The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on the Federal Government to do more in the fight against corruption in the country and ease the burden of the citizenry especially at a time the government is just easing the lockdown.
In a release issued by the Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the Acting Director of Administration and Programmes, to mark CACOL’s 13th Year Anniversary he enthused that “the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) formerly known as Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders was established on the 3rd of September, 2007. Incorporated in 2016, our vision is a Nigeria without corruption both in public and private sectors. Our mission is to use any legal and civilized means available to cause relevant authorities to probe and try all corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions”.
Over the last 13 years, CACOL has been engaging in the business of research, enlightenment, advocacy and monitoring of government activities with a view to reducing corruption. We have been at the fore front of enlightening members of the society on the virtues of living modest and corrupt-free lives. We have organized public enlightenment programmes at regular intervals on the need to be good leaders. We have also liaised with relevant government agencies in carrying out global best practices on act of governance. We have come up with researches, studies and surveys on needy areas and unanswered questions concerning corruption and we have participated in budget tracking, scorecards, open parliaments, etc.
Furthermore, we have been the vanguard of enlightenment to the people on the need to see leadership as service to the society. Over the years, CACOL’s main activity is to campaign against corruption and advocate for open governance by embarking on fact-findings through: Research, Investigations, Surveys etc., We engage in policy review and engagements, by publishing books, journals, reports, pamphlets, posters, handbills. We also carry out mass outings like, rallies, processions, marches, petitions, litigations, festivals and anti-corruption tours. We also intervene on behalf of victims of corruption.
It is on record that we have been directly involved in writing petition against and exposing some suspected and alleged corrupt public officials notably Olusegun Obasanjo former President of Nigeria, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister, and James Ibori former Governor of Delta State which in turn led to his indictment, prosecution and conviction.
As we clock 13, we have observed that not much have changed in the Anti-Corruption drive in the country. In as much as we would like to commend the government for the introduction of various measures like Bank Verification Number (BVN), Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS), among others, aimed at curbing corruption in the country we believe there is still much to be done as corruption persists in both public and private sectors in the country. We also call on the three arms of government to synergize more to stem the tide of corruption in the country. The Judiciary as the last hope of the citizen should do more in the area of quick dispensation of justice so as to serve as deterrent.
As if that was not enough, the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, appears set to hit N160 per litre as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has increased the price at which it sells the product to marketers from N138.62 per litre to N147.67. This is coming at a time when most Nigerians are coming out of the lockdown forced on them by the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus pandemic.
Many Nigerian workers have not being paid salaries for months as some sectors especially the hospitality and private schools have not reopen for business. Others, especially those working in the banking and aviation sectors have lost their jobs and sources of livelihood due to the fact that their organizations have either downsized or outsourced their jobs.
Prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed while commuters have been forced to pay almost double as transportation fares due primarily to the social distancing regulation being observed by transporters. All these have negative impact on the disposable income of Nigerians most of whom will still struggle to pay house rents and other bills.
The anti-corruption crusader said “we want to say emphatically that the current increase in electricity or energy tariff and the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit is a wrong move coming at a very wrong time. It is ill-advised, unkindly and unsympathetic to the plight of the already overburdened Nigerians who eke out a living by a dint of hard work”.
“CACOL would like to call on the government to deliberately reduce prices of energy and power which are used by most Nigerians majority of whom did not benefit from the palliatives distributed by the government to cushion the effect of the lockdown. The government should rescind these unholy decisions and think of ways to ease the current socio-economic problems of the already overburdened citizens rather than further extorting them. Government should also desist from introducing anti-people policies that will burden the people and further ensnarl them in abject poverty while the few individuals that were elected to govern them live so large on the commonwealth of the generality of the populace”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has decried the arrest of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the officials of Department of State Services (DSS).
In a release by the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news of the arrest of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu by officials of Department of State Services (DSS) with mixed feelings”.
“We can recall that the arrest is coming barely two weeks after the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) reportedly complained to the President, Muhammadu Buhari about Magu’s conduct and advised that he should be relieved of his appointment. The AGF was said to have accused Magu of insubordination and discrepancies in the figures of funds recovered by the EFCC”.
“Though the details of his arrest is still sketchy, we believed that inasmuch as no one is above the law Mr. Magu just like every other citizen of the country can be call to give an account of his stewardship at anytime, our position is that it would have been nice if Mr. Magu was investigated by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) or other anti corruption agency of government but not DSS that has continually shown bias towards him (Magu) going by the report submitted to the Senate by the DSS which has stalled his confirmation as the Chairman of EFCC for some years now. It is a common knowledge that there had been no love lost between DSS and the person of Mr. Magu. We have also observed that the relationship between EFCC, DSS and Ministry of Justice had been frosty over the years”.
