By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) — President Muhammadu Buhari during his election campaign vowed to fight against corruption and insecurity if elected. Since his election in April 2015, anti-graft war has remained his topmost priority
Besides the core north who voted for him because he is one of them many Nigerians looked on him as the Messiah who would tackle the issues of insecurity and corruption which plagued the country, an expectation that he used to his utmost advantage.
Despite this much-hyped anti-graft war, corruption in Nigeria has taken a turn for the for the worse in the nearly three years of his administration as confirmed by the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
As indicated in the CPI 2017 released by Transparency International, Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 countries, with a score of 27 per cent in 2017, falling 12 steps below the 136th ranking in 2016.
The country has retained a ranking of 136th position for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. However in 2017 when Nigerians looked forward to an improved ranking based on the expectation that the results of the President Buhari’s anti-corruption war should have become evident, the county’s ranking plummeted 12 steps below causing many to wonder if the president’s anti-graft war is still on course.
Why is corruption growing under President Buhari?
In 2016, Professor Niyi Akinnaso, a public commentator analysed the fight against corruption under President Buhari and said, the government’s fight against corruption is characterised by four main features, each of which detracted from the quality of the fight.
He’d said then that first, it is top-down, without the broad participation of the citizens, civil society groups, educational institutions, and so on. Accordingly, the anti-corruption agencies mainly went after those who were targeted by the Presidency while the noise about alleged corruption of members of the President’s party fell on deaf ears and not even some token attention has been paid to such allegations.
“The fight has been largely lone-sided because of the lopsidedness in the list of the accused persons–they belong mainly to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, particularly the immediate past PDP administration. Even more specifically, the focus has been on those who shared in the arms fund, otherwise styled Dasukigate.”
“Third, there still is no comprehensive, society-wide, anti-corruption policy to which future administrations could respond in the same way. The result is what we have at the moment: The fight against corruption is what the President calls it, and it shall be fought as he wishes.”
“Fourth, although there are a few people on corruption charges still in prison custody, there has been no single conviction, after a year of the fight against corruption, as most of the accused are either on bail or otherwise walking free.´
These observations made in 2016, unfortunately still hold true in 2018, thus making mockery of the fight against corruption.
Observers of Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusade under the current administration are increasingly getting worried. There is a growing concern amongst many Nigerians at home and abroad about how Nigeria’s war against corruption is metamorphosing quickly into a monster that no one seems to recognize anymore and they have not failed to voice their disappointments hence the reason why headlines such as ‘Buhari’s Government Losing Anti-Corruption War’, `Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War is Failing’, ‘Arewa Youths Knock President Buhari over Failing Anti-corruption War’ have heralded the media in recent times.
While the current administration has all but vilified its predecessor for all the woes facing the country, it has however failed to give it credit for formulating virtually all the policies measures that are aiding its fight against corruption
President Muhammadu Buhari is fighting corruption with measures developed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The whistle blowing policy, Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account (TSA), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) are some of the achievements of the Jonathan administration, all of which are been used by the current administration without giving them credit.
Widespread reactions have trailed Nigeria’s corruption ranking with any of them criticising the government for failure to make any noticeable progress in its fight against corruption.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has expressed concern over the seeming inability of the judiciary to effectively prosecute and sentence corruption suspects.
The group noted that the unfavorable trend in the fight against corruption in the country as buttressed in the newly published Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2017 shows that Nigeria is slipping further down in the international ranking in the fight against corruption.
CISLAC Executive Director, Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said that the fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels.
The Peoples Democratic Party in its reaction said the latest report by TI has vindicated its position that corruption has worsened under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, who spoke for the party said that with the TI report, “the African Union (AU) must have now realised its error in naming President Buhari as the African Union (AU) anti-corruption champion and should immediately withdraw the conferment.”
The AU earlier this year named President Buhari as the Africa Anti-Corruption Champion and tasked him with leading the fight against the malaise across the continent.
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state says the ranking of Nigeria on the recent corruption index released by Transparency International, TI, is a clear vindication of his criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari anti-graft war
From the social media, Mr Ken Tadaferua, said ~There is a huge difference between a loud, populist, simplistic, ineffective policy action propaganda about fighting elitist (read as political opposition) corruption that announces zillions of dollars purportedly recovered and a strategically scientific process that effectively deals with widespread institutional corruption-
He said ~Unfortunately, Nigerians get easily carried away by the fake symbolism of armed-to-the-teeth security men breaking down doors of family homes in the dead of night and making media circus of arrests with incredible amounts of loot recovered. This military style deception has held Nigerians spell bound over the decades with corruption ever worsening. We hail the anti-corruption czar and praise his great works even as all public institutions and officers collect bribe to render services. It is hypocrisy of the first order.”
Another social media commentator, Mr Samuel Ajayi lamented that many of President Buhari’s aides and family members (yes, family members) are hiding under behind the anti-corruption toga to milk the nation dry.
“While they make the right noises and say the right things about how Buhari is fighting corruption and how the National Assembly is ‘frustrating’ him, they are stealing like tomorrow does not exist.
Buhari wants second term. It will cost money. That he knows. And campaign funds don’t fall from the skies. While anti-corruption sloganeering continues, the boys are clearing out.
From NNPC to oil blocks allocation. From NPA to the re-looting of Abacha loot, Nigeria is being SKIMMED every day.”
The report noted that while the rest of the world has improved in the perception on corruption, Nigeria slipped further down as the fight against corruption stagnates.
On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017.
While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration,
In West Africa, Nigeria is the second worst country out of 17 countries, leaving only Guinea Bissau behind.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is one of the most respected international measurement of corruption trends. It was established in 1995 as a composite indicator used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world. The CPI draws upon a number of available sources which capture perceptions of corruption.
CPI is computed by the Transparency International Secretariat in Germany and is published in Nigeria by CISLAC.
CISLAC on its part said it is worried about the new but unfavourable trend in the fight against corruption in the country as shown in the report.
“This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favouritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels,” the organisation said.
“It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian tax payers around 25 per cent of annual GDP.
“Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges.
“CISLAC notes that anti-corruption agencies have accelerated the rate of convictions on anti-corruption charges. Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for example has brought 286 cases.”