As I understand it, the job of the National Peace Committee (which is led by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and whose de facto spokesperson is Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese) should have been over with the outcome of the presidential elections and the eventual handover of the reins of national leadership from Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari.
But last Tuesday, bedecked in cassocks, babariga, bling-bling and suits, they hurtled to the presidential villa to overreach themselves once more.
The peace committee has a problem with the way the incumbent is going about his corruption war and said so in unmistakable terms.
“It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty”, Bishop Kukah thundered to the press as cameras clicked and tapes rolled.
“I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or is against the President’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf”, Kukah said blithely. “What we are concerned about is the process”.
Last week, the National Peace Committee (NPC) initiated a rather clandestine meeting between immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari. Reports suggest the NPC is proposing a soft-landing for erstwhile officials of the Jonathan administration and maybe, for the man himself. The NPC has been left antsy with the intensity with which Buhari is going through the books.
All of these nonsense really has to stop.
A peace committee is what it is–a body set up to keep the peace. A peace committee doesn’t go about telling Presidents how to govern or delineating for same, which policies not to pursue. The terms of reference of a committee like Abdulsalami’s revolves around making sure there is no break down of law and order and I don’t see how a President who promised to recover loot and fight corruption during the electioneering campaigns, shouldn’t be allowed to carry on with that job description.
The peace committee is constituting itself into a nuisance around the corridors of power and there comes a time when they really have to know when to stop.
But on Thursday, Bishop Kukah was back on air to make a case for his committee.
As a guest on a ChannelsTv breakfast program, Sunrise Daily, Kukah rehashed some of the bare-bone lines he reeled out to the press some 48 hours before. My take-aways from his rather whimsical on-air outing are as follows:
Bishop Kukah Said:
1. President Buhari has to start governing and leave his anti-graft war on the back burner.
2. The September date for the appointment of Ministers isn’t exactly what the APC promised Nigerians during the campaigns. In any case, why is the APC expending so much energy on fighting corruption when there’s a country to run?
3. The press is prejudiced like the rest of the Nigerian people and both categories are always on the lookout for scapegoats to hang their woes on. Hence, the delirium in blaming Jonathan for the present woes of the country
4. If Jonathan hadn’t conceded defeat with that ‘historic’ phone call of his, the country would have gone up in flames and Buhari wouldn’t be where he is, the ChannelsTV presenters wouldn’t be sitting in that cozy studio of theirs and as Bishop Kukah, he wouldn’t be discussing with the TV station from his Skype-enabled computer.
5. Jonathan has done his best for Nigeria and should be accorded some respect as the hero who saved an entire nation–170 million strong–from erupting in flames; when he accepted that he had been roundly beaten at the ballot.
6. If Buhari insists on his probes, who is to say he wont be the victim of a probe himself when he leaves office? When will the cycle of probes end and that of governance begin?
The very notion of the ongoing probes into the activities of the past administration, appeared to leave Kukah uncomfortable and irritated. He couldn’t mask his disgust. He stopped short of calling for the deification, canonization and veneration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
And for a member of the clergy, it was quite a sorry sight to behold.
Make no mistake, Jonathan’s concession phone call will go down in our country’s annals as one of the best acts of statesmanship this side of the Atlantic. For a continent famed for its sit-tight rulers, the former President deserves his place in the pantheon for throwing in the towel when he did. It was an act that doused plenty of tension in the land and helped prevent another blood-bath we could ill afford. Many Nigerians recognize that phone call as uncommon in these shores and have applauded deservedly.
But calling to concede shouldn’t preclude a successor from fulfilling his campaign promises. Buhari rose to power at the center thanks in large part to his ascetic, anti-corruption disposition. His number one campaign promise everywhere he showed up during the stump, was to fight corruption and block leakages. He parroted the same anti-graft lines on national and international television. He was Mr. anti-corruption and Mr. anti-corruption was Buhari. Nigerians could barely distinguish the two.
It is therefore uncharitable of anyone to now suggest that Buhari’s present corruption war is a distraction especially when a large chunk of the voters who got the man elected, aren’t complaining and are cheering his gumption and intrepid demeanor; every step of the way. If voters wanted the same tainted, timorous leadership that brought the country to its present sorry state, they probably would have stuck with Jonathan or the APC hierarchy would have settled for an Atiku Abubakar, for instance.
In any case, to get the job done the way he has promised he will, Buhari has no choice but to fight corruption and clean up the Augean stable–exactly what he’s been doing. He’s set out his stall to fight the monster called corruption and should be left alone to do so. The President has also said he isn’t going to witch-hunt anyone and that he’s simply focused on recovering stolen funds.
At a time when they should be tending to their flocks, going about their normal businesses or assisting the President with useful tips on how to recover stolen loot just so we can make life better for the lot of the citizenry, the country’s elders chose to file to Aso Rock to lecture a President on how best to do his job and how not to fulfill his cardinal campaign promise.
Worse, they unleashed an unsavory spokesperson on us all.
The National Peace Committee really has no job to do at this time and that body should be dissolved forthwith. We appreciate the job its members undertook in fostering peace during and after the elections and we’ll beckon on them when next we require their services.
This we promise.
*Jude Egbas is on Twitter as @egbas