The Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership has appraised President Muhamadu Buhari administration as the anti-Corruption regime. The CACOL Chairman said this in an interview conducted by the Publisher of an online newspaper “Nigerian Impact”, Mr Clifford Ejeanavi on Monday while discussing the present administration of the government in power.

Can you introduce yourself, sir?

My name is Debo Adeniran, I am the Executive Chairman of Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL)

Thank you very much, sir, for giving us the opportunity to talk with you.

We want to look at what is actually going on in Nigeria today, in your own view, do you think we are moving forward or we are going backwards considering lack of development for education, considering a negative device that is happening today, do you think we are still on the right side?

Thank you very much, is like you have kind of compile some of the atrocity or some of the inadequacies of the government but I will not agree with you that corruption is still as rampant, the truth is that a problem that was created several years earlier cannot be stopped overnight, there is no country that has been able to solve corruption overnight. Considering the fact that there are different phase of the opinion of what constitutes corruption, there are type, kind, and varieties of corruption, there is certain confusion to what actually should be taken as ground corruption. Remember the last government, the former president Goodluck Jonathan said that stealing cannot be classified as corruption, then wonder what be called corruption. He wouldn’t have fought to steal as a serious crime against the citizen. So, that may be the reason why corruption was not adequately fought during that administrative.

But remember that corruption has been there as far back as when Nigeria was constituted in 1940 because Nigeria is a product of corruption, nobody actually agreed on any referendum or flipside that we wanted an amalgamation of Nigeria. And Lord Lugard didn’t consult anybody before he gave us the name Nigeria, he only consulted his girlfriend, so these are elements of corruption that have gone into the creation of Nigeria.

At CACOL, we defined corruption as any act of dishonesty, now any action is taken that one will not want it to be exposed to the law because it is contradictory to the provision of the eastern law classified as corruption. Now to fight corruption in Nigeria is like to dismantle Nigeria and make an attempt to extract all of those things that have been put into the making of Nigeria act of dishonesty. And that means that the very name of Nigeria will be removed, then all of those who have participated in one way or the other in the governing of Nigeria will also be the tyre for corruption. Through planning and executions are corruptions because you don’t govern people by the force that is enslavement. It means that everybody that has participated or contributed towards the planning and executions are a corrupt element. They have but engage through political corruption and they deserve to be made to pay the price because that is what the law provides.  Those civilian that serve during the military era are beneficiary of corruption, they are supposed to be a tribe and punish for that level of corruption, and then the military government didn’t give account to the populace, which means that a lot of things could have gone wrong during the military regime. They are books to check what could have gone wrong during the military regime and everybody that is finding wanted in the auditing process should be made to face the wrath of the law. Now let’s fast forward to the Buhari administration, people see him as that magician who will extract corruption from our body policy, is not going to didn’t happen in Singapore, it took them several years before he could bring Singapore to the level which he finds himself now. Several other countries didn’t do it overnight. Even Ghana which is our west African country didn’t do it overnight Rollins didn’t just jump on the platform and started killing people, he has to identify those that deserve to die, rounded them up and give them the justice that he believes they deserve.

 Buhari military regime was acclaimed to be the one that introduces what against indiscipline in Nigeria. Of course, everybody agreed that there were lots of discipline when he was in government even when those disciplines have to be enforced by the military jacket. They have to beat people, queue at the bus stop, stop open defecation that was when the essential commodity has to be controlled, Sold at control prices with the view of making it difficult for anybody to exploit the witness of the poor, the vulnerability of the poor to further enrich the rich. But lots of people who benefitted from the act of indiscipline, the act of corruption didn’t like him; eventually, the counter poll was organized and was thrown out of power before he was able to consolidate.

That was the record and background upon which people spell the present president when he started contesting. Of course, you don’t forget those who locked out during his military regime as a result of the fraudulent activity and so on wouldn’t want him to become the president of Nigeria. But lots of them actually fought vigorously against his emergence as the president of Nigeria. President Buhari is the candidate of the Nigeria poor, the majority of the Nigeria population. It’s on the back of the Nigeria poor that he road to the presidency.

