Corruption is one of the biggest challenges facing the world’s most populous black nation. The debilitating impact of this scourge is visible and can be felt in every sector of the country. Few can disagree that it is perhaps, the single most important cause of Nigeria’s inability to make meaningful developmental strides.
When President Buhari was sworn into office in 2015, he made tackling corruption his administration’s key priority, saying that, “Nigeria must kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria”. He has since adopted different strategies to achieve this goal but even he admitted recently that the fight against corruption has not achieved desired level.
Nigeria’s corrupt political class has grown more brazen in its ploy to loot the nation dry. They have devised strategies in order to avoid the prowling eyes of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) operatives and other anti-graft agencies. A recent example is the case of #Gandujegate, where the Executive Governor of Kano State was seen enthusiastically receiving bundles of crisp dollar bills as kickbacks from contractors and stashing in his “babariga” via a secret recording. The video made its way online and elicited a national outcry from citizens calling for investigation into the alleged case of corruption.
Amidst the imminent political pandemonium, a press statement was swiftly released by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media wherein he claimed the videos were fake and that the Governor was a victim of blackmail from opposition parties.
A 7-man committee was, however, constituted by the Kano State House of Assembly to investigate the bribery allegation leveled against Governor Umar Ganduje and a Kano State High Court sitting in Kano ordered the Kano State House of Assembly to stop the investigation.
This development begets the question: where does the loyalty of the judiciary and this judge in particular lie? Is it to the state as it should be or the alleged piper? On this my fellow Nigerians, your curious guess is as good as mine.
The police has again played a vital role in this judicial anomaly. By stopping the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) from holding a peaceful rally to ask Ganduje to step aside to allow for an independent investigation into the allegations and to ascertain the authenticity of the video clip, the Nigeria Police is showing that it is not interested in upholding the rule of law.
In case the Nigerian Police needs reminding, Nigeria operates a democracy and that democracy is meaningless without rule of law, fairness, justice and equity. A nation that does not investigate and punish wrong doing, whether by a poor citizen or a member of the political class cannot make much progress.
By preventing an investigation into #Gandujegate, as well as peaceful protest by NANS, the organs of state charged with ensuring rule of law in the land are encouraging impunity and continued looting of our nation’s treasury by the political elite.
No Nigerian is above the law. No one is more Nigerian than the other. The fight against corruption will continue to yield little or no results as long as we continue to breed this culture of ‘untouchables’. It will continue to be unsuccessful as long as citizens think it is ”Buhari’s”. It is the masses who bear the worst brunt of corruption. Therefore, the fight against corruption must ne citizen-led in order to succeed. Therefore, every citizen must respond to the fierce urgency of now and take ownership of the anti-corruption fight for the good of our nation.
The good news is that more than half of the people and particularly young people agree that citizens could make a difference.
In commemoration of the International Anti-corruption Day 2018 and in line with its theme “Say No to Corruption, Every NO counts”, we are leveraging on the power of young people and we urge them to take a stand for integrity. The duty of every citizen is to challenge corruption by holding our government accountable. Let Your “NO” count today.
Tracy Keshi is a Program officer with YIAGA Africa and actively involved with #BounceCorruption and #Upright4Nigeria campaign. She can be reached via [email protected] and tweets via @trackykeshi