They said Corruption in Nigeria can never be fought because the corrupt in Africa’s biggest economy and most populated country, are bigger than life.
And the agents of the ‘corruption mafia’ were unleashed to propagate the idea that corruption in Nigeria ‘is so much a way of life’ that whoever attempts to fight it would be wasting his time.
They didn’t end there. They terrorized anti-corruption activists and all those in the business of fighting the vice that has for years benefited the privileged few while the majority wallow in abject poverty.
Presidents of this oil-rich country have come and gone and corruption has remained intact. Five months ago, in an unprecedented electoral situation, an election was held, the incumbent president Jonathan Goodluck was defeated, and he peacefully handed over power to an Opposition candidate. The new President is Muhammadu Buhari.
President Muhammadu Buhari defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation. And a Nigerian author Uzochukwu Mike wrote that Corruption is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society.
Before he got into power in May, Buhari, a retired Army General, vowed to investigate corruption cases, past and present, and to bring to book all the culprits. In fact, he campaigned and won Nigeria’s presidential elections in March, on among other things, the promise of fighting corruption in his country.
Since assuming office, President Buhari has investigated and arrested very senior officials regarded as untouchables in the past. He has dismissed ‘heads of the state oil company and taken over the responsibilities of the petroleum docket himself. And he has arrested or prosecuted previous corrupt government appointees’.
The new president has arrested the former National Security Advisor on charges of embezzling up to US$2billion and trafficking in weapons. And in collaboration with the UK’s National Crime Agency, a recently created International Corruption Unit to among other responsibilities, investigate ‘money laundering by corrupt foreign officials and their associates and to trace and recover proceeds of international corruption’, has had a number of Nigerians arrested across London.
Among those arrested is Nigeria’s former minister of petroleum Diezani Allison-Madueke. Also arrested is former governor James Ibori who was prosecuted and jailed in the UK in a similar multinational investigation after being unsuccessfully tried in Nigeria. And in the last few months Buhari has been in office, many government agencies especially in the Oil sector and the Finance ministry, have been probed, officials have been arrested while others have been axed.
In appreciation of his anti-corruption effort, the governments of United Kingdom and the United States of America have pledged to support Buhari’s anti-corruption war. The support comes after Buhari had urged the international community ‘to dismantle safe havens and repatriate funds to tackle corruption. The leader warned that funds allegedly stolen during previous administrations are often lodged in other countries’.
If a Nigerian government can fight corruption, if a Nigerian leader can fight, dismiss and arrest the corrupt, what excuse can Uganda really have for not trying?
Uganda government lacks the will to end corruption because they are the beneficiaries. Uganda government officials are always in competition to show who the richest is, who has the most expensive house and or the biggest business. In Uganda, the corrupt officials fight everyday to protect their loot because the poor have no place in Uganda.
However, not all hope is lost. For the first time in our politics, the poor are giving whatever little they have to presidential candidate Besigye because they say, they want the rich corrupt officials to get out government because this government of the rich ‘is responsible for their suffering’.
The ruling government doesn’t seem to have noticed that the views of the voters have changed over the years albeit slowly. Every day, guys in yellow are shown on national television quarreling and fighting over money and unfulfilled promises. The ruling party continues to hire fake economists who go on national television and defend corruption.
Mr President, you need to be very afraid. Your rallies, while big, supporters look miserable and there is general lack of the excitement that used to define NRM rallies. Why aren’t you talking about corruption in government and how the corrupt and the non-performers have no place in your government especially when you know that the impression today is that our government is more corrupt than the government of Nigeria?
Mr President you need to listen to other voices of reason. You need to add value to your campaign, but most importantly, you need to ‘kill’ the corrupt.