One imprecise impression we all have about the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is thinking that it’s ongoing loot recovery, modelled after the bravado of Abacha’s failed banks tribunal, is fight against corruption. No, it isn’t.
Why did I say this? The nation is trapped in a labyrinth of social malaise but the fixation is on a single issue. Nothing is working in Nigeria. Everything is in a state of disrepair. You cannot prevent corruption when a Level 8 civil servant in Abuja is earning N70,000 or so per month and when the minimum salary is still N20,000. How do you expect N20,000 to feed, cloth, shelter and transport person in Abuja (or any other city for that matter) for 30 days? In a country where public institutions are not functional, how can this crumb cover school fees and medical bills?
I suppose the messenger in the president’s office is highest on Grade Level 6, earning a monthly of about N28,000. He cannot live on this pittance without finding ways of making “ends” meet, either by hiding files or leaking confidential documents.
What has this administration done, as a way of fighting corruption, to change the life of a police constable earning N43,000 salary to stop taking bribes at checkpoints? How do you survive in Abuja on N43,000 without getting tempted to fraudulently enrich yourself?
How do you fight corruption when you cannot control the prices of kerosene and petrol? Did you increase the minimum wage when you jerked the price of petrol from N87 to N145? These are ways of fighting corruption. Make life easy for the people, tame inflation, improve the welfare of the people, revamp the economy, fix public institutions, etc. That is when you can exorcise the ghost of corruption. There is still prevalence of corruption in China, Malaysia, Russia, India, etc, but what do you hear from these countries? Economic growth!
The farcical side of the present administration’s “anti-corruption” war is shielding members of the president’s cabinet accused of corruption. I don’t care if Dasuki is jailed but it pains me seeing the present-day Dasukis walking free and hobnobbing with the president.
During the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, which was perceived by Nigerians as one of the most corrupt administrations, there was arrest and prosecution of agents of the ruling party.
Despite our perception and vilification of Obasanjo, he, ironically, set the anti-corruption institutions we are today proud of. Obasanjo is not a saint, but he set example of his anti-corruption war on members of his cabinet, governors, party leaders, etc.
Have you, in your wildest dream, thought this government could support the impeachment of sitting APC governors in order to prosecute them the way Obasanjo supported the removal of late DSP Alamiesegha? You will say Buhari follows due process and rule of law, and so he will not take after Obasanjo. Now what manner of rule of law allows this government to fraudulently seek court orders to freeze a sitting governor’s bank accounts or withdraw the security of an opposition governor?
At least corrupt Obasanjo did remove his close friend, late Chief Sunday Afolabi, as minister of Internal Affairs and was charged by ICPC in December 2003 for collecting kickback in National ID Card contracts alongside his Labour and Productivity counterpart, Alhaji Husseini Akwanga; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ms Turi Akerele; National Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Dr. Mohammed Shata and; SAGEM S.A. representative in Nigeria, Mr. Niyi Adelakun. That was leading by example.
Under Buhari administration, there was budget fraud in both the executive and legislative branches. The president himself admitted this and promised to take action. But no severe action was taken yet against even the civil servants. There were fraudulent deals in the drastic reduction of MTN fine, there was Burj Al Buratai, there was corruption in the handling of refugee funds (the president himself admitted), there was corruption in forex deals, etc.
Even Jonathan, yes that whipping boy called Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, bowed to public pressure and sacked his Chief of Staff Mike Oghiadomhe for alleged involvement in kerosene subsidy and rice import waiver scams. The same Jonathan again fired two of his top ministers, Stella Odua and Professor Barth Nnaji, following allegations of corruption against them.
Actions and inactions of this administration shouldn’t be beyond reproach. The greatest support every patriotic citizen should give any government in power is none other than telling the government the truth.
By Jaafar Jaafar