If you remember during his second time campaign he embark more the Nigeria poor and he told the rich that we are going to have a harder time, and he was going to fight corruption the way he has never fought it before, and he also told the people in the government sector not to spend government money for campaigning for him. That is a way of exceeding confidence, he didn’t ride on the back of the rich to rain prominence, he believes that those that are going to vote for him are the people who do not have access to government money, that why could have that confidence to say that nobody should use government money to campaign for him. While some other candidate says that they are going to tell the commanding high commissioning of Nigeria to their friends.

Its seems you are 100% in support of President Buhari administration

It’s not that he has performed 100% correctly in the fight against corruption, but we see him as that one hard man in the city of the blind that has to be the king. I wanted to do a comparative analysis with his co-contestant when he was campaigning, he didn’t spend so much the way people will think that contestant should spend money, so the little he has been able to do we have to bank on the campaign promise that he was going to fight corruption.

When we look at the APC political party today we still have some people like the Jagaban who are ready to put in their money

Well, I don’t know, it is what that has been done that could have been treated to have been done. Nobody been able to come out with the fact and figure of how much they have collected from Jagaban or whoever, what we believe is that the money that was used to for the Buhari campaign should have come from support group constituted by those who supported him that are yet to be identified as individual or corporate entity.

Is CACOL part of those who supported him?

No, we didn’t participate in the electoral process, but we supported any acorn that is genuinely geared towards fighting corruption in Nigeria, and we believe that among those who have governed us before especially during this first republic we believe that the person government has fought corruption different from the way the predecessor fought it and likely to work. I will tell you why I think so, all the safeguard that is the legal instrument that makes corruption crime difficult to commit have been operationalized by the current administration even when those instruments are already there before the emergence of the administration one of it is;

The principle of treasury single account, it has always been there the previous government couldn’t monster adequate political will to operationalize it but the present administration has done it, and they did it well making it difficult for government official to open account on behalf of NBO without the knowledge of federation account so much money flow into the hand of those who open such account. That has been a block to the very large extent, the second one is the

 BVN if anybody accumulates illicit fund, he will not have the opportunity of enjoying it or launder it through financial institution because CFA will the account that you have and how much you have in them. The owner could be called to account for the property of fraud to resources and that has been made difficult. Then beyond those two, we have the (ACTU) Anti-Corruption and transparency unit that is residing with (ICPC) that means that all procurement will have to pass through (ICPC) through (ACTU). So procurement will be scrutinized before it is done, money release will also follow to ensure value for money.

 (NFIU) which is now (NFIE) that have been taken from EFCC to the central bank that every transaction from any financial institution ranging from 1m by individual and 5m by an entity will have to be recorded. We also have (SCUAML) special control unit against money laundering it is also residing with the EFCC any NGO civil society organization will have to register with (SCUAML) any transaction they are making ranging from 1m by individual and 5m by entity or Organization will pass through (SCUAML).  That makes it difficult for people to quickly notice corruption; it is also difficult for them to launder the money.

***There is this very instrument that has been suspended some years back in national code of corporate governors, that code I’m happy to have a copy of it for the private and public entities, while he suspended that code we still don’t understand up till now but that is an instrument to probe corruption

Well, the present instrument has effectively replaced the code of conduct of National code of corporate Governors because in the corporate governors they have to check the procurement before it is done. And when you remember that there is this bureau policy procurement all of this is becoming necessary because that code we are talking about seems to be cumbersome. But in a situation whereby directly whatever that is going in the financial institution would be recorded and sent directly to the anti-corruption agency or financial regulatory agency like (CBN). Part of the new instrument is the financial regulatory agency commission like (FRCN) which also regulates the inflow and outflow of hard currency and local currency. All of this makes corruption difficult to commit, remember what happened at the Kaduna airport, Falomo Shopping Complex etc. People can no longer keep the money, take it to a financial institution this is the reason why they abandoned such money. Also, there are several assets that they are owner are disowning them, the reason is because of this entire instrument that is being put in place. There is serious political will that the present administration has been able to monster, this has given the anti-corruption agencies the go-ahead to do their work without any pestilence. That is the reason why we believe that he is the right option. Let take a look at the new entrance, they are criticizing corruption, because they don’t have opportunity to be involved in the act, and not a direct beneficiary of corruption if they have been the direct beneficiary of corruption they might not have to criticize corruption the way they are doing it.