“In view of the above, we hope Mr. Magu would be able to defend himself and come out clean from the myriads of allegations leveled against him. We are also optimistic that he will be given a fair hearing and his rights will be respected.
Since he has demonstrated extra courage in the fight against corruption in the country we hope his arrest is not a case of ‘Corruption fighting back’.”
“A situation where the Acting Chairman of EFCC is ‘invited for questioning’ with a very short notice could cost the fight against corruption serious setback, as well as much embarrassment to the Federal Government and its anti-corruption stance, hence, the need for the various agencies of government to always be mindful of their actions at all times”.
Anti-corruption groups, including Transparency International and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, have condemned the Lagos State House of Assembly for sending wives of the state lawmakers to Dubai at the cost of N80m.
The Speaker of the House, Madashiru Obasa, had told a panel of inquiry set up to probe corruption allegations levelled against him that the N80m was spent on training the wives of 20 lawmakers in Dubai with a budget of N4m each, adding that he declared the event open.
Obasa had said, “We gave N4m to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feeding and local travel. An air ticket to Dubai alone costs about N2m.
“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes at a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80m for estacode at a go before.”
But speaking to The PUNCH, Auwal Musa, aka Rafsanjani, the Head of TI in Nigeria, said it was saddening that N80m would be spent on such an event when the health and education sectors in the state were in shambles.
Rafsanjani, who is also the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, said an act could still be deemed as corrupt even if it is approved officially.
The TI head said, “If this is not corruption, what would you call this? The truth is that there is something called official stealing, looting and diversion of funds and it is happening across Nigeria and what the Lagos Assembly has done is just to tell you what is going on in other states.
“It is also a reflection of what is happening at the federal level because states usually emulate the federal. Nigeria’s democracy has been hijacked by those stealing the funds meant for development. Imagine how many communities would have clean water if that money was spent on development?
“Imagine if the money was used in equipping a primary health centre? Why spend it on legislators’ wives?”
Also speaking, the Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said, “For me, it is not really the N80m that matters but the fact that the state is not supposed to spend a dime on the wives of lawmakers who are not even elected officials. These legislators are already receiving outrageous allowances which ought to cater for their families.
“They need to explain to us why it was important for the wives of lawmakers, women who were not elected, to be trained in Dubai.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the spending could not have been included in the state’s budget.
“Lagos Assembly has 40 lawmakers out of which 37 are men. How come it is the wives of 20 that were taken for that controversial event? That money could not have been included in the budget. I don’t believe the wives even travelled but the money was just transferred to them.”
He called on anti-corruption agencies to investigate the trip.
Suraju said, “Constitutionally, it is inappropriate; these are not members of the parliament.
In response to reported statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, that former dictator, Sani Abacha, ‘stole close to $1billion’, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Saturday faulted Buhari’s submission, saying that Abacha stole far more than $1billion.
The group cited Transparency International report, which submitted that ‘Abacha may have stolen between $3bn and $5bn in public money’.
Recall that Buhari had in his article titled “Post-Coronavirus, Africa’s Manufacturing Moment”, published on Newsweek.com, said, “Nigeria can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction in part, under own resources-thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership CACOL has strongly condemned acts of brigandage and obstruction of justice displayed by supporters of former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau who was yesterday arraigned before a Kano State High Court over an alleged fraud of N950m.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, while expressing the Centre’s views, decried a situation whereby ordinary Nigerians who are the direct victims of corrupt practices would make themselves available to be rented as a crowd by the same politicians that mortgaged their future through their insatiable stealing of the commonwealth entrusted to their care.
Mr. Adeniran stated that: “As much as our law provides that even for corruption charges, every accused person remains innocent until proven guilty, we implore accused persons and their supporters to note that the process of justice and equity is sacrosanct and requires that caution is applied so that the course of justice is not perverted or compromised in any way.
“We deem it necessary to remind Nigerians of the fact that Corruption has neither tribe nor religion as its ravaging effects could be felt by all and sundry, especially ordinary Nigerians that are left with no cover. We therefore appreciate the fact that Alhaji Shekarau did not abscond but made himself available for trial to respond to the allegation levelled against him.
We also need to caution his followers on the right attitude to display during his court appearances. In the same vein, we want to appreciate our law-enforcement agents for bringing the situation under control without undue casualties, while we recommend speedy trial and conclusion of the case so that the course of justice is not only served, but seen to be served.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has lauded the arraignment of the Secretary to Rivers State Government, Mr Kenneth Kobani for money laundering.
In a statement issued by Mr Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, he noted that the six-count charge brought against the duo of Kobani and one Samuel Okpoko, bordering on money laundering involving a sum of N750m, was another bold step in tackling the hydra-headed monster of corruption in the country. It is noteworthy that the exhibits in this case are part of the infamous $115m, Diezani Alison-Madueke scam which were clearly proceeds of corruption.
