APC never wanted to tackle corruption. Its only aim was simply to also participate and put its name on the map as having also taken part in the progressive rot of Nigeria. APC lacks the capacity to fight corruption. And, there is no evidence that it will ever fight corruption because Buhari’s body language faded with his lethargy in addressing the grass cutter scandal. A lot more people, within the APC government, argue that nothing could be more corrupt than empowering persons who were neither elected nor specifically appointed to any defined office, to manage the country’s files.
Sometime in 2016, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides met with media executives in search of their support for the president’s avowed decision to fight corruption and ensure that it was eliminated from Nigeria. The interaction was frank and open. Then, one question was asked. One of the media executives present sought to know from the presidential aide how all the president’s aides were responding to his determination to deal with anyone who was caught stealing or involved in any act of corruption. The presidential aide responded glibly. He said that all of them were sitting on the edge watching what would happen to the scapegoat. He added that if nothing significant happened, corruption and stealing of public funds will revert to the status quo ante. Until that moment, he said, “we are watching”.
Not too long after that interaction, Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was busted in an alleged N500m scandal that earned him the sobriquet, ‘Grass Cutter of the Federal Republic’. According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lawal allegedly committed the offence on, or, about March 2016. However, he operated his office till he was suspended on April 19, 2017, and officially relieved of his appointment on October 30, 2017. In fact, but for public outcry, many were convinced that the President would have overlooked him, and probably not have him face prosecution, which, almost six years after, is neither here nor there. The president’s lethargy in addressing the Babachir Lawal scandal was the only signal all the rats have easy access to the pantry. By that act, the president threw the doors of the pantry open making the likes of Ahmed Idris, suspended Accountant General of the Federation, possible.
However, the APC manifesto, as published on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), created the impression that the party was adept at tackling corruption and managing Nigeria better. For instance, on its plan to tackle corruption in Nigeria, APC said: “We will create a functionally independent anti-corruption agency, with adequate and predictable funding and full prosecutorial powers and free from political interference; end immunity from prosecution for sitting politicians; reform budgetary and accounting procedures-including publishing all the meeting -minutes and service performance data on government spending over N100 million at Federal and State and N10 million in local government; and end all private jet and first-class foreign travel for government employees.”
Justifying its vision of tackling corruption, APC stated thus: “Fighting corruption is vital to our national wellbeing. Corruption significantly weakens our economy by stripping it of tens of trillions of Naira. Corruption and the officials who commit it have sabotaged our national economy. Corruption is inefficient and wasteful. Perhaps more importantly, corruption tears at the moral fiber of the nation. We must restore the ethos of hard work integrity honesty, meritocracy, and patriotism in our public sector with the right kinds of incentives and performance indicators for measuring results.”
In truth and from observable fact, the APC government has promoted these fantastic propositions rather in breach. No aspect of what APC stated in its manifesto, as captured above, has been rigorously, or, purposefully promoted. Rather, the APC government has promoted nepotism, which is a worse form of corruption, to a state agenda. Instead of promoting merit and honesty in the management of state affairs, APC created, and permitted, a situation where unelected persons, with no official state designations, and not on government nominal roll as appointees, manage and treat government files as well as attend to issues about leadership and resource allocation of the country. The only qualification which these persons have to so operate is affinity to the president.
Also, rather than allow for the independence of the anti-corruption agencies, APC firmly took control of the agencies and successfully manipulated their operations to make them more effective against opposition figures. The political party which said it will “create a functionally independent anti-corruption agency, with adequate and predictable funding and full prosecutorial powers and free from political interference”, later spoke through Adams Oshiomhole in January 2019, its National Chairman, as he then was, that “once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.” Nothing demonstrated the high disregard for due process and unmitigated impunity by the APC than the open bazaar it encouraged whereby some serving government ministers pulled out N100m each to purchase its presidential nomination forms. The APC also closed its eyes to the partisanship of the Central Bank Governor who even had the effrontery to seek legal interpretation of his rights to contest for the presidency even while still holding office as CBN governor.
The party, which said in its manifesto, that it will make the “federal and state governments publish the minutes of their meetings, service performance data and spending items over N100 million for state and federal government” encouraged corruption and impunity when it clearly refused to ask questions about the sources of the N100m some of its serving ministers, and governors threw at the party as a nomination from purchase. What more could anyone define as corruption?
The fact is this, rather than fight corruption, the APC government has rather promoted and encouraged it. It becomes obvious that the APC manifesto was merely a document that was needed by the electoral commission as the party of necessary processes to be a political party. APC never wanted to tackle corruption. Its only aim was simply to also participate and put its name on the map as having also taken part in the progressive rot of Nigeria. APC lacks the capacity to fight corruption. And, there is no evidence that it will ever fight corruption because Buhari’s body language faded with his lethargy in addressing the grass cutter scandal. A lot more people, within the APC government, argue that nothing could be more corrupt than empowering persons who were neither elected nor specifically appointed to any defined office, to manage the country’s files. Sadly, this is APC’s definition of government –one that is nepotistically driven with fraternal courtesies extended to kindred folks who corruptly manage affairs of state. Interestingly, this is the system that the party wants to sustain when it tells Nigerians that it will continue from where Buhari, who has already raised his hands in completely helpless surrender, stops.