The Federal Government has declared Monday 3rd October as public holiday to mark Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary which occurs today, 1stOctober, 2016.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) congratulates Nigerians at home and abroad for witnessing this great day. Nigerians have cause to rejoice because we have all seen palpable signs of change despite the current economic recession.
Critics and public analysts have always criticized past regimes for the systemic corruption. They wondered why no high ranking official was ever held accountable. They also made us to believe that corrupt practices will come to an end once government takes the bold step to confront and punish offenders. This has been the story since our independence in 1960.
MURIC believes that Nigerians can now heave sighs of relief as accountability takes the central stage in the Buhari administration which took off on May 29, 2015. More than eleven highly placed politicians and army generals have been arrested and remanded in prison for corrupt practices.
The unprecedented list includes a former Acting governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri, former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, Air Marshal Olusola Amosu (rtd), an ex-Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, ex-Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secundus, Chairman of African Independent Television (AIT), Raymond Dokpesi, former military governor of Kaduna State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lawal Isa Jafaru and Air Vice Marshal Olusola Oguntoyinbo.
Very recently, a serving governor and a former First Lady had their bank accounts frozen over fraudulent transactions. The Aso Rock official responsible for plagiarizing Obama’s speech was sacked few days ago. Ministers have been barred from flying first class at government’s expense. The same Buhari administration has denied ministers luxurious accommodation in Abuja. Leakages are being blocked. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the bank BVN number have exposed thousands of ghost workers and forced many looters to abandon their money in commercial banks for fear of being traced and punished.
More importantly, looted money is being recovered. About one billion naira has reportedly been returned. It is our contention that returned stolen money would have been more had the National Assembly (NASS) actively supported the anti-graft measures put in place by the Buhari administration. But instead of being a partner in progress, the NASS has constituted a clog in the wheel while its leadership has been embroiled in corruption scandals and the attendant trials.
It is equally noteworthy that Nigeria has witnessed change in leadership orientation. Observers and critics have for long maintained that the problem with Nigeria is leadership and that the country will get it right once the leader gets it right. Unlike in the past, Nigeria today has a leader who is above board, someone who is tested and trusted.
Another feature of the change mantra has manifested in the recognition and respect which the international community has for the current Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. He has won accolades from notable world leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury and President Barrack Obama of the United States. This is change at the international arena.
MURIC calls on Nigerians to allow thechange aura to spread. Every Nigerian must embrace the change phenomenon. In particular, the people’s representatives in the NASS should rise from their deep slumber to give full support to the war against corruption. NASS must put the necessary machinery in motion to ensure speedy trial of corrupt persons.
We support recommendations made by concerned individuals and groups for the punishment of corrupt politicians and public officials with some modifications as reflected below:
1. They must fully forfeit stolen funds.
2. Those imprisoned can only be treated inside prison walls if they fall sick.
3. They must lose national honors and all chieftaincy titles.
4. They must lose national honors and all chieftaincy titles.
5. Complicit lawyers should attract equal prison sentence and disbarment.
6. Judges who aid and abet them should be sentenced to life imprisonment without any option of fine.
In conclusion, MURIC calls on doubting Thomases to remove the blindfold of prejudice from their eyes in order to behold the wonderful change sweeping the Nigerian landscape. We remind Nigerians that the onus today is on the citizens to take the cue from the current transparent leadership. We have blamed Nigeria’s woes on bad leadership for a long time and we have never been truly independent as we wobbled and fumbled in the shackle of corruption.
What is expected of us as a serious people now that we have a good leader? The citizens too must change. We must turn a new leaf to liberate ourselves from socio-economic predators and corrupt politicians who subject us to acute penury by looting our common wealth.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)