Opinion: How Buhari Can Fight Corruption

Editor’s note: In an open letter to President
Muhammadu Buhari, Naij.com’s guest
author, Tokunbo Tometi, names possible
approaches to fighting corruption, stating
that the leader needs to do more to achieve
success in his war against the menace, as
well as against Boko Haram.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Shortly after his inauguration as president
of Nigeria, Buhari visited the United States at
the invitation of President Barrack Obama.
Both leaders discussed important bilateral
issues where America promised to assist
Nigeria tackle Boko Haram, help to locate the
foreign bank accounts of corrupt Nigerians
and also to put in motion the mechanics of
recovery or repatriation of these stolen
funds.
Obama acknowledged Nigeria as an
important African ally and the greatest
market for US exports on the African
continent.
Buhari’s effort so far
At the meeting in Washington, President
Obama handed over the list of Nigerians
who daily and illegally lift Nigeria’s crude oil.
It is estimated that the country has lost over
$500m in this oil-swap fraud. In his planned
war against systemic corruption, President
Buhari vowed to publish the list for the
information of all Nigerians.
In a similar vein, Buhari dissolved the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
(NNPC) board and set up a committee under
the supervision of his vice, to investigate
corruption allegations against previous
government ministers and report back for
further action.
The president also hinted that corruption
and human rights abuses made against the
military top brass by the Amnesty
International will be investigated, even
though some of our local human rights
activists have rejected the charges as
baseless and mischievous.
What the president should focus on
Another area of concern is for the Buhari
govt to focus attention on strengthening the
antigraft agencies e.g the EFCC and ICPC.
These bodies are performing almost similar
functions and, ipso facto, they should be
merged into one and their job description
restructured in line with the rule of law.
The body must be able to deal speedily with
their investigation and prosecution of these
public officers found to have corruptly
enriched themselves at the expense.
Also important is probing the activities of
past administration in order to recover all
missing funds. It is a welcome idea that
Buhari intends to probe past rulers but it
must NOT be selective. He should start from
1960 to date.
There is no way any meaningful probe could
be carried out if it is selective/sectional. Not
just Jonathan’s regime alone, otherwise
Nigerians and the whole world would see it
as a witch hunt to destroy a particular govt
and leave the others untouched, as the
present economic predicament of Nigeria
started right from independence. It should
be all embracing if justice is to be done.
On assumption of office, Buhari announced
a 50% cut in his salary as well as that of the
vice president. As a model, this action is
commendable but not enough or far-
reaching. The president is the leader of the
ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and
he must be able to convince the National
Assembly of the judiciary to do the same.
How lawmakers keep ‘stealing’ from the
nation’s purse
The National Assembly is most
reprehensible, no one in Nigeria knows the
income of a National Assembly member.
They fix their own salary and other
incidental perquisites and lib and everything
is confidential.
These people are the lawmakers and
custodians of transparence and
accountability. They monitor govt, budgets,
etc who monitors their own spending? The
Executive, of which the president is the
Head, should do something about it.
The immunity enjoyed by privileged public
servants should not be a licence to peculate
public funds. If Buhari turns a ‘blind eye’, the
change his govt is peddling will be
meaningless as this evil will continue to stifle
the progress and economic advancement of
Nigeria.
Finally, the new administration, with the
active collaboration and synergy of the
National Assembly and the judiciary, should
initiate the review of the entire penal system
and activate dormant laws with functional
ones to regulate and modulate the official
conduct of public servants including all
politicians.
Tokunbo Tometi is an Ibadan-based social
and political commentator.
The views and opinions expressed here are
those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the official policy or position of
Naij.com.

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