By Joel Popoola
Here’s irony for you: Nigerian politics has a better reputation with international experts than it does with Nigerians.
We all know that when it comes to reputation, the Nigerian government can be its own worst enemy.
Whether it’s accidentally appointing dead men to government commissions, or copying entire laws off the internet like a naughty schoolboy, our political class has kept us laughing for longer than Papa Ajasco!
That’s why many Nigerians will be surprised to hear of research from the University of Edinburgh Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) programme, which shows how much better Nigeria is getting at tackling corruption.
The study reports that the prosecution of high-level corruption cases in Nigeria has noticeably improved in recent years with “key legislative reforms, as well as innovations and pragmatic adaptations undertaken by prosecutors and investigators (underpinning) much of this progress”.
The international academic observers even describe the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as “a robust and effective agency”.
The report concludes:
“By looking at evidence of what is actually happening, rather than relying on apocryphal accounts or worn-out stereotypes; policymakers, practitioners, civil society and international partners can work together more effectively to support effective anti-corruption law enforcement practice in Nigeria.”
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration obviously understand how important these changes are to the government’s national and international reputation and performance. It is therefore, believed that the government will prioritised these changes in the coming days.
Sadly, Nigerians themselves are not as impressed with the progress being made.
The Pew Research centre reports that more than seven-in-ten Nigerians (72%) believe the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes our country well, and six-in-ten say it describes Nigeria “very well.”
Just 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in our country – with 60% not satisfied – and 57% stating their belief that no matter who wins an election, things do not change very much for Nigerians.
And as Nigerians, we have to face facts; there’s a reason people feel this way. The international Corruption Perception Index (CPI) still ranks us 146 out of 180 countries, making us the 34th most corrupt country on Earth. One online poll even suggested that 80% of Nigerians think that placing is deserved.
As the Acting Chairman, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, stated recently that: “Corruption is a huge burden to our nation. It has spread to insecurity, poverty, unemployment, falling standard of education, weak access to affordable health care, falling infrastructure and so many others.”
What is to be done?
Well, the ACE study recommends that Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agencies; the EFCC, ICPC, and CCB should “increase transparency as well as intensify collaboration and information sharing with other government agencies and non-governmental partners”.
I believe that this recommendation should be followed throughout Nigerian government. And that’s where technology comes in.
Nigerians need to see the progress that is being made. And in the twenty-first century, people increasingly find information they get from their peers to be the most credible. But to many Nigerians, the political class feels far away and irrelevant. It doesn’t have to be that way. The power to change is in our hands. Literally!
26 million Nigerians voted in the last presidential election. 24 million have social media accounts.
39% of Nigerians voted in the last presidential election. 46% have a Facebook account.
Online and on handheld devices, are increasingly where connections are made in modern Nigeria.
My Digital Democracy project was established to make electors and elected true peers, connecting people with their elected officials via their phones using our free Rate Your Leader app. The app also allows leaders to explain direct to the people they serve– without any sort of spin or fake news distortion – what decisions they have made, why they have made them, and how it affects local people.
This in turn leads to greater levels of trust in a political class that the voters can see are working for them, and accountable to them.
Another survey reported that almost half of Nigerians believe that corruption cannot be defeated.
It can, but not before our political class takes important steps to improve its image through greater accountability and transparency.
But thanks to smartphone technology, that can be done from the comfort of their homes, with the touch of a button.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app.
Yobe Governor, Buni Marries Abacha’s Divorced Daughter, Gumsu
Yobe Governor Mai Mala Buni on Wednesday married Gumsu Sani Abacha in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The marriage was held at the Abuja residence of the new wife’s brother, Mohammed Abacha.
Buni is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker National Chairman; Gumsu is a daughter of former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
Notable personalities and government officials, including the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Hameed Ali attended.
In 2019, shortly after he assumed office, Buni tied the knot with Ummy, a daughter of his predecessor and incumbent Yobe East Senator Ibrahim Gaidam.
Gumsu, 45, is the governor’s fourth wife. Her marriage to Cameroonian multi-billionaire, Bayero Mohamadou crashed in 2020.
Wike Locks Down Rivers for LGA Elections
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered restriction of movement ahead of the local government election in the state.
The election is slated for Saturday, April 17 across 4,442 polling units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas.
In a broadcast on Thursday, Wike said the restriction from Friday night to Saturday is needed to ensure the smooth conduct of the election by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC).
The governor assured residents that security agencies will provide adequate protection at all the polling units and collation centres.
“Consequently, vehicular and human movements, within and out of the state and the local government areas is hereby totally restricted from the midnight of Friday, 16th April, 2021, until the end of polling at 5pm on Saturday, 17th April, 2021, except for persons and vehicles strictly on essential duties with genuine and valid identifications,” Wike said.
“The security agencies have been directed to strictly enforce the restriction on human and vehicular movements and arrest and prosecute any person who dares to violate this ban. I have been briefed and received assurances from the RVSIEC that it is fully prepared and ready not only to conduct, but also to ensure that polling is hitch-free, fair and credible.
“Furthermore, the security agencies have clear directives to arrest and deal decisively with any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, who attempts to prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election or compromise its integrity in any way.
“We call on community leaders and the general public to be vigilant and promptly report every suspicious movement and or illegal activity around polling units and collation centres in their localities to the security agencies for immediate action.”
Wike added that his administration will always ensure the promotion of democratic principles, including the election of officials at local government levels across the state.
“As a government that believes in the practice and consolidation of democracy, and in fulfilment of our constitutional duty to ensure the sustenance of democratically-elected local government councils in the state, we have since decided never to run our local government system with caretaker committees, except in inevitably justifiable circumstances,” he said.
“It is against this background that this election has been fixed to once again give our people the opportunity to effectively participate in the process of electing and constituting the next set of chairmen and councillors to administer the 23 local government councils.”
The governor urged voters to conduct themselves peacefully and refrain from any act of violence, adding that the election is not a do-or-die affair.
EFCC Frees Okorocha after Two Days Detention
Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, has been released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), two days after he was invited for questioning.
Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo west at the senate, was grilled at the EFCC office in Abuja on Tuesday, over issues bothering on alleged corruption.
The former governor, who was in charge of Imo from 2011 to 2019, had been accused by the state government of various corrupt practices including diversion of public funds — although Okorocha has denied any wrongdoing.
Documents obtained by TheCable showed how the former governor awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion in violation of the public procurement act.
TheCable had also reported how a government committee uncovered N112.8 billion “dubious debts”, which various banks owed the state during Okorocha’s tenure.
Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha’s media adviser, confirmed that Okorocha left the custody of the anti-graft agency on Thursday.
“With gratitude to God Almighty, we are delighted to inform the general public that the former governor of lmo state, and by the grace of God, the Senator representing lmo west senatorial district, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is out of the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and he is now in his house,” the statement reads.
“He left the Commission’s office on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2021.”
Onwuemeodo, who described Okorocha’s invitation to the EFCC’s office as a “trip” said the former governor had earlier given the assurance that he will cooperate fully with the agency.
“We didn’t bother about whether he spent 24 hours or 48 hours at the Commission’s office. We were only keen in his having the needed opportunity to address the allegations contained in the avalanche of petitions written by the lmo State Government, against the former governor,” the spokesman said.
“Remember also that we had alluded that EFCC was not a slaughter house, but a responsible institution, established for the good of the nation and her people. And Okorocha being in his house today, only confirmed our hypothesis that, indeed, the Commission’s office is not an abattoir.”