Corruption Threatens Nigeria And Its Election – President Buhari Says In New Article

Corruption Threatens Nigeria And Its Election – President Buhari Says In New Article

Read a new article wrtten by President Buhari below

On February 16th, Nigeria will hold a general election. Four years
ago, the country experienced its first democratic transfer of power to
the opposition since 1999. The vote in a few days will be no less
significant.

As president, I have tried to judiciously exercise the trust vested
in me to combat the problems of corruption, insecurity and an
inequitable economy. All are important. But amongst them, one stands
above the others as both a cause and aggravator of the rest. It is, of
course, corruption.

A policy programme that does not have fighting corruption at its core
is destined to fail. The battle against graft must be the base on which
we secure the country, build our economy, provide decent infrastructure
and educate the next generation.

This is the challenge of our generation: the variable on which our
success as a nation shall be determined. But the vested interests at
play can make this fight difficult. By way of their looting, the corrupt
have powerful resources at their disposal. And they will use them. For
when you fight corruption, you can be sure it will fight back.

It even threatens to undermine February’s poll and – by extension –
our democracy. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has raised
concerns over laundered money being funnelled into vote buying. This is
the problem of corruption writ large. It illustrates how it lurks in all
and every crevice of public life, manipulating due process in pursuit
of self-preservation and perpetuation; protecting personal political and
economic interests at the expense of the common good.

Indeed, those who have criticised my administration’s anti-corruption
drive are those who oppose its mission. And though their lawyers may
craft expensive alibis, they cannot escape that which binds them
together: a raft of documents and barely legal (some clearly illegal)
mechanisms – whether that be the Panama Papers, US Congress reports,
shell companies or offshore bank accounts.

Corruption corrodes the trust on which the idea of community is
founded, because one rule for the few and another for everyone else is
unacceptable to anyone working honestly.

But as we have intensified our war on corruption, so we have found
that corruption innovates to resist the law. This is not the sole domain
of those Nigerians, but the international corruption industry: the
unsavoury fellow-traveler of globalisation.

Once the enablers are let in – as they have been in the past – the
greed of those they collude with grows. We have closed the door on them,
but unfortunately there still remain individuals who are willing to
open windows.

Concrete progress has been made, but there is still much to do. We
have repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars stowed away in foreign
banks. These funds have been transparently deployed on infrastructural
projects and used to directly empower the poorest in society. More is
still to come from our international partners in France, the United
Kingdom and the United States of America. Yet the hundreds of billions
sifted out of the country for the best part of this century promise
more.

We have secured high profile convictions, but greater cases remain.
Lawyers table endless objections to obstruct court proceedings, whilst
their clients hope it lasts until a ‘friendly’ president is voted into
office. We must continue to tighten the legal framework and ensure the
authorities have the investigative powers at their disposal to secure
sentences. Only then will we begin to neutralise the advantages the
corrupt have.

More ghost workers must be removed from government payroll (almost
$550 million has been saved from identifying phantom employees). More
can be recovered through our whistle-blower policy ($370 million has
been returned since its launch in 2016). More is still to come. But,
together, we shall prevail over corruption.

A Yoruba proverb states that only the patient one can milk a lion.
Likewise, victory over corruption is difficult, but not impossible. We
must not flounder in our resolve. I know many Nigerians would like to
see faster action. So do I. But so too must we follow due process and
exercise restraint, ensuring allegation never takes the place of
evidence. For that is not the Nigeria we should wish to build.

There is no doubt that this Administration has changed the way we
tackle corruption. The choice before voters is this: Do we continue
forward on this testing path against corruption? Or do revert to the
past, resigned to the falsehood that it is just the-way-things-are-done?
Or that it is just too difficult – too pervasive – to fix? I know which
one I would choose. It is why I am asking Nigerians for another four
years to serve them.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI,
PRESIDENT,
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA