EDITORIAL: Building the Critical Mass for the National Anti-Corruption Strategy

President Muhammadu Buhari with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
President Muhammadu Buhari with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

After 18 years of groping in the dark, Nigeria has finally presented a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS 2017-2021) Framework to stakeholders. This feat, occurring during a recent adoption/validation meeting in April in Abuja, is a watershed, as no administration, since 1960, has managed to place such a framework before the public, despite the seemingly bold rhetoric against corruption by successive governments.

PREMIUM TIMES congratulates the government for this landmark achievement and hopes this would now herald a commitment to greater levels of efficiency in policy and action in the war against graft. While it can be said that the Buhari administration is one of the few in the country to have come to power with a direct mandate to fight corruption, and which has shown remarkable political will to fight this scourge, yet the publication of this strategic framework to guide the fight might not necessarily be the magic wand that would make corruption disappear immediately.

As a framework, the NACS only provides a banner and set of themes that would guide the arms and tiers of government, different sectors, stakeholders, etc. in crafting their own strategic responses and concrete action plans against corruption. This is to produce coherence and synergy in a holistic effort to rid Nigeria of this menace, in line with the stated mission of the document, which is “To implement a holistic National Anti-Corruption Strategy which will provide a platform to all sectors and stakeholders in the fight to combat corruption.”

The will and strategy to fight corruption are a necessary set of preliminaries to establish, but these in themselves are not sufficient to stimulate the needed stakeholder response. Attention should now be turned towards how each group in society articulates its own fight against corruption, in consonance with the NACS and as underpinned by detailed action plans.

The NACS document is purportedly “owned” by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, and has been “validated and adopted” by key stakeholders (including representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, National Assembly, EFCC, ICPC, CCB, the government’s Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, elements of the civil society, and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, to name a few). The strategy is yet to be signed-off by the president, who is only expected to do so sometime later, at a Federal Executive Council meeting.

One question any reflective observer of the war against corruption in Nigeria would ask at this stage is: Do the leaders of the Buhari administration really believe in the vision set out in the document? Do they truly “own” this strategic vision of “a Nigeria free of corruption through preventive measures, law enforcement and the rule of law for human development”? Going by the administration’s current over-emphasis on prosecution, sanctions and enforcement, and its current obsession with the recovery of stolen funds, complete with a whistle blower policy (which some have argued might be creating perverse incentives rather than truly aiding the fight against corruption), have we put the cart before the horse?

The All Progressives Congress (APC) created a beautiful manifesto and on that platform voters engaged with the candidates, took note of the promises and by a wide margin, voted them in to replace the erstwhile incumbents. Well, not long after coming into office, it became clear that the manifesto was not really “owned” by the flagbearer of the party and some of his key advisers. Specifically, Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman denied that the key campaign document: “My Covenant with Nigerians” emanated from their campaign promise. PREMIUM TIMES fact-checked the denial and showed definitively in our report of first September 2015 that it did emanate from the APC campaign office. Given this background, PREMIUM TIMES advises the government to take steps to convince Nigerians that the NACS will not suffer a similar fate in the hands of important stakeholders, given that the effort to create it, by admission of the document, started as far back as 2009, during the Yar’Adua administration.

PREMIUM TIMES also wishes to caution that the question of “ownership” is likely to become the biggest obstacle to the effective and efficient implementation of the newly presented NACS. The Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT – comprising some 21 agencies of the Federal Government involved in curbing corruption) put together in 2009, developed this strategy to combat corruption. During the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the document and process were not adequately supported by two successive Attorneys-Generals of the Federation, whose aides managed to supplant it with versions and processes of their own (with support from an international donor programme), setting in limbo the great work that had hitherto been done by the IATT in seeking the views and inputs of a great number of stakeholder groups across the country. This, sadly, is one of the reasons the effort has taken this long to see the light of day.

PREMIUM TIMES encourages the Buhari administration to ensure that the current Attorney-General is fully supported in his effort to kick-off the process of ensuring that the coherence and synergy suggested by the NACS, is established for real progress in the war against corruption.

