Anti-Graft War In Nigeria: In Need of Reward or Review?

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

President Umaru Yar’Adua’s efforts to combat corruption in this country have not been sufficient enough to justify receiving an award for anti-graft campaigning. Two law-enforcement agencies under the President, the Nigerian Police and the Attorney General’s (AGF) Office where the EFCC and the ICPC were tap-rooted, had produced disappointing results within the first one and a half years of Yar’Adua’s administration. The two agencies have not handled many high-profile graft cases correctly if not perfectly. Maybe if they had handled as many cases as the Corruption Eradication method, Yar’Adua may have deserved an award for his efforts in combating graft.

Corruption is one of the most damaging consequences of poor governance. It undermines investment and economic growth, decreases the resources available for human development goals, deepens the extent of poverty, subverts the judicial system, and undermines the legitimacy of the state. In fact, when corruption becomes entrenched, it can devastate the entire economic, political, and social fabric of a country . . .corruption breeds corruption — and a failure to combat it effectively can lead to an era of entrenched corruption instead of “inspiring confidence in the judicial system,” this government has elicited “only disappointment— if not contempt— among many of those seeking redress for the wrong done them by public officials” as it has taken a long time to process the complaints received by it’s EFCC .

Corruption became institutionalized during the 32-year of military reign as their cronies and families were deeply involved in corrupt activities. It has been nearly 1-year since the court convicted former Governor DSP Alameseigha of plunder. Contrary to the fears of many quarters, there have been no major upheavals—except for the emotional type among Igbinedion’s family members and admirers.

After a historic, marathon trial, a federal jury in its 11th hour of deliberations found Chief Lucky Igbinedion guilty on all “their” counts charges of steering state business to cronies for bribes, of gutting corruption-fighting efforts to protect political fundraising and of misusing state resources for political gain.

In brief remarks after the verdict was announced, Chief Igbinedion appeared disappointed with the jury’s decision but confident that he would be vindicated sooner. I believe this decision today is not in accordance with the kind of public service that I have provided to the people of nigeria4betterrule participants .Perhaps the man was unprepared for the guilty verdicts. But this verdict could mean many things. For one, the nation is ready to mark an end to a long and tumultuous era. For another, Nigerians are indeed a niggardly and resilient people—we can weather storms of both the atmospheric and political kind.

Does this regime deserve tribute? On the shoulders of the anti-graft pursuit were placed the burden of making controversial decisions, which cut deep into the heart and soul of this nation. The court could not please everyone if at all, it does not pretend.

Contributors inside “nigeria4betterrule” were commenting on a decision by the supreme court to present Yar’Adua with an award for being a leading figure in the fight against corruption, despite his rule of law preaching, does he deserve it? If actually taken place, the presentation of the award is politically-motivated. I doubt if his remaining years in office would intensify his efforts to campaign against graft. The President has entangled himself in a political web that may prevent him from being effective in campaigning against corruption. Why should we leap-slide from good intention into another regime built with allegedly corrupt ruling political party that serves as the foundation for this government. As a result of this ministerial reconstitution, Mr. President has ignored the fact that some of his ministers are allegedly involved in corruption.

Attorney-General/ Justice Ministry and their cohorts have found themselves in hot water recently over their alleged involvement in recovering assets belonging to some insiders in this government and the past. Refusal to pay loyalty by certain ex-governors has resulted in their nightmare. Ex-governors like Igbinedion, Dariye and Haruna is bearing the brunt. What other bitter pill can Nigerians swallow? Since the main corrupt monsters were left harassing the gambling toddles. Can law-abiding citizens the dividend of this democracy? Haba!, whether he or she hates who’s President in Nigeria, we need viable democracy that sustains economic development. This infantile attempt to blackmail the Nigerian media from “speaking out” on that illegally wiretapped report is unbecoming of an intellectual editors like Mr. Jonathan Elendu – I didn’t say unbecoming of former Senators since, too often, Senators and intellectual are an oxymoron. Anyway, they may be sincere, but whatever Mrs Farida Waziri says can only be suspect. She has been a referee to few jail-birds in this country.

I’m not surprised that radicals like Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, who belongs to party-list ombudsman being drag-netted for sitting on top of the EFCC accumulated fund and office abuse despite spilling the beans in certain quarters of this rotten Nigerian politics. Has his appointment and guts caused civil disobedience and other sorts of anti-administration struggle for once?. Causing turmoil and disorder is made to order for this government – for when there’s trouble and disappointment, it provides them with an opportunity to ascend to power.

This reminds me of the issue lingering in the Niger Delta yet unresolved; not pay taxes? If the economy collapses, and there’s widespread unemployment and misery here, what better climate could exist for the agitator and the incendiary? According to our assessment, “all history is a history of class struggles.” Arizona-Ogwu’s dialectic preached that all societies carry within them the seeds of their own destruction. The Leftists are trying to fertilize these seeds so they will germinate into their destructive mode. Thus far, their frenzied efforts to mobilize mob action have humiliatingly flopped – the godfathers are not responding, and the militant-demonstrators who were responsible for quagmire are nowhere to be found.

The people are obviously sick and tired of rallies and street demonstrations because, they’ve learned to their disappointment, that the ejection of one bunch of rascals often leads to the take-over of the truth and delusive attitude of this government on Niger Delta matters, quick to take over the rackets and abuses forcibly abandoned by their predecessors.

No country can survive if it’s constantly in “revolution.” Here’s another quote from the late Nnamdi Azikiwe which may be pertinent to today’s contentious events: “I’m not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” As for election cheating, the great Nigerian elites who once ran for President and lost quipped: “More men have been elected between Sundown and Sunup than ever were elected between Sunup and Sundown.”

Presenting Mr. Yar’Adua with an anti-graft award was inappropriate because he seems to be losing motivation in the fight against graft. An indication of this lies in the fact that many suspected corruptors are walking free from corruption charges or are being handed lenient punishments. Members of civil society are becoming frustrated because their attempts to report corruption cases have hit the wall and alleged corruptors are walking free.

The EFCC chairman Farida Waziri’s statement claiming the commission has not been receiving support from the government and the House of Representatives is indicative of the fact that the fight against corruption in the country is at risk. The future anti-graft award should be presented to individuals who work hard to uncover corrupt practices in government agencies. Eradicating corruption is part of the government’s job, so why give an award for something that they are required to do anyway?

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