By any method of measurement, the war against corruption which used to be a sing- song under the former administrations of both President Olusegun Obasanjo and late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has been abandoned. The sing- song under the incumbent PDP President is transformation of the country though the utterances of the incumbent and his body language mean that this transformation would be managed under an atmosphere of monumental and widespread corruption!
While not much was accomplished in the anti-corruption war under Obasanjo, it is to the credit of that regime that the anti-corruption bodies we have today were established. Further credit that is due to Obasanjo is because taking the pain to establish the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) indicates that he acknowledged the presence of corruption and the danger it poses to the future of the nation.
Both Obasanjo and Yar’Adua who took the anti-corruption campaign seriously, did not act in a vacuum. In fact, Transparency International, and other platforms hat monitor integrity and probity the world over, gave Nigeria a poor standing on the corruption rating. At one time, Nigeria was rated as the third most corrupt country in the world!
Yar’Adua, unfortunately, did not stay long in office to enable analysts and researchers to gauge his exploits in anti-corruption. It would have been a glorious era for the anti-graft war in Nigeria because for the three years he was in power he declared his belief in the principle of rule of law and actually guided his government and his actions by it. Anti-corruption is necessarily a close bed- mate to rule of law.
The problem with President Jonathan is that he lives in denial of the existence of corruption and the harm it can do to a developing country. His stance is very strange because he cannot claim to be unaware of the existence of the TI’s corruption rating and the verdict of scholars the world over that because of corruption, Nigeria over the years was unable to make the best use of much of the billions of dollars that accrued from its crude oil endowments.
The violent agitation by Niger Delta militants over the neglect of that part of the country and the poverty of the people is due to corruption. Perhaps it is because that agitation to some degree made possible the ascension to power of President Jonathan that he developed a tolerant attitude toward this vice and partly explains why it has thrived well under his watch.
To a large extent, corruption has grown wings under the present administration resulting in the failure of the government to transform the country into one of less poverty, unemployment and greater growth despite the loudness with which aides to the President and other rented characters proclaim the so called transformation agenda of the regime.
The situation of the anti- corruption war is so pathetic that some time ago, the EFCC complained of lacking the means to apprehend and bring people accused of corruption to book. Unknown to President Jonathan, it is corruption which has become monstrous under his watch that has crippled the nation’s defence and security with the result that five years on, the once highly regarded Nigerian Army is unable to crush a local insurgency, the Boko Haram.
The nation under Jonathan, once proud and respected has swallowed the humble pie to ask for military assistance from motley of nations to combat a mere domestic insurgency! The funny thing about Nigeria’s failings in the area of defence and security is that by the way he thinks, President Jonathan would interpret the readiness of the US, the UK, France and China to provide intelligence and military help to combat Boko Haram as a foreign policy triumph for his administration! The way his government thinks, the gross incompetence and lack of combat ability of our army and its Commander- in-Chief could actually be seen as prove that this administration has succeeded where others have failed to make these countries, bosom friends and strategic partners. It is in tandem with the bizarre belief of the government that it is mostly foreign investment and capital that would develop the country while local capital, oil money should be routinely stolen or allocated to former militants, traditional rulers and other rented people who can ensure another term for the President come 2015.
Corruption destroys a nation by creating poverty, unemployment and voodoo economic growth that does not improve or reflect in increased per capita income for the people. A person who denies it as a national malaise, does not deserve to preside over our affairs as the election year, 2015 draws near.
Alhassan wrote from Maitama, Abuja