Nigeria at 62: Still A tough journey to nationhood
Nigeria, the acclaimed giant of Africa celebrates her 62nd Independence Day today. Ordinarily, six decades of freedom from colonial imperialism and political slavery ought to be celebrated with pageantry.
However, Nigerians are too disenchanted with the socio-economic situation in the country to celebrate. For many, there is little or nothing to celebrate about a nation that is rapidly degenerating into a failed state.
Several years after independence, the country appears to be retrogressing in virtually every sector, lagging in basic services of a government to the people, and losing control or sharing some of its territories with non-state actors, who have almost succeeded in bringing government to its knees, using banditry and kidnapping and insurgency.
Meanwhile, unemployment, political uncertainty as well as the insecurity of lives and property have been identified as some of the compelling factors for a mass exodus of educated and skilful youths from the country.
With only a few enjoying the commonwealth while the majority are homeless, hungry and defenseless, many citizens fear that the benefits of independence have eluded the country.
A Human Rights lawyer and Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Frank Tietie, described Nigeria as a country that is at war with itself and blamed its downward journey towards a failed state on a systemic problem, which he said, was the total lack of service culture to the citizens and lack of accountability.
“You find the various ethno-religious groups battling to outwit one another in competition for resources, thereby adopting methods and policies that do not consider anything like national interest, that do not consider anything like preservation of national interest. So, nobody cares about what is the ethos behind the Nigerian state.”
Tietie described Nigeria’s kind of politics as “buccaneering” that only believes in grabbing power for selfish reasons. “Let us capture the power and use it to get profits anyhow we can to serve our personal interest. So, nation-building has been completely lost since the Second Republic. That is the reason the nation keeps going down. As the years go by, we have records of going downward in services and in the national interest. We just keep failing in national cohesion. The people are pulled apart.
“We claim to be a Federal Government, yet we have central government that operates as if Nigeria is a unitary state. The central government has 68 items on the Exclusive List to which it is completely failing to deliver. Yet, it is still holding unto them because it wants to stay in control of the sharing of resources.
“So, that unhealthy competition to control resources irrespective of what amounts to the preservation of national interest is the reason we took the course of a downward spiral that has ultimately led us to this failed state position we are in the country.”
According to the human rights lawyer, Nigeria was supposed to be an extra-ordinarily rich country considering its human and capital resources.
“Yet, one finds the unprecedented number of Nigerians who want to leave the country, not because they are in search of resources but because they are in search of a better environment that promises resources and certainty as they develop as a people.
“So, where is the peace, stability and order that government is supposed to provide? The government is failing and that consequently describes Nigeria as a failed state,” Tietie stated.
The Judicial Sector and Opposition to Reforms
There is a doubt that the judicial sector is in need of reforms. However, this appears to be lacking in the administration of justice in the country. Even with the slogan that justice delayed is justice denied, the wheel of justice in Nigeria has refused to grind at an appreciable speed. Tietie wondered why the justice delivery system cannot be smarter and faster by ensuring, among other reforms, that separate courts are created for less serious matters.
He asked: “Why can’t we have small case courts that deal with issues without many technicalities? People having cases with N100,000 or N1 million going to small case courts and matters are dealt with in one day?”
He also recalled surveys that identified the judiciary as one of the most corrupt sectors, stressing that such are among the symptoms of a failed state.
He added: “I will not give you examples of corruption in the judiciary or the place of bribery and corruption in the sector because right from 2016 when the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) started doing their corruption practice index survey in Nigeria, the police and the judiciary have ranked highest respectively.
“But beyond the issue of complaints of bribery and corruption and delay of justice, the real problem in the judiciary is the refusal to reform in response to the social realities of modern day Nigeria.
“There are several allegations held by members of the public and by verifiable surveys and polls that the judiciary is extra-ordinarily corrupt in Nigeria. But I do not see corruption as the major problem; the problem is actually the refusal to reform in response to social realities.”
Still on the judiciary, a Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Chief Festus Oguche, noted that dispensation of justice in the country was an area of serious concern in terms of standards, balance, fairness and objectivity in judicial decisions.
He noted that the inadequacies have propelled the diminishing level of public confidence in the system to the extent that vigorous reforms are prescribed for the sector as a necessary precursor for an entrenched judicial system that can stand the test of time.
