ISSUES | 10 Reasons Buhari’s Anti-corruption Fight Will Fail Again – By Jude Feranmi
By Jude Feranmi
Let me introduce you to this piece by starting with what we know of President Buhari or let’s say the average perception of who President Buhari is. He is incorruptible, He is a man of integrity, has occupied various political positions in the past under the military including head of state and when he was head of state, his no nonsense approach to everything Nigeria sealed his name in the hearts of the Nigerian populace, even for us who were not born then especially with his War Against Indiscipline.
Usually, that is where we stop when it comes to President Buhari’s antecedents. But, we will be making a mistake by stopping just right there as a man’s legacy is by far his most remembered attribute, and so we should continue with what happened after.
He was “dethroned” in a coup de tat, and even though not as much as when his friend, Sani Abacha died, Nigerians rejoiced when that happened and there was no public outcry that Nigeria’s incorruptible general had been deposed, at least none that was recorded. After his own episode of military rule, Nigeria degenerated into yet another level of corruption, worse than the one that was before it, Buhari’s reason for taking over in the first place, and finally, he disappeared from public scene only to feature once every four years after Obasanjo, another general turned diplomat’s first tenure.
The popular aphorism that those who fail to learn from History are bound to repeat it is a very important one we should be taking note of as the question is why would this legacy not repeat itself ? Some 7 years ago, Nigerians hoped that one man’s good luck will rub off on all of us and we would be catapulted into one of the first 20 economies in the world with that good luck, but that failed. Why would our expectations of President Buhari’s integrity rubbing off on us be fulfilled this time around?
These questions would probably need a scientific process to answer, to which I have an hypothesis – Unless Goodluck and Integrity can be institutionalized, we might be chasing shadows and bubbles in the air and by “institution”, I do not by any means refer to its definition of being the “lengthened shadow of a man”. What I refer to instead are the established rules of the game that are bounding on every individual or groups of persons or associations irrespective of social status, background, personality or class.
Having said this, I know you are here for my so called 10 reasons and as promised in the title, I would not deny you of it. I think History will repeat itself because of these 10 reasons, I hope it doesn’t.
- He is recovering stolen assets and looted funds but not blocking loopholes
What about TSA? Well, You got me there! But TSA is not part of the loopholes I am talking about. Think about the Fantastically Corrupt episode in the UK. Now, if a minister decides to loot funds right now from his budgetary allocation and transfer to the UK in an offshore account like some of our leaders do in the National Assembly, that is still very possible. If a bank in Nigeria receives funds in batches of hundreds of thousands of dollars also like some of our leaders did, we still wouldn’t know. If an agency generates income and refuses to deposit in TSA, there are no means of detecting and please don’t say it’s not possible, I have witnessed different episodes in the last two months and Yes, the Whistle Blowers Act, how far are we with that? So think of a basket and think of water being poured into it. That is exactly the point where we are right now.
To make matters worse, It seems Mr President just wants the money. In fact, if you bring us money, we would not announce your name, you would not even be tried and if you are even on trial, we can consider suspending it, just bring the money.
- He is fighting a one-side battle
There is a little bit of controversy to this, You hear names like Umar and you think yes, it’s two sided but President Buhari’s EFCC would not even consider a petition on any of his ministers but a sitting governor will be lectured on his immunity protection which is by far the worst clause in our constitution. ICPC on the other hand cannot even carry out investigations on their own without a petition but since President Buhari wrote his very long essay on corruption and how it is to be tackled by expanding the provisions of the commission, we have heard nothing about it. The proverbial blood of the lamb on the houses of the children of Isreal now metaphorically applies in our country, when the angel of anti-corruption sees the broom, he shall Passover you.
In fact, someone had suggested an easy way of rooting out corruption in the country since every APC member appears to be a saint, Let’s all decamp to APC and this country is guaranteed of being as clean as the President himself.
- He is not focusing on transparency
What about the honourable minister of justice’s letter to the open government partnership to participate? Here we go, we really have to understand that it is a different thing entirely to submit a letter of intent than it is to have a strategy for implementing the NAP – National Action Plans for Transparency. Think about this. Imagine you have a monkey you love so much but because of your irresponsibility and lack of care and time, the monkey now has in its possession a poisonous bunch of bananas that is going to “kill it” and with it a gun so that it can shoot you should you even try to snatch the banana away from it. Now, signing up in the midst of all monkey owners that you promise to rid your monkey of the poisonous banana and pledging openly in front of all does not in any way solve your problem.
Mr President’s political will is a place to start, it is definitely not a place to rest. So much political capital will be needed to pass laws that back transparency or even makes it criminal to be opaque and if Mr President’s one year history with the lawmakers is anything to go by, his political capital which is in red that has not seen any progress made on two anti-corruption bills sent to the National Assembly since January is not likely to pave a way in the fight for transparency.
- States are being ignored, where the highest level of corruption is present
There is no doubt that the highest level of corruption occurs at the state level even though we don’t get to hear about it. We can bring a couple of factors together here and say those factors when working together are responsible. One of these would be that Mr President does not really have a strategy of fighting corruption at the state level or that even the strategy for fighting corruption at the federal level is not being properly executed, how should we then expect that there would be one for the state level? Another one could also be that Mr President is not really interested in this aspect because as is evident, all monies recovered does not come to the Federal purse but to the state where such monies were recovered and as such, the incentive to pursue corruption in that sector disappears into thin air. Another factor could be that 25 of the states of the Federation is being governed by the APC who we have found out happen to be passed over when the angel of anti-corruption is at work. If Mr President campaigned on an altar of anti-corruption, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a ministry of anti-corruption even if it is going to last for as long as there is rampant corruption in the country. Before you tear me apart on the notion of increasing the cost of governance, The United States response to terrorism is the best illustration here. If a country is serious about an issue, he gets the best persons together who can tackle such, empower them and releases them to function.
