SERAP Tasks Buhari On Corruption, Proposes Five-point Programme

Muhammadu Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has challenged the president-elect General Muhammadu Buhari to ensure he tackles corruption head-on in the country. The organisation therefore proposed a five-point programme which the new leader could use to send a strong signal that he is committed to changing the status quo.

In a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP noted that “The biggest obstacle to reconstruction and development in Nigeria is corruption. For many years, systemic corruption has distorted incentives, undermined critical institutions of governance, slowed economic progress and redistributed wealth and power to the undeserving. No wonder the percentage of Nigerians living in poverty has continued to rise.

“Today the level of confidence in Nigeria is low but there is clearly public enthusiasm that the incoming government will be able to bring about a society that serves its people’s interests,” the organisation said.

“Nigerians have heard plenty of rhetoric about corruption and now is the time to take concrete action to combat the problem. We urge the president-elect to consider and implement the following five-point programme against corruption to make sure that Nigeria does not drop deeper into a pattern of corruption and impunity of perpetrators,” it said.

Presenting the five-point programme, SERAP said “The president-elect must appreciate the legacy of systemic corruption, its human rights costs; and anticipate the scale and challenges of reconstruction.

“First, the president-elect should demonstrate the political will to prevent and combat corruption not only within his presidency but also at all levels of governance. His strategy should reflect the importance of transparency, accountability and participation.

“As a first step, the president-elect should immediately after May 29, 2015 demonstrate his total rejection of corruption by publicly declaring his assets and publicly instructing all members of his government to do the same.

“Second, to break through a culture of corruption, the president-elect should not shy away from “frying big fish” including members of the National Assembly and regardless of the political party they may belong.

“The president-elect should promote and ensure the naming and punishment of big corrupt politicians so that a cynical citizenry can believe that his anticorruption drive is more than words. Such prosecutions can send a powerful signal of change.

“All unresolved cases of corruption including in the aviation, oil subsidy scandal, alleged mismanagement of trillions of Naira by the Security and Exchange Commission, missing N300 billion in the petroleum ministry since 2011; and others should be urgently and satisfactorily addressed.

“Nothing will kill public confidence quicker than the belief that the anti-corruption drive is directed only at those below a certain level in society. But it is also important that a campaign to combat corruption is not confused with a campaign against the opposition.

“Third, the president-elect should also prioritise prevention of corruption by carrying out reforms of institutions of governance including the judiciary, the police, anticorruption agencies, and the regulatory authorities on electricity. To build momentum, the president-elect should begin his anti corruption campaign where citizens perceive it to be most evident,” the programme read in part.