“But then, these negative tendencies which have reared their ugly heads in the system have their roots in the Constitution – though it is a better ascription to the character of the political elites that do not hesitate to twist or even circumvent constitutional provisions in any manner that suits them for their own self-serving ends.
“There is nothing strange in our constitution vis-a-vis other presidential democratic systems on the appointment, promotion, discipline of judges by the executive as an acceptable norm. But the manner of tampering and interference by the political elite in the system has become a sore feature of our political character.
“The end result has bred corruption, avarice and nepotism in the running of judicial affairs, particularly in the area of justice dispensation. Over the years and even in the days of the military, the nobility and integrity of the judicial institution remained intact and the military treated the institution from a respectful distance.
“Not now. Today, a Chief Justice of Nigeria was thrown out of office unconstitutionally and with all the ignominy attached thereto. The sacred office of the judge was put on edge when they were hounded, hunted, arrested and detained by the DSS and treated like criminals.
“In spite of the Court of Appeal’s condemnation of that act as lacking in the constitutional bulwark, another attempt at arresting (or was it kidnapping) of a notable justice of the Supreme Court was hatched and surveillance placed in front of her premises, just a few months to her retirement.
“But truth must be told that one cannot stoutly make case for the judiciary as being corruption free as the incidence is quite palpable and sometimes glaring. You find this mostly in political cases, election petitions and high-breed corruption cases.
“In this circumstance, the bar also has its portion of the blame as pointed out by Musdapher CJN (as he then was), that corruption in the judiciary is instigated by senior members of the bar. And that is one bitter truth to swallow, as since that notable pronouncement, there has been no effort whatsoever, either from the bench or the bar, debunking the assertion or putting in a mechanism for further investigation,” Oguche said.
He highlighted the mode and procedure for the recruitment of judicial officers as another point that tends to diminish the judicial quality and create insuperable circumstances that corrode its integrity.
He informed that constitutionally, judicial appointments are made by the executive upon the recommendation of the NJC, meaning that it is the executive that determines the appointment of judges and justices, upon the constitutional requirement of a 10-year post call and nothing more.
“The implication, therefore, is that the chief executives resort to appointing their relations, cronies and political associates into sensitive judicial positions. In the end, judges are made pawns on the chessboard of the political elites in terms of manoeuvres and rigmarole.
“This is much manifest in the determination of political cases and pre and post-election adjudications and decisions, which in very many cases, are lacking in the justice content and marked by travesty.
“Again, the current government’s proclivity to defy the orders and judgments of courts has shorn the judiciary of every ingredient of sanctity. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration only respects the orders and judgments of courts that favour it. But it goes to courts to pursue its own rights and it is quite ironic that the same courts that the administration treats with utmost disdain tend to bend backwards to accommodate them.
“Look at the case against ASUU at the National Industrial Court. For almost eight years of this administration, no single judgment of the ECOWAS Court has been respected. This then means that the entire constitutional cum judicial essence is dampened and sent into the backwoods of subterranean existence.
“The current judicial dispensation does not in any way pander to the interests of the generality of the public specifically in the area of access to justice. The high cost of litigation, which includes filing fees, has totally removed the rights of citizens to access justice.
“This is unconstitutional. In some jurisdictions such as Rivers State and the FCT, the judiciary is perceived as revenue-generating machinery for the government. This is very wrong,” Oguche stated.
Rot, Decay Still Hamper Policing, Security
On Thursday, October 8, 2020, nationwide protests, tagged #EndSARS, broke out, demanding an end to police brutality, harassment, extortion and myriads of other problems.
Police brutality and colossal abuse of human rights were overwhelmingly condemned by the #EndSARS mass action.
Barely two years after the protest by thousands of young people, Nigerians are still poorly policed while issues raised by the protesters like the attitude of an average cop toward fellow Nigerians are still unabated.
Nigerian Police is still faced with myriads of problems; some of which are poor salary, appalling accommodation, lopsided promotions, poor forensic laboratories and many more.
At police stations, there is a poster that announces that ‘bail is free. In practice, every bail enterprise is paid for. In fact, justice at police stations goes to the highest bidder.
Some pundits are quick to come to the defence of the police. They say that a sizeable number of the nation’s over 300,000 police personnel were poorly paid and had low morale for the task.
