In recent times, the biggest impetus and stimulant to the war against corruption in Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari and coordinated by anti-corruption agencies, is the book titled: Antidotes for Corruption and its launch to the Nigerian populace.
The book, which is segmented into 14 chapters with 600 pages, was authored by the controversial lawmaker and chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye. True to the meaning of its title, the book dealt with how best to prevent corruption and how to strengthen the war against corruption in Nigeria.
At the launch of the book which was attended by the leadership of the National Assembly, ministers, captains of industries, diplomats and politicians at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre on Monday, 15th of May 2017, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Umar Ghali Na’Abba remarked, “corruption is not only about financial misappropriation, it is defined by social defiance and failure of leadership. Nepotism is also a corruption”.
He further said the book was timely as it would help in reorientation of the youths and leaders of the country on the dangers of corruption. I wholeheartedly agree with him.
One might not like the author, one might dislike his politics or even loathe his lifestyle. However, one thing that cannot be taken away from the author is the fact that the author is an authority in anti-graft war. When he speaks or writes on anti-corruption, he should be taken seriously. His politics might be controversial but his stand on the anti-corruption crusade is not controversial. Even the chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has publicly recognised the author as an anti-corruption fighter.
It is on record that the author helped our beloved country to save N100billion that would have been lost through the Kubwa expressway contract. It is also noteworthy that the intervention of the author informed the resolution of the Senate which halted further deductions by SystemSpecs as regards the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy. Behold, that intervention saved Nigeria about N25billion.
Therefore, anyone whose resume carries these applauses cannot be less qualified as an anti-corruption fighter.
Meanwhile, the choice for the author of the foreword to Antidotes for corruption is most strategic and apt.
It makes no sense to invite an entertainer to write the foreword to the book. The President of the Senate and Chairman of National Assembly, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who is the chief law maker in Nigeria, authored the foreword. He is the unusual anti-corruption activist that moved the famous motion on fuel subsidy scam in the 7th National Assembly. He caused the Senate to order investigation into how the N240 billion budgeted for fuel subsidy for the whole of 2011 had ballooned to over N1.2 trillion under ten months. He saw corruption and exposed corruption. However, it was not without consequences because corruption fought back. He was invited by anti-corruption agencies on the strength of allegations, but the allegations turned out to be false and flimsy.
The President of the Senate is the most investigated political office holder in Nigeria. Yet, he is still standing clean. The fact that he was dragged to a Tribunal because he kicked against muslim-muslim presidential ticket in the general interest of Nigerians, has not diminished his status as most apt to author the foreword to anti-dotes for corruption.
In his speech at the book launch, the President of the Senate addressed the relationship between Corruption and development. Stressed why corruption needs to be viewed through the lens of human development. Spoke about the progress the country has made in the anti-graft war under President Muhammadu Buhari. Emphasized why governments across all levels must join the fight against corruption. Stressed why deterrence is better approach to fighting corruption. Updated Nigerians on how the National Assembly is fighting corruption. Spoke about bureaucratic processes and corruption. Discussed Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and declared that provisions of more economic opportunities for Nigerians will reduce reported cases of corruption. On Anti-Corruption legislation being considered by the Senate, he enlightened that the Special Anti-Corruption Court would be done through constitutional amendment and assured that the Whistleblower Protection bill, will be passed not later than July, 2017.
Under the leadership of Dr Saraki, the Senate effected legislative mechanisms to prevent large scale waste in public spending. The Senate has investigated and exposed corrupt practices, wastage and diversion of public resources. Just last week, the Nigeria Asset Management Agency Bill passed through second reading. It deals with the management of seized, confiscated and forfeited assets. It is evident the 8th Senate has been an active partner to the Executive in the war against corruption.
In the past, Senator Dino Melaye used to address press conferences and grant interviews on anti-graft war, he has stepped up. What he launched was a documented approach to strengthen anti-graft war. Anyone is free to disagree with the content of the book or even its title, but nobody can say the book has not addressed and enriched the debate on how best to fight corruption in Nigeria. Therefore, the book is an impetus, not an impediment, to the anti-corruption war. It should be considered as a declaration of support for President Muhammadu Buhari-led anti-corruption war, rather than mockery of the anti-graft crusade.
To say the book is not worth the paper it was written on, is to be a fool by choice. To say that Senator Dino is less qualified to author antidotes for corruption, is to express crass ignorance. The Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress, Lagos State chapter, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, declared that corruption got boost at the book launch. What does he know about corruption? What is the background that qualified him to make such declaration? He tried to rewrite the story of the book launch but, he ended up fouling the national space.
If Senator Dino speaks about antidotes for corruption, he has verifiable antecedents that support whatever he says. If the President of the Senate speaks about how to tackle corruption, he will be taken seriously because he has exposed large scale corruption in the past. The town crier from Lagos has no antecedents in anti-corruption struggle, other than the fact that he worships on the mountain of corruption. Heap of monumental corruption at his backyard stirs at him in face, yet, the town crier is running his mouth about perceived corruption in Abuja. Who can be more corrupt than his godfather who was tried for drug trafficking in the United States of America? If the town crier wants to know who epitomes corruption, he doesn’t need to travel out of his state of residence. The symbol of corruption is the lord from whose feet he gets tonic and crumbs.
I have said it before that the town crier and his sponsors are victims of acute megalomania and delusional fantasies. This country does not belong to them. Nigeria belongs to over 150million people. Certainly, the debate on how best to tackle corruption in Nigeria will continue. Nevertheless, Nigerians should not allow the mouthpiece of a corrupt cabal to tell us nonsense. He should shut up.
Sulyman Buhari (APC), writes from Ilorin, Kwara State.