The Anti-Corruption Agenda: Losing the Support of Nigerians, By Mbasekei Martin Obono

In Nigeria, like most parts of the world, corruption is considered a major impediment to economic development. At the 52nd Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Oby Ezekwesili posited that over $400 billion of Nigeria’s oil revenue had either been stolen or misappropriated since the country gained Independence in 1960. In the power sector, Nigeria has lost a total of N11 trillion in 16 years. Monies appropriated for hospitals and clinics have ended up in the private pockets of public officials or their cronies. Since the return of democracy in 1999, a whopping N1.4 trillion ($8.5 billion) has reportedly been spent on road construction or maintenance, with very little evidence of the money spent.

The question is: Why does corruption thrive so well in our society? It is simple. Clannishness, nepotism and parochialism are the vehicles through which corruption thrives. While it is general knowledge that corruption is now deeply rooted in our society, reducing it is not an impossible task. Fighting corruption requires a combination of political will and the commitment of citizens to act as whistleblowers.

Earlier in the year, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo lamented that the present government could have recorded progress in the anti-corruption war if citizens supported and encouraged the government’s fight. This is quite true because, it is difficult to address corruption, involving the recovery of monies on one hand and, while still providing the foundation upon which corruption thrives, on another hand, and expecting citizens to take the government seriously.

Most of the corruption perpetrated by public officials is done through a clique of associates, to the exclusion of non-members of the circle. This is typically carried out by favouring relatives or friends. Grand corruption and theft in government thrive through nepotism. Examples can be best pointed out in the cases involving former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, and his son, Abdul-aziz, who were arraigned in 2015 at Federal High Court for stealing, abuse of office and money laundering; Joshua Dariye, a former governor of Plateau State, who was jailed for diverting public funds to his political party and friends; and also the late Sani Abacha who looted money and left it in custody of his family.

Also, the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who went to jail with his wife; and equally the ex-governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido and his sons, Aminu Lamido and Mustapha Lamido, alongside companies of his friends, who were all arraigned and locked up for corruption in 2017. The foregoing examples show how theft and grand corruption have been driven by nepotism.  It would be difficult for any serious thinking observer to posit that the present government is fighting corruption when the president himself has laid a solid foundation for corruption to thrive. Why do citizens think so?

According to Dr Junaid Mohammed, Buhari’s administration is filled with appointments tainted with nepotism and clannishness. From Mamman Daura, who is the president’s nephew and holds no official appointment but has risen to become the most influential person in the Presidency, with his son acting as personal assistant to the president, to Abba Kyari, who is chief of staff to the president, the state chief protocol and is the son-in-law to Mamman Daura.

This also includes Aisha Abubakar, who is a daughter to the younger sister of Buhari’s nephew’s wife, and Colonel Abubakar, the ADC of Buhari, who is son-in-law to Buhari’s elder sister. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister is the son of Buhari’s longtime friend; Buhari’s niece, Amina Zakari, is a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its director of operations.

The current minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, is Buhari’s nephew and was once projected as a replacement for the president when there were uncertainties surrounding his health. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was right; in that it is impracticable for citizens to support the anti-corruption efforts of a government that in itself has established corruption in a way that Nigeria had never experienced before.

This, therefore, is why we need a holistic anti-corruption strategic plan. A plan that reins in on inflated contracts, unremitted revenues, extortion, conversion of public property to private use, criminal wastefulness, undue influence of the fraternity of relationships. We need to deploy technology in the fight against corruption and that is what Nigerians must vote for in 2019. The anti-corruption strategic plan must also be linked with an economic plan, education, security and job creation. It must be holistic.

Source: Premium Times

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