One of the selling points of the then presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, during the 2015 general election is the fight against corruption. Living up to the expectations of Nigerians, the moment he was sworn in, the President swung into action, firing from all sides of cylinder and waging war against politically-exposed persons. It is glaring that the president has crossed the Rubicon in his war against graft and corruption.
Many analysts, locally and internationally, have lauded the zeal of the retired army general in this regard while some picked holes in the crusade, saying it is cosmetic, one-sided and selective.
Dr. Gbade Ojo who is an associate professor of Political Science is the current Chief of Staff to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State. In a chat with Rotimi Agboluaje in Ibadan, the former Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Governor said the war against corruption is cosmetic.
Among those who shared this view is a political scientist, Dr. Gbade Ojo. The former Head of Department of Political Science at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State said: “Nobody can say that the anti-corruption stance of the government is a bad policy. There cannot be development of a country with pervasive corruption. The way in which the anti-corruption war is being fought may be criticised and government may be advised to consider a review”.
Continuing, Dr. Ojo said: “Going to burgle judges’ houses in the middle of the night may be questioned. That is not good in a civilised society. The security agencies can go there any time of the day with a search warrant. Also, the whole war against corruption is cosmetic”.
He said the federal government while waging war against corruption is also embarking on reorientation of Nigerians on the evils of corruption.
“If Buhari quits tomorrow, do we have any assurance that his successor will have the same zeal to fight corruption? Can’t Nigerians return to their old habits? I expect that in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools, universities, young ones should be taught not to be corrupt for the country to develop. They should be taught to be satisfied with their legitimate income and not steal resources.
But, today, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is comatose; the NOA is not talking to anybody and not offering reorientation. Government is only struggling to look into available files, arrest some people alleged to be corrupt and recover money looted. That is not sufficient. In our airports, several officers solicit stipends. When you are arriving, they request for dollars; when you are leaving, they request for naira. Can the Inspector-General of Police tell us that the police do not collect money from drivers every day?
“These things are done in public in our airports and on our streets. The government is fighting corruption from the top, but nothing is being done at the bottom. The EFCC and ICPC are not enough to fight corruption. The anti-fraud arm of the Nigerian police should be re-animated. Can’t the police arrest and charge corrupt persons to court? These are the gaps in the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari administration”.
On the allegations of corruption against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, the academic opined: “The fact that the media can report that there are certain allegations against the SGF or anti-corruption Czar is a good development, but we should discourage media trial against any public official”. He stressed that if the Department of State Service (DSS) gave the Senate a report that a certain Magu had been on their radar for a while, and that he is not suitable to fight corruption, Mr President could nominate another person.
“Is Magu the only person in Nigeria that can fight corruption? It remains an allegation that the SGF diverted funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons. So let us wait to see what happens. However, there is a difference between diversion and embezzlement. If it can be proven that Babachir diverted money to his personal pockets, the law should take its course. The Code of Conduct Bureau has not been very impressive in performing its duties. I expect the bureau to conduct its investigation dutifully for us to have a sane society. In Africa, we have not become human beings as regards materialistic instinct; we are still at the level of animals. Why does anyone have to steal money that cannot be exhausted in his or her lifetime?”
On the insinuation in some quarters that the forthcoming local government election would not hold due to paucity of funds, the political science teacher said:”Ordinarily, I am not supposed to speak for Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, (OYSIEC) because the commission is believed to be independent and created by law. And I have not read anywhere in the media where the commission has complained about lack of funding.
Since the inauguration of the electoral commission, there has been a physical facelift at the commission’s headquarters, which would cost some money. If a commission that has not been active for the last nine years has been resuscitated with new cars and buses, I think they would not complain of lack of funds. When they get to a river, they will know how to cross it. Do not also forget that the government that appointed and inaugurated members of the commission is aware that OYSIEC has announced date for local government election.
“More so, let’s wait to see if the 2017 budget, which will soon be presented to the state House of Assembly, will accommodate the expenses for the local government election. Government has been meeting the needs of the commission as they have been requesting”.
Speaking on the delineation of wards and boundaries as a result of some newly created local government development areas, Ojo had this to say: “As of the time when OYSIEC had the stakeholders’ forum, it wasn’t the responsibility of OYSIEC to do the demarcation. The gazette that created the LCDAs clearly stipulates the communities that fall into each LCDA. The map showing the new LCDAs is available as prepared by the office of the Acting Surveyor-General of the state. All local government chairmen have copies of the map and have been asked to produce more copies”.
The Chief of Staff who showed the map to this journalist said as the LCDAs take off, the implementation committee is in possession of the map. He disclosed that the map showing existing local governments and new LCDAs has been prepared, saying it would be ridiculous if LCDAs are created and government cannot demarcate boundaries.
On sacking of 662 workers and restructuring in the state civil service, said the governor has said he is not interested in retrenchment. He said government cannot be timid if it wants to retrench and the principle anywhere is last to come, first to go.
He spoke further: “Rather than retrench, the state government has expressed optimism that the economy will improve. Notwithstanding, if there are bad eggs involved in things like certificate racketeering, we cannot continue to retain such people in the system. It does not make sense.
“And, if anybody has been wrongfully sacked, such person should be able to defend himself and can sue the government. There are young graduates with good qualifications that are unemployed. Why should those with bogus certificates continue to draw salaries from government? People can verify their certificates from the issuing authorities and confirm. An employer has the right to verify the certificates of his employees from time to time.
Speaking on the second term of the Governor and some policies of the state government, Dr. Ojo remarked that the burning of schools came up as a result of opposition against government’s policy to discard automatic promotion so that performance of Oyo State students and candidates in public examinations will improve.
“That is a good policy. There is no public policy anywhere in the world that will be satisfactory to 100 per cent of the people. The basic philosophy in public policy is the utilitarian theory of greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. There may be few nihilists while there are others who may be happy causing trouble. Oyo State has about 631 schools and some miscreants protested and burnt down one, do we call that crisis?” He said.
He however, altogether cleared the air on the policy. Saying at no time did government mute the idea of selling schools, because in a capitalist system like ours, with human face, there are public and private schools.