Former Minister of Interior, Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, has hailed the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the fight against corruption, which he described as a major factor responsible for Nigeria’s economic backwardness and underdevelopment.
Moro, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who served under the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, however, faulted the approach adopted by Buhari to execute the anti-corruption war.
Speaking in an interview, the ex-Minister said: “The emphasis on the fight against corruption in the current dispensation is more on punishment than change. We are emphasizing punishment for corrupt practices rather than changing corrupt practices or nipping in the bud corrupt practices. The war against corruption must be fought very, very transparently to elicit from the average Nigerian some level of credibility.
“It may be merely coincidental that only a certain section of the Nigerian community is being prosecuted for corrupt practices, essentially people who participated in the last PDP government who are not members of the APC (All Progressives Congress) government now.
“As long as that is the perception of the average Nigerian, the fight against corruption lacks credibility. Don’t for forget that sometimes perceptions are a reality. And as long as it lacks credibility, the feeling is that it is only those who are in the opposition party now that are being persecuted.
“Allegations have been made against persons who either were in PDP or were in other political parties or were in positions of leadership, but who have moved to APC they are walking freely on the street. Similar allegations have been made against PDP members who participated in the last government, such allegations have been promptly investigated and such persons are facing trials in various courts in the land.”
He added: “I want to say this very frankly that in the interest of this country, it is a plus for President Muhammadu Buhari to see corruption as a cankerworm that has eaten very deep into the fabric of our nation Nigeria. It is also a credit to him that he feels determined to fight this very albatross that has contributed in no small way to the underdevelopment of this country. But the approach definitely leaves a lot of room for improvement.
“And so, I think that while we are sanctioning those who have been proven to have defrauded this country, corrupted the system, we must at the same time draw up an appropriate roadmap towards preventing corruption rather than punishing corruption, because punishing corruption is just a scratch on the surface. It is just a tip of the iceberg. Like they say, you can only correct mistakes; you cannot change mistakes that have already been made. Therefore, the question that readily comes to mind is, in punishing corruption, can we be able to stamp out corruption? Also, I have continued to insist that corruption in Nigeria is predominantly more attitudinal than institutional. And the emphasis must be placed on refraining, remolding and re-orientating the attitude.”
Moro expressed disappointment that the several civil society and non-governmental organisations that cropped up to agitate for good governance during the Jonathan administration have all lost their voices, since the current Buhari-led APC government came on board, even though things appear to have become worse than they were in the past.
Hear him: “In the twilight of the life of the administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, and even within the period of his administration, various save Nigeria organizations sprang up, various civil society organizations sprang up agitating for good governance – very good! We had the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG).
“We had social activists all over the country agitating for good governance and in the extreme the removal of Goodluck Jonathan’s government. In the course of trying to rectify basic anomalies in the petroleum sector, ex-President Jonathan attempted to remove oil subsidy because it was discovered that the whole concept was becoming some kind of scam, was becoming some kind of conduit through which a very large chunk of the commonwealth was being frittered away. Social activists, save Nigeria organizations, occupy Nigeria organizations sprang up to say no to removal of oil subsidy!
“When former President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to raise the pump price of petroleum product, same organizations sprang up, agitated, promising to make Nigeria ungovernable for the government. Today, the Nigerian people are virtually pauperized, the Nigerian people are hungry.
“The Nigerian people are at a loss as in the direction of governance. Yet, apart from isolated instances, all of a sudden the various civil society organizations, the various save Nigeria organisations, the various occupy Nigeria organizations, the various agitators have gone cold and no longer talking when nothing seems to have changed and things appear to have even become worst.
“I said with a few exceptions because recently the Bring Back Our Girls stood up to say that not much has been done in the drive towards solving the problem of the Chibokgirls. And they have been in the forefront campaigning as it were, as it was in the beginning against the plight of the so-called Chibokgirls.”
From Michael Jegede, Abuja-based journalist
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