Many policemen and women wear tattered uniforms, worn-out shoes, faded belts and scruffy headgears. Policemen readily accept menial jobs of escorting goods and being aides to the powerful in society due to lack of welfare and poor pay.
There are also cases of officers who are promoted for upwards of three years without a change in their remuneration. In some cases, officers stay in one position for upwards of 12 years, not minding that the officer or rank-and-file may have undertaken further educational improvement courses.
During the tenure of some IGPs, awareness was raised on the need to stop the use of policemen as house helps and bodyguards to the mighty and powerful. The recent brutal attack on a Police Inspector attached to Prof. Zainab Abiola glaringly showed that nothing has changed.
Originally, police barracks were built to provide cheaper, safer, reasonable and comfortable accommodation for men of the Nigeria Police, as well as ensure discipline and adherence to the code of conduct. But many years after the barracks were built, lack of continuous renovation, improvement and repairs have been a major challenge.
A lot of Nigerians believe that there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the Police as an establishment.
Cybercrime popularly called “yahoo yahoo”, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism and fraud are some of the crimes plaguing Nigeria presently.
The Police, which is the government agency charged with the primary responsibility for combating crime and maintaining law and order in society seem ill-equipped and lack the requisite skills, manpower and morale for adequately responding to the problems, thereby overstretching the military, whose primary duty is to defend the nation from external aggression.
Although the present police administration led by IGP Alkali Baba has largely reduced cases of rights abuse, and extortion and addressed officers’ welfare, more needs to be done by the Federal Government to improve the lots of the police.
Legislature:Posers Over Impact Of Ninth National Assembly
THE basic responsibility of a parliament is law-making for peace, welfare and good governance for the people. But the most crucial responsibility of the parliament is holding the executive arm accountable. This last role is the reason many Nigerians feel the parliament has failed because of its inability to remain strong and take sides with citizens when government reneges on issues of welfare and security.
Exactly nine months to the end of the tenure of the Ahmad Lawan-led Senate, questions have arisen regarding how the National Assembly under him, particularly the Senate has fared in key governance areas such as economy, security and other socio-political needs of the people.
The Senate that was inaugurated in June 2019 came with an ambitious legislative agenda to carry out its constitutional duties of legislation, oversight and representation in an open and transparent manner.
It equally swore, “to take legislative action to improve national economic conditions including public finance management and national security architecture, reduce poverty, unemployment and infrastructure deficits; propose and implement a national planning and annual budget process that fosters collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government; and continue with legislative actions to bring to closure, all outstanding legislation including the electoral act and constitution amendments bills.”
According to Lawan, a very “big” achievement is that “the Senate is today repositioned and functions in an open and transparent manner where bipartisanship, nationalism, stability and unity of purpose are the defining features.”
He also believed that senators now unanimously admitted that collaboration in governance is their corporate strategy if they must effectively represent the people, particularly learning from the past.
However, a worrisome issue is in the area of the relationship between the Senate and the executive arm of government. The leadership of the 9th Senate believes that for the peace and development of the nation, the three arms of government must work together as the failure and success of one arm of government will be attributed to all.
Lawan has often explained that the “three arms of government have a responsibility to each other and an obligation to Nigerians, thus must have a cordial relationship based on mutual respect for constitutional rights and mandate to succeed.”
But critics insisted that the National Assembly has compromised so much of its responsibilities to the extent that it failed to carry out checks on the executive and mount pressure for the right thing to be done. This, according to them, makes the Senate guilty of the failure of government.
A Lagos-based author, Dr Michael Owhoko, reviewed the development and submitted that “in the absence of an 11th-hour miracle, when an assessment of the performance of the executive arm of government will be carried out on May 29 next year, using the economy, security and corruption as indexes, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), may likely go down as a failed President.”
He continued: “If this happens, the legislative organ of government should largely be blamed; firstly, for failing to invoke the doctrine of checks and balances to ensure the President discharges his statutory obligations in line with national interest and aspirations.
“Secondly, for failing to halt the breach of Federal Character principle by the president. Thirdly, for failing to interrogate the executive for sliding economic indices, worsening corruption, rising insecurity, capital flight, mounting loans, multiple tax burden, unemployment and decaying infrastructure, including poor electricity and education.
