The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is no doubt known for its anti-corruption drive which it has since pursued with passion right from the beginning of the regime 15 months ago. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been the major driver as it has succeeded in tracking and retrieving the nation’s looted fund including the seizure of many properties allegedly acquired through illegal means, while many other cases are still in court.
Even though, many analysts believe that the anti-graft war is a welcome development, there have been musings on the sanity of the administration itself.
Just recently, former chairman, house committee on appropriation Honourable Jubril Abdulmumini who was sacked by speaker Honourable Yakubu Dogora due to the controversy surrounding the padding of the 2016 budget revealed that, there is institutional corruption in the House of Representatives. Honourable Jubril revealed this during an interview amongst other damning revelation concerning the padding of the 2016 appropriation. Sources revealed that, some fictitious items were smuggled into the budget without consultation with other committee members and members of the House. Although there is limit to the interference of the executive in legislative matter, Men of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), sealed the office of the House Committee on Appropriation which was described as illegal by legal and political analysts.
There have been other corruption scandals which the President can conveniently wade into especially those that have to do with his ministers. President Buhari recently came under attack by Nigerians in what they described as the deliberate removal of a serving Minister from the arms panel report to shield him from prosecution. The investigative panel was set-up sometime last year to help uncover fraudulent practices that might have occurred in the procurement of arms for the military between 2007 and 2015. While the committee has so far uncovered monumental corruption in military procurement, indicting many political and military bigwigs, critics say there were strong indications the government doctored the latest probe report.
This is coming on the heels of investigative reports of how persons involved allegedly own properties abroad whose total worth millions of dollars which raised questions about the source of their funds. Two real estate consultants reportedly revealed that the properties traced to those indicted have an estimated value in excess of three million dollars. Evidence also emerged of how some of these retired military personnel were involved in large scale corruption involving the Nigerian oil industry and the Nigerian military.
In what seems like a defence, the President advised Nigerians to stop accusing his ministers and other top government officials of corruption without any concrete evidence. This was contained in a statement, by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, who appealed to Nigerians to ignore “orchestrated attempts” to discredit the ministers and other senior government officials.
In a similar vein, prominent Nigerians like human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN); another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome; and Second Republic House of Representatives member, Dr. Junaid Mohammed have all called for the resignation of some serving military officers. It may not be surprising how the Code of Conduct Bureau swung up to action immediately defending the accused.
Falana believes that, “in view of the commitment of the Federal Government not to compromise the prosecution of the war against corruption, President Buhari should sack all public officers who cannot explain their sources of stupendous wealth”.
The president has also been accused of being silent as regards some illegal employment that rocked some government agencies under his watch. It can be recalled that former president Goodluck Jonathan was highly criticized for ignoring his then minister of interior Abba Moro and commandant of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) David Paradang over their role in the NIS recruitment scandal that led to the death of job seekers. President Buhari on the other hand was lauded for suspending the latter immediately after assuming office. This is apparently what Nigerians expected.
However in the last few months, reports hit the media about some federal government agencies that embarked on secret recruitment exercises in violation of Nigeria’s rules of public advertisement, where MDAs reportedly employed a good number of new staff which was not preceded by a public advertisement of vacancies to be filled and approval by the Federal Character Commission as the service rules stipulate.
These alleged illegal recruitments and nepotism in some government agencies led to protest by citizens drawn from various civil society groups on illegal recruitment, questioning the anti-corruption effort of President Muhammadu Buhari. The protesters including popular activists, Aisha Yesufu; author, Chido Onumah; and members of Citizens of Impact, Enough is Enough, Youthup Africa marched to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where they submitted their protest letter for onward transfer to Mr. Buhari. In his address, Daniel Olatunde, convener of Citizens of Impact, said these government agencies embarked on illegal recruitment exercises and that some of the recruits paid huge amounts to get the jobs. The concerned citizens lamented what they described as loud silence by the president as regards the situation.
Rather than investigate the issue, the presidency through the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande refuted, any secret recruitment of children and close pals of government functionaries . In what again seem like a deliberate defence of the act, Mr. Akande stated that the government was sanitizing the recruitment process and indeed, the public service systems to make them more transparent. According to Akande, “these reports are inaccurate.
What we heard is that government is working to ensure that we develop going forward in more transparent process. We are committed in going forward to ensure that some of these procedures are refined, fine-tuned and made to become more transparent”.
These scenarios including what Falana described as criminal diversion of funds donated by federal, state and even private organization to provide relief materials to victims of natural disasters in Nigeria may lead to continuous asking of questions with regard to the transparency of the Buhari-led administration.