Alhamdu lillah, we give gratitude to God who made it possible for President Muhammadu Buhari to secure a second tenure of another four years in office. Although those who survive on corruption including looters of public treasury, the deprave among judges and judicial officers, dishonest public officers and all those who depend on illegal means of sustenance to live never wished him victory in the March 23, 2019 presidential election, the feat was achieved because it was Allah’s wish; and when He (SWT) wishes a thing, He says ‘Be’ and it is.
Now that Buhari is again back to finish the painstaking work he started in the fight against corruption without necessarily downplaying or losing momentum in his war against insurgency, there is need for him in this second term to vigorously sustain and expand the fight against corruption. To sustain the intricate fight against corruption and corrupt practices, the Judiciary must be thoroughly cleansed and purged of corrupt elements among judges whose actions and (in some cases) inactions are impeding the desired success in the Buhari-led administration’s fight against public officers as well as those that betray public trust and confidence. The judiciary is strategic to the fight against corrupt persons and practices because it determines the overall success of the fight, which is envisaged to be achieved through the collective effort of anti-graft and law enforcement agencies.
Given the brazen manner in which some judges were seen to have compromised the integrity of the judiciary in their trial of some high profile financial crimes and other cases that border on economic sabotage, the judiciary is believed not only to have lost credibility in the eyes of the Nigerian public but has also (through greed and indiscipline) mortgaged the independence that should expectedly be the foundation upon which its operational principles are founded. Of course, not all judges in Nigeria are guilty of the unfortunate allegations being generally leveled against the judiciary. The issue is that corruption and corrupt practices among judges almost seem to have, over the years, become a norm rather than exception.
The prosecution of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja over allegations of non-declaration of some of his personal bank accounts in addition to the granting of perpetual injunctions, controversial judgments by courts of the same jurisdiction, needless adjournments of cases, and prolonged trials all together add up to suggest that the Nigerian judiciary stinks. The failure by CJN Onnoghen to constitute special courts as requested by President Buhari for the trial of corruption cases speaks volumes of how the Nigerian judiciary perceives President Buhari’s fight against corruption. To borrow and apply the principle of preventive medicine in public health in an attempt to tackle corruption, it would be necessary to expand the fight against corruption as to include war, even if it were psychological, against indiscipline. Indeed, indiscipline is the basic driver of corruption. As in many other developing countries in the modern world, the frightening level of crude indiscipline among Nigerians including the young and the old, the ignorant and the learned, the poor and the affluent; calls for an all-inclusive social re-orientation programme. Such a programme should be developed from a framework that is similar to the concept and structure of the erstwhile ‘War Against Indiscipline (WAI)’; a re-orientation programme launched in 1984 by the military administration of General Muhammadu Buhari.
War Against Indiscipline was a controlled mass mobilisation corrective response to social maladjustment within the country. The take-off of WAI was announced in March 1984 by the generally feared late Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters. Idiagbon was once described as a military officer whose teeth never showed even when he laughed! I never saw any still picture showing Idiagbon in laughter. The measure was programmatic in design and broader in scope than the attempts by previous administrations. It aimed to attack social maladjustment and widespread corruption. The primary goals of the WAI were to strengthen national unity, promote economic self-sufficiency and instil cultural, personal and moral discipline so as to control indolence, corruption and criminal practices. The program died a natural death after a military coup removed General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime from office.
Societal expectations have radically changed, ethical values have eroded beyond moral anticipations, and character training at the family level has become something else. Indiscipline manifest spontaneously in the public life of Nigerians including driving on the highways. If there is one area in the defunct WAI which patriotic Nigerians are missing today, it is public sanitation. Dirty environment is part of indiscipline. Public health services in most Local Government Areas (LGAs) have since collapsed. It would be news today to find serviceable waste disposal trucks in the fleet of vehicles owned by each of the 774 LGAs in the country. Yet, nearly every LG chairman and his retinue of political aides have fleets of official cars and Hilux vans attached to their offices.
Common sense has become uncommon in the public life of many Nigerians. Even in our private lives as human beings, the use of common sense is a basic requirement for a decent and righteous life. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be tenable again in Nigeria. The actualization of the call in this piece may actually not be easy in a democratic dispensation. Nonetheless, we urge President Buhari to adopt measures that seek to promote patriotism, peace, national unity, discipline and selflessness. May Allah (SWT) give our leaders the necessary wisdom, piety and guidance that will bring about good governance for the common good of all, amin.