The signs are all over Abuja, the nation’s capital!
Showrooms stocked with exotic cars — some worth $250,00 apiece — without buyers. Palatial Beverly Hills-style houses, villas and condominiums — some worth $2 million each — without buyers or occupants. Open spaces at the hangar of Abuja International Airport due to the dwindling numbers of private jets – some worth $45 million apiece. Frustrated and desperate-looking and stern-faced super-senior government officials unable or unwilling to stage the Jonathan-era heist of public funds because of blocked loopholes or for fear of being caught.
These are signs of the times and palpable evidence of the impact of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption.
The truth is that the Buhari Administration has squeezed the flow of public funds and blocked avenues of theft of our common wealth to the chagrin of real and intending looters and their beneficiaries, both in the public and private sectors.
Things are no longer the way they were.
Who but Buhari, a retired General, a former Petroleum Minister and a former Head of State with an insight into the workings of government and the military, could have pinpointed the lacunas and even taken on the military establishment, where stealing is usually done through inflation of procurement contract values and creation of “phantom” defence contracts.
Thanks to Buhari’s anti-corruption effort:
- $2.9 billion has been successfully traced and recovered from looters by the EFCC since the inauguration of the present administration on May 2015
- $151million and N8 billion in looted funds have been recovered from just three sources as a direct result of the introduction of the whistle blower policy
- At least $43 million and 56 houses have been recovered from just one person, Diezani Allison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, through methods that include non-conviction based forfeiture
- N3 trillion, almost half of the estimated revenue in the 2018 budget, has accrued to Government with the enforcement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy
- N108 billion in maintenance fees payable to banks pre-TSA has been eliminated, and monthly savings of N24.7 billion are made with the diligent enforcement of the TSA policy
- N120 billion in cumulative savings have been recorded with the elimination of thousands of ghost workers through the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System
- We know about the suspected diversion of $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase by officials of the immediate-past administration, and that at least 70 suspects connected to the deal are being investigated
- Specifically, we now know, for example, how former Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Adesola Amosu Nunayon (Rtd) and two other Air Force Generals, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga and seven Limited Liability Companies connived in stealing N49.2 billion from the Nigerian Air force
- We also now know that a whooping sum of N1.4 billion security votes was spent on “prayers for the nation” following a directive from the Office of the National Security Adviser in the Jonathan Administration
We now know more !
Only recently, the President sacked Nigeria’s most senior civil servant, Babachir Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, after an investigation into graft allegations. Lawal, one of Buhari’s first appointments, is the highest profile casualty of the anti-corruption crusade. His ouster is a sign that Buhari can and will move against politicians irrespective of party affiliation.
The Nigerian Expression acknowledges and commends Government’s determination, in spite of recent setbacks in the prosecution of high profile corruption cases, to pursue and prosecute all the 1,124 corruption cases recently forwarded to the National Judicial Council for speedy trial in the proposed special corruption courts.
We therefore appeal, once again, to the national Assembly to expedite the passage of the various anti-corruption bills pending before it. For his part, the President should remain focused on the anti-graft war and never succumb to blackmail if he is to leave a legacy in black and white. The war against corruption is alive and well. Nigeria and friends of Nigeria are on his side.
However, no matter his tenacity of purpose and devotion to doggedly fighting corruption, it is obvious that the President cannot do it alone. His appointees, including Ministers and heads of agencies and departments, must demonstrate the same passion. Ditto Governors and wielders of power at state and local government levels. Citizens must rally and hold their representatives accountable.