Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Buhari faces monumental struggle with graft

22 June 2015, 20:44

Lagos - When Nigeria's new first lady Aisha Buhari appeared at her husband's inauguration wearing what looked like a $50,000 Cartier watch, scores took to the Internet to voice their surprise.

Was it a gift or did she pay for it herself? Hadn't President Muhammadu Buhari been elected for his frugal, clean image and promise to clean up Nigeria's dirty politics?

Also read: We’ve recovered from election defeat – PDP

Others were indifferent, countering that $50,000 was peanuts compared to the billions squandered every year by government mismanagement or simply stolen through rampant corruption.

"The question really is the scale of the greed, not the fact of corruption, which is everywhere," Adewale Maja-Pearce, a Lagos-based writer, told AFP.

The money lost to corruption is mind-boggling in a country where the majority of the country's 173 million people live on less than $2 a day, particularly in the notoriously murky oil sector.

In September 2011, Bukola Saraki, who is now Senate leader, publicly exposed what he called "wastage, lack of transparency, corruption and malpractice" in the fuel subsidy programme.

Money for empty vessels

Nigeria is one of the world's biggest producers of crude but a lack of working refineries means oil has to be exported and then its products imported at international market prices.

To keep prices low for consumers, the government sells fuel on the streets at subsidised prices and makes up for the high amounts spent by importers by paying them the difference.

The system is wide open to fraud: some importers rent empty vessels, pay officials to say they have fuel on board and pocket the subsidies.

"They also bring vessels filled with petrol, get the papers and then go to neighbouring countries to sell it there, so they have the double benefit of subsidies and sales," says Debo Adeniran, head of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders lobby group.

Saraki said that by the end of August 2011, the hundreds of billions of naira spent on fuel subsidies was already 300 percent above what had initially been budgeted for the entire year.

How many government accounts?

Buhari believes graft has made Nigeria a global laughing stock but even he has admitted the scale of the problem is unknown in a country that last year ranked 136th out of 175 in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

"In Nigeria now the (state-run) NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), Ministry of Finance, FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) they do not know how many accounts the government has," he told AFP in an interview this month.

One of Buhari's biggest challenges will be to change mindsets, with Nigeria a country where money talks, particularly when it comes to politics, power and influence.

"Will he have the political will to actually deal with the people who are in the same party who contributed to getting him elected?" asked Idayat Hassan, from Nigeria's Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

As if to answer the question, Buhari has yet to appoint a cabinet three weeks after coming to power.

Buhari said government departments were being audited to try to establish what state they were left in by the previous administration.

"I want to get ministers after at least I have seen this report, so that I don't have to appoint a minister today and sack him next week," Buhari added.

What about Buhari?

Who will get the sought-after petroleum portfolio is a source of constant, eager speculation, with claims Buhari himself may even take charge of the sector to root out corrupt practices.

The NNPC was at the centre of a row with the Central Bank of Nigeria last year when Governor Lamido Sanusi said $20 billion (18 billion euros) in oil revenue it was owed had gone missing.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who disputed the amount, then sacked Sanusi.

With Buhari a former military ruler known for his no-nonsense approach to corruption and "indiscipline" awareness of the need to tackle graft is arguably at an all-time high.

The CDD has even set up a website the "Buharimeter" to monitor whether he fulfils his election promises.

So far, Buhari has only started to address one of them to publicly declare his assets. But they have yet to be made public, even though he has submitted them to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

For Maja-Pearce, hope rests in Nigeria's Internet-savvy youth.

"They know what's happening and how much their country is failing," he said.

"If the country doesn't make space for their talents by providing the necessaries then they will bring the house down."



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...