Now That Tinubu Has Confirmed His Anti-graft War Isn’t A Hoax…( Crude oil collateral, other public funds trials,  By Gidado Ibrahim

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Corruption is an insidious scourge. It is an anti-social attitude awarding improper privileges contrary to legal and moral norms, and impairs the authorities’ capacity to secure the welfare of all citizens. The effect of the corruption menace on the economic prospects of Nigeria is huge. Clearly, Nigeria is positioned to lead the rest of Africa to glory, and serve as a source of pride for the black race. 


But corruption has stagnated these expectations and reduced the most populous country in Africa to a clayfeet giant. Corruption runs through every level of the Nigerian government. From considerable contract fraud at the top, petty bribery, money laundering schemes, embezzlement to seizing salaries from fake workers, it is estimated that corruption within the state apparatus costs the country billions of dollars annually.


However, President Bola Tinubu’s May 2023 inauguration was marked by bold promises of zero tolerance for corruption. Cynics had dismissed them as mere rhetoric, echoing Nigerians’ past disappointments with unfulfilled anti-graft pledges. But Tinubu’s government has demonstrated a different approach, one governed by reward and consequence. Appointees who deliver are supported, while those who falter face repercussions. This renewed anti-graft zeal has sparked cautious optimism among Nigerians.


The president had launched National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NAC) focused on five pillars which serve as the driving force for both the public and private sectors: prevention of corruption, public engagement, campaign for ethical re-orientation, enforcement and sanction, as well as recovery and management of proceeds of crime.


To ensure effective deliverables, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of Justice has been charged with critical performance indicators which will ensure percentage implementation of the NACS and the coordination of mechanisms involved in the anti-corruption efforts. To this end, a performance bond was signed by the Attorney General and minister of Justice, Lattef Fagbemi (SAN), on November 3, 2023.


By all standards, the renewed zest of anti-graft war under the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Tinubu administration is a confirmation of the famous pledge by the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, during the Independence Thanksgiving Service at the National Ecumenical Christian Centre, Abuja.


She declared: “Nigeria’s wealth is the commonwealth of all, it belongs to everyone. God has blessed my family; we don’t need the wealth of Nigeria to survive but to do the right thing and I promise you that with your help, and with the help of God, we will set this nation on the right path.”


A defining moment came with EFCC’s raid on Dangote Headquarters and other prominent firms, investigating the use of foreign exchange allocated for industrialization. This signaled a shift away from business as usual, suggesting Tinubu’s intent to tackle the stranglehold of the “one percent class” who have historically misused resources meant for development.


When I learnt that the Ola Olukoyede-led EFCC raided the Dangote Headquarters and other bigwigs’ firms to interrogate the utilisation of foreign exchange allocated by the Central Bank of Nigeria for industrialisation, I knew that it was no longer business as usual. It is becoming evident that Tinubu is on a mission to “bail Nigeria out” from the economic stranglehold of one percent ‘Class of Deep Pockets’ whom over the decades, mangled the petro-dollars allocated to them for industrial development, hence failed to lift millions out of poverty.


It is heart-wrenching that one percent class had been feeding fat on the sordid-forex market. Tinubu’s courage must be commended for committing the ageless thesis of class suicide, albeit, because the president himself can be classified as a member of the upper class.


Needless to reiterate that corruption strives against government business arrangements and family loyalties dominate governmental appointments paving the way for politicians, officials, and their business associates, who together make up the ruling elite, to ensure that they all become wealthy through behind-the-scene agreements and the awarding of profitable contracts to favoured supporters.


The swift manner with which the president suspended the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, over scandalous transfer of N585.2 million into a private bank account smarks of a leader on a mission to recalibrate Nigeria’s anti-graft trajectory.


President Tinubu has also given marching orders to the EFCC for thorough investigation, with the aim of prosecuting the culprits. Most heart-warming is the fact that this development is coming few weeks after an investigative panel report on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was submitted to the president.


