Transparency International (TI), otherwise known as the global Financial Watch dog has beamed its searchlight on Nigeria with an emphatic charge to President Muhammadu Buhari to stamp out corruption, which has become so endemic and systemic in the country that the perception rating of’’ Nigeria on account of corrupt practices is too endemic to be ignored or swept under the carpet.’’
TI which was reacting to fresh revelations contained in the Global Financial Integrity Report which estimated recently that Nigeria lost well over 150billion dollars in the last ten years to corruption and corrupt practices, warned that unless’’ the new government tackles systemic impunity and corruption and prosecute those found to be corrupt just as those stolen funds are recovered, the signs ahead are very bad for the country.’’
Speaking exclusively with The New Diplomat from Germany, the Regional Director of transparency International in charge of West Africa, Mr Samuel Kaninba called on President Buhari to remember that the idea and commitment to fight Corruption featured prominently in his elections campaigns and that is one of the basis on which the citizens of Nigeria gave him their mandate and that it would be very well be politically wise for him to take urgent steps to address the challenges of corruption in the country. According to Kaninba, there are certain urgent, logical and empirical steps which Buhari need to undertake in the light of his electioneering promises to assure the global community and citizens of Nigeria that he is very well on course.
The Transparency Chief identified these steps as including’’ full scale accounting and investigation of Oil Revenues, especially the 20billion dollars, which the former CBN Governor said was missing because such grave matters cannot be swept under the carpet, implementation of access to information to enable the citizens, the media and civil society help track corruption and corrupt people, prosecution of persons , no matter how highly placed, found to be corrupt, repatriation of stolen and illegal monies by former Head of state late Gen Sani Abacha, strengthening and empowering anti-graft institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC) and radically tackling allegations of endemic corrupt practices in bodies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC),
He said: ‘’ As is well known to citizens of Nigeria, the need to fight corruption featured very highly in President Buhari’s campaigns. That is one of the key reasons that Nigerians sought and voted for him and that issue needs to be addressed. And it is on the basis of this that we feel that there are certain things that he(Buhari) could do and we listed them as those matters that he should deal with to demonstrate that Nigeria is truly on the right path. One is that there should be full accountability for the Oil revenues especially there should be full investigation into the allegation of 20billion dollars that the former Central bank Governor insist is missing. That is not just a negligible amount that should be swept under the carpet. The second issue is that the citizens should be made to have full access to information. Access to information should be implemented by the new president. That would help greatly in ensuring that citizens, the media and Civil Society Groups are able to track information relating to corruption. Systemic impunity are issues of concern in Nigeria as well and they need to be dealt with. There is need to prosecute people who are found corrupt and that will help greatly in taming the syndrome of impunity. We also believe that for a start, those stolen monies and assets by late former Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha should be repatriated back to Nigeria. Institutions like the one dealing with the Oil Producing Areas(NDDC) in the country should be thoroughly investigated and those found corrupt or engaged in corrupt practices be prosecuted.’’
He added: ‘’ We also believe very strongly that public institutions with mandate to address issues of corruption such as the EFCC should be strengthened and properly catered for in terms of budgeting and human manpower and resource, to tackle corruption and carry out its functions. Their work should not be interfered with politically. The military is another area to look into. That is the Defence sector. In our reckoning, the Nigerian Military scored very low on corruption issues…We are of the view that if these are dealt with as starting points, then the administration we believe would go a long way. Because when you are the largest economy and yet the people are suffering, it is truly a failure of governance, which is systemic and there is need to move forward.’’
It would be recalled that President Buhari had campaigned vigorously, using the slogan of anti-corruption as a platform to win citizens support base across Nigeria. Shortly after his inauguration on May 29, Transparency International had sent the President a list of items to deal with. Top on the agenda is the need to stamp out corruption from our national life. According to TI, this charge has become more imperative in the light of fresh revelations by the Global Financial Integrity Report estimates that Nigeria has been losing well over !50billion dollars in the last ten years to corruption.