“UNITED AGAINST CORRUPTION FOR DEVELOPMENT, PEACE AND SECURITY”
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.
Executive Chairman, CACOL
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