There are some of the contestants simply utilizing the opportunity provided by several criticism eg “Not too young to rule”. Many of them couldn’t follow through because they didn’t have adequate plan to contest the election and that is why they didn’t monster adequate supporter all over, they didn’t even have good structure, there structure only exist on the internet. If you look at the way APC won in 2015, you will know that people desire thing. They are looking for the pro-poor person who is closer to them, among the presidential contestant in 2015, they see the current president as someone who is trusted, and who can grant them their desire. This may be the reason why we support the fight against corruption the way it is been going on.

Let’s not forget, it is during this administration that the former governors who had cases about 11 to 12 years after service were prosecuted and proper punishment was filed against them. Despite all of this, people criticized that there were some persons in his cabinet who were also corrupt. Of course, there is no way any government can run in a corrupted riddled society like ours without having some of those who supposed to be on trials in that government, you can’t trial everybody at the same time. This is a case of the political game plan, because Nigeria constitution didn’t allow individual candidate, and the constitution has made it compulsory for any administration to have his minister from all of the states in the federation.

Basically we need to look at the one that can still be tolerated for some time, that does not mean that they can’t still face trial at the fullness of time, look at what happened to Kemi Adeosun, she was made to resign when they discovered that NYSC certificate was forged, also Adebayo Shittu, he was not allowed to contest for election. It is only in this administration that we have seen such thing, it could have been covered, in fact, we won’t even know that they have a fake certificate and all of those things. Now it is because of openness and disinterest of the administration of how prosecutions go. That gives us confidence in the administration of criminal justice will be awesome if we allow this present government to continue to implement his plans.

*** I want to quickly draw your attention to the recent report by Forbes who raised our president son Yusuf as the first richest child of a city president with the net wealth of 3.6billion dollars. Is this corruption? As we know he has no job and he’s not working anywhere.

How do you know that he’s not working anywhere, I hope you read the Forbes report yourself, and I’m not sure it is our president son is been referred to.

*** if he’s the one, don’t you think it’s worth investigating

Of course, it is not now that you have to face the press before the investigation commence, because if the administration goes to the media and say we want to investigate this issue they will say that investigation is been done on the media. Nevertheless, they have to come up with findings. As an investigative journalist you don’t have to tell the presidency to investigate himself, nor the government, you should have a concrete fact and evidence to it.

*** Unfortunately for us sir, we are unable to break through, even the freedom of information bill we are unable to use it effectively, what I’m actually asking for is, does it really worth investigating?

It doesn’t worth it, because there is a lot of fake news that is flying around, how many of these fake news does the government have time to investigate. There are lots of corruption crimes being committed daily and everywhere. Insurgency crime, we cannot leave such crime and be focusing on the bear parlour gossip. Basically maybe that those who supposed to carry out an investigation on such crime are overwhelmed by more important investigation they are conducting, it is not the static band it can be conducted at any time. Any that is why I said this concerning those who feel strongly about it, because all of this things are gossip, supposing it was actually real, all I will do is I didn’t get it written.  Is there any money missing in government, Does this money traced into the account of the president son? This is some of the things that an investigator would carry out. Actually, I don’t believe that is the truth, they only want to waste nice time on it.

When we are talking about security, insurgency, terrorism is not what has been conquered completely anywhere. we still have pocket of terrorism here and there, the Boko Haram is no longer targeting hard places they target soft spot like churches, mosques, market places, and it is difficult to identify who is a member of Boko haram, so no matter how somebody tried, to identify which Army they belong, you cannot continue raking market in search of this people, otherwise, a lot of innocent souls would be involved.

*** Based on what you just said now, that if they cannot identify them, last week the government is considering of giving them a working sum of 100 billion naira, so who do we give this money to?

