OPINION: Transparency Intl’s Distorted Verdict On Nigeria – By Israel Abiodun
Transparency International (TI) has stoked the fresh flames of the overt conspiracy on Nigeria and the distortion of the country, which has become the delight of some international organizations. They see nothing positive about Nigeria. They paint it as black and evil or as a nation incapable of achieving nothing. The forecast doom and are cynical about the effect of reforms or positive landmarks in the country.
A few days ago, in a publicized statement, TI thoroughly castigated Nigeria and the military battling Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s Northeast region. It claimed graft in the Nigerian military has frustrated the anti- terrorism campaigns in Nigeria and that Boko Haram terrorism is explosively high.
TI said, “Corrupt military officials have been able to benefit from the conflict through the creation of fake defense contracts, the proceeds of which are often laundered abroad in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere. This has crippled the Nigerian military in fighting an aggressive ideologically inspired enemy such as Boko Haram.”
Candidly, no one in good conscience would sincerely say everything about Nigeria is okay. Every nation has its fair share of tribulations. Nigeria has been enmeshed in several vices and evils since independence in 1960.But to campaign that nothing has positively changed in today’s Nigeria is patently false and disingenuous. Nigerians are not saints either. But nothing can be farther from the truth as canvassed by TI’s statement.
Perhaps, TI’s judgment lenses are befuddled by the distance its operators are domiciled from Nigeria. May be, an assessment visit to Nigeria by TI would have exposed them to the reality then and now. But failing to visit the country, the setback has severed them from the current reality in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari, who has restructured the Nigerian military and introduced sanity or probity in the handling of public finances. People are not just scared of corruption, but know they can no longer pilfer public funds and go scot-free.
TI is at liberty to claim Boko Haram insurgency is still raging. You cannot stop men or organizations’ bent on baselessly destroying people and nations of the world from expressing their jaded judgments and verdicts. But whether such expressed verdicts conform with any reality is another matter entirely.
If TI ever keeps record of what transpires in Nigeria; it would have unmistakably realized that before May 2015 and sequel to the berth of the “change” regime of President Buhari , Nigeria decayed on all fronts.
Terrorism of the Boko Haram breed assailed the country and suffocated it piteously. Nigerians lived under a disarming phobia of insurgency in Abuja and other big cities in the country. Bombs exploded every day and everywhere. Nigeria’s Northeast region, the hub of Boko Haram terrorism was lighted with the furnace of hellfire by terrorists.
Military formations were recklessly attacked by insurgents better armed than Nigerian troops. Communities and villages in the region were not spared the anger of terrorists. Thousands of people were gruesomely murdered, abducted and millions displaced. About 16 local governments’ areas in the Northeast were captured by Boko Haram terrorists. They captured or deposed emirs and other traditional rulers, and erected their version of “Islamic caliphate.” Boko Haram insurgents foisted their insignias in all the captured Nigerian territories unchallenged.
This was the scenario of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria before Buhari’s Presidency. Nigerians are aware of this experience and do not need some foreigners with warped judgments to tell them their history of yesterday. If TI is truthful with itself, it would admit that the narrative has changed positively. And not minding the guerrilla- like nature of terrorism wars, TI cannot point to one instance of a terrorists bomb explosion in Abuja since President Buhari mounted the saddle. Nigerian troops have reclaimed all captured territories.
The ombudsman of the counter-terrorism war, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai courageously led troops to defeat Boko Haram terrorists. The Sambisa forest, which was terrorists most secured haven in Nigeria’s Borno state has not only been demystified, but dismantled by soldiers. The rebuilding of ruined communities and destroyed public amenities in the Northeast has commenced. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are massively returning to homes and communities previously deserted. Life in the Northeast hitherto held captive by terrorists now shudders in liveliness and normalcy.
The Nigerian Army is in the last phase of the anti-terrorism campaigns by conducting clearance operations under “Operation Crackdown” in the Northeast to cleanse communities of remnants of Boko Haram insurgents. Even President Buhari’s ardent critics agree he has defeated terrorism in Nigeria and delivered on his vow to battle the monster of endemic corruption in Nigeria.
World leaders have acknowledged Nigeria’s great feat in the defeat of terrorism and current United States Secretary of States, Mr. Rex Tillerson weeks back, in his speech at the summit on “Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS,” counseled other nations still battling terrorism to emulate the Nigerian example and strategies’ in combating terrorism.
When the United Nations Security Council delegation led by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the UN and the Security Council’s President for the month of March visited Nigeria’s Northeast earlier this year, they were not talking about a blossoming insurgency in the region or Nigeria, but the mounting humanitarian crises, a consequence of years of battling Boko Haram insurgency.
So, how and where did TI get its version of a failed outing of Nigeria on battling Boko Haram insurgency because of graft in the military? Or is the Nigeria and the “graft” in Nigeria’s military TI referred to in its statement concerns a nation and an institution outside the African continent? If Nigerian troops under President Buhari lacked weapons and dampened morale as preached by TI, how have they been able to accomplish the task of defeating Boko Haram insurgency? Seeking to blur the truth as done by TI because some powerful forces are bent on sponsoring negative propaganda against Nigeria and its military is not only resentful, but dishonourable.
TI’s replay of the scandalous diversion of $15 billion arms procurement fund under the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan to appear as if it happened under the administration of President Buhari is sufficiently scandalous to TI’s reputation. President Buhari is prosecuting in court those fingered in arms procurement fraud.
It is indiscernible to figure out the corruption in Nigeria’s Military or in defence contracts as trumpeted by TI, as affecting the counter-insurgency war in Nigeria. Firstly, Gen. Buratai whom President Buhari appointed the henchman of the counter-terrorism war embarked on internal reforms, which restructured the Nigerian Army, placing emphasizes on professionalism, discipline, accountability and transparency. Troops welfare became a priority and has remained a top menu on the list of military expenditure, as salaries and allowances are paid promptly in spite of Nigeria’s economic recession.
It sounds hoarse to canvass the position that President Buhari who is battling corruption in all facets of Nigerian state would allow it thrive in Nigeria’s military or defence contracts as propagated by TI. It is inconceivable and does not add up. It smacks more like TI’s hallucinations of emptiness.
Much as some vested interests and enemies of Nigeria are vexed with the termination of insurgency by a country usually dismissed as a “failure,” by her antagonists, angling for the continuation of Boko Haram terrorism, it cannot reverse the reality that terrorism has been defeated. It rather sad that, TI has joined the league of those on a mission to rubbish and destroy Nigeria. But the script was poorly crafted and makes no impact because the reality is too palpable.
However, But what TI cannot obliterate or distort is the peace; the practical succor Nigerians are enjoying over terrorism extinguished by the gallant and courageous Nigerian military.
Abiodun writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.