How to fight corruption: Jonathan or Buhari style

By Rotimi Akinola
President Jonathan and his challenger Muhammadu Buhari
President Jonathan and his challenger Muhammadu Buhari

After President Goodluck Jonathan admitted that corruption is a major problem in Nigeria, the debate on whether or not the country is plagued by the hydra-headed monster is over.

The President has, however, made it clear he does not believe in jailing corrupt Nigerian officials. He said he believes in building government systems and processes impregnable to public looters.

Before the president revealed his stance on fighting corruption, he had labeled it a no-issue.

“The word corruption is over-used, even a common thief is now called corrupt,” Jonathan said during a presidential media chat in May, 2014.

In a televised debate titled “Africa’s Next Billion” held at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in early 2014, President Jonathan was quoted to have said the following:

“Everything that does not happen the way it should in Africa, people say corruption is the answer.  I don’t agree.”

Buhari and Jonathan have vowed to fight corruption. But banking on Nigerian politicians to fulfill their promises is like waiting for rain in harmattan.

Although the president’s assertion could prove to be true, Nigerians who believe corruption and mismanagement of their huge oil wealth is the bane of the country obviously disagree.

Nigeria is filled with many anti-corruption groups who accuse the president and official anti-graft agencies of shielding – and in some cases, pardoning – corrupt government officials.

President Jonathan seems to have changed his tone as the February 14 presidential poll draws near by stating his resolve to tackle the “problem” of corruption. He, however, insisted the government cannot employ crude means to solve riddle.

He revealed his strategy at the flag off of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos on Thursday.

“I stand by due process. Any country that does not respect due process is a jungle,” Jonathan declared.

His main challenger from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, has made it clear that aside plugging corruption loopholes, he would not hesitate to prosecute and jail corrupt Nigerian officials.

“When we come into power, anyone who steals Nigerian money will end up in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons,” Buhari assured Nigerians on Tuesday during an APC rally in Akwa Ibom State.

“We are going to make sure that Nigeria’s wealth belongs only to Nigerians,” he said.

Many fear Buhari’s approach to eradicating Nigeria’s corruption could spell doom for a country in which most power brokers, including some people in the APC, are perceived to be benefiting from the corrupt system.

Nigerians, however, have expressed the belief that one of the ways to effectively check corruption is to deal with offenders – a creed president Jonathan apparently does not hold dear.

Now that both parties agree corruption is a problem, I’m just glad the monster will be dealt a decisive blow notwithstanding who wins Valentine’s Day poll.

The problem is just that banking on promises made by Nigerian politicians is like waiting for rain in harmattan.

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