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4 years after, Buhari fails to curb corruption

. . . as FCT leads in corruption cases . . .N400bn bribes paid to public officials annually – UNODC

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The anti-corruption crusade of the incumbent administration appears to be failing, leaving Nigeria stuck in the repressive throes of corruption and its resulting effects that deter economic prosperity. In less than a month, two data-driven reports, including one by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics (NBS), have posted a simple finding: corruption continues to thrive under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The NBS report tried to downplay the magnitude of corruption taking place under Buhari’s watch, but try as it did, the bits of information contained in the report show that corruption remains alive and kicking under the current dispensation.

The biggest pledge of Buhari, a retired general, when campaigning to become Nigeria’s president in 2015, was to fight corruption to a standstill and invariably eliminate it.
Four years after vigorously campaigning to root out corruption, the scourge continues to be a defining factor in Nigeria and perhaps waxes stronger.

Findings in different reports, including the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International, the Social Statistics Reports by the NBS released in December, and a report on Corruption in Nigeria produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with NBS in 2017, show corruption is not declining.

Every year, at least N400 billion is paid as bribes to public officials, according to UNODC’s report, which was described as the first comprehensive nationwide household survey on corruption to be conducted in Nigeria and in Africa at large. This excludes embezzlement, contract inflations, and other forms of corruption.

For the second consecutive year, Nigeria has retained its score of 27 out of 100 in the 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a woeful outcome that sees the country ranked 144 out of 180 countries in the world.

In 2015 when Buhari was sworn in as president, Nigeria had a score of 26, while in 2016 the score edged up to 28 but started dropping since 2017.

Sifting through historical data sets on CPI, the present 2018 corruption score of 27 for Nigeria was the same recorded in 2012 and 2014, only worse in 2013 when the country had a score of 25. In terms of corruption, Nigeria is still where it was seven years ago when it scored 27.
Nigeria’s corruption indices even get worse when more localised data is considered.

In the Social Statistic Report for 2017 that the NBS released in December 2018, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory had the highest number of reported corruption cases in 2016 with 657.
The magnitude of corruption taking place right under President Buhari’s nose in Abuja, the seat of government, is far above any other state in the country.

In one instance that directly involves the president, Babachir Lawal who was disgraced from his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation when alleged financial misconduct was uncovered, is still seen as a member of the President’s inner circle, and involved in his re-election campaign.

The NBS report curiously did not provide detailed figures on the rate of corruption for the 36 states, rather a graphical illustration. However, for Lagos, it could be deduced from the Chart that about 200 corruption cases where reported in 2016, a marginal increase from approximately 180 in 2015. Kaduna is the next prominent state after Lagos in terms of the corruption chart, with about 100 cases in 2016, from approximately 90 cases in 2015.

The reported cases of corruption in Abuja put at 657 by the NBS in 2016, was also an increase, deducible from the chart as approximately 550 cases in 2015. Going by the illustration provided in the NBS report, summing up all reported corruption cases in other parts of Nigeria, may still fall below the corruption that takes places in Abuja alone. Even at this, the reported cases of corruption captured by the report are a far from those that actually go unreported.

The UNODC report on Corruption in Nigeria, highlighted the amount paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey was around N400 billion. “This sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016,” stated the report.
The report also noted, almost a third of Nigerian adults (32.3 per cent) who had contact with a public official between June 2015 and May 2016 had to pay, or were requested to pay a bribe to that public official. It noted majority of those who paid a bribe to a public official did so more than once over the course of the year. According to the survey, bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months.

The corruption fight according to public commentators requires more sincerity and determination if it will succeed. While the incumbent APC led government has continued to blame the opposition PDP for the country’s bad state, the argument appears flawed when the composition of those in government is considered.

There are at least seven known former PDP stalwarts in the Federal Executive Council headed by Muhammadu buhari as President, some with corruption cases that have been halted. These include Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who was not only a member of the PDP but served as the party’s National Chairman from 2001 to 2005. Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state, agriculture and rural development, who was also in the PDP, where he served as speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and elected as a Senator before decamping to APC.

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, was also in the PDP, serving for 8 years as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and another 8 years as Governor. Amaechi has been reportedly indicted by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the sale of state assets, and allegedly misappropriating N97 billion.
Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was among the 7-man committee tasked by President Obasanjo to probe the Muhammadu Buhari-led Petroleum Trust Fund in 2000, the outcome of which was never made public. He was also deputy director-general of Atiku Abubakar’s campaign organisation in his failed presidential bid in 2007.
Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, was a Personal Assistant to the late Solomon Lar, pioneer National Chairman of the PDP and former Governor of Plateau state. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, was Governor of Anambra state under the PDP. Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and National Planning during his time in the National Assembly, was a Senator on the PDP platform.

The Buhari administration’s supposed fight against corruption does not appear to be yielding fruits, and the composition of government itself reflects notable personalities who were once members of the PDP, which the ruling party regularly blames for corruption and Nigeria’s bad economic state.

 

CALEB OJEWALE

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