How Effective Is War Against Corruption?

Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Political pundits describe corruption as a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm; an impediment to good governance, rule of law, peace, security and socio-economic development.
They observe that although corruption is not new to mankind, good fight against it has suffered setbacks in some countries so much so that it has reached unprecedented proportions in recent years, especially in most developing nations.
They also note that because corruption cuts across nations, cultures, races and classes of people, efforts at fighting it effectively has been challenging.
In Nigeria for instance, they observe that past governments have made efforts to fight corruption but it has remained common.
The challenge of fighting corruption in Nigeria, therefore, became a major issue during the 2015 electioneering in Nigeria.
In his determination to fight corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari made the fight against corruption and provision of adequate security, among others, as one of his cardinal programmes.
Although he began a systematic war against corruption and the public adjudge the administration as the one which stood by a promise made during the electioneering.
But two years down the lane, can Nigerians say the Buhari’s administration is winning?
Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’Allah said: “To say that the administration has won the war against corruption I will be speaking against my conscience.’’
He, nonetheless, said the effort by the government in the fight against corruption was commendable.
“What Buhari has done is commendable. His fight against the menace shows that people cannot do wrong things and get away with it,’’ he said.
According to him, available records on conviction and sentencing are not enough to draw any meaningful data that would show whether punishment was proportionate or disproportionate to the offence of corruption.
“Nigeria’s democracy is based on faulty structures, the reason being that before the coming of democratic rule in Nigeria; we had a situation whereby soldiers were in charge through coups.
“We have institutional ineptitude. The structures in Nigeria make the practice of democracy in Nigeria almost impossible.
“People who have had the privilege of being in one position or the other are those that are bringing down the institutions in the country. So, in tackling corruption, there must be checks on the institutions.
Also, the National President of Action Alliance, Mr Kenneth Udeze,  said: “There is corruption everywhere; in the government and within the society.
“Tell me where do we go from here, Nigerian masses must arise and reject all corrupt practices by registering to vote and participate in election processes.
“We need a league or alliance of positive minds to change this grave attitude called corruption,’’ he said.
For effective fight against corruption, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki said the Whistle Blower Protection Bill being deliberated by the 8th Senate was one way government planned to curb corruption, observing that the Senate would pass the bill in July.
Saraki said when the Bill would be backed by legislation with greater value as its provision would include all elements required to make the war effective.
“We must fight corruption with sincerity. We must aim to go to the roots of the problem. We must strengthen our institutions.
“If we work on prevention, we will get to a milestone in our fight against corruption,’’ he said.
He said it was imperative for governments at all levels to demonstrate that they were not in office for the pursuit of private gains but to make Nigerians happier.
“Nigerians have not accepted corruption as normal; we recognise it as a problem and we are determined to make a break with our past and live by different rules,’’ he said.
According to Saraki, the reason why the fight against corruption had met with rather limited success was that the administration somewhat preferred punishment to deterrence.
“We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders.
“In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness,’’ he said.
He observed that the passage of the budget by the National Assembly was the first major step in ensuring openness.
“For the first time in our political history, the budget of the National Assembly changed from a one-line item to a 34-page document that shows details of how we plan to utilise the public funds that we appropriate to ourselves.
“The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions.
“Those of us in government are also responding, joining the conversation and accepting that the basis of our legitimacy as government is our manifest accountability to the people,’’ he said.
He further said that providing more opportunities for Nigerians would help in winning the crusade against graft, noting that if government provided the basic amenities, corruption would be minimised.
Irrespective of the position of the people in government, some Nigerians have expressed satisfaction on the anti- corruption war.
Mrs Ruth Adams, a fruit seller in Abuja said with the anti-corruption fight of the present administration, Nigerians had known those who did not have the interest of the country at heart.
“Buhari has tried so far in the fight against corruption but we need to help him,’’ she said.
Sharing similar view, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representative for Pankshin-Kanke-Kanam, Plateau, Hon. Timothy Golu, said the Federal Government had performed fairly in the fight against corruption.
“But by now, I expect we ought to have passed this stage. The movement is very slow and the government is doing things slowly,’’ he observed.
However, a public affairs commentator, Mr Rufus Oteniya, says Buhari’s actions and body language have, undoubtedly, articulated a leader who is ready to take the bull by the horns and tackle corruption but how well he does will eventually depend on how tactical he goes about the fight.
Sharang and Moru write for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


Naomi Sharang & Abiemwense Moru