Anyway let me disclose my thought on that, we can attribute some of this successful bombing of such tragedy to failure of intelligence. So if the intelligence has been perfect, it would have been drastically reduced, in fact, it would have been a nip in the bud before they carry out the assignment. However, Nigeria has been known as the home state of corruption. So all of this, even the intelligence agency, the secret agencies could have been bribed. They would have their own anger against the system which they want to unleash by being on the side of the terrorist until Nigeria is clean.

When you now talk about Boko haram element people talked about it that Boko haram should be given amnesty the way Niger-Delta was given amnesty. Of course, the Government has not appeased with that request. I’m not sure that Boko haram has been given 100 billion naira because I know that the 100 billion naira cannot mean much to the said Boko haram. They cannot bribe and indoctrinated pest into submission, they can only be converted. Everybody should be integrated into the situwestial programs of the Government, the investigation should be carryout to know what the Boko haram element want. They should look into how to breach the gap between the rich and the poor, also to educate the uneducated; the government should make education generally acceptable to anyone who needs it. Also, effort should be made in the aspect of job creation.

Someone said that when there is cold, don’t think about sex, don’t think about tea, think about those who doesn’t have house to place their head, think about those that are homeless, you see some people who have nothing, while there are some who has too much than they need that is why we have a reckless society.

***Election have come and gone, even though we still have some challenges at the tribunal let look at the main election that will be in 2023 what type of Nigeria will you want between now and then?

 Ordinary if I am to go by my own conclusion, the minimum would have been on welfarist Nigeria where education, all the socialist sector are made cheap for the people, in terms of education, healthcare, good road, potable water, food, as a matter of that, right to food should be entrenched in our constitution, because all of these essential services are very important to people, and they should be made free. Anybody who cheats in the exam should repeat the class instead of taking to the prison. In a nutshell, any offender should face the consequence of their offences. Also, anybody who involves in election manipulation will be ban from contesting ranging from five years to ten years. We also recommended for corruption official any cases should face the wrath of the offence by staying behind the wall with hard work so that it will serve as a lesson to other who wants to go that way. We don’t agree on the death penalty, in CACOL we believe that people can change, and if they wanted to change, because of their offence which they have committed, they can change behind the wall, serve diligently, and teach good children to see that they contributed to the national economy.

Let’s everything be justiciable, let us have our right, and let the offenders be punished accordingly. Then we want the president who will not be scared of his own people but will be approachable. Also, all the Ministers should work with the people, the budget should not be done on behalf of the people, should be done with the people, there should be the least assessment during budget write up where people will contribute into what they want in their community. This should be done by their Legislatures.

The legislature should go back to their constituency, to carry out the needs assessment they will now submit this to the executive and ensure it goes into the budget. The question of budget padding will no longer come up, the question of constituency project will no longer come up, and everything will have been completed into the budget. All of this will make Nigeria have that sense of belonging and they will feel the new leave of life and that will make a better place for all.

Nobody will want to steal from nobody because they know that everybody earns his own living through honest leave, the reason why Bigande see crime persist in Nigeria is as a result of the unleashing anger of poverty from the rich, they believe that everybody that is riding a car could have stolen one in one way or the other to get one, or anybody that is spending lavishly could have stolen the money knowing that they also work for the money, but they are not earning enough. Basically, we have a better more people to society than the way we are going to now.

*** Does CACOL support restructuring?

The restructuring has been differently defined, we at CACOL don’t think political restructuring is our problem, we think moral hammering will have to introduce ethical conduct into our daily dealing and that could be thought at the level of code. When you talk about political structure of Nigeria, that is not our problem, Nigeria poor don’t know that someone is from anywhere, they believe that they belong to the same class, the same thing with the Nigeria rich, the middle class have been eliminated, so if you restructure and we have the Oduduwa state for the Yoruba and Biafra for the Igbos and the Arewa for the Hausa, they will soon be oppress before we see the oppressed, the rich will still exploit the vulnerability of the poor, that restructure will still not work, what will work is there should be national ideology where there will be upper feeling on how many individuals can possess before he gives the remaining to the state, before that can happen, if you have too much, and you will not be able to use it before you forfeit it to the state. A political party should not be registered on symbolism. Nigeria should refocus on what will constitute everybody coexistence. Thank you.