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Notes on anti-corruption

By News Express on 21/01/2016

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It is hardly surprising that Muhammadu Buhari, the man who happened upon Nigeria in 1984 as an anti-corruption crusader has returned to the trenches three decades after to continue from where he stopped in 1985. Buhari’s first coming was short-lived. But it went away with something called War Against Indiscipline. His romance with indiscipline and corrupt tendencies is, therefore, long-standing.

It is, therefore, little wonder that the present government, which he superintends over appears to be neck deep in the battle against corruption. The president’s anti-corruption fangs have been bared. He appears to be taking more than a passing interest in the monster called corruption.

It was obviously in the light of the president’s disposition that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, had to make a declaration recently, to wit, that his party has no apologies for the anti-corruption war being waged by the APC-led Federal Government. The thrust of his argument was that the rot in the Nigerian system must be cleared without minding whose ox is gored. Oyegun obviously took note of the barrage of criticisms that has trailed the ongoing war against corruption. But he appears to be confident that given Buhari’s past effort in this matter, he would succeed where others failed.

It is difficult to fault Oyegun or any other person for that matter who takes a decided position against corruption. We all agree, regardless of our sympathies and affiliations, that a system that is afflicted by corruption cannot survive. Corruption is a nightmare even to the corrupt. It is an ill wind which, as is said, will not blow anyone any good. It is a cankerworm, a debilitating scourge that has no regard for cleavages of any sort. In a sane setting, therefore, all men and women of goodwill should be united against corruption.

Over the years, corruption has remained a blight in the land. Nigerians have been unable to send it to the gallows because they have never, in the history of their country, resolved to do so. Such a resolution, if it must come, is not expected to be realised through a referendum. Nigerians will never be expected to file out to vote for or against corruption. But they can stand up against it through attitudinal change. They can confront it through change of values. Our ethos as a people must be able to frown seriously upon corruption. We must have the willpower to purge ourselves of the lure and promises of corruption. I am convinced that Nigerians are capable of turning a new leaf in this matter.

But there is a snag. The wheel of the anti-corruption machine is grinding slowly because Nigerians have their doubts and fears.  They doubt the sincerity of the ongoing crusade. They smell partiality in the exercise. They are at pains to ignore its selectiveness. Oyegun was well aware of the people’s reservations in this regard when he admitted that the battle appears to be directed at people on one side of the political divide. And this is the crux of the matter.

People have had cause to tell the government of the day that it is not possible that corrupt Nigerians can only be found on one side of the political divide. They are also on the other side. But we operate in a way that the system shields its own. Whereas we are told that the law is no respecter of persons, the reverse is the case in Nigeria. The law can respect and offer you undue protection if you belong to the right group. That is why things are not working in Nigeria.

The ongoing anti-corruption effort will likely run into this blind alley if those behind it do not purge themselves of this peculiarly Nigerian disposition. In the past, some corrupt persons escaped justice because they had to wine and dine with the system. Today, some known corrupt persons are sleeping with both eyes closed because their present belongingness is right. To escape justice, therefore, or be considered pure, all you need do is to change your political affiliation. Buhari, as our anti-corruption champion, must look at this with clear eyes. He must not be led into the belief that he is surrounded by people with a past that is free of corruption or corrupt practices. Any corruption war that is weighed down by inherent contradictions will fail. I doubt if that is how Buhari wants his own crusade to end up.

Beyond the anti-corruption rhetorics, the government must settle down to govern. A corruption-free country must be inhabited by living souls. The Nigeria we have on our hands right now is in dire need of attention. Nigerians are groaning under the hardship occasioned by non-availability of premium motor spirit. To get the product at government approved pump price, you have to spend valuable man hours queuing at petrol stations. That was why many felt that the fifty kobo reduction in the pump price of petrol at this time was unnecessary. The product should have been made available before considering a price reduction. As things stand, the price reduction makes no sense. People still buy a litre of fuel at over N140, depending on which part of the country you live in. This anomaly needs to be addressed.

The free fall of the Naira is another cause for worry. I do not want to bother reminding Buhari of what he said he would do about the value of the Naira and the pump price of fuel while he was campaigning for our votes. Let us forgive his wild assumptions in this regard. The reality of governance has set in. Buhari definitely knows better now. But it is not enough for him to know the reality. He must confront it. The economy has to be properly managed so that hardship will not send many to their early graves. The core of this economic management resides with the value of the Naira. Our national currency has continued to tumble down freely. The collateral effect of this is too telling to deserve any further emphasis here. Suffice it to say that government must rise to the occasion. Mere precepts will not bell the cat.

Even where the government is not seeing clearly, the party as the vehicle that drives the government ought to intervene. This should be particularly true of APC. The leaders of the party know how they got to where they are today. Many of them were in the wilderness for so many years from where they pontificated to no end. They had to split hairs over everything imaginable. Now, they have arrived their Damascus. The least the people expect of them is to be as practical as possible. If their rhetoric in those years was that the Peoples Democratic Party was not living up to expectation, people would want to see what is being done differently. That is why many are scandalised that a group that was once adept in preaching democracy, human rights and good governance appears to be derailing. The government that they put in place is now notorious for its lack of regard for court orders. This is the only civilian government in Nigeria that we know so far that does not respect court orders. This is very scandalous. The APC, as a party will do itself a favour  by dealing with this ugly set-up. It is an embarrassment to civility. It is most unbecoming of any government that is worth its name.

•This piece column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via

Source News Express

Posted 21/01/2016 7:06:31 PM





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