Managing the war on corruption
FOR Rev. Chris Okotie, Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH’s Chairman, 2015 began with the triumph of peace over a looming chaos during the heady days of the general elections, when he took his peace campaign to all media platforms, admonishing patriotism and restraint among the political gladiators. But months after, the dust is yet to fully settle as the policy is still recoiling from the aftershock of the reality and ongoing corruption war.
2015’s first political blood was drawn when principal officers of the two arms of the 8th Assembly were elected; riling APC’s hierarchy and causing ripples in political circles. Typical of the House, a carefully plotted political coupled to the emergence of officers, like that of a member of the minority, PDP’s Sen. Emeka Ihedioha, as the Deputy Senate President; the first in Nigeria’s history, and the charges of alteration of house rules, seems like something out of the political script we witnessed over the last 16 years.
But, the biggest news yet are the strides being made in the corruption battle which has so far, seen former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Maduekwe and current Senate President, Bukola Saraki, amongst others, facing tough times as they battle to clear their names from the muddle of corruption charges and falsification in asset declaration.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s long awaited list of ministerial nominees was submitted to the Senate and contrary to the furore which was expected to ensue at the screening, most of them scaled through easily. Skeptics should now allow government face governance squarely.
But, though the public may not be too bothered with these political intrigues, it doesn’t help in sustaining the aspirations for change which the electorate hopes for if the battle is restricted to the federal tier of government. Financial records of state and local government leaderships, across the party spectrum, also need to be examined for any misappropriation of funds.
But, government must not dissipate all its energy in prosecuting protracted corruption battles which will expectedly meet with numerous bottlenecks at the courts, so, against the backdrop of the nation’s dismal finances, discontent, rising unemployment, low minimum wage and unpaid salaries, government needs to exigent initiate serious economic and developmental programmes to shore up the ailing economy.
To disperse of the ominous dark clouds of political and economic uncertainty, the injection of economic lifeline and measures which will harness the vast human capital and natural resources the nation is endowed with, an urgent diversification of the economy and a wider spread of the economic dragnet for trade and development partners needs to be pursued vigorously.
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who President Buhari visited recently, is reportedly planning to invest $50 billion of China’s 14 figure dollar reserve, in the British economy. These kinds of quantum investment and vast injection of block funds for capital projects are what the nation needs to jumpstart its economic recovery, and positively change the nation’s floundering fortunes.
Poverty, though common to all nations, is ravaging Nigerians. About 120 million Nigerians belong to half of the world’s approximately seven billion population reported to be living below the poverty line. This is one alarming demographic which President Buhari needs to deal with expeditiously.
Like Rev. Okotie has repeatedly canvassed, looting of the public treasury and indecorous politicking by political jobbers that set the nation on a heated course, hoping to reap benefits in the breakdown of law and order will succeed if government does not learn from the mistakes of its predecessors and ensure that its appointees do not ransack the treasury.
The challenges before President Buhari are all well known: corruption and cronyism, infrastructure deficit, high unemployment, poorly trained manpower, lack of stable power supply, street crime, Boko Haram, labour unrest, militancy, kidnapping, unprofessional and partisan security officers, oil theft and the fuel subsidy question. Also, restructuring of our unprofessional civil service – the bastion of corruption and inefficiency, which has always been the ally of corrupt politicians, is long overdue.
These challenges hang around the neck of the nation like a millstone, and the old baggage of political infighting should not be added to that list, as it always steers leadership away from even the most meagre strides of development. For the opposition, baiting government with problems aimed at making their tenure a walk in a minefield will not augur well for the nation. This unpatriotic path of treason is counter-productive.
Rev. Okotie’s persistent campaign for a new paradigm of governance across the board means leaders must put their boots on the ground if the next four years will not be another futile experience for Nigerians. To restore the confidence of a new socio-political dawn, President Buhari must continuously reassure the body-politick of his credibility by remaining imaginative, focused and undeterred, despite ploys and an endless rain of accusations that will stalk every step his government takes.
Delay in justice delivery and economic resuscitation could fuel disenchantment, so, the burden is on him to prove his mettle: He must put on his thinking cap because Nigerians cannot be subjected to more politically induced hardships. He should not proffer the excuse of an empty coffer as a reason for an inability to perform.
The Institute for Statistics (U.I.S); an arm of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), once faulted the unreliable data upon which to predicate the nation’s development. To be co-labourers in an all inclusive, term development focused government to chart the course of change, Nigerians must be in the know of the facts of policy directions and the economy, and not be bamboozled with conflicting or trumped-up reports that cannot be substantiated by the evidence on ground.
The true turning point will come when the sitting government can present its report card, and the general public can testify that there have been obvious and significant improvements in their quality of life index, and when the huge budgetary allocations expended annually can be seen as having translated into veritable, strong and enduring governance service delivery. Initiating sound economic plans and championing fiscal discipline are a major step towards achieving this, so is managing the war, which is of utmost importance.
• Akhigbe, former gubernatorial aspirant under FRESH Party, Edo State, wrote from Benin.