PREMIUM TIMES also encourages the administration to publish the definitive figures on how much has been lost to corruption, how much it has recovered so far and how much it has paid out to whistle blowers through its Whistle blower policy, in view of the purported 2.5 to 5 percent payments from recovered sums to whistle blowers. Even then, one wonders why the government has not chosen to include, similarly, that at least 20 per cent of recovered sums be ploughed into the corruption fight, especially through preventive actions. This would, at least, begin to answer questions such as: How will the action plans developed to implement the strategy be funded? How will it be resourced and driven?

The NACS suggests that achieving aligned incentives will be the key policy thrust in the fight against corruption. This should, at least, reflect in an alignment of vision and political will between the presidency, the public service and the people. PREMIUM TIMES urges the Buhari administration to consider having groups from the business community, the civil service and civil society join hands with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), in a combined effort that is coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Justice, to oversee the implementation of this strategy. An action plan with clearly articulated priorities would also be required.

According to the NACS, “Greed, fear, apathy, and ignorance exacerbate the erosion of our value system and standards. When this occurs, formal and social controls against corruption start to break down, and social tolerance for the malaise increases. This leaves many willing to stand by and watch, even admire those acting with impunity, without attempting to put an end to the misbehaviour. As people succeed in taking undue advantage of the system and sanctions prove ineffective, perverse incentives begin to grow, creating greater demand for corruption and institutionalising the rampant negative behaviour observed. Where there is no real incentive to do the right thing, combating corruption is a highly challenging endeavour. The National Strategy assumes an environment in which efforts are being made to achieve better alignment between social, private and public interests through the instrumentality of the budget, public recognition and public vigilance among others.”

PREMIUM TIMES feels that without enlisting the public into this fight against corruption, the efforts will be doomed from the get go! Proper stakeholder engagement is vital to the success of the NACS, as published. A great deal of effort has been expended by the Buhari administration in the fight against corruption. However, this is appearing more like a fight between the EFCC and everyone else. This might produce short-term results on the level of the recovery of the proceeds of crime, but destroy the longer-term strategy of aligning policy and action with a clear strategic objective. For NACS to achieve its strategic objective of achieving: “a Nigeria free of corruption through preventive measures, law enforcement and the rule of law for human development”, a much more comprehensive approach is necessary.

PREMIUM TIMES believes that without a diversity of actions in society by a multiplicity of stakeholders, the fight against corruption will fail to gain traction within society, and support for the anti-corruption effort will fail to attain a critical mass. If we do not achieve this critical mass of actors demanding an end to corruption, we would fail to develop the much-needed momentum necessary for change to occur, first, within the social norms in the Nigerian society, and then more tangibly in the behaviours exhibited by those in positions of trust.

PREMIUM TIMES calls on the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to circulate the NACS document as widely as possible, so that all stakeholders can engage with its content and start on the proverbial journey of a 1000 miles towards holistically ridding Nigeria of corruption, which begins with such step.


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  • B.sc; B.A; Msc; LL.B; LL.M,

    Premium Times Editor,

    You wrote that: “The Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT – comprising some 21 agencies of the Federal Government
    involved in curbing corruption) put together in 2009, developed this strategy to combat corruption
    ”. But then one
    should wonder what else a country must need in addition to 21 agencies to fight corruption inside government offices,
    if after the year 2009, and after all the efforts of those 21 federal agencies since the year 2009, corruption has soared rather than reduced in Nigeria.

    Stealing is the leitmotif of all governments set up since the year 1999 under the mistaken democracy in Nigeria. Today,
    treasury theft under the colour of law is as much a sport as a religion in Nigeria. Across the 36 states, no single effort
    is made at fighting corruption, as no state government has an anti-corruption agency with legal powers to investigate
    and prosecute treasury thieves. It means whatever policies enacted by the federal government of Nigeria inside Abuja
    can have no simultaneous and benign impact anywhere else in Nigeria – if federal government policies work or make
    any sense in the first place, given that stealing continues apace inside the federal government itself and up till today.

