A report on corruption by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has slammed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as being corrupt and inclined to using political power to steal public resources. The report titled, “A New Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria,” which was published recently, said despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture, there was little difference between his party, APC, and PDP.
In swift reaction a highly place member of the APC who does not want to be named because he is not the party spokesman said given all they have done in the fight against corruption the report is ‘nonsensical.’
In his own reaction to the report, the PDP said it was a wrong evaluation of the party in its current state under the leadership of Uche Secondus. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said by telephone last night, “That report cannot be addressing the repositioned, rebranded PDP.”
The report said, “Kleptocratic capture of political party structures is a sine qua non of gaining power and thereby unlocking corruption opportunities across a range of other sectors. Little distinguishes Nigeria’s two main political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – in this regard. Both are constellations of fluid national, state, and local elite networks.
“Both are almost identically structured, non-ideological organisations. Both rely on misappropriated public funds to finance election campaigns. Neither values internal party democracy, allowing money and high-level interference to corrupt candidate selection processes.”
According to the report, top politicians in the two major political parties are always seeking, by hook or by crook, opportunities to secure lucrative public appointments or high-level backing for their ambitions.
It stated further that party officials always sought to monetise their influence over internal party processes by soliciting cash from aspiring politicians or seeking to be co-opted by them.
Giving an insight into the corrupt practices prevalent in APC and PDP, the report explained, “According to the chairman of a national political party, ‘(Party officials) are not supposed to (receive money for expenses and allowances) but they make money, sometimes in many, many crooked ways. The party sells membership cards… (but) party officials at that level keep the money for themselves. People who want to run for office… virtually bankroll the parties in their localities. Sometimes they even decide who becomes the chairman in their ward or the secretary of the party. They also have to find a way of running their families, so the way they do it is through this very indecent manner.’”
The report frowned upon what it called “the symbolic relationship between legislative and bureaucratic corruption”, which resulted in the country having three “expensive and unnecessary” space agencies.
It said it had identified 500 kinds of corruption in Nigeria.
According to the author of the report, Matthew T. Page, corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multifaceted.
“A new taxonomy can help us make sense of it. Corruption in Nigeria runs the gamut from the jaw-dropping, to the creative, to the mundane. It encompasses the oil minister who diverted billions of petro-dollars in just a few years. It includes the local official who claimed a snake slithered into her office and gobbled up $100,000 in cash. And it involves the cop shaking down motorists for 25 cents apiece at makeshift checkpoints,” Page noted.
In the report, Page, a non-resident fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja, proposed a new framework or taxonomy for looking at corruption in Nigeria. This taxonomy, he pointed out, aimed to help make complicated and expansive topics more digestible.
“The framework works by detailing 20 sectors that are especially vulnerable to corruption (such as media, infrastructure, and police). It also identifies eight categories of corrupt behaviour that cut across these sectors (such as bribery, subsidy abuse, and favouritism). These eight categories are further divided into 28 tactics, meaning that overall, the framework covers over 500 distinct kinds of corruption,” the author stated.
The report concluded, “Corruption is the single greatest obstacle preventing Nigeria from achieving its enormous potential. It drains billions of dollars a year from the country’s economy, stymies development, and weakens the social contract between the government and its people.”
It said corruption in the country was “ubiquitous and takes many forms”, singling out 20 sectors where corruption is most prevalent and the forms of graft peculiar to them. They included the political and institutional sector, where the report identified political party corruption, media corruption, electoral corruption, legislative corruption, and bureaucratic corruption; economic sectors, where petro-corruption, trade-related corruption, industrial corruption, agricultural corruption, infrastructure corruption, among others, were said to be rife; and the security sectors, which were plagued by defence sector corruption, police corruption, judicial corruption, and anti-corruption corruption.
On Nigeria’s defence and security agencies, the report said, “Decades of unchecked corruption have hollowed out the Nigerian military and security services and rendered them unable to effectively combat Boko Haram or address ethno-religious and communal conflict… High levels of defence sector corruption have serious frontline consequences… Military sources have privately blamed the deaths of 83 soldiers in a late 2016 Boko Haram ambush directly on equipment shortfalls and low morale resulting from an uptick in corruption among army leaders.”
Page, a former American envoy to Nigeria, added that corruption could be seen in how the government tended to “waste” limited resources. He took a swipe at Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha.
“Among the forms of corrupt behaviour, the taxonomy includes ‘legalised corruption’ and ‘deliberate waste’. These categories are not generally recognised as forms of corruption, but they make sense to include in the Nigerian context. These tactics include legislators’ exorbitant salaries –roughly $540,000 annually –, vanity projects such as one governor’s decision to erect multimillion-dollar bronze statues of South Africa and Liberia’s former presidents), and Nigeria’s three – yes, three! – expensive and unnecessary space agencies,” Page explained.
However, the PDP spokesman, Ologbondiyan, rejected the corruption report, saying, “While the report vindicates our position on the All Progressives Congress, it certainly does not reflect our new thinking and initiative. Under the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee, we have turned over a new leaf as a party and that is why Nigerians who find the corruptible and condemnable vices of the APC and the federal government despicable have abandoned the APC as a party and are rallying to the PDP, which today is a veritable alternative capable of changing the direction of governance of our nation.
“Therefore, any report that is discussing PDP in the time past cannot be said to be addressing the brand new PDP, which has repositioned itself to take over the leadership of government and provide good governance for the generality of our people.”
The top official of the ruling party discribed the report as “nonsensical” and should not be taken seriously. Saying that APC was doing all it can to fight corruption. The official warned that Nigerians should be wary of these reports that paints the country in bad light.
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