start stealing anybody’s wealth…We are coming to do a job for Ghana” is pure partisan political bunkum, and rightly so, call it snake oil if you will, a view lacking a detailed roadmap of strategic focus. What can he possibly do when Ghana’s duopoly is up for sale to the highest bidder, a sad and deeply regrettable moment in the country’s political history where campaign and electoral commodization is the ticket to the presidency?

Anyway what has age got to do with kleptomania, if we may ask again and again? Why does Führer Akufo-Addo think he is too old to steal but too young to assume the presidency? How differently is he going to solve the problem of political corruption from the lackadaisical approach of President Mahama? Of course, he did not lie when he said “no country can uproot corruption,” but the question still remains: What exactly can he do differently beyond the emotional rhetoric of preaching to the choir? Ghana needs a man of action, not a man of inaction.

Unfortunately, our corrupt political class has forgotten the truism that, for every action, there exists an equal but oppositely directed reaction. The day of reckoning and the corrupt political class’s comeuppance is just around the corner. That day is coming, and it shall surely arrive when no one is expecting.

Time is the only important factor that is at play here in these convoluted partisan political games. We shall however not talk about conscience because the Ghanaian political animal had none. More so Buhari, after all, has promised to deal with the political miscreants in his inner circle who may have paddled the national budget, a punishment we patiently look forward to.

We await the cracking of his whip, something President Mahama and Führer Akufo-Addo can learn from.

We shall return with the concluding (Part 2)….

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis