(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – All that President Muhammadu Buhari represented in terms of zero tolerance for corruption have been rubbished by his greedy political associates. All through his military and public service career, Buhari left a reputation of contentment, and he contributed his own quota to make the society a better place, not only for the rich but for all.
However, his current administration appears to have been hijacked by heartless individuals who believe that the rich must become richer by all means, while the poor can go to hell. It is therefore not surprising that, they have no plans for the ordinary citizens, who are even making more visible contributions to the economic development of the country.
While the citizens were yet to come to terms with the huge revelations of corrupt practices coming out from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, culminating in the exit of its erstwhile head, Magu, another can of worms was opened at the Niger Delta Development Commission. Reports from the Ministry of Finance have it that NDDC 769 received billion Naira from the Federal Government between 2004 and 2020 and a huge chunk of this money was shared among politicians who got thousands of contracts that they never executed. In 2020 alone, 3.14 billion was spent as COVID-19 palliatives for staff of the agency; 81.5 billion for sundry expenses, 23.8 billion on consultancy and many other provocative revelations at the probe by the National Assembly.
The NDDC was a brilliant idea that was conceived to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta but it is being subverted by greedy political leaders from the Niger Delta and their collaborators in an administration that parades zero tolerance for corruption as one of its credentials.
In the days of President Goodluck Jonathan, there were isolated cases of stealing and those involved were sanctioned. However, Nigerians are shocked to hear of the looting of our common wealth at unimaginable dimensions by people who swore to serve their constituencies with all their strength. Instead, they are looting our common wealth with impunity, a development that Buhari must check to serve as a deterrent to others before his hard earned reputation of zero tolerance for corruption is rubbished for ever.
Already, the other two pillars of his administration, namely the economy and defeating Boko Haram are shaking. If the administration allows the emergent free for all looting at NDDC to go unchecked, then it would have failed on all fronts. But all hopes are not lost. The administration can redeem its image by ensuring that the forensic audit at NDDC is carried out to its logical conclusion and all those implicated are punished and the looted funds recovered. Where this fails, then it means that those who rode to power on the back of claims of going to do better than Jonathan lied to Nigerians, and should apologize to God, Nigerians and the international community, and particularly to the immediate past administration of Dr. Good luck Jonathan.