    • Concerned Nigeriana

      @B.sc; B.A; Msc; LL.B; LL.M,

      Few months ago, in January this year, another Buhari appointee,
      Osita Aboloma, who was then the Director-General of Standards
      Organization of Nigeria (S.O.N), reportedly issued authorization to certain
      importers to bring in five (5) billion Naira worth of fake or defective car
      tyres into Nigeria. A group of rogue businessmen had conspired with top
      officials of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (S.O.N) and obtained a
      genuine import permit, properly signed and sealed to import those five (5)
      billion Naira worth of defective car tyres into Nigeria. The deal went through,
      as the consignment passed through Customs because the law of Nigeria does not
      allow the Customs to intercept defective products if the products are not
      contraband.

      A whistle-blower later leaked the five billion Naira scam to the press.
      Since then all hell was let loose, as the Customs press office simultaneously
      blew the alarm that Nigeria is being stolen away by creatures President Buhari
      appointed into public office. Since we know that private profit is the usual motive
      of economic and financial crimes we do not need to ask how much bribe was paid
      by the importers. All we know is Nigeria is in all sorts of troubles under Buhari,
      since the third most senior official inside the executive branch, Babachir Lawal,
      is himself on indefinite suspension after being outed for self-awarding a corruptly
      inflated federal contract worth 250 million Naira for cutting of grass at a refugee camp
      of displaced persons, by just using cutlass in an entire manual labour.

    • Habu

      @disqus_P6H4CtCIeu:disqus

      YOU PEOPLE should talk straight, not use big English to confuse me. Is Buhari fighting corruption?
      Yes or no? That is all you are supposed to answer, not write long English. Nobody with any sense
      can say corruption has gone under Buhari. That means Buhari cannot fight corruption. Simple!
      Look at inside the prisons. Which corrupt governor or senator or Minister is inside prison.
      None – no single government official is inside prison for stealing under President Buhari.
      So what are we talking about? Buhari is too useless. It is not about his sickness here.
      Buhari is just useless. Before he was sick what did he do to really fight corruption?
      He was just targeting opponents. He was going after PDP party people only.
      So there are no thieves at all inside Buhari’s APC party in the 36 states?
      Look, call a spade a spade – Buhari is pure hypocrisy in flesh and blood.

  • George

    for Buhari without WESC paper to rule Nigeria as a country is the highest corruption.

    • Elderman

      @disqus_P6H4CtCIeu:disqus , The 8th
      Senate under a morally dissolute and highly implausible Bukola Saraki
      is nothing to write home about. It is complicit. The Senate very slyly looks
      the other way to avoid inquiring if Muhamadu Buhari is holding the office of
      president in accordance with the 1999 Constitution. Such a badly amoral
      and tacitly corrupt Senate is not worth having if it shows such readiness to
      fetter its own discretion and trample on the Constitutional clause that any
      person who presents a false certificate to INEC shall stand disqualified from
      the post he’s holding. So far, no newspaper in Nigeria has been able to see or
      publish Muhamadu Buhari’s claimed 1961 Wasc/Gce certificate. By consensus
      of self-described and empty-headed radicals in Nigeria therefore, Nigeria may
      be under illegitimate rule in a worst form of of democracy where Nigeria’s 1999
      national constitution counts for nothing.

      • Eric Olson

        @disqus_P6H4CtCIeu:disqus

        Alhaji Ahmed Saleh –
        the registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria – is a northern Muslim. He was
        found to have diverted 2.2 billion Naira. He acted in concert with two other
        northern Muslims; namely, Muhammed Abdulrahman Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal.
        They were in a confederacy of high crimes of theft.

        The three crooked men were arrested
        and charged for stealing, inter alia. But in a highly corrupt about-face
        Buhari’s attorney-general (another northern Muslim) withdrew all charges
        against the execrable troika of thieves, to go free with their 2.2billion loot. Yet, the
        Justice of the Supreme Court who was found with millions of cash under his bed,
        Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, a Southern Christian, was slammed with more charges at the
        Code of Conduct Tribunal. This is how Muhamadu Buhari destroys Nigeria with
        his rabid Islamism and brazen tribalism.

