Praises, Knocks for anti-corruption war


By Benprince Ezeh

DESPITE the celebrated gains recorded by the anti-corruption agencies of government in the last five years, the discriminatory manner in which appointments are made in the federal level by this administration and the corrupt practices witnessed daily in dealings with government officials, politicians and security officials are obvious dents on the report card of the government and its agencies.

There is no doubt that one of the cardinal programmes that won the hearts of Nigerians during the 2015 presidential campaign of the All Progressive Congress, APC, was the planned fight against corruption. However, five years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year tenure, especially on the first year anniversary of his second four-year tenure on Friday, June 12, 2020, many Nigerians are wondering if the campaign has actually recorded the successes claimed by the government and its anti-fraud agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency, EFCC,

In his self-appraisal, Buhari said that the administration’s war against corruption was yielding the desired results. Addressing the nation on the 2020 Democracy Day, the president said in the last five years the anti-corruption agencies had secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion.  He said these monies were being ploughed into infrastructure projects.

“Government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions. Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.

“Anti-Corruption Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects. The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve, especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for government to address.

“I will continue to give all the necessary support for the on-going reforms designed to return discipline, integrity and patriotism as the hallmark of the public service. In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorized that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said that as of December 16, 2019, it had secured 1,900 convictions and recovered N794 billion in four years. Speaking at the 2019 International Anti-Corruption Day, Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman, EFCC, said “Our scorecard in this regard speaks volumes; for the four years that I have been in-charge of the commission, we have secured about 1,900 convictions, including top government officials.

“Former governors; captains of industry, oil subsidy merchants and scores of players in the private sector. Former military chiefs and civil servants have also been convicted as well as many illegal oil bunkerers in the Niger Delta.

On recoveries, there is no law enforcement agency in Africa that has equalled the phenomenal recoveries that the EFCC has made. In the four years under my watch, we have recovered over N794 billion and have ensured hundreds of properties forfeited to the government.

According to Magu, the commission, are not unrelenting in determination to completely eradicate corruption from Nigeria through the fight against corruption. “Those who doubt our resolve must sooner come to terms with the fact that the EFCC is a marathoner and when it comes to the fight against corruption, we never give up.

“This was recently demonstrated last week when, after 12 years of legal hide and seek that took us to the Supreme Court and back, the long convoluted trial of former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu ended. This trial was brought to closure with his conviction and sentencing to 12 years imprisonment without an option of fine for stealing over seven billion naira from the treasury of Abia State Government. This brings to three, the number of former state governors that were convicted of corruption within one year on my watch,” Magu added.

Despite the achievements recorded so far in the fight against corruption, Nigeria is still being ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in Africa. Transparency International, TI, in its latest Corruption Perceptions Index report, CPI, in January 2020, still perceived the country as a corrupt nation.

According to the report, Nigeria is ranked 146 out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide by TI. The rating body measures the perception of corruption, not corruption itself, in the public sector. (It does not measure the perception of corruption in the private sector.)

Based on the statistics listed, many Nigerians still question the credibility of President Buhari’s fight against corruption. In August 2015, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna State challenged President Muhammadu to probe his military regime between 1983 and 1985 if he is really serious about anti-corruption war. He accused the president of violation of federal character law.

In a report titled “Heavy Knocks For Buhari’s Anti-Corruption” published by an online platform on October 31, 2015, Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, claimed he had on several occasions, petitioned the president and the anti-graft agencies, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, and EFCC levying corruption and misappropriation of fund against Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos State and currently the Minister of Works and Housing in the Cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also mentioned that several allegation of corruption and misappropriation of fund were slammed on Kayode Fayemi, present governor of Ekiti State, Kemi Adeosun, former minister of finance, Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State and current minister of transportation. He expressed concern on why these people had not been invited by the anti-graft agencies for questioning. “We are dissatisfied with the way the anti-corruption war is being fought and we are afraid that we may not achieve anything better than what we had before Buhari assumed office,” he said.

Governor Nyesom Wike
Governor Nyesom Wike

In addition, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State in February 2016, accused the president of bias in his anti-corruption war. He said he would rather fight corruption in his own way than to support Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.

Despite the claims of the achievements declared by Buhari and the EFCC boss, some Nigerians view the discriminately manner in which federal appointments are made under this administration and the corrupt practices witnessed daily by Nigerians and foreigners alike in their dealings with government officials, politicians and the law enforcement officials as clear indicators that the campaign cannot be adjudged as a huge success as being touted by the federal government and its agencies.

– June 20, 2020 @ 15:09 GMT |

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