Mr. Debo Adeniran stated that, “For every million Naira or Dollar stolen or misappropriated by any Government official and their cronies, millions of Nigerians are directly deprived of access to education, good roads, electricity and other social amenities and the right to life through good Medicare. This is why like Caesar’s wife; those who have being put in positions of public trust must rise above board by accounting for every penny in their care.
“We commend EFCC and ICPC for their patriotic zeal to rid our land of evils of corruption and provide the accused the opportunity to clear their names if they are innocent of the charges proffered against them. We also advise that this case and many others like them should be clinically, diligently and fairly prosecuted and concluded. Whoever turns out culprits should be made to suffer for their wicked acts while proceeds of the crime should be completely retrieved and repatriated to their original source to relief long-suffering Nigerians and serve as a deterrent to others. If however, they are found innocent of the charges, they should be promptly released and adequately compensated for the moral and material damages they could have suffered. It will also send a strong signal that no matter how long it takes, the seemingly slow-grinding wheel of justice will eventually catch up with whoever is involved in corruption crimes.”
BEING THE TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED COMRADE DEBO ADENIRAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH, 2018 AT THE HUMANITY CENTRE, OJOKORO-IJAIYE, LAGOS
“A Man stung by wasp, fears the buzz of a house-fly” – Igbo Proverb
As we welcome you; our friends and compatriots from the media, we must commence this conference with a truism. We are in the hub of sublime maneuvers by political war-horses to position themselves as likely next heir-apparent to deceive unwary electorates and gain the unfettered access to our collective patrimony. A popular saying goes that once bitten, twice shy but Nigeria has been severally bitten, serially raped by public officers of all hues, shapes and gabs that we need to be extremely cautious as we approach the 2019 general elections.
This month’s press conference coincides with the International Women’s Day, consequently CACOL is using this occasion to express our strong solidarity with the women of Nigeria, Africa and the World as the day is being commemorated across the globe. We identify with the struggles and pains of women in this contemporary World dominated by patriarchy and capitalism. We believe the engendering of gender equity, social justice and egalitarianism in society is a precursor to liberation of women and all oppressed strata of the people of the world. We thus remain in solidarity with the struggles of women focused on ensuring equity and social justice until victory forever. In line with theme for this year, ‘Press for Progress’, we call for the intensifying of the efforts of women and men to move the World, Africa and Nigeria toward an egalitarian society where the mode of co-existences amongst different classes, people and gender will be socially, economically and politically harmonious. Freedom cometh only via struggle.
As the 2019 elections approaches, we are most concerned that Nigerians are worn out with forlorn promises and hopes dangled by politicians that democratic rule would bring the country to Eldorado. Our people fought valiantly to overthrow the burden of military dictatorship demanding and rightly so their rights to humanity and democratic governance, the glorious human rights and pro-democracy crusades were littered with a lot of bloodied heads, broken bones and lost souls but the spirits of Nigerians remained high till the return of democracy in May, 1999. Ever since the entire nation watched haplessly as succeeding democratic leadership rule roughshod over the citizens.
We are most concerned that pre-general elections year has assumed a dimension when things that ought not to happen occur. The most damaging reference point is that in 2014 just before the general elections, the Chibok girls were abducted just as similarly now; in 2018 before general elections the Dapchi girls have been abducted. Is it not possible to re-write the plot structure of the tragedy of our history? CACOL mince no words at insisting that as we get nearer to the next year’s elections, we are confident that there would be daring attempts to stampede the nation into precipice by global prophets of doom acclaiming that Nigeria would become a failed State.
The alarming records coming out to the public domain from all corners of the world show a country that is seriously hemorrhaging because of the brazen looting of its treasury by its greedy leadership. The country lie permanently in a state of comatose because of the injurious activities of the past administrations especially since even the return of democracy, Nigerians now feel that there cannot be anyway out to junction out of the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and diseases as they even see old notorious looters being re-packaged into new national positions while many serving public officers are paying mere lips service to the present administration’s commitment to change, for economic reconstruction and anti-corruption. If Nigeria must come out of the present economic doldrums, all Nigerians must be totally and irreversibly own the process for programmatic system change.
New generations of Nigerians must arise to truly change the colour, shapes and character of leadership, far away from expired former leaders parading themselves as vanguards of a third force of leadership. If President Muhammadu Buhari really wants to stamp his foot prints in the history of the country’s search for industrial and socio-economic advancement, he must change the narratives and consciously massify his clamour for anti-corruption in the younger generations of Nigeria. This is even much more imperatives when we consider how the following global rankings have revealed that Nigeria is speedily deteriorating:
· Annual Corruption Perception Index: Nigeria’s corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017 according to the annual Corruption Perception Index, CPI, by Transparency International. Nigeria slipped by 12 positions in the country rankings, from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country having the worst perception of corruption.
