In this exclusive interview, Prof. Sadiq Isah Radda, Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) says that President Buhari has demonstrated significant political will to fight corruption.
The interview was held with Dr. Suleiman A. Suleiman, Assistant Professor in Politics and researcher in Governance and Public Policy at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.
Excerpts: Has corruption reduced under the Buhari government in the past five years? Nigerians are justified to expect some reduction in corruption from Buhari’s government, considering the fact that anti-corruption has always been a part of his political identity, and a part of his campaign from 2003 to 2015 and even up to date?
You see, if we remember very well, when the president was campaigning for office to be elected by Nigerians, among the problems that are facing the country, these are the major ones. The first one was the insecurity Nigeria was confronted with. Second, if you remember, Nigeria was in recession. The economy was doing very badly. Number three, there was the issue of corruption. He said that if elected, among the many problems he will confront will be these three major problems. Therefore, in assuming office, he made good his promise. At least he made good his promise and one of the things he did was that in August 2015, he established the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption. That is the committee that I was made the executive secretary. It is a committee of academic professors from various universities in Nigeria and it was headed by Professor Itsey Sagay. The committee was given extensive powers because as a committee, it has the ears of the president. We are asked to intervene extensively in the fight against corruption…
If you look at where we were before the coming of this government and where we are today, you can say that a lot of progress has been made in the fight against corruption, improving the economy and improving the insecurity we have in the country. I want to let you know that in the fight against corruption which I am very familiar with, a lot of efforts have been made. For example, as committee, when we came on board, we looked at our terms of reference we decided to examine the entire fight against corruption in Nigeria and to find out where the problems lie.
We discovered that out of the problems in the fight against corruption before the coming of this government was that even the anti-corruption agencies were corrupt themselves. Therefore, you cannot fight corruption when they are corrupt themselves. Then number two, we realised that the personnel that were in the fight against corruption don’t have the capacity building required to fight corruption. For example, there was poor capacity among investigators and prosecutors. Then we realised that the courts, because of the problems of the anti-corruption agencies, were not forthcoming. Then we also realised that the National Assembly was not willing to partner with the federal government in the fight against corruption because nearly all the members of the 8th assembly were charged with one corrupt practice or the other. We also realised that there were a lot of mistrust between the population and the government. We also realised that there was a lot of mistrust between the international community and the government before the coming of this one. So there were quite a number of problems in the fight against corruption. Then we began to address them bit by bit in collaboration with the anti-corruption agencies. We realised that a lot of progress can be made if we become very serious and to a large extent a lot of progress has been made in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.