- Campaign funding is NOT been probed
You would think this is what I should have said when I talked about when I talked about the one-sided anti-corruption campaign. Not at all! There is no single inquiry or investigation in INEC about the funding of the campaign of any political party in the country, and Yes, INEC is the constitutionally guaranteed institution that can investigate or order investigation into the funding of election campaigns. Facts Only – The monetization of our electoral process takes the largest chunk of the pie when it comes to the root causes of corruption in our country. Despite this fact, there is little in the way of probing or making more transparent the funding of the electoral process. A situation where one needs upwards of N15 million to declare intent or pick a nomination form for gubernatorial elections speaks volumes of how much more of an investment than service is vying for electoral office in our country. If you donate upwards of $200 to a campaign in the US, US Federal Law mandates the campaign office to provide details about you, your social security number, your occupation and your business history as much as they can. Here in Nigeria, the only laws that we have is a fine of N1Million if you spend more than N100million if you are running for governor.
- There are no new laws on anti-corruption
There is a point I should have made earlier in this piece that I have held till this point. There is a need to ask if it is Mr President that is fighting corruption or If it is APC that is fighting corruption. It is evident as at now that it is more of the former than the latter and that does not in any way absolve Mr President of his responsibility since he is a leader of the APC. What needs to be understood by Mr President and everybody else including Nigerians is that Mr President cannot fight this battle of corruption alone no matter how saintly he is or was created. The core of shaping a society into an ideal of its citizens is hinged on laws. Obsolete Laws that need to be repealed are very crucial to fighting corruption. New laws that understand the spirit of the moments are crucial to changing the mood of the people. Mr President’s body language is what we know, The body language of the people also needs to change and without laws, this cannot be and above all, the judiciary cannot reach its highest achievable ideal as it is limited by the laws of the Federation.
- EFCC and ICPC are vendetta dogs, their independence is still a NO-NO
There now exists a not-so-fine line between the roles of the EFCC and ICPC and the roles of the FIRS and NCS. All four agencies now seem to be focused on revenue generation. The first two from former office holders who have been found wanting and the last two from Nigerian citizens who will always be found wanting of taxes and levies. We now know that the DSS under the last President, whose administration’s fatal performances I have tried so hard to leave out of this conversation, was actually a chained local dog just barking while they have now found a new level of expression like kind of dogs that the first lady described recently. There can be no true fight against corruption when anti-graft agencies are not independent of the Presidency the same way there can be no true attorney for the federation as long as the independence of that office is tied to a master. This is why there can be fluctuations in the performances of the agencies depending on the commitment of the masters to who they are dependent.
- Political Scores are still being settled
Maybe, just maybe the real fight against corruption has not begun. Political scores have not yet being settled and they sure need to be settled before any progress can be witnessed on the battle front of anti-corruption. The level at which people have been tried on the front pages of newspapers and denied freedoms afterwards is yet to be witnessed in our democratic history while in cases where those alleged are close to the “broom” or members of the House of Broom, they are shielded away from investigations. General Buratai, the infamous general of the Zaria Masaccre who I must say also possesses more than excellent saving habits for example cannot be a corrupt person even though he was head of procurement in the Nigerian Army when funds were released to procure arms for the fight against Boko Haram.
- The Rule of Law is Secondary to the Fight
This is not just evident but also a sad precedent for our democracy. The strongest of words cannot capture the rate at which the judiciary is being denigrated in our democracy right now so much so that the powers of the judiciary count for nothing and amounts to nothing all for the sake of fighting corruption. The words “due process” also do not mean anything and as a matter of precedent which I learnt is a very important part of the judicial process, we are heading for trouble in the nearest future. We now live in times when the opinion of a member of the executive council is over and above the laws of the land and as the blindfolded lady of justice is being led to the slaughter, it is more sad seeing that this is happening right under the noses of law professors whose books are being used to teach upcoming lawyers of our society. Some say the laws need to be put aside if the fight against corruption must be successful, but they fail to remember that a lawless society is the most fertile ground for corruption to thrive again and again no matter how much it is brought down. And may God grant the President long life and good health, this singular factor will be responsible for 90% of his failure to rid the country of corruption long after he is gone as it is evident that should he even be able to hold the fort while he is President, we would be heading into another level of abyss of corruption immediately after.
10. The judiciary is still a shadow of itself, and there are no plans to reform it.
If corruption is going to be fought successfully in our country like it was in Georgia for example, the judiciary is going to play a very important role in that process by reforming itself and enshrining standards that are far above what it is currently the standard at the moment and Mr President needs to be aware of that. The Vice President who is also a lawyer was said to have played a huge role in the judicial reform that took place in Lagos State. This kind of reform is necessary for the nation’s judicial system and should they refuse to acknowledge the importance and the necessity of this reform, we all can continue to hope as we have always done that corruption does not kill us.
It is high time we started learning from history and making an attempt to correct our mistakes and errors. A fool they say is he who does something the same way over and over again and expects a different result. Mr President surely does not want to be remembered as the man who fought corruption the first time, failed woefully, took 30 years to rest and re-strategize like the proverbial goat that steps back to take power, came the second time to fight corruption and failed again.
May God Bless The Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
Jude ‘Feranmi (JFK) is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY.
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