Imagining Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption War After May 2019

originally published in Intervention.ng April 6 2019

This is an edition that would certainly come back in one form or the other in the very near future within the framework of CITAD administered but MacArthur supported programme on anti-corruption consciousness among Nigerians. It is published now so as to formally close last quarter even as the topic would be even more appropriate by the close of the tenure of all incumbents now by May 20th, 2019.

It is an attempt to imagine power and probity in Nigeria after May 2019. The original assumption behind the topic is that the way people frame problems is also the way they try to solve the problem. That is why words usage and self-understanding are considered to be power games themselves. So, it was considered important to look at the self-understanding of the main actors in the corruption battlespace in Nigeria – the presidential candidates; the senatorial candidates and the governors. That is with a view to answering the question of how the power they seek would be used to shape the politics of probity, come May 29th, 2019.

As controversial and subjudice as several of the elections have been, they have produced outcomes, meaning a new phase of anti-corruption politics from May 29th, 2019. But what might then be the shape of this phase, looking at what we can synthesise from all the five previous reports published in the immediate past quarter, viz:

  1. Power and Probity in Nigeria After 2019 Election, December 30th, 2018
  2. Power and Probity Profile of the February 16th, 2019 Presidential Election Candidates January 26th, 2019
  3. Power and Probity Profile of Senatorial Candidates in the February 16th, 2019 Election (1) February 4th, 2019
  4. Power and Probity Profile of Senatorial Candidates in the February 16th, 2019 Election (2) February 6th, 2019
  5. Governors, Power and Probity in Recent Media Coverage of Corruption in Nigeria, March 3rd, 2019

Here we go with the ten issues our panel of experts came up with:

  1. Between 2015 and 2019, there was nothing like an elite consensus on fighting corruption. While the Buhari regime proclaimed an anti-corruption war as a cardinal commitment, the opposition saw it as nothing but a sophisticated strategy of intimidation
  2. If there is no consensus, who can guarantee that the commotion from there would not pose sufficient threats to elite coherence and, by implication, stability? In other words, would Nigeria prove an exception to stability or instability as a function of elite consensus?
  3. Two high profile members of the Nigerian elite have on different occasions, warned that those who have already made money, decently or from proceeds of corruption, could hold the society to ransom. So, they argued for a mechanism to be worked out within a national framework for remission. Is any of the sides in this combat thinking of this suggestion or each side is too far gone in its self-righteousness?
  4. What is likely to be the aggregate disposition of the judiciary as far as corruption is concerned as from May 29th, 2019? The judiciary is a key layer of actors in the process.
  5. Would the claims and counter-claims attendant on the February and March elections allow any anti-corruption war to be seen as anything but a strategy of consolidating power by its promoters?
  6. The main opposition party – the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) did not hide its disdain for the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Unfortunately for the APC, the PDP is a much stronger party now than 2015 – 2019. It now has no less than 15 governors and more members at the National Assembly, (NASS). Again, in the absence of  consensus, what might this new balance in strength imply for an anti-corruption war that has always been contested?
    Is it progressive in itself to retrieve loots and celebrate such but without that connecting to things that can be distinctly testified to in terms of what retrieved loots translated into for the people?
    In all the above publications, not a single actor, particularly those already before the courts, accepted guilt or pleaded error of judgment. Is it not something worth investigating because, in some other climes, members of the elite who gets caught out bow to the shame of it. Why doesn’t that happen here even as tremendous as the level of corruption?
    Is anti-corruption war even the proper name of what the Buhari regime is privileging even when corruption is a much wider practice than stealing government money? Why can’t the war be called its proper name or be expanded if it promoters mean what they say?
    If the war remains what it is called now, what happens to the president himself should the court implicate him in rigging?

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