Buhari’s tough stance against graft


It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari is making good his promise to check the enormity of the corruption that permeates our national life with a comprehensive probe of the activities of the leaders and officials of the previous administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerians have appropriately risen to that occasion by endorsing all the steps he has so far taken to achieve that laudable objective.
Unlike when he was the head of a military junta in mid 80’s, President Buhari is now going about investigating, with remarkable strength of mind, how Nigeria’s trillions of Naira were wasted through harmful corrupt to decide or settle the issue of prosecuting those culpable, conclusively and in accordance with the rule of law. He is leaving no stone unturned in his effort to ensure that no sacred cows are allowed to go scot-free no matter their political lineage or position in the society. Accordingly, the trial of those that have short changed the country and those that have stolen our collective patrimony is under way.
In the past there have been attempts at prosecuting persons perceived to be corrupt, but unfortunately those trials achieved little results. Very few of them were prosecuted diligently to logical conclusion while the convicted criminals were usually treated with kid’s gloves throughout the trial period. There were instances when a suspect arraigned for stealing a fowl is condemned to a five-year jail term whereas a highly placed government official was asked to pay a paltry fine in lieu of prison term of not less than a year after he was found guilty of stealing billions of Naira.
Nigerians are quite sure the Buhari administration will differ substantially from the hitherto established norm and will be quite bold and resolute in fighting corruption by putting all corrupt elements to where they rightly belong — that is behind the bars — until they are remorseful and have fully purged themselves of the spoils with which they have illegally enriched themselves. In fact it was Buhari’s anti-corruption stance that endeared him to the electorates during the elections. Their expectations are, therefore, very high and it is imperative his administration has to do whatever it can to sustain and maintain the prevailing goodwill it currently enjoys.
It can be rightfully said that in order to uphold the confidence reposed in Buhari’s administration the ongoing fight against corruption must be total. In prosecuting corrupt elements the searchlight must be beamed beyond the immediate past administration, and it was cheering the Buhari administration is extending the arms purchase probe to cover the period when late President ‘Yar’adua was in power. By that token it was hoped that similar gesture would be extended to ex-president Obasanjo’s government when the power sector comes under similar scrutiny
Within a period of six years, from 1999 to 2015 there has been monumental embezzlement among selfish and greedy few. Also, from independence in 1960 to 1999 when the military relinquished its stranglehold on the country, Nigeria reportedly lost hundreds of billions of dollars to almighty corruption. Although there are no reliable figures it was estimated that close to three billion dollars were lost in the last sixteen years under the PDP misrule. For that reason, therefore, the prosecution of corrupt officials should not be limited to political office holders alone because the system is in dire need for complete overhaul. Anybody who has illegally enriched himself must be purged of the spoils he had enjoyed and then be paid in his own coins. Nevertheless, the concerted drive against corruption will be incomplete if the Buhari administration will be merely scratching the surface by actually prosecuting corrupt individuals alone without tackling the
root causes. There are multiple reasons why corruption has been thriving throughout the ages in Nigeria. These must have their roots firmly embedded in all the social vices that bedeviled this country such as endemic poverty; prevalent unemployment, especially among the youth; favoritism, religious bigotry and ethnocentrisms. In addition to these revolting attitudes there are also avarice and acquisitiveness among the civil servants as well as perverted mentality that an opportunity to serve is a golden chance to grab and exploit the public resources.
Apart from these obnoxious forces that amplify corrupt tendencies there are also weak institutions that have further been rendered comatose, unable to fight corruption effectively, and in conjunction with pliant and complacent judicial officers, they slow down the judicial processes and hinder smooth dispensation of justice. By so doing, they unnecessarily slow the determination of corrupt cases making the guilty escape justice and the rightful suffer indescribable humiliation and loss of dignity.
Now that the government has clearly identified areas where large scale sleaze has taken place with the culprits well-known, their trials must commence in earnest so that all those involved in the cases should know their fates with minimum delays. In that vein the probes should be inclusive of other periods, conducted in retrospect by reviewing the past, especially when new information becomes available or after a particular assessment of any opportunity that presented itself.


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