Nigerians have learnt not to take probes initiated by the National Assembly too seriously. For one, some of the members of the National Assembly know where the bodies are buried. Some of them buried the bodies. Imagine the House of Representatives panel asking Godswill Akpabio about those billions expended by the NDDC. Akpabio is now the current Minister of the Niger Delta.
He knows the Niger Delta. He was a commissioner in Akwa Ibom State where he later served as the governor for eight straight years. Then he served as a Senator and now he is the Minister and yet some people in the National Assembly doubted his assertion that members of the National Assembly are partakers of the perpetual Christmas party in the Niger Delta. Some of those lawmakers may actually be thinking that it was possible to make Akpabio faint! I can assure you that nothing can make Akpabio faint. That trick is for the smaller boys. Akpabio knows the boys; he owns some of the boys and he knows the terrain. Fainting is not for him. He can never be accused of being faint-hearted.
It is such probes like that of the National Assembly, despite the mind-bungling revelations, that make people doubt the capacity of the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information, said on Tuesday that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is serious about its fight against corruption. He said the fact that there are revelations of corruption against top officials of the NDDC, the EFCC, the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, and others, proves that government is ready to expose corruption and fight it. He said soon government would take action once they are proven cases of corruption. He said in the past, such cases would have been swept under the carpet.
“Let me state here and now that the fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of this administration, is alive and well,” Mohammed said. “President Muhammadu Buhari, the African Union’s anti-corruption champion, who also has an impeccable reputation globally, remains the driver of the fight. Anyone who disagrees that the anti-corruption fight is alive and well is free to dare us.” Then he made a pledge: “We will not cover up for anyone, including the members of our party and government, who faces corruption allegations.”
Mohammed said in the last six years, the government has recovered N800 billion from its anti-corruption fight. It has also secured 1,400 convictions. The real mind-bungling figures were to come from Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation. Malami was quoted to have said that the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war has yielded 63.5 billion dollars within a year. This money includes more than 317 million dollars from the Abacha loots. Despite his reputation as an uncommon thief, General Sani Abacha remains a good ancestor who continues to send money to Nigerians from the grave.
It is interesting that despite all these revelations, there is a trust-deficit for the Nigerian government. People have heard so much about the fight against corruption and yet have seen little apparent action, especially against the big boys who are roaring again for the 2023 general elections and remained untouched. Many former governors have been standing trial since 2007. More than a decade later, the Nigerian judiciary has not brought most of the cases to conclusion. Many of these accused persons have been prospering under the system. Some of them are holding high government and party offices. It is good to have the statistics, but now the people need to see the action. How many former governors, ministers, senators, chairmen and directors are in those 1,400 convicted?
If it had been the Federal Government or the House of Representatives probing the allegations against Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the result may not be out until may be the next two years.
Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, was facing allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against him by some whistleblowers. Though he was cleared of these allegations following laid down rules of the bank, the United States Government insisted that it needed an independent probe. America got his probe. Adesina got his clearance. The independent panel of experts was headed by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and it gave Adesina a clean bill of health.
Adesina, a former Minister of Agriculture under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has cut for himself an international profile of probity, competence and integrity. It was all these that the whistle-blowers wanted to clear in a puff of smoke. The implication would have been grave on our country’s international image. We thank Adesina for winning this battle. Like Professor Adebayo Adedeji, who also held a similar office for two terms as the boss of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, Adesina is now poised to win another term of five years. He is now the official candidate of Africa for that office.
Adesina has done well for Africa. In five short years, he has transformed the AfDB into a true Pan-African development bank, opening offices in several African countries. He has also succeeded in raising 79 billion dollars on the international market for investment interest in Africa. Under him too, the capitalization of the bank has increased from 93 billion dollars to 208 billion dollars. For his giant stride, he has won global accolade, including bagging the prestigious Sunhak Peace Prize for global leadership in agriculture and good governance. Adesina is showing that great and outstanding things can come out of Nigeria.
Adesina’s great victory is one small comfort in this session. One thing that keeps Nigeria in the news is the high level of violence going on in our country. Last week, women in southern Kaduna State demonstrated almost naked to protest the killings in their community which they blamed on rampaging Fulani herdsmen. Governor Ahmed El-Rufai has said it would be wrong to blame the crisis on ethnic or religious differences. He said the violence was mainly the work of criminal elements. He promised to ensure justice.
El-Rufai can also borrow a leave from the Federal Government. The Nigerian military has set up a camp in Borno State where “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists are being rehabilitated. About 300 of them have graduated and may be released to the general society. While the “repentant” Boko Haram members are enjoying this largesse, we are not told what would be the fate of the thousands of Nigerians in the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, the FCT and other northern parts of the country, mostly occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
We should know however that the Federal Government is always wise. We should know that the classes of criminals who need rehabilitation may be bigger than those turban-wearing terrorists of the Boko Haram brigade. I hope the government would also extend similar treatment to pirates, robbers, kidnappers and their fellow travelers.