By Emmanuel Onwubiko.
Exorcism in the Holy Roman Catholic church is the spiritual exercise of driving away the evil spirits from a faithful possessed by the demons.
If you are a person of faith, then you must believe that good and evil do exists and the devil is that which originates evil. However, exorcism is not very popular because of how complex and dangerous it is.
Therefore, if someone who is designated as the exorcist now becomes possessed and requires exorcism to be liberated, you can then begin to imagine that dramatic scenario.
It is therefore in the above context that I intend to discuss the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s odyssey with the fight against corruption which the President has made heavy weather of embarking upon since he assumed office.
Five years and half down the line; it has become increasingly unambiguous and as constant as the Northern Star that the same government that claims to be fighting corruption has become deeply immersed in the ocean of corruption.
My observation was exactly what a reporter with the Voice of America News Channel anticipated when on June 22nd 2015 at exactly 12: 15pm, he posted a story that President Buhari of Nigeria will definitely contend with big battles against corruption. He had thought the President had good anti-corruption fight antecedents.
Unarguably, five years down the line, it is clear to even a Primary 1 pupil that Nigeria is contending with large scale public sector corruption which is why Nigeria despite being endowed with enormous Human and natural resources became in 2018, the poverty Capital of the World, thus dethroning India.
The population of India is obviously like 10 times bigger than Nigeria’s. So it is mathematically correct to state that corruption has become a hydra headed monster and to put it graphically, corruption amongst public office holders walks with four legs right under the nose of President Buhari who doubles as the Petroleum Minister.
Petroleum (and police and of course the judiciary) sector has definitely dominated public conversations as the most corrupt sector of the Nation’s economy.
The National Biotechnology Agency has being dogged with huge corruption leading to the arrest by Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission of the acting director general Alex Uwadiegwu Akpa over N400 million alleged theft.
The acting Chairman of the Economic and financial crimes commission Ibrahim Magu fell from grace to grass when the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami accused him of large scale corruption leading to his suspension. Magu also said the Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami is corrupt. Malami stridently denies this.
Over 6 months now the President has maintained sealed lips on this even as the suspended chairman is hibernating. Buhari spent millions to set up a judicial panel to investigate allegations of corruption against his erstwhile anti-graft chieftain; Ibrahim Magu. But almost six months not a word about the recommendations which was leaked to the media reportedly indicting Magu of GRANDSCALE corruption which he denies.
The truth is that the public sector is so infested with corruption so much so that employment racketeering has become commonplace in government offices with civil servants bribing their superiors for juicy postings and promotions and police officers paying bribes for postings and promotions.
Transparency International has also validated the fears of most Nigerians about how dominant corruption amongst public sector officials has become. This was the outcome of the latest global ranking in which Nigeria came second as the most corrupt Nation in west Africa only after Guinea Bissau.
So, what did the voice of America reporter reported on June 22nd 2015 titled: “Big battles await President Buhari in corruption fight”?
The reporter started by stating that according to historian and author of the book Soldiers of Fortune from Buhari to Babangida, Max Siollun, the military government led by Muhammadu Buhari jailed several government ministers.
He said the politicians were accused of corruption and embezzlement of public funds while in office and the punishment was serious.
“What that did was he tracked all the politicians, the leaders of pre-civilian government inside the country and the next thing he did was all of them were arrested and detained from the president to the vice president, all the way down to senators and house of representative members and were placed on trial by military tribunals, which tried them and convicted a lot of them of corruption and corrupt enrichment and handed down quick severe sentences to the politicians,” said Siollun.
He said during the trials at the time, some Nigerians had reservations and protested how those politicians were tried because they did not appear in a regular civilian court. He said the military courts had civilian judges on them, but people still felt the tribunal and the sentences were quite draconian.
Three decades later, Muhammadu Buhari has come to power as a democratically elected president, he wrote. Those who remember his rule in ’80s hope he has the energy and zeal to fight corruption plaguing Nigerian society.
Nigeria’s previous governments have created mechanisms to fight corruption, including commissions of inquiry, stronger anti-corruption departments and prosecutions.
But the Washington DC-based non-profit Global Financial Integrity estimates more than $150 billion left the country illegally in the past decade.
