By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
Corruption is one huge factor that has held Nigeria to a standstill. From the various military administrations in the past, right into when Nigeria began democratic rule in 1999, widespread of corrupt cases had been the order of the day. The heightened level of corruption is one fundamental reason our national development has been on hold. Individuals in government have constantly used the privilege of their offices to amass wealth for themselves and their families. And for this reason, the country is being perceived or reputed as one of the top failing states in Africa. Nigeria’s corrupt practices is evidenced in mismanagement and misappropriation of fund, lack of transparency and accountability, arbitrary award and inflation of contracts, embezzlement, bribery, diversion of fund and so on. The effect of these corrupt practices over the years on Nigeria’s national development especially in the past administration cannot be overemphasized.
It is no longer a new saying that national development can only be achieved in a less corrupt society where good governance is being promoted and practiced through quality political leadership. The failure of our leaders to actually fight corruption to a standstill in the past is because the country has not been able to produce real leaders with dedication in doing so. Countries like Singapore and Malaysia, through the planned vision- which is a major characteristic of good governance; and hard work of their leaders and against all odds were able to break away from the circle of corruption and dependency; and transform their economies into what the whole World now envy. Let us consider the continent of Africa for instance where Nigeria boasts herself as the giant and parades the best economy, Ghana and South Africa among others are making serious efforts towards developing their economies. South Africa for instance is a member of BRICS; comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa herself. I am not saying that these countries I have mentioned above (Malaysia, Singapore, Ghana and South Africa are totally free form corruption, but the high rate of corruption in these countries are at low levels compared with that of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance on corruption is quite obvious. From the beginning, everybody had one reason or the other they voted him as the president for this time and period in Nigeria’s history. His resolve to end corruption within Nigeria’s political landscape is one major factor behind his success at the poles. During his campaign in the months before the elections, the President vowed that if voted in, his administration would not tolerate corruption in whatsoever form. After he was declared the substantial winner of the March 28th Presidential election, President Muhammadu in an interview with Christiane Armanpour of CNN also said categorically that “Nigeria must kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria”. Although, ending corruption in Nigeria isn’t going to be an easy task. The President alone cannot obviously fight this war and win it all by himself. This is why in his recent visit to the United States White House, Vice president Joe Biden urged him to appoint only seasoned technocrats to Mann key sectors of the economy. No wonder the Nigerian national petroleum corporation (NNPC) which is the engine room of Nigeria’s economy is experiencing the transformation that it is going through right now.
From 2005 towards the beginning of 2015 (almost one decade), it has been estimated that over $150billion (One Hundred and Fifty billion Dollars) in stolen funds are stashed in various foreign accounts by Nigerian corrupt officials. The corruption within the four walls of NNPC alone is a long story. Bismarck Rewane of Finacial Derivatives Co called NNPC “Financial Cancer” while talking on the level of corrupt practices being reported within its walls. The senate President, Bukola Saraki also corroborating this fact in July 24th edition of Punch newspaper called NNPC “the engine room of corruption”. In 2011, a report by Transparency International and Revenue watch found NNPC to have the poorest transparency record out of 44 national and international energy companies it evaluated. Over the years, there were allegations of diverted funds from NNPC into some separate accounts that were not the designated CBN accounts for the same purpose. The former Governor of CBN (now the emir of Kano) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi raised this alarm in a letter dated 25th September, 2013 to the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that NNPC earned $65.3billion from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013 but only remitted 24 percent of this to the Federation account and $49.8billion was still outstanding (as reported by Reuters). This reason and many more is why the current shake-up in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is part of the anti-corruption drive of this administration.
So, who are those afraid of Mr. President’s war on corruption? They are those who have milked this nation dry. They are the ones who have consistently in the past years stolen Nigeria’s collective wealth and kept them in various foreign accounts. They are those who refused to purchase arms for Nigerian Soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the North, exposing those innocent soldiers to be brutally murdered by the faceless groups, and when those soldiers protested and decided not to face the insurgency without weapons; they were being court-martialed. Who are those afraid of President Buahri war on corruption? The answer is simple- only the guilty would be afraid. In the words of Femi Adesina, “it is only the guilty that can be afraid. If anybody is not guilty, they should not be afraid. The President will not witch-hunt anybody. But if anyone has skeleton in his or her cupboard, he or she has every right to be afraid”.
Although, many have criticized the President that his war against corruption would not be seen as a success if he would not go back in time to 1966 when this level of corruption and criminal wastefulness of resources began. This statement was made known by the former Governor of Kaduna state, Balarabe Musa in the Sun of July, 2015. The former Governor was reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari earlier statement that “those who have been indicted of corruption between 1999 to the time of swearing-in would be pardoned”. Well, the truth is this. Whether the president goes back in time or not is not the issue. The main issue is the fact that the war on corruption in Nigeria has kick started, and all hands must be on deck. “War on corruption is one of the cardinal objective of this administration and the war will not hold on because some people are afraid” – Femi Adesina said. The vicious cycle of corruption must be broken before this nation can move forward, and those who have stolen the national wealth will be in court in a matter of weeks- the President said.
With this, I am confident that Nigeria is on a new path to greatness. In no time, all eyes shall see the new glory of this nation. Thank you for reading and have a blissful weekend. Cheers to a new Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
About Obayomi Abiola Benjamin:
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin is a real estate broker and usually tweets via @abibeo_oba.
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