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Corruption: This is a fight for everyone

The Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari has seen major action against corruption in Nigeria. In 2016, the Senate ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Senator Shehu Sani indicted the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation appointed by Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Babachir Lawal in a N200 million contract scandal for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State by Rholavision Nigeria Limited; a company he owns.

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 By Chikezie Ogbonna

As it stands now, efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption has remained incorrigible and the seeming fight almost inane.

Nigeria has been estimated to have lost over $400 billion and even more to corruption since independence.

In 2018, the country ranked 144th in 180 countries listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Index (with Somalia at 180th, being the most corrupt, and Denmark the least).

Greed, ostentatious lifestyle, customs, and people’s attitudes are believed to have led to corruption. Another root cause is tribalism and quest for quick wealth.

Friends and kinsmen seeking favor from officials can impose strains on the ethical disposition of the official as these kinsmen see government officials as avenues for their personal survival and gain.

The Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari has seen major action against corruption in Nigeria. In 2016, the Senate ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Senator Shehu Sani indicted the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation appointed by Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Babachir Lawal in a N200 million contract scandal for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State by Rholavision Nigeria Limited; a company he owns.

On October 30, 2017, President Buhari sacked Lawal based on the report of a three-man panel led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo that investigated him and one other.

In 2016, Buhari was reportedly presented evidence that his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, took N500 million naira bribe from MTN to help it slash the $5 Billion dollar fine slammed against it for violation of Nigeria telecommunications regulations bothering on national security.

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MTN fired the staff involved in the bribery scandal.

But Abba Kyari was left intact in his position as Chief of Staff to national outrage forcing Buhari to announce the probe of Kyari.

The findings of the investigation were never made public.

Abdulrasheed Maina was the head of the task force on pension reforms during the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration but fled Nigeria in 2015 after claims that he embezzled two billion naira ($5.6 million, 4.8 million euros). Despite the fact that an Interpol arrest warrant was issued, he still managed to return to Nigeria, where he was said to have enjoyed protection from the Buhari government.

Maina had been fired from his position by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and was put under investigation for corrupt practices but was reinstated and given double promotion by Buhari administration.

The flag bearer of the corruption fight in Nigeria, the EFCC has always touted her successes in fighting corruption. Despite criticism, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced in November 2018, that 703 Nigerians had been convicted on corruption charges since Buhari took office in 2015 while over 217 convictions were recorded in 2018 alone.

Giving a breakdown of the convictions, Magu said from January to November 2018, the agency under his watch had secured 217 convictions, which included those of two former state governors, Jolly Nyame of Taraba and Joshua Dariye of Plateau, as well as Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

In December 2019, the country’s controversial ex-Attorney General Mohammed Adoke, who was accused of being bribed to grant oil licenses to Shell, was extradited back to Nigeria from Dubai and was immediately arrested.

In January 2020, however, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) still gave Nigeria a low ranking of 146 out of 180 countries surveyed.

Meanwhile, with the newly launched investigation on the erstwhile EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, it has become obvious that the country is still very deep necked into corruption and now it has become brazen, filled with acts influenced by chicanery and has seemed incorrigible.

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Allegations against Magu include the “alleged sale of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends.” Magu denies the allegations.

Nigeria’s government set up the EFCC in 2003 in response to widespread official corruption in Africa’s most populous country.

Magu has been Acting chairman since 2015 until his recent suspension and investigation.

Let’s not forget the ensuing accusation and counter accusation emanating from the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC as well as the ascendancy of individual fraud cases with Raymond Abass alias Hushpuppi who is standing trial in America being the latest bad light for the nation globally.

There is no gain saying that the nation is already on a rough road. There is rather a concerted effort to preserve individuals amongst the ruling class than the generality of the people as well as the survival of the state as it relates to the development and empowerment of the people.

The Nigerian state is sinking and grossly stinking of corruption at all level. This is the time to wake up, citizens, this is the time to ask ourselves some cardinal questions as to how we want the nation to function. The brazen corrupt act currently rubbing off our joy and collective growth has not only taken away our humanity as a nation, but it has also conditioned our mind to adjust, manage  and only complain while efforts are rife as to how we should fight for a dream nation.

As a nation, we should stop the blame-game because we are all engineers of our collective woes, beginning from the lecturer who demands sex from a young girl as a prerequisite for her promotion; to the ‘man of God’ who underpays his stewards in the name of God; to the ghost civil servant who comes to work once a week and shows up at end of the month to receive alert; to the petty trader who removes 3 painters of garri from the bag, rebags and sells as a ‘full’ bag, to the doctors in hospitals on government payroll who abandon patients but are thriving in their private hospitals; to the commercial transporter who can’t join a simple queue but keeps darting in and out of traffic, to the students who spends the weekend partying only to start posting Instagram pictures on Monday, complaining that Nigeria is stealing his or her dreams. In fact, the value of Nigeria today is the collective average of our own individual values. Let us stop fooling ourselves.

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We therefore call on all citizens, this fight is for all and this fight is for our survival. Nigeria is now a joke to the committee of nations.  We are being rejected by serious nations and just for identifying as a Nigerian, you are seen as a threat. We need to jettison our now endemic ‘I don’t care’ attitude, shelve ourselves from mental slavery and consciously detach ourselves from ethnic and religious sentiments to tackle head on the devil of corruption and mediocrity thriving amongst us, so as to give birth to a new Nigeria where we can all be proud of.

We urge every Nigerian to realize that only Nigerians can become the architects of new hope for our nation. We are the only ones that can save ourselves from our self inflicting doom of corruption over the decades.

Chikezie Ogbonna Administrator
Chikezie Ogbonna Onyenonuzochi is a passionate Journalist, Web Developer, Photographer, and a Film Maker. He is the editorial manager of The Choice Flame Newspaper and has deep passion for innovative story telling geared towards development at all level
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Chikezie Ogbonna Administrator
Chikezie Ogbonna Onyenonuzochi is a passionate Journalist, Web Developer, Photographer, and a Film Maker. He is the editorial manager of The Choice Flame Newspaper and has deep passion for innovative story telling geared towards development at all level
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