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Why it is difficult to take Buhari seriously

President Muhammadu Buhari stood before the UN General Assembly yesterday and declared: “Let me reaffirm Nigerian government’s unwavering commitment to fight corruption and illicit financial flows. By any consideration, corruption and cross border financial crimes are impediments to development, economic growth, and the realization of the wellbeing of citizens across the globe.”

He added for good measure: “I call upon the global community to urgently redouble efforts towards strengthening the mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for proceeds of corruption and ensuring the return of stolen funds and assets to their countries of origin.”

It is an insult to the intelligence of all right-thinking Nigerians and indeed the global community when they can see that prominent in Buhari’s delegation to New York is Rotimi Amaechi, who in his eight years as governor of Rivers State, committed the crimes that Buhari described above and then some. Amaechi also through his corruption, was a serious “impediment to development, economic growth, and the realization of the wellbeing” of the people of Rivers State.

Amaechi (middle) with some of Buhari's delegation at the UN
Amaechi (middle) with some of Buhari’s delegation at the UN

But despite his anti-corruption posturing and “body language”, Buhari doesn’t seem to mind the type of company he keeps. Or indeed, gleefully accepting the proceeds of corruption when he ran for president. The Benue State governor Samuel Ortom allegedly claimed that up to 80% of the funding for Buhari’s campaign came from Amaechi.

Those “illicit financial flows” into the Buhari campaign from Amaechi were funds that should have gone towards the “realization of the wellbeing” of the people of Rivers State. Accepting the money meant that Buhari was handling stolen goods and made him an accomplice in Amaechi’s crimes.

It would be recalled that Buhari said at the tenth anniversary of the tyrant Sanni Abacha’s death in 2008 that Abacha did not steal. This was at a time that the government then was recovering some of Abacha’s loot from foreign banks. Now, he is asking foreign governments for help with recovering stolen money, while in the company of thieves.

Taking Amaechi on two US trips (first to Washington and now to New York) means that Buhari can’t possibly be serious about the haughtily proclaimed “unwavering commitment to fight corruption”. He is not fighting corruption. He has embraced it.

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