In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL writes that Buhari’s government has the moral burden to fight corruption holistically, cut cost of governance as well as provide basic social amenities for the populace.
Nigeria and indeed Nigerians are facing the worst economic crisis in its history. As a result of this economic meltdown, there are hunger, poverty and disease steering many in the face. No thanks to corruption, which has not only undermined socio-economic development of the country, but has also stunted the general wellbeing of the citizens.
It, was, however, not surprising that as soon as President Muhammadu Buhari’s government came on board, it began fighting corruption, though partially. Therefore, to say that corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian’s economy is obviously stating the fact.
Previous administrations had tried to wage a successful war against the scourge, but with little success. Even with the establishment of anti corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, corruption has continued to undermine the growth and development of the country.
No doubt, Nigeria has lost huge sums of money to corruption. Many government officials keep abusing their privilege positions by stealing and siphoning public funds to the detriment of the masses. Unfortunately, these government officials end up been granted bail; almost all the accused persons paraded by the EFCC at one time or the other managed to escape going to jail.
Sadly, many Nigerians keep wallowing in abject poverty, hunger and disease as a result of massive corruption being perpetuated by few corrupt individuals.
Little wonder that many pregnant women have lost their lives during childbirth because of lack of medical facilities, especially in the rural areas.
Despite the billions of Dollars that has been gulped by the power sector, many industries keep folding up in the country due to irregular power supply. Basic social amenities such as good road and water supply are still lacking in many cities.
Perhaps, this is why all well meaning Nigerians have not only backed Buhari’s anti corruption war, but also admonished him to fight the monster holistically even within his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Shortly after the president was sworn-in, he reduced his take home pay, likewise the vice president. He also promised to cut the cost of running governance by cutting down on foreign trips because of the fall in price if oil globally. He equally directed his ministers to cut down on unnecessary foreign trips.
But less than 10 months in office, Buhari has visits about 24 countries. They are: Niger Republic (May 2015); Chad (June 2015); Germany (June 2015); South Africa (June 2015); United Kingdom (May 2015); USA (July 2015); Benin Republic (August 2015); France (September 2015); Ghana (September 2015); India (October 2015);Sudan (October 2015); Iran (November 2015); France (November 2015); USA (November 2015); South Africa (December 2015); Benin Rep. (December 2015); UAE (January 2016); Kenya (January 2016); Ethiopia (January 2016); France (February 2016); United Kingdom (February 2016); Egypt (February 2016). 23) Saudi Arabia (February 2016) and Qatar (February 2016).
While some have argued that these trips are essentially to boost Nigeria’s image internationally as well as attract direct foreign investment, others maintained that some of these trips were not important. This school of thought insisted that instead of globetrotting, he should concentrate in his campaign against corruption and good governance hitherto in abeyance.
Eminent Nigerians, including a former president, have continued to speak on the level of corruption in Nigeria, especially in the legislature.
Recently, the Senate came under harsh criticisms from Nigerians on the purchase of 330 exotic cars worth billions of Naira. Eminent Nigerians, including the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN); Senator Femi Okurounmu and Dr. Junaid Mohammed have all condemned the Senate for purchasing the vehicles.
In his reaction, prominent Yoruba leader, Okurounmu described the purchase of the vehicles as disgraceful. Okurounmu, who represented Ogun-Central senatorial district between 1999 and 2003, said the purchase of vehicles at a time when over 20 states could not pay salaries was callous.
“If this is true, the action of the Senate is completely unpatriotic, callous and shows that they don’t care about the welfare of the Nigerians that they are supposed to be representing and they are only there to look after their own interests. They are selfish,” Okurounmu stated.
Also speaking, Sagay described the senators as a group of “shameless people” who are unfit to occupy public office.
Sagay said their profligate lifestyle was capable of causing poor Nigerians to revolt against the government.
He said, “It shows that we are dealing with a group of people that are totally incorrigible in their love for material things at the expense of Nigerians. They have no limit and have no sense of shame or restraint. They will go all out and continue to live in luxury and obscenity until they can ground Nigeria.
“These people are unfit to hold public office. They are a disgrace to this country and somehow, if it was possible, I would want them to be shamed out of the National Assembly. They are unfit for that position and a disgrace to any civilised community.”
Lending his voice to the controversial acquisition of vehicles, a former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, wondered where the Senate got the funds to purchase the vehicles since the 2016 budget had not yet been passed. Describing the incident as ‘mindlessness’, the former governor said the matter must be investigated by the relevant authorities.
According to hum’ “Who authorised the purchase of the vehicles? The budget has not yet been approved so where did they get the money to buy the vehicles? Are they using the law which authorises the President to spend the equivalent of what was spent last year to buy the vehicles?
“Besides the mindlessness of such an act in the face of the economic crisis, why should lawmakers use their position to enrich themselves? Has the National Assembly allowed itself to be involved in illegality?”
It is pertinent to point out that the lawmakers are not only guilty of corruption and wastages in governance. Of course, the crime cuts across the three tiers of government. Over the years, investigation has revealed that the level of corruption at the various ministers, departments and agencies of government are mind blowing. Some directors, director-generals have been found to corruptly enrich themselves to the detriment of the poor masses.
It is therefore important that the current administration, in a bid to cut cost of governance, should not renege on its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property as well as providing basic infrastructure for its citizen.
Now is time for this government to begin to think outside the box on better and more efficient ways of diversifying the economy. It can take advantage of the global decline in price of oil to improve on her fortune in agriculture, solid minerals and tourism. This is an era of change and Nigerians must begin to see the change in all aspect of their life.