· International Press Freedom Index: Nigeria’s ranking in the international press freedom index has witnessed steady declined since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015. The country is currently ranked 122 out of 180 countries according to the 2017 edition of the annual survey. The country fell from 111 in 2015 to 116 in 2016 and has fallen again to 122 in 2017, entering the “red zone” for press freedom.
· Rule of Law Index:Nigeria was downgraded by the World Justice Project (WJP) 2017/2018 Rule of Law Index. The country currently ranks 97 out of 113 countries, dropping one position from the previous ranking. The index measures the adherence to rule of law across 113 countries worldwide.
· RMB’s Africa Investment Attractiveness Index:Nigeria has fallen from the top 10 in the ‘where to Invest in Africa 2018’, Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB) Investment Attractiveness Index. Nigeria fell from No 6 on the list to number 13. The Investment Attractiveness Index balances economic activity against the relative ease of doing business.
· Global Retail Development Index: Nigeria’s global ranking in retail development dropped from the 19th position recorded in 2016 to 27 out of 30 countries surveyed in 2017. Nigeria’s total sales from the retail sector dropped from $125bn in 2016 to $109bn in 2017. The Global Retail Development Index measures retail investments based on all relevant macroeconomic and retail-specific variables in developing countries.
· World Economic Forum Networked Readiness Index: Nigeria dropped seven places to rank 119 in the Networked Readiness Index ranking conducted by the World Economic Forum. The NRI is an indicator that measures a country’s ICT development by its ability to implement and take full advantage of ICTs.
· Nigeria’s ranking dropped to 127th in 2016 GCI analysis: Nigeria deteriorated by 3 places from 124th in 2015-2016 to 127th in 2016-2017 ranking released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The GCI index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity. The drop in ranking is attributed to two core pillars, the macroeconomic and financial market efficiency.
· Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index: Nigeria declined to the 17th position on Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) 2017. This is a two-step decline from the AAI 2016 ranking. The 2017 report revealed that the number of new FDI projects in Nigeria declined to 51 in 2016 from 53 in 2015.
· World Internal Security and Police Index:Nigeria Police ranked bottom in Africa and 127th in the world, making the country, one with the worst police in the world according to the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Nigeria was followed by countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Pakistan and the report attributed Nigeria’s low rank to the rising cases of terrorism, corruption and low number of police personnel.The WISPI ranks the police based on 16 indicators around their ability to address internal security issues in their countries across four domains – capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
· Worst Electricity Supply:Nigeria was ranked the second worst nation in electricity supply according to a World Economic Forum report released by The Spectator Index on the 15th of January, 2018. Nigeria suffered a power decline to 3,851 megawatts according to the ranking which puts only Yemen ahead of other countries like Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.
WAKE UP CALL: These rankings were not fabricated but a sincere, statistical presentation of the continuous slide of the country, no matter the fact that officials have been accepting these only by denials. It would be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture recently claimed that Nigeria’s growth in rice production has led to decline in the export of rice in a certain Asian country which the nation immediately debunked just as the triple Minister of Housing, Power and Works claim of improved power generation is belied by the deteriorating supply of electricity situation in the country. CACOL consider this global rankings as a clarion call for Government and Nigerians to tighten up our girdle if are serious about taking Nigeria to greater heights. A cursory examination of number of contemporary social developments in the country will also validate these data.
Herdsmen Carnages and Terrorism: The nation is grappling with the orgies of violent attacks and bloodletting of herdsmen carnages and farmers clashes in several States of the Federation while government seems either incapable or without requisite political will to stem the tides. Many villages have been sacked in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States with many people displaced from their homes, farmlands and workplaces. The grave implications of these ravages are very grave as the country risk high possibility of experiencing famine and outbreak of diseases from where these heinous carnages take place. Government must put in place security measures to stop these carnages and bring culprits to book.
Porous Borders, National Security Threats: Our territorial borders particularly with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Cameroun have become virile markets for smuggling of arms and ammunitions into the country. The borders are also routes for terrorists from other parts of the continent and elsewhere that daily infiltrates the country and perpetuates violent crimes. We consider this as manifest threat to our national security which relevant government’s security agencies must tackle headlong.
Greek Gift Called Minimum Wage: It is interesting to get news reports of the plans of the Federal Government to pay a new minimum wage in September this year. It is trite to state that there are statutory mechanisms for negotiation of minimum wage and it is not the business of Government to dangle the promises of a fantastic minimum wage especially when such promise is expected to come just a few months to general elections. Many patriotic observers have noted that there may be hidden agenda to this promise of Eldorado for workers. This is even more curious when most States are unable to pay the last minimum wage while many owe workers arrears of their monthly salaries. In most advanced industrial economies of the world, there is no periodic rituals of minimum wage as the priorities are always to fix and stabilize the economy so that inflationary indices does not make nonsense of the value of workers’ wages. We call on the labour sector and informal unions to think out of the box and task Government to address the ailing economy, reverse its negative downward slides so as to make the value of labour wages meaningful.
