President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday explained why his fight against corruption has failed.
The President who spoke at the launching of a book “One Step Ahead: Life of a Spy, Detective and Anti-Graft Czar”, authored by former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri in Abuja, said, corruption was deeply rooted in Nigeria before his coming.
Represented by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, President Buhari said significant progress had been recorded in the anti-graft war which had also attracted commendations from far and near.
He said: “We must know that corruption is a major challenge of governance and development which we must all seek to eliminate from our system. Our administration’s commitment to eradicating it has been unwavering and we shall unrelentingly pursue its eradication.
“We have made significant progress in loot recovered, leakages blocked and the challenges it posed with arrest and prosecutions made. If the impact has not been too apparent to some observers, it is because of the deep root corruption has taken and extent of the spread before our advent.
Nevertheless, we have received good report and commendations from home and abroad on our success in fighting corruption. With our steady effort, we have great hopes that corruption will be eliminated in our country.”
The President noted the remarkable career of the author in the police force and in the EFCC, commending her courage to document her experiences.
“Dr. Waziri has had a distinguished career as a police officer, spanning the whole gamut of being a spy and a detective culminating to her appointment as the Chairman of the EFCC. Beyond this, she is a wife and a mother and an epitome career prospect for a hardworking woman; she has put her reflections on the trajectory of her life and career together in the book being presented today. I congratulate her and salute her courage.
“During and after her office, we must note that Waziri has been able to freely express her opinion and defend herself without fear as seen in the book and her comments in the media. This is possible because we are in a democracy. As a system of power and social organization, democracy fosters an environment of openness, transparency and liberty needed to espouse our ideas on virtually any subject matter under the sun. It gives citizens voice and makes their opinion the base of governance”, he said.
Earlier, the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Dr. Mathew Kukah, while delivering as a guest Speaker in a lecture titled “Is Corruption a Biological Necessity or a Political Invention”, asked Nigerian leaders to show probity and accountability.
He said: “First, the President for example won his elections on the plank that he would fight corruption. We have had such statements like, fighting corruption to a standstill, killing corruption, getting rid of corruption or, the favourite and life changing one, which is, if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. All great soundbites, I say. And of course, having been drenched in the cesspool of corruption, only the sadist, the fool would not want to see the pool drenched.
“The philosophical questions however for me are, how do you fight corruption? Who and where is corruption sitting or standing? What tools do you use to fight corruption? How will we know when corruption has been killed? What will its body look like and who will officiate at the funeral of corruption? In other words, will the high priests of the funeral of corruption be those who have wined and dined with it or those who have washed their garments in purity?
“You may find my questions quite irritating because they strike at the root of what we have not thought through but they will also help you understand why corruption has not died, will not die any time soon despite our marksmanship. Here are the reasons why I think corruption will not die so soon.
“I do not for one moment doubt or question the enthusiasm, patriotism and moral probity of those who have sought to fight corruption and are fighting corruption. I am saying that in all of these, like my fever, we are only seeing symptoms. Only a proper diagnosis can begin a process of curing us. And, in my view, we have sought to fight corruption without enough diagnostic effort. And this brings me to the first section of my question, namely, is corruption a biological necessity?”
The Bishop, who was represented at the event by Revered Father Patrick Alukumu from Abuja, however, provoked some thoughts, asking if President Buhari had fulfilled his promise of declaring his own assets public.
He said: “The next issue is how do we define the corrupt? Who is corrupt? When power is used to shield those at the top, it is one of the worst forms of corruption. Often, those in power can subordinate the apparatus of state to hide their own corruption and leave the poor and ordinary people vulnerable. We create all kinds of fireballs of protections around those who govern us and we call it Immunity. When the politician controls the security agencies and the judiciary, when all these are made to serve the people in power, then we must find another word for defining corruption.
A man of integrity and piety and we can call him incorruptible. However, what happens if the thief pays his rent, sponsors his political career, or donates proceeds from his or her theft indirectly to the friends, family and cronies of those in power? Is the canvass of their piety or integrity and honour wide enough to cover the stench of corruption or do we only see the agent of corruption?
“On a final note, let me ask two or three questions that I have heard being asked. First, is it in the Law that the Chairman of EFCC must be from the Police Force and a Muslim from Northern Nigeria? Two, people have asked, how is it that the President used Justice Onnoghen’s Asset Declaration form to prove his corruption and proceed to sack him, yet the President himself has not publicly declared his own assets as he promised during his campaigns? Thirdly, why has Mr. Magu not been confirmed as EFCC Chairman and what is the state of the trial of those who attempted to kill him in December, 2017? Thank you for your kind attention.”