Fighting Corruption in Nigeria: Questions of Trust and Confidence

Fighting Corruption in Nigeria: Questions of Trust and Confidence

When people and organisations have the course to discuss corruption in Africa, Nigeria always comes into mind as one of the countries on the continent with systemic economic and political corruption. This issue has been linked with the several years of maladministration by the military and democratic governments. In 2000 and 2003, the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo created the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the purpose of fighting socioeconomic and political corruption.

For 20 years of the ICPC and 17 years of the EFCC, there have been obstacles and successes on the road to get rid of the corruption in the public and private sectors. In some cases, the two agencies’ activities and functionality have been obstructed because of the limited political will, insufficient structures such as personnel, finance among others, and insufficient judiciary. Like his predecessors, during the electioneering campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians and the international community that he would stamp out corruption from the country. Since 2015, some observers and citizens believe that he has not lived up to expectations. This view has largely been driven by the poor rankings on Corruption Perception Index since 2015.

Apart from the systemic structural and legal issues impeding the two agencies’ activities, leadership problem has continued to impact the war against corruption as the country keeps changing chairmen. From Malam Nuhu Ribadu to Farida Waziri and Ibrahim Lamorde to Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC has not has so good in terms of leader who is free of issues while steering leadership of the agency. Some days ago, several reports had it that Ibrahim Magu has been suspended from office as the acting chairman of the agency after some hours of interrogation by Presidential Panel.

Issues at hands

With the leadership instability at the agency, our analyst believes that many issues need to be addressed if Nigeria is really serious about fighting corruption in the private and public sectors. Now, it is obvious that President needs to address leadership problem at the agency. This is necessary because citizens and the international community are doubting President’s ability and capability to eliminate corruption as he promised. For instance, a recent study indicates that Nigerian Netizens described incompetence, dishonesty and confusion that undermine the anticorruption measures poignantly. President in collaboration with the National Assembly needs to exhibit the needed political will towards addressing systemic issues in the country’s criminal justice, making the EFCC’s execution of activities in line with the constitutional provision impossible. This will increase public confidence in the war against corruption and level of trust in the government’s ability and capability towards total eradication of the scourge.

Exhibit 1: Trusting Political leaders (n=1,600 Nigerians)

Source: Afrobarometer, 2019

What is at stake?

With the examination of 20 allegations levelled against the suspended acting chairman of the agency, it is clear that Nigeria has many things at stake. A total of 16 of the allegations was found to be associated with processes for executing expected mandates of the agency and documentation purposes required of an establishment created for the elimination of corruption. More than 10 of the allegations signify severe threats to the war against corruption.

Exhibit 2: Issues in Magu’s Select Allegations and Their Threat to War Against Corruption

Source: Vanguard, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

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