“For these flops, the 9th National Assembly is an accessory to the current woes of the country and cannot be absolved. The legislature is the second organ of government, free and independent from the control of the executive, yet the lawmakers have made it an extension and apron string of the president.”
It is also the belief of many that although many legislative interventions have been initiated by the Senate to improve the revenue and economy of the country, such interventions would amount to a wasted effort if the parliament fails to monitor the executive and prevent leakages, corruption and waste.
This could be the case with the revenue maximising legislative measures taken by the National Assembly between 2019 and 2021.
The first set of bills it initiated in this regard were those that had been in existence but needed fresh impetus for immediate good governance delivery.
They included the Deep Off-Shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act 2004, whose amendment by the 9th Senate was aimed at maximising the revenues accruing from the crude oil; the Finance Act and the Public Procurement Act 2007, whose amendments complementarily were to ensure the high-level performance of the budget, as well as the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2004, amended to advance the ease of doing business policies.
They speedily assented to the sequel to the canvassed synergy between the arms of government.
The Senate President had said: “We have equally approved special requests from the Executive for emergency funding and interventions to reflate the economy as a means of moving our country out of recession, restoring businesses and livelihood, improving supply chains, generating more employment and creating wealth and income for millions of Nigerians.”
Another area where the Lawan-led Senate claimed it has achieved much is its resolve to “propose and implement a national planning and annual budget process that fosters collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government.”
“One clear dividend is the reversion to the January-December fiscal calendar were 100 per cent budget implementation has been attained and sustained for three unbroken years now, the sequel to the elimination of revenue leakages associated with the hitherto weak budgeting system,” Lawn said.
Another lawmaker explained that “this signposts a growing economy facilitated by the collaboration between the executive and the legislature, which has made it mandatory for budget proposals to be presented months before passage to provide ample time for scrutiny and also for every head of the ministerial departments and agencies to be physically present at budget defence sessions.”
But watchers of events in the Senate have continued to insist that no matter the volume of bills and legislative interventions, the Senate would not be making progress without waking up to its basic role of watchdog to the executive arm.
It is believed that what the Senate leadership described as cooperation between the Legislature and the Executive would be counted as a “conspiracy” against the people.
For instance, it was noted that the laxity on the part of the National Assembly prevented it from monitoring or even stopping the President from embarking on “reckless borrowings.”
Josef Omorotionmwan, another concerned activist, said: “The idea of oversight had been tossed out of the window. Better a confrontation than a cave-in. Where the legislature cannot constantly keep the executive on its toes, the nation is doomed.
“Cooperation is good but when cooperation between the legislature and the executive becomes excessive, it becomes an open invitation to conspiracy. As it is in other spurs of life, so it is in government.
“When politicians come out of a meeting and they are smiling and back-slapping one another, there is something wrong. They did not tell themselves the truth. A polygamist whose two wives suddenly become very friendly has cause to worry. His life is at stake,” he warned.
Federal Reps Members Parochial, Self-Centred, Says Onwubiko
The National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko in his contribution titled, ‘Role of Legislature versus Assessments of Ninth House of Representatives, stated that law-making occupies a pride of place in a constitutional democracy.
He said: “In fact, law-making process is the epicentre of constitutionalism and democracy because the federal legislators are exercising the mandate of their direct constituents and are in office to defend the interests of their constituents and synergise these interests to coalesce with the larger national interest or public good.
“The legislators in Abuja ideally ought to be the eyes and ears of the people of Nigeria who are the actual owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“The people of Nigeria often donate during elections, the legitimacy to public office seekers who win the election and proceed to exercise authority for the public good.
“The fundamental characteristic that distinguishes the legislature as an arm of government is the powers statutorily bestowed on the lawmakers by the constitution to alter or amend any aspect of the existing laws to come up to contemporary demands of the people and be standardised in line with the best global practices. Lawmakers make, unmake, amend and alter aspects of extant laws to meet up with growing public agitation, fairness, justice and to serve the overall public interest.”
Onwubiko stated that out of 10, he would score the present House of Representatives a little above two per cent, which according to him, was abysmal and a colossal waste of the humongous public funds expended in running the federal legislature since 2019.
