President Buhari has made the fight against corruption one of his key priorities as he settles in for the task of nation building in Abuja. Most Nigerians voted for the president because of his integrity and incorruptible character as well as his ability to wage a war against corruption. President Buhari needs to carefully map out a strategy for tackling corruption that will not be seen as a witch-hunt but rather, one that will effectively destroy the cankerworm. This is Nigeria’s opportunity to lay a strong foundation for ending corruption.
So many corrupt individuals and political elite will stop at nothing to see that the Buhari administration does not succeed in its fight against corruption. Every well meaning Nigerian would support an effective government anti-corruption drive that will be a departure from what obtained under previous administrations. Those who benefit from these corrupt practices would love the status quo. President Buhari must win the war against corruption regardless of these people’s resistance, opposition and tactical political ploys. They cannot be powerful than the president, the Nigerian political system and anti-corruption institutions. The president must exert his powers against them by reviewing the existing legal framework for financial crimes and corrupt practices as well as institutionalizing and deepening the war against corruption. The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney General of the Federation should lead a team of experts that would work on providing a concrete and sustainable legal framework for fighting against corruption. Every politician and legislator must support the amendment of both the EFCC and ICPC Acts and also assist in the passage of new laws to make the anti-corruption institutions stronger. No matter which side of the divide everyone belong, we must cooperate as a people towards eliminating the cankerworm that is destroying the fabric of our country, Nigeria.
Some politicians are bent on frustrating any move by the Buhari administration to effectively tackle corruption. The business of government has over the years been characterized by corruption. That is the source of many people’s stupendous wealth and the consequence is the high level of poverty and inequality seen in the Nigerian society. In spite of the establishment of anti-corruption agencies by previous administration, many politicians and even legal practitioners have thwarted the efforts aimed at winning the war against corruption. It is evident why they want the status quo—a system with so many loopholes encourage pilfering and looting but the Buhari administration must not give room for continuous milking of the country’s resources like the past administrations.
The NNPC is a case in point. Since the establishment of the corporation which is the biggest revenue generating agency, so many individuals and political elite have benefited from the defects in the laws establishing it with billions of dollars embezzled and no individual that has perpetrated these criminal acts have been brought to justice. Never in the history of the NNPC has the shady deals that have been carried out been exposed. What we have seen at best is a recent audit by Price Waterhouse Coopers that has not brought about the prosecution of past and present corrupt officers of the NNPC. Our anti-corruption laws have allowed these financial crimes continue unabated.
Most of the laws in the land are ambiguous and usually interpreted in favor of mischievous individuals. President Buhari may have anti-corruption as one of his administration’s priorities; he needs to fight this battle with all his might and powers. He has to come up with a long-lasting idea and review the existing legal framework in the fight against corruption since the present laws have not helped in effectively tackling the menace over the years. This will no doubt take some time to actualize as the review and amendment of the anti-corruption laws will not be achieved over the night. But the present administration must not relent its effort till everyone found culpable is brought to justice.
Nigerians who are bent on frustrating the effective fight against corruption are enemies of the State. Those who support the campaign towards ending corruption are concerned about the future of Nigeria and want her enduring progress. We have seen how previous administrations have paid a lip service to fighting corruption, maintaining law and order, and increasing the regulatory power of the federal government—all of which are not deeply entrenched in the Nigerian society. President Buhari has a chance to make history once again. Winning the fight against corruption is a must if he wants to keep the steward of the country’s resources. Corruption is responsible for the inability of the judiciary to dispense justice. The policies of the executive arm of government, lack of judicial reforms, insincerity of some legal practitioners as well as lack of effective legislation by Nigerian lawmakers have been adduced by those in the know as some of the reasons why the fight against corruption has so far been lost. Judicial reforms under the Buhari administration are important and must be vigorously pursued by the Attorney General of the Federation with the help of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo if the statement made on corruption by the president on CNN during his four day visit to the United States of America is anything to go by. Though former president Olusegun Obasanjo helped establish both the EFCC and ICPC but the aim of eliminating corruption in public life have been poorly handled by the immediate past administration.
Before the return of democracy in 1999, corruption and impunity had become the order of the day. Both the military and early democratic governments were guilty. The democracy of the fourth republic brought about the establishment of these law enforcement agencies in order to campaign against corruption. President Buhari has to leave a legacy of being the president to champion the war and campaign against corruption in Nigeria. The fight against corruption by previous administrations has not been impressive. The EFCC under the chairmanship of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde has just woken up again. They went to sleep during the Jonathan administration. This is not the kind of institution Nigerians want. Nigerians want an institution that will duly perform its functions according to law regardless of which government is in the saddle or the body language of the person in power. Winning the fight against corruption is critical to Nigeria’s economic development and this is why the Nigerian economy has not experienced a steady growth over the years.
President Buhari should walk his talk on the fight against corruption and set Nigeria on a path of economic independence so that we would truly be the leader that other African countries look up to in times of social, political and economic crisis. This is one of the reasons the Nigerian people elected President Buhari to a position of trust.