Osinbajo, the Fight Against Corruption and Public Opinion

March 28, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Jerome-Mario Utomi



It is a deep-seated teaching within religious circles that for a man to exist, comprehend, exercise and act; he must depend on a supernatural gift called grace. Such ‘grace’ for political decisiveness seems to have been recently released upon our nation’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as he against all permutations conceded that corruption still exists in President Buhari’s administration.


Adding context, the Vice President, while speaking at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector Stakeholders in Aso Rock Villa, among other things stated as follows; ‘that there is grand corruption in the Nigeria public finance space, that Nigerian Business environment is burdened with corruption, that corruption under this administration has not been completely dealt with; no, certainly not.’ He also added that about three million dollars, approximately one-tenth of our foreign reserves, was fleeced through a strategic alliance programme in recent times.


Certainly well crafted, with telling good intentions aimed at promoting openness and probity in our political space, the remark, in Nigeria’s history has presented Professor Osinbajo as a desirable member of the league of very few Nigerian leaders who conceded that something may actually not be completely right with their administration.


Against this backdrop, the VP, going by what the masses are saying, has made himself the symbolic ‘pulpit’ that expressed the silent fears of Nigerians who in recent times lampooned the purported corruption fight as more of a well said than a well-done affair.


But, the above scenario notwithstanding, knocks have however continued to greet said remark as Nigerians have spotted a gorge of discrepancy between the VP’s remark against what the administration is currently doing. For instance, while the VP views the corruption fight as work in progress, the vast majority of Nigerians believe that there is no such fight in the first place. To some, the FG through its actions remains the major propeller of corruption while others are of the opinion that the supposed fight only exists in the frames.


Indeed, it appears that the fundamental factor responsible for the dust so raised by the remark is that Nigerians are not particularly happy with this administration that promised to stamp out corruption but instead has unprecedentedly allowed it to thrive.


To discerning minds therefore, informing Nigerians that the same monster the administration promised to erase still exist three years after, is synonymous with opening the paradox; a development that has further portrayed the government as a reality Nigerians should worry about.


The situation is made even worse by the inability of the FG to deliver the nation from the throes of economic hardship; prompting many to ask what the administration can point as their achievements if they cannot fulfill the two cardinal promises of stamping out corruption and getting the nation’s economy revamped.


In recent weeks also there have been strong voices raised against the lackluster strategy in the corruption fight in Nigeria with the most formidable coming from Transparency International. The Group had in strong terms cautioned that corruption in Nigeria is on the increase and may slide from bad to worse if something dramatic is not done to get the situation arrested. That report was described in government quarters as out of tune and therefore discarded with a wave of hands. But with this comment by the number two citizen, Transparency International and other critical minds have been vindicated.


To succeed in this job, what Nigerians are saying is that the strategy so far employed in the corruption fight is faulty and the government is lacking in political will. What the concerned citizens are therefore demanding is the reinvigoration of the political will and review of the strategy so far used as no matter how beautiful a strategy may appear, there is a need for its periodic review.


From their current standpoint, what the masses expect from the VP in my view is not the announcement, but a template in place for ensuring ‘that every dollar/naira in revenue would be properly accounted for and would reach the beneficiaries at the grassroots, as one dollar, without being siphoned off along the way; block the areas where discretionary powers had been exploited for personal gains and sharpened the instruments that could prevent, detect or deter such practices’.


Very instructive also is the need for this administration to end this act of pointing to the former administration as the architect of their predicament which has become not just a familiar music hall firm but a trademark. Such reasons generated daily can no longer be sustained as the people are of the opinion that the continuous search for lost things remains the easiest way to waste both time and resources.


Going forward, the presidency should learn to depart this vicious circle of excuses as it is turning the entire administrative episode to an excruciating burden on the masses and may by implication inform as well as shape the 2019 electoral outing.


Aside from the above, efforts should be made to prime and position the EFCC, the ICPC and the Nigeria Police Force to fight this monster. This time is auspicious for us as a people to learn from the nations that have passed through this part as the masses are expecting from this administration not just stamping out corruption but a total creation of a sustainable socio-economic prosperity.


In making this call, I am well aware that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under the old order. But, any leader that does, comes out powerful, secure, respected and happy.


As the debate on the corruption fight rages, Nigerians are inching for victory; a disposition that has further made winning not just compelling but inevitable.





Jerome-Mario Utomi

Jerome-Mario is a Social Entrepreneur and an alumnus, School of media and communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.

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