By: Richards Murphy
Africans do not lose sight of the power of natural nemesis. I know, the strength in this expression alludes to the irrepressibility of the truth, much as the vindication of the innocent.
Transparency International (TI), the self-acclaimed global anti-corruption watchdogs stirred the honest net again. I do not find it convincingly explicable why there are more foreign nations insidiously interested in midwifing the total destruction of Nigeria. Any of Nigeria’s leaders who display a religious commitment to salvaging Nigeria from absolute ruination is sublimely frustrated to drop the passion by these vested alien interests.
TI upped the ante in the club of baseless external adversaries of Nigerian state last week, by claiming in a statement, which alluded to corruption in the Nigerian military, as stalling the successful prosecution of the counter-insurgency war in Northeast, Nigeria, under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
TI statement was clear that fraudulent defence procurement contracts by top Nigerian military personnel were shrouded in secrecy and failed to pass the test of transparency. It said, the ill-gotten wealth from such dubious deals is laundered abroad to invest in property acquisition and it has weakened the efforts of the present administration to effectively confront and defeat Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT). But BHT is defeated in Nigeria.
Excerpts from the TI statement aptly put it as, “Corrupt military officials have been able to benefit from the conflict through the creation of fake defense contracts, the proceeds of which are often laundered abroad in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere.”
TI delved deeply on the offensive by insinuating that the corruption in the Nigerian military has marooned troops on the battlefield “without vital equipment, insufficiently trained, low in morale and under-resourced…This has crippled the Nigerian military in fighting an aggressive ideologically inspired enemy such as Boko Haram,”
Subsequently, TI’s wisdom advised the Nigerian Government to remove the opaqueness beclouding its defence budgets and procurement systems, by subjecting it to a transparent process to ensure that contracts were neither inflated, nor awarded to veiled companies.
Angrily still, TI stoked the fire by directly persuading foreign countries, especially the United States (US) to withhold arms sales to Nigeria in order to compel defence reforms, before assisting with weaponry for the counter-terrorism war against Boko Haram insurgents. It was clearly the whitest lie any international organization which holds onto any strand of claim to any reputation could have voiced out. But TI did publicly, with much recklessness against Nigeria and her military under a Buhari Presidency.
There is no greater stab on the psyche and stain on the image of a country than such deception, which is potent enough to dampen the morale of its military battling a complex war like terrorism in Nigeria’s northeast. Nothing can be worse than this unfounded blackmail and demonization of Nigerian military by TI. It cried foul where none existed.
But in a surprise, but pleasant reversal of its own fabricated and condemnable verdict against the current breed of Nigerian military, TI willingly reversed itself last Monday. But prior to this reversal, the TI verdict provoked wide outrages from civil society organizations in Nigeria, with some calling on TI to quit Nigeria with 72 hours, with the evil agenda.
This feeling was reinforced as its Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani recanted the contents of TI’s report as false, as the anger raged across the land.
Rafsanjani featured on a morning programme on AIT last Monday, May 29, 2017. And the TI Rep was vehement that all the contents of the report were not just untrue, but the report was misplaced in fixation of time, as it was meant to indict the Nigerian military under the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, covering the period of 2010-2015, before the Buhari Presidency.
Even before this self-confession of unjustified attack of Nigeria by TI, Nigerians never believed them. The falsity of the report yawned louder than its factuality under the Buhari administration of Nigeria courtesy of palpable evidence. But Rafsanjani’s featuring on the AIT programme to speak on the matter, assisted Nigerians immensely in understanding the cloudy nature and gamut of the international conspiracy against their own country.
To my mind, I firmly believe, Rafsanjani only freed his conscience and acted his instincts of truth, which is innately embedded in every human being. It should be a surprise that TI would sit elsewhere in a foreign land and concoct a report about transparency or lack of it in any country without consulting its personnel on ground. It means, Rafsanjani was handed down a carefully crafted script from his bosses to shell Nigeria. He complied with superior instructions, but when the chips were down or the moment of truth came and he had to face the Nigerian public or the world on record, he had no option than to speak the truth.
Of course, nobody expected him to speak otherwise over a matter he had no knowledge about nor emanated from his official table in Nigeria. His plea during the AIT programme about mixture of time frame of the damnable report was just a last -minute ditch of efforts and an after-thought to salvage the already battered reputation of his employer-Transparency International (TI).
Modestly to say the least, the TI report was a script written somewhere and handed over to him to deliver to the Nigerian public and the world. That’s why Rafsanjani could not differentiate between time then and time now (Jonathan and the Buhari Presidencies) .
I must admit and to be candid to Rafsanjani, his carefully thought-out allusion to the report as fake and for 2010 -2015, before TV cameras, killed the spirit of the conversation on AIT. Nigerians expected him to justify the patently false claims of TI live on TV. However, we are happy because his expose is the very first time Nigerians would listen to something in the semblance of truth from the likes of Rafsanjani and his bands of international NGOs, all maliciously converged to destroy Nigeria never to emerge the giant of Africa in practical terms.
Obviously, the chickens have come home to roost for TI. The only option available to it now is to summon the courage and wisdom to officially and openly apologize to the military leadership and the Nigerian people for deliberately misleading them and the world with the cooked report on defence contracts/corruption under a Buhari presidency. Only this can restore some vestige of reputation on TI, an international organization, whose mandate is to keep vigilance on the translucency of the business of nations of the world, but is itself very un-transparent.
And to the current incorruptible Nigerian military, I do not have much words to say. I don’t even have the strength or appropriate lexicon to console them. But suffice it to say, the truth, discipline, honesty and professionalism it has imbibed under the present crop of Service Chiefs shall forever remain their public signposts of vindication against any false accusation by local or international conspirators like TI.
I dare say, the present Nigerian military is too faultless, even the devil cannot find a black spot on their skins to approach them for conversion into his dark kingdom. I am proud of the Military, like millions of other Nigerians. The false indictment by TI and the subsequent retraction is an indelible testimony and clear reaffirmation of their strength of character, probity and the conscious acceptance of the reforms championed by the military high command in the last 20 months in Nigeria. I plead that they should be consoled by it.
I shall not be fair to myself, if I fail to salute, the Nigerian civil society clan, whose situation room patriotically rose in defence of this image fraud by TI. In fact, standing by one’s country on the side of truth pays tremendously. About eight of them rose instantly to defend Nigeria and her military, against the TI’s malicious provocation of the voiceless, hence it is not the duty of the military to speak out for the country or indulge in civil debates.
These civil society groups acted in the passion of defending our fatherland against external wolves in sheep clothing and to protect the character of these selfless officers and Service Chiefs who on daily basis make sacrifices so that the rest of us can live in peace. The Civil Society Organizations have shown the way and Nigerians are watching. Transparency International should simply toe the path of diplomatic honour by quietly vacating Nigeria.
Murphy writes from Calabar, Cross River State.