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PMB, COVID-19 & the Reincarnation of Corruption in Nigeria

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President Muhammadu Buhari - Nigerian President | COVID-19 | corruption | national assembly
There is no doubt, PMB came to power due to a number of reasons, with the biggest and most important factor being his integrity.

Columnist Corner by Bala Ibrahim

PMB, COVID-19 & The Reincarnation of Corruption in Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari - Nigerian President

(President Muhammadu Buhari | President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria | Image Cred: BussinessDay.ng)

There is no doubt, PMB came to power due to a number of reasons, with the biggest and most important factor being his integrity.

He is adjudged and acclaimed as an honest man with strong moral principles.

A gentleman to the core, with the will and wherewithal to champion the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

The general belief is that previous anti-corruption efforts failed due to the conspiracy of powerful forces in the government, whose continuous circulation gives them control and unlimited access to public funds.

With the coming of PMB, it was assumed, he could turn the table in time enough to tackle and tame the antics and tactics of the corrupt.

Now that anti-corruption posture is facing opposition, by casting doubts in the minds of many, including yours truly.

While others may have their own reasons for doubting the drive, the doubt of yours truly is based on the perceived inability, failure or reluctance of the President to quickly correct some wrongs and checkmate the drive of the drift, which is reincarnating under the guise of fighting the Coronavirus.

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The Treasury Single Account, or TSA  policy, which puts government revenue receipts and expenditure under careful scrutiny and control, was brought into action by PMB. With that, many underperforming agencies were woken up, because of the fear of prosecution by such anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC, ICPC or the police, who were quick to arrest and prosecute politicians involved in questionable deals.

Reports have it, that more than three billion dollars, looted from the government were recovered, with some abandoned in fear, by individuals whose identities are still unknown. The fear of PMB also compelled parliamentarians to trim down budget padding and the constituency project, which were used as conduit pipes of theft by the parliamentarians.

PMB was receiving accolades all over the world, to the extend that, at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the then United States Secretary of State John Kerry, openly applauded Buhari and expressed America’s support for Nigeria’s unprecedented onslaught on corruption.

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However, things are beginning to go in a contrary direction, for reasons that are not clear to many. Either through a deliberate policy of being economic with information, ignorance, or sorcery, PMB is dancing to the tunes of the corrupt, or promoting the reincarnation of corruption under the guise of fighting COVID-19.

Starting from the genuine where about of the Chief of staff to the president, Mallam Abba Kyari, who is said to be receiving treatment against the virus in Lagos, but strongly speculated to be in London, to the manner, magnitude and modus operandi, of the Covid-19 funds disbursement, the sincerity of the government is increasingly coming under attack.

A feud is brewing now between the Government and the leadership of the National Assembly, over the relief materials and other donations made by individuals and corporate organizations to Nigerians.

During a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, the leadership of the National Assembly raised critical issues concerning the operation of the Social Investment Programme, SIP.

Since the announcement of lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, and the commencement of disbursement of money to the most poor and vulnerable, where billions of naira were reportedly distributed to people under one week, many Nigerians began asking questions, not only on the amount, but the speed with which the assignment was discharged.

The National Assembly said it is obvious that Nigerians were not feeling the impact of the programme, saying the programme is gradually going the way of the disbanded Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The suspicion is allover the country, from Kano to Calabar, Abuja to Abeokuta, Potiskum to Portharcourt or Lafia to Lagos. The borne of contention is the disproportionate impact of the money on the poor and most vulnerable, whose cost of living has not reduced nor witnessed any visible access to services, including access to the tools of fighting the Covid-19.

If the aim of the programme is to cushion the hardship of the lockdown and rescue the poor from the clutch of poverty, then from the public perception, the reverse was achieved, because the programme is suspected of falling under the grip of corruption.

According to the World Bank and its Sustainable Development Goals, corruption is a major challenge, that is inhibiting its twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the poorest 40 percent of people in developing countries. It erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. Corruption impedes investment, with consequent effects on growth and jobs.

The SIP was designed to assist towards the achievement of those goals and not the opposite. Allowing them to achieve otherwise, is akin to renaming Covid-19 as coruption. To come clean, names, addresses and amount given must be quickly displayed.

If the Federal Government can release the names and pictures of Nigerians who died of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom and United States within a short period of time, I see no reason why they cannot do the same on the beneficiaries of the palliatives.

Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, has just released the names and pictures on her twitter page, with a prayer for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

If PMB fail, or refuse to do something that would be seen, and adjudged to be done on these suspicions, his courage of confronting corruption would be collectively questioned, particularly the public perception, of his passive permission to the misuse of human and financial resources.

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Basketball: Nigeria Defeats USA Men’s Basketball Team 90-87 in a Scrimmage Matchup

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Basketball: Nigeria Defeats USA Basketball Team

Nigeria’s D’Tigers stunned the US Men’s Basketball team 90-87 in an exhibition game played on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

 

D’Tigers who lost 156-73 to the US team at the London 2012 Olympics put up an incredible performance despite the sterling performances of Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard.

Miami Heat’s Gabe Vincent put up a tremendous performance as he hit six three pointers of the 20 Nigeria recorded in the match.

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D’Tigers who won the 2015 Afrobasket in Tunisia continue to intensify their preparations under the tutelage of Mike Brown ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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Niger Currently has 20 IDP Camps – NSEMA

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Niger Currently has 20 IDP Camps – NSEMA

The Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) has disclosed that the state currently has 20 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the state.

The Director-General of the Agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Inga, disclosed this to newsmen when the Victims Support Fund made an assessment tour of the Gwada IDP camp in Shiroro Local Government Area.

According to Inga, the burden of taking care of the IDPs is taking a toll on the state government because of the dwindling resources of the state government, stressing that the government resources can no longer sustain the displaced people for long.

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Inga further explained that the majority of the displaced persons are still in the camp because their communities are not safe for them to return.

He expressed concern over the fact that it is only the state government and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs that have reached out to the displaced persons in the camp, calling on other humanitarian agencies and development partners to reach out to the people.

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NDLEA Nabs Uber Driver, 2 Traffickers with Cocaine in Lagos

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NDLEA Nabs Uber Driver, 2 Traffickers with Cocaine in Lagos

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested an Uber driver, and two other suspected traffickers with different quantities of cocaine at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Babafemi said the Uber driver, Lawal Tunde Rasheed, was arrested at the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc, export shed of the airport on Tuesday, June 8.

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He added that Rasheed was arrested when he brought a consignment from his client to a freight forwarder for export to Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.

According to him, when the package was searched, 150grammes of cocaine, concealed inside two pieces of air freshener were discovered.

He further noted that investigations have so far confirmed that the suspects were behind two seizures of 50grammes of cocaine in hair attachment and another 150grammes of cocaine concealed in air freshener, heading to Malabo.

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