The Bulls in the China-wares Shop: Virtually all State Governors in the country can be effectively described as rampaging bulls in a China-wares’ shop except perhaps for Lagos and Ogun when it comes to the treatment of workers and retirees. The most notorious even go to the extent of not only bullying workers but sacking or threats of mass sacks and wanton terrorization of civil populace. The most notorious are Governors of Kaduna, Bayelsa, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi and Ondo States. The Governor of Ondo State even has the brazen effrontery to contemplate privatizing and commercializing the educational sector in a State that its major vocation is education! Paradoxically, these Governors and other elected public officers smile home every month with their jumbo pay and unaccounted security votes. Nigerians should note these bullish leaders and exercise their franchise rights to take ownership of their States to secure their future.
The Outrageous Price of Development in Lagos: As much as this State has the envious record of almost been self-sustaining courtesy of its aggressive revenue drive, yet, the poor and toiling populace have no resting place as they are heavily taxed and brutally displaced from their homes and place of work. The general cry is for the State to put a human face to its developmental plans. It is demographically wrong to build a city only for the rich. CACOL has raised it at every opportunity that class is of essence in societal and city development. A mega city cannot exist without the masses. This is why CACOL joins all conscientious voices to call for the reversal of the Increment in the Land Use charge, and the re-introduction of the Tenement Rate. The economic sensitivity of the effect of the recent recession is to deliver a good level of welfarism to the people who are the worst hit and depressed so far.
Stem the De-industrialisation Slides of the Country: The major historic task before President Muhammadu Buhari is to shift decidedly from the socio-economic developmental paradigm of neo-liberalism imposed on the country by the Brettonwood global financial institutions’ hawks which has effectively turned the country into a veritable dumping ground for consumeric industrial goods of the advanced western world. Many industries in the country have winded down and the nation is presently de-industrialised by the economic policies imposed on us by the quisling ruling elites that are ever ready to be errand boys of western world in our corridors of power. These dangerous neo-liberal economic pills and those who prescribed them must be fumigated out of the Nigerian system. We must consciously embrace system change and a paradigm shift to alternative socio-economic order.
Shut Up. Make Atonement and Retire to Old Peoples’ Home: A couple of former Heads of States and their hordes have been befouling the country’s political space with their odious pronouncements in recent times. These are elements that when they were in power have boggling records of looting the country treasury dry. If they are genuine elder statesmen and men of conscience, what they should do is to beg the entire nation and public to make atonement by returning all their ill-gotten wealth into the coffers of the country. Nigerians should rise up and tell these types of bad experiment in our national leadership to atone for the lootings and mis-governance of the past because most of them apparently deserve to be behind bars.
Quintessentially, it is significant to point out that routine election as a democratic practice does not necessarily translate to collective control of the socio-economic existence of the people. Even though our constitution provides for government to ensure the socio-economic rights of the people whereby their security and social wellbeing is prioritized in a way that the wealth of the people is not concentrated in a few hands as required of a democracy, the aberration of this reality is what obtains in Nigeria.
Consequently, as the 2018 – 2019 elections approach and with the excruciating conditions of living of the majority, Nigerians must rise in unison to struggle for the assertion of their socio-economic rights as dialectically required components of a democracy under best practices. Chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution should be the guide of the choices we make in the elections by ensuring that the governments at all levels commit to the security and social welfare of the populace before earning their votes.
The economic practice of neo-liberalism that has continued to be imposed on the country by successive governments is antithetical to democracy given that it has only succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The Bretton Woods institution dictated neo-liberal policies which have failed almost in every country it had been imbibed must be abandoned to achieve a socio-economically harmonious existence of the people.
Beyond elections, Nigerians must invigorate the struggles for social emancipation holistically because the present status quo will perpetually ensure penury in their lives if the system is not overhauled and replaced with a more humane one that would guarantee the social welfare and security of life and property.
The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka scripted “The Trials of Brother Jero”, the immaculate one with more tricky and deceptive maneuvers than can be imagined, tempted not by anybody but only by himself. This sums up the on-going drama in our political landscape. The court of appeal has ordered that the code of conduct tribunal can entertain the case of false declaration of assets against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Earlier, the Code of Conduct Bureau has dragged the Senator to the Tribunal on allegations of false declaration of properties while he was Governor of Kwara State and at resumption of office as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Bureau laid an eighteen count charges against the Senator. However, the Tribunal in its judgment in June acquitted the Senate President which was challenged by the Bureau at the Court of Appeal. The decision at the appellate court that the Senator has a case to answer on count numbered 4, 5 and 6 is not only worthy of commendation but it is instructive to all public office holders who usually declare false assets and sometimes forget properties they own by proxy.