A representative of the non-profit organization Every Nigerian Do Something (ENDS), Peregrino Brimah, said the president needs to work with people to deliver on his pledges.
“Buhari does not need to fight these wars,” said Brimah. “What Buhari simply needs to do is work with the people. To me, that is the greatest thing he can do is show all these youths, everybody here, that ‘I am with you and let us do this task together.”
Constitutional lawyer Manasara Kogo said Buhari will have to appoint competent people to win the war against corruption.
“The president is the one to appoint the attorney general, is the one to constitute these bodies that are meant to fight corruption including the Code of Conduct Bureau. The president is the one to appoint these people, first of all he has to think of people impeccable integrity,” Kogo stated.
Historian Siollun disagreed, saying it is not easy to win such wars when powerful people are involved.
“The type of people who will be tried for corruption will be very wealthy and very powerful,” he said. “So they have lots of money to buy and spend on the best lawyers, expensive lawyers and pile the government up in liquidations for years.
“We more likely to see is a lot about plea bargaining what I mean by that is the government doing deals with corrupt people whereby perhaps if they return corruptly acquired wealth they will get amnesty from prosecution.”
Kogo said the suspected corrupt individuals should not be allowed to buy time, court cases should be shorter. “It should be proceedings that last a period of three months, six months so that it is a clear case of going straight to the substance tandem of the issue rather than unnecessary baboons technicalities that our courts are traditionally used into,” he added.
Well, five years and some months after President Buhari made a lot of noise about fighting corruption, the summary of the crusade against corruption shows a huge absence of the political will on the part of the administration to fight the monster of corruption because of vested interests entrenched right inside the government.
Little wonder then that the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 report published by Transparency International indicates that Nigeria occupies the 149th position out of the 180 countries surveyed as well scored 25 out of 100 points.
With the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region. It can be recalled that in the 2019 report, Nigeria was ranked 146th out of the 180 countries surveyed, scoring 26 points out of 100 points.
As usual, the Federal government lives in denial and has already faulted the fact that the government swims in the ocean of corruption. Ironically, as we will show in this reflection, even the Chairman of ICPC under this same government accepts that there is large scale corruption under the government that appointed him. The double speak has become part of the government which is why Garba Shehu is denying the obvious.
Garba Shehu comically claimed that the Buhari administration deserves credit for diminishing corruption in the public service and will continue to vigorously support prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment activities of anti-corruption agencies.
We are currently analyzing the sources of data used in arriving at the latest Transparency International (TI) report on Corruption Perceptions Index in Nigeria since by their own admission, they don’t gather their own data.
This report is not an accurate portrayal of the facts on ground.
In the coming days, the Government’s Technical Unit on Governance Research (TUGAR) will be providing more detailed information on the sources of the TI data.
While this is being awaited, the examination carried out on their 2019 report showed that 60 percent of their data was collected from businesses and other entities with issues bordering on transparency and the ease of doing business at the ports.
Although this is a government ready to learn from mistakes and make corrections, the economy of this country, in its fullness, is bigger than the sea ports we have.
We are also not unaware of the characters behind the TI in Nigeria whose opposition to the Buhari administration is not hidden.
We have repeatedly challenged TI to provide indices and statistics of its own to justify its sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption. We expect them to come clean and desist from further rehashing of old tales.
A Naira denominated review that excludes recoveries in Dollars, Pounds, Euro shows that a sum of N1.2tn was recovered by EFCC between 2009 — 2019. N939bn of that total was recovered between 2015 – 2019 with less than N300bn recovered in the first six years.
Additionally, preventative instruments deployed by this administration such as Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) coverage expansion and the removal of 54,000 ghost workers from federal civil service saving us N200bn annually serve as evidence that perception is not reality.
Reality is based on verifiable facts and data. And any evidence-based analysis would prove that whether it is by prevention or punitive measures in recoveries and prosecution, this administration would be rising fast up these rankings rather than standing still.
Organizations should be factual in their analysis and be prepared to rely on inputs outside of sensational media reports and age-old narratives which have not been updated to reflect today’s reality in Nigeria concerning its globally-respected war on corruption.
In the existential fight against this multi-pronged malice and manifestations of corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari has avowed that he would take-no-prisoners, guided by respect for the rule of law.
