February 3, 2017

Is anti-graft war losing steam?

GENERAL Muhammadu Buhari is the President of Nigeria today mainly because most Nigerians were sick and tired of unbridled corruption in government and they wanted somebody to rein in public officials. Buhari’s tough anti-corruption stance in 1984-5 as Military Head of State easily recommended him as the man for the job.

Twenty months into his presidency, most people are not so sure that the war against corruption has not been subverted or compromised. Despite the steady stream of media trials dished out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Department of State Services (DSS), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Office of the Attorney_ General of the Federation and presidential spokesmen, there has been no major conviction.

The public is routinely treated with allegations of stealing against former public officers, including former National Security Adviser, retired Col Sambo Dasuki; former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke; former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, some close aides of former President Goodluck Jonathan, judicial officers and bank chiefs.

On the other hand, some officials of the Buhari government who have been indicted by investigative panels in their states are occupying sensitive offices unhindered. The Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Alhaji Abba Kyari, who is facing bribery allegations, is still performing his duties, while the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, who is accused of owning some property in Dubai, was speedily exonerated. The Presidency has repudiated allegations of corruption which the Senate levelled against  Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engineer David Babachir Lawal.

It is strange that the DSS which investigated and indicted Magu in a report to the Senate turned around to clear him after the President intervened in Magu’s favour and re-sent his name to the Senate for confirmation.

Nigerians are wondering whether there are different criteria of culpability for friends and foes of this regime in its anti-graft war. It is not surprising, therefore, that many politicians who belonged to, and held high offices in the former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) regime are now flocking to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), perhaps to escape justice.

We call on President Buhari to recharge the anti-graft war and totally depoliticise it. We also caution that more care should be taken to curb what appears like a rising tide of corruption in this government, going by the recent whistle which Senator Dino Melaye blew about contract scams in the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing and the Bureau of Public Procurements (BPP) which the Senate is investigating.

If care is not taken, we may lose the anti-graft war, less than halfway into the life of this regime.