Buhari
Buhari

FIGHT against corruption by the present
administration has to be critically
and objectively assessed to be able to
understand its dialectics and dynamics.
No patriotic Nigerian should see
corruption expanding in scope as if it is a
productive venture. Criticising the way
and manner it is being fought at present
is not the issue; the fact is that it must be
collectively fought to a halt.
Now let us go through a preview of
how the Buhari administration has been
handling financial recklessness and gross
leadership indiscipline that dominated the
Nigerian economy.
Nigerians are horrified by the mind
boggling reports on sabotage of the
national economy by past government
officials, through the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The revitalized anti-corruption agency,
from indications, has performed creditably
in spearheading the fight against the
monster of corruption which in the past
had threatened to pull down Nigeria. One
of the shocking recoveries made by the
EFCC involves forfeiture of $153.3 million
dollars or N33.1 billion by former minister
of petroleum allegedly stolen from the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,
$9.2 million and £750,000 seized in cash
from a former GMD of the NNPC.
The Buhari administration has devised
multiple tactics in fighting corruption, one
of which is the whistle blowing policy,
yet to be a law but being implemented
as an executive order, with the sole aim
of encouraging Nigerians to expose
corruption and also protect the identity of
the whistle-blower. The policy guarantees
2.5% or 5% of the money recovered for the
whistle-blower. This policy is yielding the
requisite results as $151 million and N8bn
looted funds were recovered within two
months of its launch.
However, this seems to be a droplet in
the ocean of sleaze perpetuated. Not too
long ago, a Federal High Court ordered
the interim forfeiture of Oil Prospecting
Licence (OPL 245) christened Malabu Oil,
considered to be the most enormous oil
block in Africa with proven crude in the
region of 9 billion barrels, with a larger
volume of gas reserves with a market
value of $1.1 billion already shared by few
individuals at the detriment of Nigeria and
currently subject of investigation in Italy
and the United Kingdom.
Corruption over the years has been at
the heart of Nigeria’s problem. Regimes
were changed in the past on accounts of
phenomenal acts of corruption allegedly
perpetrated by leaders, all eroding public
trust in government, undermining the rule
of law, weakening the state’s ability to raise revenue for critical projects, while fuelling
violent extremism.
The social media savvy politician, Senator
Ben Murray-Bruce aptly captured the fears
of the witch-hunt mongers when he tweeted
– ‘‘the administration’s anticorruption war
isn’t a witch hunt, in my opinion, we need
it. If you’re innocent, prove your innocence.
Don’t say witch hunt’’.
So far EFCC has secured 187 convictions,
frozen 126 billion naira in just 120 accounts,
the disclosure by the interim forfeiture
of funds that over N1.9 trillion has been
recovered from leaders who were trusted
with public funds but lacked the capacity to
treat the nation’s treasury with discipline and
integrity. Add N32.8 billion from suspects
implicated in the Police Pension Office.
The Attorney General of the Federation
mentioned that his office recovered N15
billion and $10.5 million when he met the
Senate committee on Judiciary. Little wonder
Nigeria is in an economic mess.
Corruption has been so entrenched in
the past that it somewhat took a garb of a
government policy, wherein funds meant
for development of critical infrastructure
were doled out as patronage. Today the
story is different. All loopholes for stealing of
government funds have been blocked. This
has informed the new cliché “no food for the
boys” or “Baba no dey play ball”. The bad old
days now appears gone forever.
The good news is that, the current Sherriff
abhors corruption ab initio; he is enthroning a
new financial order whose sole objective is to
curtail financial indiscipline and implement probity in the institutions of governance.
We have seen a deliberate policy thrust
of government in restructuring cash flow,
viewed through the all-encompassing
implementation of the Treasury Single
Account (TSA) to reduce the number
of accounts in operation and monitor
government funds while the Efficiency Unit
(E-Unit) serves as benchmark for government
spending in the Ministries, Departments
and Agencies (MDAs). The TSA has helped
in reducing the number of accounts in
operation, while monitoring and firm control
has significantly improved, with 976 MDAs
currently subscribed to the TSA.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun
disclosed that the TSA has significantly
witnessed an increase to the tune of N4.3
trillion, noting the Ministry’s inclusion of
additional revenues hubs; shipping levies,
airport landing charges, visa fess will increase
revenue.
President Buhari’s commitment to the
fight against corruption is boosting Nigeria
leadership role internationally, the badge
of honour is Nigeria’s membership of the
Open Government Partnership (OGP), a
global body committed to accountability and
transparency in the management of public
office.
To underscore his commitment, the
president will sign an executive order
mandating over 500 MDAs to embrace open
contracting. The Nigeria Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is already
keying into this laudable policy, its beneficial
ownership disclosure makes it compulsory to
report owners of companies operating in the
extractive industries and have a public register
of owners and corporate entities. This will
eliminate corruption through transparency
and accountability in the extractive industry
and help track illicit financial flow.
Meanwhile, pragmatic efforts are
apace to sanitise the federal payroll of 1.2
million public servants with a wage bill of
N165bn per month inherited by the current
administration.
“The Federal government payroll has
been rid of 50,000 ghost workers, saving
the country a huge amount of N200 billion
while 11 persons championing the syndicate
of ghost workers have been handed over
to the EFCC”, presidential spokesman,
MalamGarba Shehu revealed recently.
The stamping out of large-scale corruption
and inefficiency which characterized the
Nigerian polity in the past has started to
propel governance as an institution under
President Buhari. It is also pertinent to allude
to the political will in loosening the economy
from the firm grip of corruption, while the
problem of unnecessary bureaucratic bottle
neck is being addressed. Indeed, the present
government is providing the enabling
environment for growth and job creation now
being spearheaded by the private sector.
It is obvious even to the doubting Thomas
that president Buhari is establishing a
formidable structure and institutional
reforms that will outlive his presidency.

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