We, at the Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) strongly condemn every attempt to arm twist the judiciary particularly the courts which are supposed to be the last hope of the nation. It would be recalled that the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was characterized by ploys to stampede the Tribunal with solidarity mobilization of members of the Senate to proceedings which invariably intimidated the Tribunal into taking its political judgment. The decision of the Court of Appeal is a resounding reminder that the judiciary is still independent and can assert the law irrespective of whose ox is gored. Though the Senate President has signified intentions to appeal at the Supreme Court, we hope the path of justice would neither be muddled nor delayed by this process. For it is not common sensical for a judgment to come after the tenure of the Senate President has expired.
Nigerians know how cases drag on for years in our court system. CACOL demands that if the Senate President intends challenging the Appeal Court decision, he should first resign as the President of Senate. As a matter of fact under refined democratic rule in comparism to the crude democracy in Nigeria, even the appearance of the Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal would have warranted his stepping aside.
CACOL warns the judiciary to be wary of those who engage in technicalities to divert the smooth sail of justice. The defence that the prosecution did not proofthat Dr. Saraki operates a foreign account with American Express Service Europe Limited merely goes a long way to vindicate our position about systemic conspiracies. It is a trite fact that most Banks that serve as warehouse for laundering ill-gotten wealth would always hide under the veil of confidentialities not to reveal indicting documents. CACOL call on global leaders and well-meaning people to rise up to the challenge of piercing the invincible corporate veil whenever corruption charges are at stake.
It is instructive that the prosecution team should diligently appraise the recently released Panama Papers where the Senate President was exposed to have maintained a foreign account in a tax haven country. An account which obviously was not declared in any of the Asset Declaration Forms.
The narratives of economic sabotage committed by people in public office are legendary and this is done with impunity, believing that the system can never catch up with them. The Senate President’s family has a robust history in this regard, the collapse of defunct Societe Generale Bank is a vintage example. The Code of Conduct Bureau should re-examine the papers of all public office holders because we are confident that Dr. Bukola Saraki is just a symbolic representation of a pervasive offence by most if not all public office holders.
Being the Address of Press Conference by Debo Adeniran of CACOL on the Occasion of Marking the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day, Saturday, 9th December, 2017
“Concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law”…….Rationalization in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
BACKROUND CHECK: This year’s thematic pre-occupation of the United Nations in marking International Anti-Corruption Day is very apt in capturing situation in Nigeria and what remains to be done. This is even more succinct when examined against the fact that UNODC and UNDP have developed a joint global campaign focusing on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development submitting that corruption is the greatest impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President Muhammadu Buhari presented an N8.6Trillion 2018 budget to the national assembly with a deficit of N2.005Trillion and a plan to borrow N1.69Trillion from local and foreign lenders to execute the budget. He also informed Nigerians that the budget would be part financed from proceeds of recovered loot. Interestingly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Femi Falana has variously asserted that the country has over N300Billion unrecovered loot. In a co-related twist, several European countries where the country’s stolen wealth where kept like Australia have demanded that the Government should demonstrate the infrastructural development project which the funds would be invested on before they can be released. This clearly paints a vivid impact of corruption on our nation’s development.
The President in its 2015 campaign promised to fight corruption and insecurity. This anti-corruption crusade got the kudos of the major leaders of world. John Kerry, the Secretary of State of United State expressed support for the anti-corruption policy at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while Grant Sharp, the Minister of Interior of United Kingdom explicitly showed the direction of Europe when he stated that “ …. We would continue to provide capacity building technical support to Nigeria to tackle corruption”.
President Buhari is often quoted as stating that the historic duty of his administration is summed up in the clarion that “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”. No doubt if this is imbibed by the entire populace, it would be re-echoed with vigour. Many corruption cases have since been blown into the open; Halliburton, Siemens, Mallabu, Panama and Paradise Papers, and the in recent period time the scandalous, brazen sharing of the N2.6Billion arms deal.
HOW FAR FROM LAST YEAR?
In commemoration of Last year International Anti-Corruption Day, we embarked on anti-corruption to highlight the state of infrastructural decadence in the country particularly in Lagos and environs. We were at the then notorious Sango-Otta toll gate, Alimosho and visited a public primary school.
It is highly imperative to note and commend the Lagos State Government in particular that after our tour and awareness campaign last year, most of the affected roads have been taken care. As a matter of fact, the astronomical speed and pace with which Lagos State Government has embarked on road construction and rehabilitation particularly opening up of feeder road has been breath-taking. This has no doubt reduced traffic grid on some major roads thereby reducing the productive man-hour usually wasted on traffic lock.