He added: “This present House is largely a failed Federal House of Representatives because, for 98 per cent of the times since 2019, they represented their parochial and self-centred, cash-driven motives.
“The Federal House of Reps is a sycophant of the executive arm of government. They lack transparency and accountability and their leadership is opaque.
“If the process that brought the Speaker to power is tainted, there is no amount of miracle that can restore independent voice in the legislature. So, what we have seen from 2019 is a Federal House of Representatives that does all the dirty jobs for their godfathers and nothing basically for Nigerians.
“The House has had over one hundred public hearings on diverse issues about public procurements corruption in NNPC; key government agencies and defence sector but corruption is now a hydra-headed monster and ballooning out of control because the legislators are persons railroaded into offices by their pay masters and most of them are into running contracts in the same key ministries that statutorily, they ought to provide effective and efficient oversight function.”
However, the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Osita Okechukwu, was of the opinion that the National Assembly under Lawan and Gbajabiamila was more patriotic than a rubber stamp.
Noting that the legislature is the main dichotomy or difference between liberal democracy and dictatorship, primarily because of its oversight functions, he concluded that the legislature has done very well.
“Today, the State Legislature and Judiciary are more independent in spite of the antics of state governors who ape emperors.
“On the 9th NASS led by His Excellency Ahmad Lawan, one is impressed with their bi-partisan cooperation with the executive. To me, their cooperation is more patriotic than a rubber stamp, which some people erroneously dub them.
“To their credit is the approval of loans that enhanced the containment of palpable insecurity in the land. Secondly, was the approval of €995 million for wholesome mechanisation of agriculture in the land under the Green Imperative Project (GIP). To me, GIP in the fullness of time will be one of the foremost legacies of Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution,” Okechukwu said.
Inflation, Unemployment As Nigeria’s Economic Albatross
INFLATION has emerged a dreaded hydra-headed phenomenon that is pushing frontiers of joblessness, high costs of food and services as well chief driver of poverty.
While the federal and state governments are moaning the sustained loss of jobs and under-employment, the dwindling consumer spending helped by low wages; inflation is driving the manufacturing sector out of business.
The President, of Project Management Institute in Nigeria, Paul Omugbe, stated that curtailing inflation requires the government to put the necessary infrastructure in place.
He argued that encouraging the private sector to produce was no longer an option, saying Nigeria must strive to find ways out of the massive importation of goods and services.
Image insisted that there were goods and services available in Nigeria that could be improved upon if the government makes resources available to manufacturers.
He said: “The only way we can get out of this is when the government spends the necessary resources to put infrastructure in place to encourage local manufacturing. As long our import still exceeds our export, we will continue to have a squeeze in liquidity.”
To the Chief Executive Officer of Dairy Hills Limited, Kelvin Emmanuel, solving the huge subsidy on the premium motor spirit (PMS) and stopping oil theft was the way to revive the ailing economy.
Emmanuel said the ambitious energy transition plans launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would unlikely make any noticeable impact.
His words: “Much of the developed world believes that the most existential threat we face as human species is the threat of climate change, even though much of West Europe, Mainland China and North America were built on fossil fuels and coal.
“Indeed, the most daring and ambitious goals for clean energy transition, where President Buhari also made very daring commitments, was at COP22, just a few months before Russia decided to invade Ukraine.
“Nigeria, as the 13th highest producer of oil in the world has failed in partaking in the largesse that comes from the price being above $100 per barrel for nearly six months now because of self-inflicted issues like organised crude oil theft and inability to negotiate for higher quotas at OPEC.
“Nigeria’s woes stemmed from lack of clarity in energy policy from decades of refusal to pass a comprehensive petroleum industry bill that only became law a few months ago, that stifled new investments by International Oil Companies in new rigs that will raise production output from its Deep Offshore Inland Basin (DOIP-Basin) as expressed in the Joint Venture Production Sharing Contracts.
“Also, Nigeria as the country with the ninth largest proven reserves of natural gas with stated reserves at 206 trillion cubic feet has also failed to take advantage of the surge in the rise in gas price in Europe.
