President Buhari has made it clear since he became president that his number one mission is to rid Nigeria of corruption. It was probably what got him into power in the first place as Nigerians got tired of a GEJ government that was riddled with corruption. How Buhari plans to fight this corruption is what wasn’t so clear considering the spate of arrests of past government officials and the media hype surrounding it. This had made his critics believe the plan is to simply go after past government officials accused of corruption and then using the media to “try” them.
Buhari’s latest interview with the BBC reveals a different plan that has mostly gone unnoticed. Here is the plan according to the president;
“It is generally believed that a fish begins to rot from the head; once the head is rotten, the whole body is also rotten. We have tried to remove all the heads of the organisations, and most of the lieutenants have been changed.
“A lot is happening in this government that people do not appear to understand; many permanent secretaries of ministries have been changed; we used to have 42 ministers, now we have 36 because the constitution requires that each state of the federation must have a minister. Also, we used to have 42 ministries, now we have 24.”
Going by this statement the president believes the most effective way of fighting corruption is to punish those at the helm of affairs believing that will send the message right to those at the bottom. This method has clear military undertones as can even be inferred from his use of the word “lieutenants”. As far as military tactics go, this sounds like Decapitation which Wikipedia describes as “Achieving strategic paralysis by targeting political leadership, command and control, strategic weapons, and critical economic nodes.”
The president has also been using a combination of Deception and Incentive tactics or strategies. The Deception Strategy is a strategy that seeks to deceive, trick, or fool the enemy and create a false perception in a way that can be leveraged for a military advantage. The Incentive Strategy which is defined as a strategy that uses incentives to gain cooperation. It also similar to the The Diplomatic-War Strategy which Robert Greene in his book 33 Strategies for war explained; Before and during negotiations, you must keep advancing, creating relentless pressure and compelling the other side to settle on your terms. These strategies can be seen in the way the president is handling the arms scandal involving the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki. He explains again in the BBC Hausa interview;
“Bribery and corruption was basically suffocating the country. If we don’t kill these monsters, this country would go down. That is why those who stole monies meant for arms procurement and shared it among themselves are being arrested and are being shown documents so that they would be asked to refund the money or face prosecution.”
“We would use those documents to prove what they stole, collect all the assets acquired from the proceeds and then jail them.”
So apart from creating a media storm, the president is also looking to use documents and evidence within his possession to get past corrupt government officials to submit to arrest without challenge, return stolen money and still get jailed without a long drawn legal battle.
The presidents “body language” style of governing is also well known in Abuja particularly among civil servants who are closely watching. According to people familiar with the matter, everyone has adopted a sit and watch attitude hoping to see if things will be business as usual. The government has effected the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which many believe will end a corrupt practice in Government where surpluses in current account of MDA’s at the end of the year are hurriedly spent rather than returned to the Federation Account.
Nigeria faces huge revenue shortfalls, slowing GDP and a fast depreciating exchange rate. The government also announced a N6 trillion budget which it hopes to fund mainly by blocking leakages in the system and relying on non oil revenues.