We however also note that there is continuous downward and negative slide in the standard of the country’s social infrastructure. The health clinics are indeed death clinics, there is no portable pipe borne water, many Nigerians are living in slums or as destitutes while the ruling elites loot the treasuries to buy choiced properties in Dubaiand Europe where no one lives. Even the informal settlements that our people built themselves without government help had been stolen by state land grabbers in places like Makoko; Badia; Ilubirin; Tejuosho market; Otodo Gbame, and others without following international standards on evacuation and relocation of mass housing areas and in clear negation of judicial pronouncements. This is unfair to a people that really need low-cost social housing units enmasse. Public education is not only underfunded but consciously castrated to pave way for private education institutions and no guaranteed social welfare scheme for Nigerians.
The country has become a society where amidst plenty, the majority goes starving and the elites loot more than they can ever spend in their combined lives span. We hear of suicide every day. And the masses groan the more. It is common knowledge that the recession still persist, and only a few in the business class are making the billions. All these are ailments that we have diagnosed over and over again. When corruption bedevils a society, development would go amiss, peace will be eluded, and security would be in tatters!
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PEACE AND SECURITY
It is correct to assert without any iota of contradiction that Nigeria needs to tackle the monster of corruption before it can effectively embark on its flight to development. What is however worrisome is whether the government, the ruling class and Nigerians realize the enormity of the task of the campaign as manifestly confusing and sometimes conflicting signals are what can generally be discerned by observers. For instance, no state, local government or government agency has openly come with its version or acceptance of the dire need for an anti-corruption policy.
In recent period also, there are obvious cases of dysfunctionalism in the prosecution of the anti-corruption campaign. There is the glaring lack of synergy and absence of coordination among the various anti-corruption agencies [ACAs], as well as between and among the ACAs and other relevant law enforcement and security agencies.The most recent example is that involving the botched attempt by the EFCC to arrest the retired Director Generals of both the DSS and the NIA.Acting on a warrant of arrest issued after the failure of both Ex-DGs to honour invitations with the EFCC, the agency made an attempt to execute the warrant of arrest which also included a search warrant to search their residences. The EFCC operatives were however prevented from executing the warrants by DSS officers, a situation that led to a standoff which lasted more than 10 hours in broad daylight. This arrogant display of official lawlessness is not only reprehensible but an indictment of the President and his team failure to walk his talk on the corruption anti-corruption campaign.
This is not the first time however that similar scenario will be played out. We had something similar when the EFCC raided the homes of some serving judges, and arrested them, with both the EFCC and the NJC trading accusations as to who was to blame for the lack of cooperation which prompted the EFCC to act the way it acted.
Also, the unfolding Mainagate drama speaks volumes as to the absence of coordination within the government. Not only are the two most senior bureaucrats of the government – the Head of Service and the Chief of Staff pitted against each other, but so also are several organs of the government, including the ministries of interior and Justice, as well as the Federal Civil Service Commission [FCSC]. In the same regards, we can also cite the recent public disagreement between the Minister of State for Petroleum Affairs, and the Group Managing Director [GMD] of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] over acts of insubordination and alleged breach of statutory limits for contract approval by the GMD.Given that in this specific instance, the President is also the substantive Petroleum Minister, it begs the question, how this could have happened under the watch of the President. And it also raises the question as to what the Federal Executive Council [FEC] actually really deliberates upon during its weekly midweek meetings.
Perhaps nowhere else is the consequences of corruption more glaring as in the situation with internal security and the economy. The on-going investigation into the dare devil sharing of funds allocated for combating the insurgency in the North East is a vintage example.
We continue to have a situation where with all the plethora of security outfits at Federal and State levels, all by their legal mandate performing policing and therefore internal security roles and functions; we still have huge and significant gaps with internal security.Kidnapping, armed robbery, gangsterism and cultism, as well as rural banditry and the now seemingly intractable conflict between Herders and Farmers; have all continued to grow in intensity and fester like untreated sours on our body polity.
Compounding this as a significant driver is the unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.The police and other security outfits performing policing and internal security duties including Road Safety, Civil Defence, VIO, and all the retinue of paramilitary units and neighbourhood watches established by state governments; lack adequate training, facilities, equipment, welfare conditions, and all the necessary infrastructure required to support effective policing and provide adequate internal security cover.
A core and central part of the problem however is thus this absence of coordination, and the inability to effectively deploy in a complementary manner the available internal security resources in the country.
A government and administration that is torn apart by internal strife, a regime bedevilled with mutually antagonistic internal disputes cannot however be well positioned to provide the political leadership and strategic oversight required to achieve the anti-corruption war of the administration and the needed level of coordination to improve internal security situation
It is pathetic to note the increasing militarization of the polity, yet the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are notorious as nest of corrupt practices. There is an ongoing campaign to scrap the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) which epitomizes a dangerous, violent corrupt security body. Rather than address the fundamentals, we continue to witness repressive militarization of the society. The Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to draft the Armed Forces more and more into internal security duties and operations. The result is that according to the Internal Police Service Association, our own Police Service is the worst performing police force with respect to internal security among 127 countries whose internal security situation was assessed.