“This has seen prices rise up to $34 per mm standard cubic feet, as compared to a capped price of $7 per mm standard cubic feet in Nigeria, owing to issues like failure of NNPC that controls the Nigeria Gas Management Company (NMGC) to deregulate the pricing of natural gas much to the chagrin of investors that form the Gas Association in Nigeria, which has denied companies of incentives from building infrastructure for compression of dried filtered gas into CNG, or pipeline infrastructure for distribution across states within the country.
“Consequently, the hope of the Vice President that Nigeria can create 340,000 jobs by 2030 and 840,000 jobs by 2060 by attracting $10 billion in investments per year is wishful thinking if some critical fundamentals are not addressed.
“Allow gas prices in Nigeria to follow the bent formula that tracks the prices of diesel by 40 per cent. This means that since the calculation of prices at $7 per mm standard cubic feet for gas will yield N105 per standard cubic metre, the price for gas that is 0.97 equivalent to diesel should naturally follow the 300 per cent increase over the last eight months to N315 per standard cubic metre.
“Doing this will attract a flow of non-speculative foreign direct investments (FDI) into building pipes, compression stations, regasification plants, and CNG trucks necessary to increase the utilisation of gas as a cheaper and more sustainable means for energy as well as reduce the carbon footprint in Nigeria.
“Nigeria must also converge exchange rates. There are currently six different exchange rates in Nigeria.
“Companies will not take government incentives like tax breaks expressed in pioneer status according to the National Tax Industrial Relief Act (as amended in 2014), or the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) over the yield curve on risk pricing for revenue and profit repatriation.
“Nigeria now consumes 1,040,000 metric tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas used as cooking gas, aerosol coolants, AC gas. But the statistic that is most important to Nigerians is that within the last seven years, the consumption of LPG has moved by 260 per cent from 400kg to 1.04 million metric tonnes, while the price of a kilogramme of cooking gas has moved from N200 to N800 because of depreciation in the naira over the intervening period.
“How the Vice President can be talking about migrating the rural dwellers from using charcoal or Dual-Purpose Kerosene when the government has failed in its primary responsibility of ensuring that NNPC backwardly integrates 100 per cent the supply of LPG and not import from Equatorial Guinea and the United States.
“I honestly believe that one of the best decisions the Vice President can take to help the economy is to ask for a review of Nigeria’s supply chain so he can see how unrealistic his energy transition plan is even if it might look very good on paper.”
Emmanuel also argued that the decision of the Buhari administration to build its fiscal strategy paper as a tool for achieving its medium-term expenditure framework on borrowing to cover the deficit was a very lazy approach.
Recall that the Minister of Finance had said during a House of Representatives hearing that the government projected to borrow N11 trillion in 2023. That will raise the debt stock by 26 per cent to N53.2 trillion and is in line with government plan to pay N6.3 trillion as under-recovery payments for subsidies.
Emmanuel maintained that the Nigerian government has failed in its responsibility to provide empirical evidence that Nigerians consume 72 million litres of PMS daily.
He further contended that the recent proposal the Vice President, as the Head of the National Economic Council, made to the White House and World Bank asking for partial debt forgiveness in a debt for climate deal was proof that the Nigerian government lacks a sound economic strategy for budget balance.
He explained: “How can you be pouring N4 trillion into a well as under-recovery for PMS subsidy and then at the same time be asking for debt forgiveness, considering that 17 years ago, the Nigerian government got an $18 billion debt write-off from the Paris Club of Creditors (for which there is currently an impasse between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over how the refund will be shared, considering that initial payments had been made from federal and not state accounts.”
Poor Prosecution Dugs War Against Corruption
PRESIDENT Buhari won the 2015 poll largely on the promise that his administration would fight corruption to a standstill. However, in the almost eight years of his administration, experts believe that Nigeria has not made significant progress in the area of fighting graft.
They stated that the anti-corruption strategies of the administration are laudable in theory but lacking in implementation.
For instance, many politically exposed persons, especially former state governors detained for alleged corruption immediately after leaving office, are still moving about freely.
According to Dataphyte, a research and data news platform, about 31 former governors were arrested by EFCC soon after leaving office. Sadly, out of these, the courts have only convicted seven from charges bordering on money laundering, fraud and embezzlement of public funds while one was acquitted.
Despite the low chance of conviction, President Buhari recently pardoned and released two of the convicted former governors from prison – Jolly Nyame of Taraba and Joshua Dariye of the Plateau States, whose prison terms were upheld by the Supreme Court.