      • Alkali

        The corruption BUHARI sweeps under carpet: CENTRAL BANK audit result

        • ₦38.23billion developed legs and got missing in Central Bank under Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦160billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido at the Central Bank for self-determined spending.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken as spent by Sanusi Lamido on lunch for 12 CBN police guards
        in one year.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken in cash and entered in the account as paid to a non-operating airline
        for charter service.
        • ₦240billion was discretionally doled out at will as ‘donations’ by Sanusi Lamido.
        • ₦1.97billion was paid out in cash and entered on Central Bank accounts as “inexplicable
        expense” by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦20billion was paid out in cash as Legal Fees by Sanusi Lamido to persons unknown.
        • ₦3.086billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido and written off as expense ostensibly to promote
        Central Bank image.

        • Vivarevo2

          @disqus_37tUayk10K:disqus

          ONLY A BLOODY REVOLUTION CAN SAVE NIGERIA – NOTHING LESS THAN REVOLUTION.

  • Gary

    After all these grammar, PT can help this government kick off this new policy by directing the anti-corruption agencies to go after Zamfara Stste Governor Yari. He is a sitting APC chieftain who used the NGF to skim off money from on the Paris Club refunds to the states.
    Interestingly, no less a personality than the Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun directed the CBN, an important agency of state led by a walking Zombie who does whatever he’s told without question, to release public funds to an association of Governors that is not recognized the Constitution or statute.
    So let this administration take this up as a test of its sincerity infighting corruption even within its own ranks.

  • emmanuel

    I beg make una see Abuja Airport today, how Buhari and Fashola have messed us up. The Tarmac and some part of the run way are now River Abuja.
    Similar to most fake projects Fashola executed in Lagos.
    If you watch a video on Naij, you would hear some passengers request for canoe.
    We have been fleeced again by the APC.
    Critical mass of corrupt souls to fight kwarafshen?
    Unprofessor Sagay has gone into hidding

    • Mujaheeden 2017

      @disqus_37tUayk10K:disqus

      “A drastic problem requires a drastic solution. So what else is the panacea to corruption in Nigeria?
      We believe that it is time to adopt something unconventional; something we have never adopted before;
      something that costs government no money or effort at all; something revolutionary and mass-oriented;
      something local and scary and, above all, something in which every Nigerian has an emotional attachment.
      MURIC charges the Nigerian masses to seize their destiny with their hands by mobilising their individual
      and collective prayer power.

      Greatest Nigerian People! We must curse our oppressors three times daily. Curse them in the morning
      as you rise from bed or from under the bridge if you are homeless. Curse them under the scorching sun
      as you trek up and down on empty stomachs. Curse them before you go to bed at night. Curse them as
      you roll sleeplessly in bed. Curse them as you sweat profusely in bed when your fan is useless because
      they have stolen the money meant for electricity supply. Curse them as your vehicle crawls on bad roads
      where you spend hours instead of minutes because they stole all the money allocated to the repair of
      roads. Curse them, as you wonder why you are still jobless despite graduating years ago.”

      ……………….The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

      (May 15th, 2017)

      • Eko ti baje!

        @disqus_37tUayk10K:disqus

        After seven [7] years and eleven months of hiding and fighting tooth and nail to hide
        Lagos state public accounts, and, going to court to declare in one instance that the people
        of Lagos state are not entitled to know the total income and expenditure of the Lagos state
        government under his heinously corrupt regime, the rogue governor; Raji Fashola delivered
        a handover note to his successor, two days to his exit from office, where Raji Fashola purported
        to disclose the Lagos state accounts for the first time ever.

        But the Lagos state accounts he disclosed were all false and sexed up to conceal thefts.
        Raji Fashola said he got a total ₦2.34 trillion in all the years, throughout his 8 years tenure.
        But his Commissioner for Planning – Ben Akhabueze two months later, told the media, that in the
        the eight years of Raji Fashola no less than 400 billion Naira was got as Lagos state income every year.

        By simple arithmetic,
        it means that the total revenue of Lagos state was at least ₦3.2 trillion – and not the ₦2.34 trillion,
        Raji Fashola falsely stated. Therefore, there is a whopping sum of ₦800 billion missing in Lagos state under the rogue governor – RAJI FASHOLA – and deemed stolen; by presumption of law.