FOI Act And Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


FOI Act And Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War In Nigeria

Posted: Feb 17, 2016 at 11:59 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
By Emmanuel Udom & Tony Ademiluyi
It is refreshing to note that the Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption effort is up and running. If the war succeeds at the end of his regime, it will certainly be a plus to the ordinary persons in Nigeria who have been living below $1 daily.


In our country with an estimated population of 180 million people, ordinary persons come in the region of about 90 percent, while the middle class and the super rich make up the remaining 10 percent. This is an unfair deal if you ask me.


Therefore with looted funds returned by past and present corrupt politicians and leaders, it is expected that the Buhari-led regime would be able to re-channel the funds to the provision of some democracy dividends like good road network, electricity, hospitals, schools, water, affordable houses, jobs, transportation and education among others.


 With his statements and body language of Buhari since he came on board, May 29, 2015, it is clear that his regime has zero tolerance for corruption in whatever form and under any guise.


Talk is cheap and time will tell if Buhari is serious about fighting corruption to a standstill in the country. In our country, most politicians and leaders talk more and do less.


They promise heaven on earth during political campaigns and deliver poverty after being voted into their various offices.


  I foresee those alleged to have collected various sums of money from the Sambo Dasuki $2.1 arms procurement deal fighting back in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead.


The president is over 73 years old and the anti-corruption war heat may likely overwhelm him and possibly make nonsense of his determination to clean-up the country of corruption and other social vices.


Dasuki, former national security adviser, during the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan could not like to go down alone.


He is naming names of powerful individuals and companies that benefited from the funds meant to procure arms to fight Boko Haram, which was instead used to service politicians to work for the second term presidential dream of Jonathan.

However, let me pause at this point to draw the attention of our president to the existence of the Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan on May 28, 2011.


This is a universally acceptable law, which empowers anyone to use it as a legally enforceable tool to obtain records or information from any of the more than 800 federal ministries, departments and agencies operating in Nigeria.


Records from the Media Rights Agenda, a non-governmental organization based in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, show that Jonathan who signed the FOI Act bill into law, thus becoming an act, was hailed and praised for his courage.


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was supposed to sign the bill into law after it was passed by both houses of the national assembly, simply ignored it.


 The Goodluck Ebele Jonathan regime however did not score high in encouraging federal institutions to ensure that people and groups that request for records and information are attended to promptly.


Buhari has a duty to encourage ordinary persons in the country to request for specific records and information from federal, state and local institutions.


This  opens up governance, ensures transparency, credibility and accountability in his regime that is already seen by some persons and groups as being selective and witch-hunting.


In Nigeria, where the civil service rule says no government worker at the federal, state and local level is allowed to open-up and speak on record with regards to information concerning his or her agency, it is obvious that the FOI Act will continue to meet stiff resistance.


 I have the feeling deep down that though the beginning may be tough for the FOI Act in our country, we will eventually get to the promised land.


However, while the heat  on the Buhari anti-corruption war is building-up and corrupt and powerful politicians, technocrats and past and present leaders are sharpening their arsenals in readiness for a tough fight, our president, who seems to be a man of the people, should pitch his tent with the common men and women in Nigeria.


He must walk the talk and deliver on his campaign promises or else be rubbished by same persons in our country who shouted Sai Baba, Sai Buhari, while he was plotting to unseat Goodluck Jonathan as president of Nigeria.


Buhari should break this jinx of secrecy and bureaucracy that has existed in Nigeria for ages and which provided a cover-up for corrupt politicians and leaders to loot the country of billions in local and foreign currencies.