Nairametrics| It has been announced by the EFCC that they have recovered an estimated $9m and another £750,000 in the Kaduna house of a former top honcho at the NNPC. Ever since, there has been a palpable sense of euphoria not only within the agency but also amongst Nigerians. Yesterday while listening to a radio station, the presenter could not help but scream about this incidence every other minute. The fact that he was running a commentary on the Lagos Marathon did not stop him from going back every other minute to the news of the century.
At face value, the war against corruption seems to be gaining traction especially with officials who like this hapless gentleman have not been able to find a way to ingeniously hide their loot. Keeping such a stack of cash in the house was always going to lead to something like this or at best being stolen by domestics. Ever since the coming of this administration and its strict enforcement of the money laundering laws, we have began to see such crass behavior especially in the part of the officials of the former administration who in their looting spree never calculated that a time like this will come.
Much as we remain consoled at these kinds of news which have left even those who have not been caught with a dilemma of how to even return the loot into the system, I make bipolar to beg for us to look or even ask what impact all these recovered loot have played in our lives or even in revamping the economy.
The present administration has been very effective in their war against corruption, although it had been accused of being selective, the truth is that it had more than all the other past administrations in recent times put together and performed far better in the quest to sanitize the system. It is no longer business as usual. In fact, I was having a conversation with a serving Commissioner in one of the state’s and he told me categorically that corruption was now an anathema in their state. That any contractor looking for jobs and is offering any kind of inducement would be automatically disqualified. This is quiet commendable and one could immediately conclude that this state is borrowing from the centre.
Sadly however, despite these gains, one would not be blamed to ask if the eradication of corruption is the only panacea to the economic crises the country is facing today. I ask this obviously pedestrian question because the administration come into power on the back of this war and it has carried out this battle with a single-minded purpose and in more vigor than any other policy initiative since it came in. The results are glaring, despite the huge wins and the large recoveries, the question still remains to be asked, how are these impacting on our lives and the general economy.
Is inflation still being curbed, is the exchange rate stabilizing, are food prices coming down, are we still securing the jobs. Why I ask is very simple, are we really as commoners interested in listening to or hearing all these victory dance each time a corrupt official is caught when one can no longer feed. The answer is a resounding NO.
I think the Government should find a way to seek a rebalancing for the seeming efficiency in battling the scourge of corruption is not being balanced in the fight to revamp the economy. The officials and institutions saddled with that particular fight have proven not to be as effective as those who are fighting corruption leading to indifference within the polity. People are even now cynically asking for a comeback of corruption if our standard of living is going to continue to dwindle the way it has been going ever since the inception of this administration.
The inefficiency of the ‘other side’ is killing the gains of the anti-corruption battle. It is muting our interest and making us ask, ‘and so what’ each time a corrupt official is caught. Life is so draconian that we begin to lose our essence. Government should immediately do something about the economy, the policies so far are not working and Nigerians are literally dying.
Nobody cares anymore about the Diezani loot or the Andrew Yakubu stash. Nobody cares if Ibori is the most corrupt individual that walked the face of the earth when the price of a bag of rice is equivalent to the cost of a motorbike just a few years ago. People are suffering o, me I am dying and cannot be bothered about corruption.
Another question is if the situation persists till the next round of elections, would Nigerians return the present Administration on this score card of a strong victory against corruption while the economy remains bellicose? I think not. Except an immediate policy directly linking the recovered proceeds of the fight against corruption is immediately tied to an efficient welfare policy that would directly and positively affect the micro needs of individuals. The current situation where recovered funds are put back into the larger ecosystem thereby making it invisible to the man on the street is no longer sensible and would continue to erode this administrations equity.
I think a direct link from recovered looted funds, to sustainable welfare initiatives in areas like the provision of primary health care, intervention in SME programmers including setting up loanable funds, direct intervention in food prices and even cash give aways will go a long way in redressing the pervasive situation where the people are no longer interested in the war against corruption.
If a primary healthcare centre is built-in the area in Kaduna where the loot was found and named after the ‘thief’ and people go there regularly to get free health services, then the impact of the corruption war would be felt. By “immortalizing” the thief it would serve as a deterrent and also even push more whistle blowers to speak up. That my people would give the government a stronger platform to trumpet their achievement in the war against corruption and looting.
Anything short of that would see this administration headed towards Godot.