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For five years, Buhari ‘campaigned’ for corrupt politicians, CDD says

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(Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses delegates at the start of a conference to tackle corruption at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London on May 11, 2016 AFP/Getty Images)

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A pro-democracy think tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of condoning corruption within his administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The organisation, in its five-year assessment report of the anti-corruption programme of the current administration, made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, said the president, had “personally campaigned for many notorious kleptocrats” nominated by his party.

The report noted that President Buhari had consistently turned a blind eye to wrongdoings by some of his own appointees and “resisted independent oversight of Nigeria’s most scandal-ridden agencies.”

It added that the president’s cabinet includes several individuals tainted by accusations of corruption, thereby making a joke of the so-called anti-corruption slogan of his administration.

It, however, hailed the president for pushing out reforms that had led to repositioning of anti-graft agencies, increased in corruption convictions and asset seizures by anti-graft institutions.

CDD director, Idayat Hassan, explained that the report was a culmination of data-driven analysis of the milestones and shortcomings of the president’s anti-corruption drive, providing a mixed bag of performance in some areas and underperformance in others.

She said: “The five year assessment situates anti-corruption as a signature issue around which President Buhari has built a personal political brand, making it the major plank on which he won the historic election of 2015.”

“In the area of achievements, the assessment makes the point about how the Buhari administration has worked to elevate the fight against corruption by placing as its top national policy priority. It further notes the empowerment of anti-corruption agencies, and the Buhari administration’s effort to free them up to pursue far-reaching investigations into political and bureaucratic corruption.

“In the context of empowerment of those agencies in the frontlines of the fight against corruption, the assessment reckons that appointing capable practitioners to lead the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has been key in reinvigorating them.”

“The assessment equally notes that the President pushed through a few key financial management reforms, which have been critical in preventing opportunities for corruption to thrive.

“One of such reforms is the mandatory use of the Treasury Single Account, which has ended the lax and opaque system wherein government monies sat in disparate accounts, which made proper oversight impossible.

“On the other hand, the assessment went on to document the gaps and shortcomings in the implementation of the administration’s anti-corruption programme. It talks about the opportunities missed by the President to institutionalise the so-called the fight against corruption by capitalising on the ‘Buhari Effect…”

“Consequently, the assessment knocks the President for his tendency to condone corruption within his own administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party. In this regard, President Buhari gets the flak over accusations that he “consistently turned a blind eye to malfeasance by some of his own appointees and resisted independent oversight of Nigeria’s most scandal-ridden agencies.

“On top of this, the report notes the untenable situation wherein the Buhari cabinet includes several individuals tainted by accusations of corruption. It went on to document that in the five years under review, the APC nominated, while the President personally campaigned for many notorious kleptocrats.”

The group said the assessment revealed that the President has failed to curb corruption in the defence and security sector, adding that the government also failed to achieve the required reforms in the petroleum sector.

“The assessment asserts that expenditures in the defence and security sector continue to escape public and legislative scrutiny, and mostly occur under emergency procurement processes that lack basic anti-corruption safeguards. The government was similarly called out over the continued the practice of awarding crude oil lifting contracts to middlemen firms, including those implicated in the 2010 fuel subsidy fraud scandal.

“Widely seen as one of the most corrupt and mismanaged national oil companies in the world, the NNPC continues to conceal illicit financial outflows from public or legislative scrutiny, inflate internal administrative budgets and withhold oil revenues from the national treasury”, it added.

The organisation called for a ban on the use of security votes, and involvement of technocrats, jurists, and civil society experts as members of the governing boards of the anti-corruption agencies.


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