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Integrity versus corruption: Does it take only integrity to rule Nigeria?

By Obafemi Babajide

As Nigerians mark the 77th birthday of her President and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces one is confronted with some many questions about the person, character and leadership qualities of this man who is widely adjudged as upright and stern when it comes to matters of corruption.

Given the fact that his famed hostile disposition to corruption had largely won him the sobriquet; Mai gaskiya (Mr Integrity) among his people further points to how much his followers believe in him.

However, in the face of this dwindling economy and serious hardship faced by citizens of the Nation, it became pertinent to ask, if it takes only integrity to rule Nigeria and get the economy working again?

In 2015, when corruption in Nigeria became so endemic, so thick that it could cut through a block of ice, a different coalition of aggrieved politicians came up with the idea of merging up. They collapsed structures to form a formidable team that could beat the best of existing political structure.

Although they flew together, they were birds of different colours. It was crystal clear that, as many had predicted, things were soon going to fall apart. And fall apart it did after they had gained power.

To many Nigerians, it looked as if they had made the wrong choice in voting a septuagenarian. The General looked as if he had lost his steam to age and those cabals that surrounded him, power play, deals and who gets what, when and how watered down the people’s expectations of the new government.

To many, six months without coming up with the names of his cabinet was enough to adjudge Buhari as not serious. Would we have expected him to bring down the host of heaven to rule with him? Certainly not!

The list of those who made it eventually to PMB’s cabinet, in the eyes of many Nigerians was not worth the wait. Except for just very few names who had shown brightly before and very few who could be termed technocrats, nothing was new. It was a list of names people had expected in the list. So, why the long wait after all?

The General won his second term bid albeit in a not too free, fair or robust election. This time around, though the integrity mantra was played again, it was not as captivating as it was in 2015. Nigerians wanted more than integrity, they wanted the country to work, they wanted ease, which was not going to come easily anyways.

With the current in house wrangling, power tussle and inanities, one might guess that aside taming corruption, the man at the helm of affairs might have nothing much doing with the economy. In fact, with the hustle for 2023 being played so much in the open, the fight against corruption might just be forgotten so soon.

Goodluck Jonathan was sent out of power on the altar of the huge corrupt practices going on under him and also, on the allegation that he was too soft and indecisive; he was also seen as leaving major decisions to the hands of three women [two in his life and one in his cabinet], to make huge decisions. But with this niggling economy of the Nation and some flashes of corruptions, does it not look as if a dog was given a bad name in other to hang it?

In truth and fairness, one could still see rays of hope through a few progressive ministers working to deliver on the mandate of the portfolios given to them. A lot of those remaining, however, are square pegs in round holes.

It is now too obvious that, although we needed an incorruptible leader who will be fair to all, we also need someone who is fairly tuned to the trappings of the present social-economic movements and issues.

Someone who understands the jet age language, someone who could easily sway, someone who could process information swiftly, set the balls rolling and proffer a quick response to yearnings and aspirations of the people.

It is crystal clear that integrity alone will not deliver good governance, administrative savviness, a swift but bendable leader with an updated and upgradeable administrative capacity will do that.

Nigeria’s problem is not only corruption, but there is also a huge deficit in leadership and followership. We need a total overhaul, we need to look deeply inward, and we need a leader who can manage both the corrupt, the incorruptible and those at the verge of becoming corrupt.

Obafemi writes from the top of “Akogba” hill in Ekinrin-Adde.



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