The issue of corruption in Nigeria is no longer news to anybody in the global community. As matter of fact, even unborn babies are aware of this in Nigeria mothers’ womb. To this end, many Nigerians the election of President Muhammadu Buhari is one the best things that has happened to a country whose image had been battered with corruption issues both at home and in the Diaspora.
However, it is believed in some quarters that there is no way a president whose campaign fund was generated from monies stolen from government coffers can make a headway in fighting corruption.
In an attempt to prove his critics wrong, President Buhari appointed a Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay, a prominent professor of law and civil rights activist.
The Committee’s brief, according to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, is to advise the present administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
Since then, there have been issues of arrest with the Dasukigate as the major campaign. But not many Nigerians believe that the president has done enough to salvage Nigeria from the pangs of corruption. This is because some members of his cabinet who belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) also have cases of corruption against them.
A leading Newspaper in the United Kingdom, The Mail Daily, May 15, published a report revealing how the former Governor of Rivers State and current Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, looted Nigeria’s treasury.
The report added that the minister spent over $140 million on the president’s 2015 campaign and has been accused of stealing £500 million.
“But although, Buhari is seen by some as leading the battle against corruption, but worrying allegations swirl around one of his close allies,” the British Newspaper said.
“Rotimi Amaechi, who travelled with the president to the summit, is Nigeria’s transport minister and is said to have bankrolled Buhari’s presidential campaign.”
Recall that Amaechi has been indicted by a judicial commission of inquiry in Rivers State for looting the treasury of the state, when he served as Governor for eight years.
However, Amaechi had denied the allegations of corruption and refused to appear before the judicial panel of inquiry to defend himself.
This revelation is coming, following a remark recently by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, in which he described Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, tagging the West African giant as “fantastically corrupt.”
Local media in Nigeria had tagged Amaechi the ATM of Buhari’s presidential campaign and his party, the APC.
Amaechi is praised by APC leaders for single-handedly funding the governorship campaigns of at least five APC governors, including that of former speaker, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
“Amaechi remains in his post despite being accused of misappropriating £338 million by a commission investigating the sale of state assets,” the UK Mail observed as it questioned Buhari’s sincerity in fighting corruption.
“Separately, Amaechi is accused of diverting £140 million of state funds into Buhari’s presidential campaign, with reports he paid for media, consultants and private jets.
“The allegations come as the president stands accused of enjoying a lavish lifestyle, while many millions suffer in poverty.
“A leaked draft budget for 2016 showed the Nigerian government earmarked £16 million for the refurbishment and maintenance of the president’s official residence, Aso Rock Guest House, in the capital, Abuja.
“There was also a request for £13 million for building a VIP wing at a hospital used by families of the president and his ministerial team,” the paper noted.
Reacting to this issue, an author, teacher, development historian, Bekeh Utietiang, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party have no plans on how to rescue Nigeria from its economic malaise. Since they came into power in May of 2015, they have gradually reneged on all the promises they made to Nigerians and have used the anti-corruption crusade as a way of distracting Nigerians from the serious problems that the country is facing.”
Fighting corruption is a noble and courageous act in a country like Nigeria where it has eaten deep into its fabrics. As far back as 1984, the esteemed Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, had written in his book, The Trouble With Nigeria, that: “Keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping a goat from eating yam. I dare to say that corruption is far worse today than it was in the 1980s. Today, it has become institutionalised and cuts across the socio-political, economic and even religious sectors of the country.”
“The problem with Buhari’s anti-corruption tactics is that they are not sincere. When Nigerians who were fed up with the impunity of the former government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) went out to vote for Buhari because they believed he would clean up the system, I was sceptical then and I am now that he has the will power to fight corruption. It is impossible to advance yourself as an anti-corruption crusader when the major benefactors of your campaign are among the most corrupt Nigerians.”
After his election, Buhari gave voice to these people by appointing them to his cabinet and other governmental parastatal. Their anti-corruption agenda has been reduced to a witch-hunt of the members of the opposition party, the PDP. About nine months after Buhari was sworn in as President of Nigeria, no member of the APC has been arrested or prosecuted. Yet, a substantial number of the members of the ruling APC were formerly members of the PDP who enriched themselves from the government coffers during the 16 years that PDP ruled Nigeria.”
Speaking further, he said: “During the electioneering campaign, I had raised the issue of Buhari’s sponsors with a friend who is his ardent supporter. He assured me that Buhari needed the money in order to be elected and that once Buhari gets into power, he was going to turn against these individuals. That has not been the case. Rather, they have been rewarded.
If Buhari needs his war against corruption to be taken seriously, he needs to first clean up his own house, the All Peoples Congress. History tells us that it is possible to do this. In 1990, Kim Young-Sam the opposition leader of South Korea merged his Democratic Reunification Party with the ruling and corrupt Democratic Justice Party to form the Democratic Liberal Party. Running under the platform of this new party, he won the presidency in the 1992 elections. He served for only one term and used that opportunity to clean up corruption in South Korea.
He arrested his two predecessors, Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1988). Roh was sentenced to seventeen years in prison and Chun was sentenced to life in prison. Kim Young-Sam’s anticorruption crusade did not spare his own son. In 1997, Kim Hyon Chol, his son, known as the Crown Prince, were indicted for bribery and tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison. That is what a transparent and sincere anti-corruption agenda should like.
South Korea, like Nigeria had just gone through several years of military dictatorships and former dictators turning elected presidents.”
When is Buhari’s government turning its anti-corruption searchlight on members of the All Progressives Congress? Until then, he needs to stop distracting Nigerians with his anti-corruption war and focus on the economy that is falling apart under the weight of his ineptitude.