President Muhammadu Buhari launched a war against corruption after he assumed power on May 29, 2015 as part of his efforts to clean up Nigeria’s public sector and restore confidence & sanity to governance.
The anti-corruption campaign saw the uncovering of unprecedented levels of graft in government, the most notorious being the $2.2billion looted arms funds and other corruption schemes in the oil and gas sector.
During the course of the past year, security agents have quizzed former government officials, security chiefs and senior politicians amongst others, all in a bid to identify all parties involved in graft and recover stolen funds.
These efforts, which were led chiefly by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), have led to the recovery of monies totalling N126,563,481,095.43 (One hundred and twenty six billion, five hundred and sixty three million, four hundred and eighty one thousand, and ninety five Naira, forty three Kobo; $9,090,243,920.15 (Nine billion, ninety million, two hundred and forty three thousand, nine hundred and twenty Dollars, fifteen cents; 2,484,447.55 Pounds Sterling (Two million, four hundred and eighty four thousand, four hundred and forty seven Pounds, fifty five Pence) and 303,399.17 Euros (Three hundred and three thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine Euros, 17 cents ).
The quantum of recoveries made in the last one year shows that there has never been so much corrupt dealings in Nigeria like this before. Nigerians and international observers were alarmed by the sum of money involved. Public funds were used to sponsor political campaigns and used to“rehabilitate” some broke members. Monies meant for acquisition of munitions to enhance the war against terror were also diverted and paid to politicians for “spiritual” purposes I.e for them to organise prayer sessions. Imagine that.
The war against corruption went after these individuals and companies that were used to steal from Nigeria’s common wealth.
However, barely a year after the war against graft began, corruption is beginning to fight back. Powerful men around the president, who appear to have been compromised, are beginning to scheme against some men who have been in the forefront of the fight against graft. A recent news report by an online media revealed that a senior staff of the president has been making efforts to shield a certain oil and gas tycoon from being prosecuted by the EFCC.
Having failed to secure the support of the fearless EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu and the no-nonsense National Security Adviser (NSA) Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.), the senior staff has teamed up with one of the Security chiefs and a flamboyant newspaper publisher to launch a campaign of calumny in a bid to kick out the EFCC boss and the NSA who, like the president, insist that everyone who has stolen public money must payback and face justice.
Magu and Monguno’s refusal to “play ball” continues to irk the senior presidential staff and a security chief who have vowed to ensure the replacement of the two adamant officials. It was reported the letter of nominating Magu for appointment was purposely delayed from getting to the Senate for confirmation because the senior presidential staff was uncomfortable with the new EFCC chief due to his “disloyalty” and hardline stand on corruption.
On his own part, the security chief that has been in connivance to with the presidential staff has been become uncomfortable with Magu because the EFCC boss has consistently questioned his agency’s actions of constantly usurping the anti-graft agency’s role by launching raids into the homes and other property owned by some of the former public officials currently being investigated for corruption.
There are reports that the agency has reportedly raided up to 30 homes and facilities owned by former government officials, yet it only delivered N47million and $1.943million to the huge sums so far recovered as announced by the information minister recently. This is apart from the fact that some of the foreign currency delivered were found to be fake.
The Buhari administration has so far been doing a fair job in tackling corruption despite the many legal, diplomatic, administrative and human obstacles that continue to undermine the pace of progress. The opposition has also been busy with all sorts of campaign of calumny to discredit the on-going war against graft.
It is however, very disheartening that despite the obstacles that are beyond the control of the government, some fifth columnists within the administration will also hatch a scheme to undermine one of the cardinal principles that define both the president and his administration.
In 1985, some “trusted” officers within the military government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari betrayed their boss by engaging in quite a number of infamous dealings under the table that undermined the integrity of his administration. When they realized that he was going to bring them down, they overthrew and jailed him. Three decades after, Buhari is back as the country’s leader, doing what he knows how to do best – fight indiscipline and corruption. However, like déjà vu, some trusted men within his inner chambers are scheming to undermine his agenda. We hope he gets them out of the way this time around, before they bring him down.
Lawal writes from Wuse II, Abuja.