President Muhammadu Buhari's Anti-Corruption Sham In Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party have no plans on how to rescue Nigeria from its economic malaise. Since they came into power in May of 2015, they have gradually reneged for on all the promises they made to Nigerians and have used the anti-corruption crusade as a way of distracting Nigerians from the serious problems that the country is facing. Fighting corruption is a noble and courageous act in a country like Nigeria where it has eaten deep into its fiber. As far back as 1984, the esteem Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe had written in his book, The Trouble With Nigeria that, “Keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping a goat from eating yam.” I dare to say that, corruption is far worse today than it was in the 1980s. Today, it has become institutionalized and cuts across the socio-political, economic and even religious sectors of the country. Prophecies and healings are backed by money (that is for another article).
The problem with Buhari’s anti-corruption tactics is that they are not sincere. When Nigerians who were fed up with the impunity of the former government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) went out to vote for Buhari because they believed he would clean up the system, I was skeptical then and I am now that he has the will power to fight corruption. It is impossible to advance yourself as an anti-corruption crusader when the major benefactors of your campaign are among the most corrupt Nigerians. After his election, Buhari gave voice to these people by appointing them to his cabinet and other governmental parastatals. Their anti-corruption agenda has been reduced to a witchhunt of the members of the opposition party, PDP. About nine months after Buhari was sworn in as President of Nigeria, no member of the APC has been arrested or prosecuted. Yet, a substantial number of the members of the ruling APC were formerly members of PDP who enriched themselves from the government coffers during the sixteen years that PDP ruled Nigeria.
During the electioneering campaign, I had raised the issue of Buhari’s sponsors with a friend who is his ardent supporter. He assured me that Buhari needed the money in order to be elected and that once Buhari gets into power, he was going to turn against these individuals. That has not been the case. Rather, they have been rewarded. If Buhari needs his war against corruption to be taken seriously, he needs to first clean up his own house, the All Peoples Congress. History tells us that it is possible to do this. In 1990, Kim Young-Sam the opposition leader of South Korea merged his Democratic Reunification Party with the ruling and corrupt Democratic Justice Party to form the Democratic Liberal Party. Running under the platform of this new party, he won the presidency in the 1992 elections. He served for only one term and used that opportunity to clean up corruption in South Korea. He arrested his two predecessors, Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1988). Roh was sentenced to seventeen years in prison and Chun was sentenced to life in prison. Kim Young-Sam’s anticorruption crusade did not spare his own son. In 1997, Kim Hyon Chol, his son known as the “Crown Prince” was indicted for bribery and tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison. That is what a transparent and sincere anti-corruption agenda should like. South Korea, like Nigeria had just gone through several years of military dictatorships and former dictators turning elected presidents.
When is Buhari’s government turning its anti-corruption searchlight on members of the All Peoples Congress? Until then, he needs to stop distracting Nigerians with his anti-corruption war and focus on the economy that is falling apart under the weight of his ineptitude.
Atietiang is .an author, teacher, and development historian. This piece was published in Huffington Post.