MTN Jolly Data - Nigeria

Corruption In Nigeria Is A Lost War By Idris Usman

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Corruption has been an issue in the political lexicon of the country so much so that every regime, often promise either to fight or terminate corruption, and one is surprised by the sudden surge in identifying President Goodluck’s administration, as being responsible for the introduction of corruption.

Every military regime in this country justified their ascension to power on the need to fight corruption. Starting with Nzeogwu in 1966, who wanted to fight the tenpercenters, up till 1999, it had been a recurring theme of the need to fight corruption. Civilian collaborators have not been left out in that war. The degree of successes in the fight has been varied across all regimes and it is safe to say, the fight continues. It is important to ask, are we really fighting corruption. In what contextual meaning is that war being fought? Corruption is varied in both concept and practices.
The perception of corruption has been more pronounced in civilian regimes than their military counterparts. The return to democratic dispensation in 1999 and the ascendency of Olusegun Obasanjo as President renewed and invigorated the political space with the hope of a return to sanity and time honored approach on how government business would be conducted, against not only his military background but a recipient, and graduate of the corruption war led by the Czar himself of Gen. Murtala Mohammed.

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This Cut-off mark and general acceptance by the broad-spectrum of the Nigerian society gained further momentum when for the first time in the history of this country, an agency was established to fight financial crimes. Almost immediately allegations started flying on his privatization programme. Till date, Nigerians await his answer on the sale of NITEL, to a company, whose office was traced to an abandoned church house in Holland. The Director-General BPE in that alleged transaction did not only become a minister, but he is sitting comfortably as a governor of a state. The allegations against president Obasanjo were not only in whispers, but were gradually becoming public knowledge.

The list can be endless. The 12.7 billion presidential library, alleged harassment of businessmen and politicians to key into the project. He also became the first President to issue a license to & operate a private university which further alleged shares in Transcorp. The scale of alleged corruption reached richter scale when against well known democratic standards bid for a third-term in office Nigerians were subsequently treated to a mini soap-opera in which sacks of money were displayed in living colour on the floor of the National Assembly, to show the descent of a man in desperation. It is to be noted, despite contrary presentations by promoters that under “His watch” 16 billion electricity project became a subject of probe with lurid details.

The 10 Billon Jet Scandal, has been conveniently shielded and the same man was petroleum minister for seven and half years, with an estimated 33 trillion naira accruing to his regime and country, and nobody is moved in whatever direction to check this mess and all we hear are targeted raids, against political parties and politicians. The fight against corruption would have been salutary, of the legacy corruption scandal that has refused to die, allegedly perpetrated under him, we are talking of the Halliburton scandal that has outlived, dominated the international circles at present had been given the seriousness it deserved.

In this so called war against corruption are there saints and sinners? Is there a personality cult? Why this loud silence? Are promoters and supporters of the ruling party expressly disqualified from being probed to the extent of their allegiance to the present government. A defining moment however came with President Ya’ardua who openly acknowledged that even the process that brought him to power was fraudulent. He did not stop there, but went ahead to activate a correcting process which led to a recreation of electoral laws and reforms of which today we are largely proud of.

The same cannot be said today of the “strongman” of anti-corruption, General Muhamadu Buhari. He rode not only on the crest of corruption agenda, but publicly showcased his credential to fight corruption to a standstill. Today corruption remains not only endemic but it has become “clinical”. He has refused to acknowledge and by extension not ready to entertain contrary views that the election that brought him to power was riddle with corruption, under-age children were allowed to vote-and figures were out that did not do any violence to the end-results. Nor are we to discount the mechanical contraption called card-reader all programmed for the desired results. It sounds incredible that a regime with fertile credentials to fight corruption will have its high-ranking SGF, falling from his exalted position on allegation of corrupt practices. Who do you make in the meaning of corruption when there is no conceptual framework in place to deal with the menace?
All we have, is a strongman called Buhari, an anti corruption crusader with a military background, all alone pushing, pressing, pressuring others to help him fight a personal war. It does seem that on this war, it is Buhari alone and others.

It is no wonder then that what we see is a primitive chase of so called looted funds without arresting the levers that help corruption to thrive. Beyond Hollywood style raids, media Blitzkrieg it has been all storm and fury and no substance to the extent that the society is not fooled and know those who have been left untouched. It is doubtful if a one army can confront the legion of corruption in contemporary Nigeria, and indeed the world today. If Jonathan’s government has been labeled as the most corrupt in the history of this country, we have the testimony of no less a distinguished assemblage of Nigerians in the National Assembly, who did not spare the head of a former regime, as the grandfather of corruption. It is instructive to note that President Jonathan has been spared such unflattering appellations.

Jonathan did not embark on media onslaught to fight the issue of corruption, nor did he pursue his perceived enemies to bring them to public ridicule. He saw individuals as ends in the chain of corrupt practices, and proceeded to block areas that help foster this anti-social behavior. The introduction of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, attest to his resolve to redefine the conduct of government business. The various agencies were given unfettered atmosphere to their jobs through comprehensive investigations to allow cases stand the test of time. He was not an actor and did not eliminate opponents. He was never accused of using his position to brow-beat individuals to help him increase his financial chess. Our distinguished factor in the fight against corruption has been lack of “democracy” or decency from the national, state assemblies to the executive. It has been unfolding stories of excesses, underhand deals and glaring unhindered raid on various available vaults. It is convenient to downgrade Jonathan years, but two years into this administration, we have seen selected and belated approaches.

Powers of the EFFC are circumscribed, and transferred to branches of government that do not have the powers to investigate, or deal with financial crimes. Never under Jonathan are so many members of the national assembly under investigation. Nothing has changed and nothing is changing. Furthermore, various agencies under the present dispensation are busy fighting, canceling or castrating one another by providing solid blocks to protect their members and making others fall in line. A new strategy would be needed by the APC, to control these desperate forces if the fight is to be meaningful total and convincing. It is hard to understand how a political party with contending blocks can provide a unified block to fight and actualize its most potent political raison detre for assuming power. Ignore the road show by Magu, it was a primitive show of relevance and daring the National Assembly not to confirm him. The war on corruption is fought through due diligence, forensic, clear and unambiguous procedures.

Nigerians would have by now be wondering how under Jonathan he made sure that all Nigerians who are willing and able to work were given ample space to realize their ambitions, through institutions and empowerment programmes, on women, youth and indeed all Nigerians, in transport, agriculture, education, health, sports, security. He introduced the integrated personnel and payroll information system, a bio-metric verification of government workers to manage leakages devoid of rancor. Do not forget the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to improve acquisition, allocation and utilization to enable a scale down of expenses. These were aimed at disabling padding, providing varied information systems to curtail fraud, corruption and other negative tendencies.

What we hear of today is that money meant to help civil servants and retired personnel are being cornered and diverted to private investments portfolios. One factor of corruption today is the dollar exchange rate, which did not reach epidemic proportion as it is today, because he ensured stability in exchange which was critical to economic growth, against the present free fall and connivance in high places and other privilege few that have reaped from this distorted economic procedures.
Where do you start the fight against corruption? Jonathan never one interested in gaining advantage but coolly, calmly, calculatedly and collectively attacked sources of this malaise. In the final analysis, we are yet to hear of what happened to the PTF fund, through an investigation initiated, by the late Sani Abacha and other high profile scandals that have rocked Nigeria, instead we are being treated to a road show of selected and sectional persecutions and feeding the public with deliberate lies for political gains. Time will tell!.
 
[2002]
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