We invite Nigerians to stand with an administration that has done so much on asset recovery, prosecution, legislation, political will and leadership by example in the fight against corruption.
Equally, we urge our friends in the media, development partners and the civil society organizations to continue to support efforts to strengthen accountability, transparency, ethical values and integrity in Nigeria’s public sector.
President Buhari has put his hand to the plough and will not relent in working with those passionate about the welfare, stability and prosperity of future generations to come in Nigeria., Garba Shehu concluded.
But nobody believes Garba Shehu and sadly even himself does not believe his incongruity if I’m not mistaken. The pathetic effort by President Buhari to deny the obvious fact of huge scale corruption concerning the large scale corruption under his administration can be faulted with many empirical evidences but I will cite just three.
The first is that the petroleum sector which he Presides over as minister is rated as the most corrupt even as the NNPC has become a cesspool of corruption with the illogical claim of spending billions of public fund to maintain refineries that are not productive and then to announce that it will be seeking a $1 billion USD loan to fund the turn-around – maintenance of these same near moribund refineries. The ministry of humanitarian affairs is another bastion of corruption.
This is the summary of the unbelievable manner that NNPC commits corruption of the unfathomable dimension. The newspapers report that despite processing no crude oil in June this year, Nigeria’s three refineries still cost the country N10.23 billion in expenses, report published by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday has shown.
The NNPC says the three refineries, located in Warri, Port-Harcourt and Kaduna, processed no crude because of the rehabilitation works being carried out on them.
The Port-Harcourt Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (PHRC) has the capacity of producing 210,000 barrels per day, Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC) can produce 110,000 barrels per day while the Warri Refining Petrochemical Company Limited (WRPC) has a 125,000 barrels per day production capacity.
“In June 2020, the corporation’s three refineries processed no crude and combined yield efficiency is 0.00% owing largely to on-going rehabilitation works at the refineries.
“There was no associated crude plus freight cost for the three refineries since there was no production but operational expenses amounted to ₦10.27 billion. This resulted in an operating deficit of ₦10.23 billion by the refineries, according to the report.
In an analysis breakdown, Warri Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded an operating deficit of N2.68 billion, Port-Harcourt Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded an operating deficit of N2.76 billion while Kaduna Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded the highest operating deficit of N4.79 billion.
The declining operational performance which the group said is “attributable to the ongoing revamping of the refineries are expected to further enhance capacity utilization once completed.”
And then the senate recently uncovered how the ministry, which is headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, spent N14 million for biros and N46 million for letterhead papers and raised the alarm.
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector as well as transparency and accountability advocates are disturbed over how the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, directly overseen by President Muhammadu Buhari spent a whopping N116 million on biros, papers and inks in one year. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Tuesday said the Judiciary is on top of the Nigeria Corruption Index between 2018 and 2020.
It claimed that about N9, 457,650,000.00 (N9.457 billion) was offered and paid as bribe by lawyers. Six female judges, according to the agency, reported that they were offered N3, 307,444,000.00 (N3.307billion) and five male judges reported N392, 220,000(N392.2million).
The anti-corruption commission said the cases of outright demand and offer of bribes were “mostly linked to election matters.”
These details are contained in a report: “Nigeria Corruption Index: Report of a pilot survey”, which was made available on Tuesday by the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) in Abuja.
The survey was carried out by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, the intellectual arm of the ICPC.
Owasanoye said the Nigeria Corruption Index(NCI) “indicates that both the public and private sectors are complicit in the high corruption levels in Nigeria.
“The survey also identifies the specific practices that are contributing to the corruption levels. This is the sort of information that stakeholders require to plan and evaluate their anti-corruption work”.
No gainsaying the fact that fighting corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari is just like exorcism because whereas the government claims it is fighting corruption, indeed corruption has conquered the government which is characterized by public sector corruption.
Just like in the spiritual enterprise of exorcism which is a dying charisma because very few Priests are interested to embrace it. Fighting corruption by a corrupt government is like forcing a possessed person to exorcise himself which is a mission impossible.
Can a demon exorcise himself?
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs@www. theingerianinsidernews.com, www.huriwanigeria.com.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”