There is need to review the strategies while the investigative capacity of the anti-corruption agencies should be sharpened
Since assuming office on May 29 last year, President Muhammadu Buhari has not minced words about his commitment to the fight against corruption. He has seized every opportunity to reiterate his disapproval of the ills that bedevil the nation while warning officials working in his government that he would not tolerate corruption in any form. The president has lived up to his words thus far. But it is also evident that what we are dealing with is a hydra-headed monster that will not easily go away.
Corruption has not only eaten deep into the fabric of the society, it is also of such magnitude that even the very existence of our nation is now mortally threatened. Hardly a day goes by without revelations of monies earmarked for building infrastructure necessary for boosting the national economy that were diverted to personal use by some government officials.
Therefore, in the face of the real danger that corruption poses to our country, every citizen must stand with President Buhari to fight it to a standstill. But the citizens’ cooperation and buy in cannot be taken for granted. For the people to give the support required to fight and win this war, they must see concrete evidence of a sincere pursuit of the cause.
After all, they have been invited by every past administration to join in the fight against sleaze only for the citizens to find out that each government has been worse than its predecessor! That is why President Buhari’s efforts must be different to inspire the people’s hope and support.
Unfortunately, however, there are worrying indications that this administration is not about to depart from the path of its predecessors as it has adopted the same template that took us nowhere in the past – a spate of arrests, arraignments, bails and sloppy trials that eventually fade into oblivion.
That was our experience in the past and nothing seems to have changed. More worrying is the administration’s penchant for making generalised statements and breathtaking allegations of corruption without giving specific examples of those involved or provide any credible evidence.
This approach tends to justify the allegation that the administration’s war against corruption is mere propaganda and a strategy for diverting attention from the prevailing economic hardship that the nation and its citizens are going through.
This may well not be so. But to prove critics wrong, the federal government needs to do more than it is doing. It needs to depart from the past and formulate new strategies that will put in place a system for the fight against corruption. Clearly, the tools have to either change or be completely overhauled.
President Buhari has adopted the existing structure put in place by President Olusegun Obasanjo some 14 years ago. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have been the arrowheads of this war, with the former being more active in the battlefield.
But in between the two, convictions of corruption suspects have been too insignificant to act as deterrent. In fact, many of the high-profile cases have been stuck in court for upwards of 10 years and more with no hope that the suspected looters of our common patrimony would be brought to book. This situation of impunity makes light of the desire to rid our society of corruption.
The Buhari administration, therefore, must do a thorough review of the current structures and strategy and plug the gaping holes that have for years made the war against graft not as effective as it should be.
Certainly, the investigative capacity of the anti-corruption agencies needs to be improved upon through training and regular retraining. And of course, there is a big need for judicial reforms that will ensure speedy dispensation of justice.