During president Buhari’s acceptance speech, he labeled corruption as evil much worse than terrorism and vowed to fight against corruption, mentioning that it won’t be tolerated by his administration. In fact, out of his presidential campaign’s agenda, fighting corruption was one of the main points that scored president Buhari the millions of votes, which secured his win during the 2015 mandate. The CACOL (Center of Anti-corruption & open leadership), has been urging Nigerians for several years to play an active role in helping curb corruption and oppose any leader that is not operating in a transparent, open and honest manner.
However, the Buhari administration has been criticized by some as not following with what it promised in terms of a complete crackdown on corruption. For example, we can remember that the first secretary to the government of the federation (SFG), Babachir Lawal, was caught in corruption scandal during his first year in the office. As a result, many Nigerians said it took Buhari’s administration way too long to remove the first secretary, and that a lot of money and time were wasted during the national assemble probing even though there were a lot of evidence pointing at Babachir and his wrong doings.
Another corruption issue that hasn’t been resolved yet is the case of Abdul Rasheed Maina, who was declared wanted by the economics and financial crimes commission back in 2013. Maina joined the government again and got promoted twice before disappearing again amidst confusion and anger among many Nigerians. Many blamed the slow execution of Buhari’s anti-corruption plan which was labeled as the national anti-corruption strategy by his administration, on the federal executive council for taking well over two years to finally accept it after Buhari was admitted into office.
Regardless of the hurdles that seemed to plague the administration, there are great initiatives that aim at curbing corruption, and that have been overly successful in doing so in the past couple of years. The treasury single account (TSA), was introduced to improve transparency and efficiency when it comes to managing finances. The account basically demanded all public sector revenue payments to go through a single account at the central bank of Nigeria which helped save around 8.9 trillion naira by early 2018.
One additional initiative aimed at curbing corruption is the whistleblower policy which basically encouraged citizens to speak up against corruption and get rewarded from 2.5% to 5% of the money recovered. Due to this policy, around 378 million USD have been recovered by April 2018.
The issue of corruption in Nigeria also stems to international business and foreign trade. However, there have been several projects and initiatives recently that are geared towards curbing corruption in these areas. In 2018, the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has revealed that Nigeria and Denmark would be collaborating in order to address the problems facing the maritime trade business between both countries.
After meeting with Anne Steffensen, the chief executive officer of Danish shipping during the African-Nordic foreign ministers meeting in Copenhagen, Onyeama addressed the current obstacles facing the maritime trade industry between both countries. The address mainly focused on the issue of security in the Gulf of Guinea and corruption in the trade sector. The need for training, surveillance equipment and security forces has been raised and Steffensen has expressed how glad the Danish maritime sector is willing to help Nigeria to cope with such difficulties.
Combating the corruption within the Nigerian maritime sector would require a brand-new infrastructure that is more transparent and allows of revenue and transactions to be easily monitored and traced. Another issue that has been mentioned was double taxation between both countries. Onyeama has mentioned that Nigeria is a large hub for maritime Transporation and Denmark is one of the biggest countries when it comes to maritime transportation, and so, president Buhari has been working on facilitating trade between both countries by establishing the business environment council that is mainly focused on streamlining international trade.
Curbing corruption will require hard work and commitment to achieve the desired results, as well as international collaboration, for example working with countries in the Gulf of Guinea to help resolve the security threats that are getting in the way of improving and protecting the maritime trading industry in the region. Steffensen has also expressed her desire for both Nigerian and Danish companies to continue working and expanding the business between both countries, as well as cooperating internally and externally to improve trade security and ensure a corrupt free business environment within the maritime trade sector.