The Buhari led-administration campaigned and won election purely on the basis of fighting and or setting the precedence on reducing corruption in Nigeria.
The challenges with Buhari’s understanding of tackling corruption is the assumption that corruption is a tangible that can be held and beaten down to a stand-still. Fighting Corruption is important but it is not as important as economic growth. Addressing the bogus-ness and wastage of resources by Nigerian public office officials, selective persecution of APC’s economic enemies and the lack of transparency and accountability of president Buhari’s administration; makes President Buhari’s quest a futile and vindictive exercise to uproot APC’s political and economic enemies and make Nigeria a one party state.
There’s absolutely no disputing the fact that if you compare advanced countries, which have achieved development and you look at their levels of corruption and you compare them with poorer countries like Nigeria who is neck-deep in the struggle with corruption and are poverty-stricken and so on, there is a huge difference in corruption between them. But there is a huge disparity in comparing how they made things better to how Buhari is doing it in Nigeria. If fighting corruption means killing the economy, increasing unemployment, reducing foreign investments, then Buhari is doing it wrong.
The challenge the economic team and the ministry of finance of an oil-dependent economy that produces nothing and depends heavily on FX such as Nigeria, remains, pointing to specifics of what the preconditions for getting from poverty to prosperity as a result of focusing on corruption are.
Further, President Buhari upon resuming office should have done everything he did but leave the most powerful economy in Africa void of a finance minister and into the hands of a CBN governor whose only role should be regulating banks and supporting the finance ministry. At the time Buhari appointed a finance minister, the power-drunk-busy-body CBN governor had done such damages that that left the finance minister in a huge and complicated mess. This is really what the disconnect in Nigeria’s economic policy issue is really all about.
Recently, in the midst of the heated attention the Nigeria was getting as the president left the country on a sick leave indefinitely and is still yet to address the country, amidst hard times created by this government, the EFCC disclosed the recovery of $9.8M loot from former NNPC group Managing Director Andrew Yakubu and Nigerians are celebrating it.
A ploy which many see as a damage control to draw attention aware from the New Yorks Times’s article on the case of a missing president. But going by the way the current government is spending, such recovery does and means nothing to the benefit of the average Nigerian. But rather would be used to fund the padded budget and government’s excessive spending.
President Buhari is not necessarily doing anything to fight corruption but rather recycling the loots from one hand to new sets of hands. Former CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi referred to it as “creating a new system of corruption”.
There are vital differences in some aspects of corruption, there are other much more important political-economy differences which President Buhari has failed to consider, which can only identify things that are considered in perspectives of our historical process of transition and how simpler countries who have been being Nigeria’s reality now had to pass through. This process cannot be skipped and where there is convergence we need to find out why such convergence exists. Nigeria needs to understand these processes of tackling corruption in a broader context that goes beyond loot recovery.
The big historical picture is a reason why China is developing and parts of India are developing and Korea developed before that is not just that their leaders were slightly less kleptocratic. How you measure kleptocracy is itself is important to the conclusion you can draw.
The Chinese or South Korean government in absolute amounts made more money than any African leader can ever imagine. They understood what Buhari does not today; fighting corruption should not kill the economy. The thing is they generated these by actually developing their economies and not by focusing on fighting corruption. Corruption has no tangibility to it. It is not a thing you can hold and fight. If you want to fight corruption, fight the things that enable corruption from a top-down approach, but focus on developing the economy to benefit from a bottom-up approach.
Perhaps, President Buhari should broadly consider why elites in Nigeria make their money by destroying the economies and comparing it to the reversal cases of developing and functional developing economies such as Rwanda or as it is in Botswana.
The problem is that Buhari is not looking at successful transitional economies who reduced corruption. History is repeating itself and Buhari is doing exactly what he did in 1984 as the head of state that created the exact economic mess Nigeria is going through right now.