No doubts, the dawn of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency has changed the corruption surge in Nigeria, even as anti-corruption laws and institutions are still very weak and lacking in both capacity and will to curb the spate.
Corruption is unarguably Nigeria’s worst problem, every other problem including unemployment, sits on the trivet of corruption and all we urgently need is a serious government that is committed, beyond words, to the battle against the plague.
President Mohammadu Buhari’s promise to fight corruption during his campaigns and his anti-corruption pedigree certainly gave him majority of the votes that shot him to power as most Nigerians are eager to clear the global dent on our collective image and he needs to ensure he goes beyond mere declarations by strengthening all structures and institutions that can effectively wipe off corruption or at least reduce it.
Since his emergence as President, the only weapon that has been fighting corruption is simply his name. His name has become anti-corruption law, agency and court. Individuals, organisations and government agencies have adopted a culture of self-control; some people who had diverted public funds to their private vaults have been reported to have quietly returned the funds to government. Indeed, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai publicly said a former public officer, whom he didn’t name, had contacted him to facilitate the return of money he stole while in government during Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency.
The Peoples Democratic Party, a party that ruled this country to economic ruins for sixteen years but now in the opposition is swamped with hallucinating fright as most of those being questioned for stealing are members of the party. The party believed the anti-corruption battle is directed at its members. It would be strange if majority of those being investigated or facing prosecution are members of any other political party, anyway. The global community, not just Nigerians, know clearly that majority of those in possession of our public funds belong to the PDP, though members of other political parties cannot be exculpated.
The PDP as a ruling party must be courageous enough to admit that corruption was like its cardinal principles as stealing of public money went on massively and treated with the same impunity the Nigerian people were treated.
For instance, according to a report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, between 1999 and 2012, a total sum of One Trillion, three hundred and fifty billion, one hundred and thirty two million and four hundred thousand naira (N1, 354,132,400,000.00) was swiped off our collective treasury. Nigeria was under PDP’s leadership during this period. The amount stolen in 16 years can be unimaginable.
One of the party’s key national leaders was indeed jailed for stealing funds belonging to the maritime industry. Former ministers who were flying around in private jets with public funds are members of the party.
If the present administration is serious about fighting corruption, majority of those ultimately heading for the prisons would be members of Africa’s ‘’largest’’ political party who had promised to rule Nigeria for sixty years.
The party and some of its key leaders didn’t see anything wrong with venality;a former Minister during the Obasanjo regime, Mr. Sunday Afolabi once publicly chided Chief Bola Ige, who was eventually assassinated, to stop being critical of the PDP under whose government he was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. He told him he was invited to government “to come and chop”. This is the concept of public service driving most Nigerian leaders, and it’s not limited to those of PDP extraction; it’s about the only concept common to public officers in Nigeria.
And for this reason, when a public office holder is accused of corruption related offences, his tribesmen or recruited adherents drizzle into the streets with claims of ethnic persecution. A m