Now that it is has become obvious that his anti-graft crusade is not a hoax afteral, Tinubu should mandate the anti-graft agencies not to ignore calls by civil society organisations to investigate some past and present government official over some social intervention programmes like the N60billion funds meant to procure cell phones former farmers by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2013.


Other fraudulent social intervention programmes and projects by past administration that need to be revisited for investigation include the $16billion meant for power project; $500million for cassava bread; $443million for CCTV cameras in the FCT; $2.2billion arms deal funds, and N100billion for cooking stoves, among others.


For instance, the Human and Environmental Agenda Resource Centre has called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to conduct a thorough investigation into the tenure of the former Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over several allegations of corruption and abuse of office against him.


Needless to buttress that the immediate past minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, is facing EFCC grilling over N37 billion fraud allegations. What this shows is that there’s no sacred cow under the Tinubu administration.


The swift suspension of the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, over a N585.2 million scandal, followed by an EFCC investigation, further underscores Tinubu’s resolve. This action, coming shortly after an investigative panel report on the CBN, demonstrates a commitment to tackling corruption regardless of position or past promises.


While some initiatives show promise, challenges remain. Critics have raised concerns about potential political motivations behind certain investigations, highlighting the need for transparency and fairness. Weak whistleblower protection and judicial system bottlenecks pose further obstacles.


When Tinubu drew the red lines upon assumption of office on May 29, 2023, for official corruption not too many Nigerians gave him a chance. In fact, cynics dismissed his brags with a wave of hand, saying, “Na today”, to borrow a popular slang from the Nigerian local parlance. Conversely, it will be unfair to blame Nigerians, who carpeted the president’s avowed fight against corruption, because of the serial broken promises of successive Nigerian governments to fight the cancer called corruption to the barest minimum.


To the utter disappointment of naysayers and cynics, Tinubu’s government has proven that its style of administration is governed by reward and punishment. Appointees who do well are given more support to deliver even more but those who slack will be booted out. So far, the Anti-graft is receiving a new lifeline. I can safely posit that President Tinubu’s anti-graft war is “Hope Renewal” and taking sides with the Nigerian masses.

The success of Nigeria’s anti-graft war will depend on sustained political will, robust institutional reforms, and active citizen engagement. Only by dismantling the deep-rooted web of corruption, ensuring fair investigations and prosecutions, and fostering public participation can Nigeria truly turn hope into lasting progress.


There are still other agencies that Nigerians would be more comfortable to see the president ordering a thorough investigation on their activities. The anti-graft agencies should quickly revisit the manner in which funds released for the sugar infrastructures development was utilised. If utilized effectively, the funds would have enhanced sugar refining and put an end to importation sugar.


President Tinubu should also review the crude oil collateral loan. If collateral is “security pledged for the payment of a loan,” then there is a big question mark over the 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude oil allocation ceded as the collateral. Nigerians are eagerly waiting to hear about outcome of investigations of those who looted public funds and their open trial just as it is done in the United States of America where Fonald Trump and President Joe Biden trials are open for the benefit of that country.


While it’s still too early to definitively assess the success of President Tinubu’s anti-graft efforts, there are promising signs. The NACS provides a comprehensive framework, and the increased focus on transparency and accountability is commendable. However, addressing concerns about selectivity, strengthening whistleblower protection, and reforming the judicial system are crucial for long-term success.


Ultimately, the effectiveness of Nigeria’s anti-graft fight will depend on sustained political will, robust institutional reforms, and active citizen engagement. Only by tackling corruption at its roots can Nigeria hope to achieve sustainable development and prosperity for all its citizens.

It’s important to note that the fight against corruption is a complex and long-term endeavour. While President Tinubu’s efforts show promise, sustained commitment and a multifaceted approach are essential for lasting success. Nigerians must remain vigilant, demand accountability, and actively participate in holding their leaders to the highest ethical standards.


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