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The anti-corruption fight of Nigeria’s president Buhari has hit close to home

Put Nigerians first.
  • Yomi Kazeem
By Yomi Kazeem

Africa reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

After being elected in 2015, president Muhammadu Buhari was expected to lead strict anti-corruption probes in office in a bid to clean up Nigeria’s civil service, government offices and bad image

Depending on who you ask, that’s not been the case. While Buhari’s administration soon detained high-profile officials from his predecessor’s government—over misappropriation of $2.1 billion fund for arms to combat Boko Haram—a criticism that’s been laid against the president is that his anti-corruption stance has been one-sided with no members of his party, or administration, detained.

But that’s changed. Yesterday (Oct. 30), the presidency sacked Babachir David Lawal, secretary to the government of the federation and Nigeria’s most senior civil servant as well as Ayo Oke, director general of Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Both men had been suspended since April.

Lawal was implicated in findings of a $8m fraud scandal by Nigeria’s Senate last December. The money was meant for rebuilding Nigeria’s northeast after a decade of devastation by terrorist sect, Boko Haram. For his part, Oke was suspended following controversy around a $43 million cash haul find by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency. In the wake of the find, the NIA made a claim for the money, causing scrutiny of the agency’s finances.

The sackings come after weeks of pressure by civil society groups for the president to act on findings of the panel set up to investigate both men.

Nigeria’s corruption problems are globally famed and recently became well-documented. In August, Nigeria’s statistics bureau released its first ever large-scale report on corruption in the country and, predictably, the findings were grim: Nearly a third of Nigerian adults who had contact with local public officials in the period under review reported cases where bribes were solicited or paid. The bureau also estimated the total amount of bribes paid to public officials amount to $4.6 billion in purchasing power parity terms—around 39% of Nigeria’s federal and state budgets for education in 2016.

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