It is curious to note that just as we have the Anti-Corruption Task Force, as well as other task forces, yet the experience is gloomy and the outcome has been increasing levels of dysfunctionality and systemic failure.The only sane and strategic conclusion to be drawn is that coordination, and building synergy is not synonymous with holding meetings. Government must show seriousness by removing all the square pegs in round holes so that corruption can be sent to oblivion once and for all. It is now clear to whoever is honest that there is aneed for all the government agencies to have unity of purpose. There is no way we can kill corruption when some other agencies are openly fighting EFCC or there is entrenched inter-agencies rivalries instead of collaboration
We in CACOL want to call on President Buhari to put his house in order and address the recent internal sabotages against the much-acclaimed Anti-corruption war.
We in CACOL also want to say that economic Development is one of the major ways corruption can be killed. The Buhari government must make bold to start the conscious mass re-industrialization of the country. The rate of unemployment can be drastically reduced if the 2018 budget invests in massive industrialization and capital investment through the revival of public industries and creation of new ones. When industrialization is effected accordingly, there will be less primitive money to steal by those in government and their cronies. This is the logic we have been arguing for a long time now. This country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder if corruption is not killed.
We also want to note that the judicial frustration of anti-corruption cases must be addressed by the Buhari government if there is any seriousness. The office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice needs to be separated and overhauled especially as its strategic hold on the outcome of the anti-corruption war is highly significant. The power of that office portends a great danger for the survival of our democracy.
Finally, we call on the President to start rejigging this non-performing cabinet. The combined ministries of Works, Housing, and Power has been lukewarm and helps vigorously as leakage for corruption especially as the combined ministry has gotten the largest chunks in budgetary allocations since the inception in 2015. Government needs express qualitative functionality in a way that keeps development in the front burner. Performance helps to keep corruption at a low pace. It is trite to emphasise that the refusal or inaction in executing the planned dualisation of Lagos-Ibadan express way, Ojo-Badagry, Onitsha East road and rehabilitation of many roads that are in state of total dis-repair becoming death traps is an indictment of this unwieldy three-star ministry.
We thank you once again for your prompt attendance.
“ A House Divided Against Itself Can Never Stand ”
In less than a month, there are several reports of incidences of inter-agencies clashes especially between officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Securities (DSS) in a manner lacking all the paraphernalia of civil governance guarded by entrenched decorum, protocols, rules and patriotic responsibilities.
In a brazen display of national disgrace and embarrassment, the EFCC and DSS flexed muscles in gangsteric style when the anti-corruption agency wanted to arrest a former Director General of DSS, Ekpenyong Ita, and the same fiasco was displayed at the residence of the former Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke. The operatives of the two security bodies lay armed siege against each others, brandishing sophisticated weapons, taking pictures like yoyo kids for hours.
This act in itself is not only condemnable but it is symptomatic of a larger ailment afflicting our nation. Nigeria is held at captive in a permanent siege by the bankrupt and degenerate ruling class who do not respect the constitution and the citizens aspirations better life and socio-economic advancement in the same way the DSS and EFCC are pursuing a grand design to stalemate President Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption campaigns. More importantly, the security forces in the country are not suffering from bringing forward the military mentality during the military absolute despoliation of governance in the country but act according to their conception. The security force in Nigeria were established by colonial dispensation as “ Forces of Occupation”, decades after, we are yet to purge these bodies from these idiosyncrasies and civilinised, constitutionalised and democratized their operations.
It is a trite fact that the EFCC and DSS are creation of laws and should be accordingly guarded without this menace of inter-agency clashes. The EFCC, like its sister organizations Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), was established by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and deriving further legal sinew from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), African Union Convention on Preventing and combating Corruption, ECOWAS Protocol on Corruption, UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The DSS on the other hand, though as an intelligence organization, there are various enactments, Instruments and protocols given it powers and regulating its operations, mechanism and jurisdictional demarcation.
Thus under normal and abnormal circumstances, there should not be any valid reasons for the two agencies to have jurisdictional clashes. These agencies are supposed to work together, their operations are meant to be complementary not contentious and antagonistic. We are clear that there breaches by the parties leading to this clashes which must be quickly probed by the Presidency and stopped immediately.
CACOL calls on Mr. President to urgently call the pointsmen of the two organizations to order before the tear eachothers’ jugular and shred into dirty pieces this administration’s commitment to prosecute without resting the campaigns to eliminate corruption from our national psyche and menu.