The development appeared to have confirmed the belief of some Nigerians who perceived the anti-corruption crusade as a mere fluke.
In addition, to date, many former and current Nigerian public office holders exposed in the Pandora Papers as having secret and suspicious assets kept away in tax havens have not been investigated or prosecuted.
The Pandora Paper exposé triggered calls in Nigeria for further investigation and prosecution of the individuals who allegedly breached the country’s assets declaration laws and tax regulations.
But as in the case of the previous Panama Papers, which six years ago, uncovered 110 Nigerians holding suspicious assets in tax havens, no politically exposed person (PEP) has been sanctioned or has vacated office due to the revelation.
Last year, the EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, disclosed that 978 corrupt Nigerians were convicted between January and September 2021, insisting that the agency was winning the war on corruption.
But Bawa’s declaration appears to contradict the position of observers.
For instance, Transparency International (TI), ranked Nigeria 154 out of 180 countries in the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
According to the organisation, Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points in the 2021 index, dropping five places from 149 in 2020.
It also declared Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa after Guinea, ranking 150 on the global index.
While the government has consistently claimed that it is reducing corruption, the ranking may be an indicator that corruption is getting worse in Nigeria.
In its reaction, the Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the index “does not reflect the great strides by the country in its fight against corruption, particularly in the public sector.”
The government also accused Transparency International of releasing a “sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption.”
Nevertheless, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stated that Nigeria still has a long way to go in the fight against corruption despite having made some progress in the area of the legal framework.
Rafsanjani however observed that the fight against corruption would involve compliance and implementation of these legal frameworks. Noting that the present government was insincere in tackling graft, he urged the President to deal squarely with corruption cases that have to do with politically exposed persons.
“There is a huge gap in terms of public education on the legal framework because many Nigerians do not understand these laws for them to even avoid anything that has to do with corruption. So, a lot needs to be done in terms of public education and compliance with the rules.
“Also, major works need to be done around judicial corruption. This is because we have a legal framework but corruption in the judiciary continues to undermine efforts to tackle the menace.
“There is a need for government to carry out a judicial reform in order to ensure the corrupt ones won’t use the money to undermine the legal process.
“Another dimension is that political corruption must be dealt with squarely because part of the major crisis we have with the fight against corruption in Nigeria is the protection of politically exposed persons.
“To fight corruption, you need to fight political corruption, but it is unfortunate that the present government is not seeing political corruption as a major threat.
“So, when you have a weak judiciary and legislature, refusal to prosecute politically exposed persons, then, it will be difficult to say that we are making progress in the fight against corruption,” Rafsanjani said.
Return Of Counterfeit Drugs
A nation will only thrive if the health of its populace is given utmost priority. The influx of controlled and counterfeit drugs in pharmaceutical stores across the country calls for urgent attention.
The former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the late Dora Akuyili, in one of her interviews on the dangers of fake drugs submitted that “fake drugs rob the common man of both health and life. If the high and mighty can go to all corners of the earth to get good health services, fake drugs leave a common man with no choice.”
The return of fake drugs has left many people treating common sicknesses such as malaria, cough and typhoid fever without relief.
A graphic designer, who would want to remain anonymous, revealed how he was approached by pharmaceutical stores to recreate graphic designs of packets of existing drugs with the intent of filling same with counterfeits.
“I have been to three big pharmaceutical stores in Abuja. They are big on producing drug counterfeits. One of the first practical tests I went through was to recreate the design of popular malaria drugs using the pharmaceutical store’s official computer,” the source said.
Another graphic designer also decried the brazen manner some pharmaceutical stores allegedly produce counterfeit drugs.
“If anyone ever tries to interrogate their intention, such person would be sacked immediately. Consequently, employees end up conforming to this evil for fear of being jobless.”
Another person, who had witnessed the production of counterfeit drugs, blamed the government for the rising trend.
He said: “The government is not doing enough. During the time of late Dora Akunyili, there was a tax force going around to ensure the ousting of fake and counterfeit drugs.
“Since this regime came on board, they seldom go out. It is really sad because fake drugs have ripple effects across all social strata. Rather than make progress, Nigeria seems to expand in everything evil. They are all signs of a failed nation,” the source said.