Grimot Nane Zine

Why “Anti-Corruption” is a Great Election Gimmick in Nigeria

Nigeria since independence in 1960 has had six democratically elected executives, the most recent being Muhammadu Buhari. The country has also had seven military heads of state; six by way of coup d’état). No democratically elected head of state from Tafawa Balewa to Goodluck Jonathan has ever gotten into power on electoral promises of anti-corruption while all six military coups were staged on the raison d’etre of fighting corruption. Anti-corruption has thus never been exploited for election purposes in Nigeria, until 2015. Change?

The only “shenge” the current All Progressives Congress (APC) government under President Buhari has produced is the use of anti-corruption as election persuader / winner and a new political party is in power. The “Change” Nigerians still expect is viatenious. Pie in the sky when you die, I am a not waiting. The APC spearheaded by President Muhammadu and their advisors undertook the unprecedented approach to electioneering in Nigeria by using a military coup gimmick for democratic purposes.

Why not? The news of many of the military coups in Nigeria have been welcomed in the streets with celebration and dancing because the democrats or military junta ousted from power were totally profligate and the people have had enough. The government of Jonathan looked very profligate and Buhari used the same reason he came to power as military leader in 1984 for his 2015 election victory. It worked very well. Anti-corruption rhetoric breeds hope, but illusion and delusion too, for most. It can mask reall issue that face nation with great ease and effectiveness.

Corruption is aggressively and perpetually implicated to be the main problem Nigeria has with its day-to-day governance. In the information age powered by portable mobile devices Nigerians and non-Nigerians know with good details about the high level of thievery and misgovernance that pervades entire the political economy of Nigeria. Most Nigerians and non-Nigerians intuitively believe or know that great minimisations or thoroughgoing eradications of corruption will see the country flourish economically, socially and politically without a doubt. The information about the the impunity rolled out for the big thieves is also readily available. Disllusionment has supplanted hope for most Nigerians. Nigerians are therefore easily persuaded by the promises of good anti-corruption rhetoric especially at election time when the people want the current kleptocrats out.

The future of the success of an anti-corruption campaign at election time is most likely a thing that will never be repeated. You cannot fool everybody all the time and Nigerians have been comprehensively fooled with anti-corruption rhetoric. President Buhari does not care; he has achieved his ambition. Buhari and APC have been successful this time but is most unlikely any party will win election with an anti-corruption gimmick up to the distant future.

The future of anti-corruption in Nigeria is also now truly dire. The Nigerian public will get nothing better than the scape goating, witch hunting and fair gaming of political enemies, ethnic minority politicians, the weak and the dispensable politicians under the guise of prosecutions for corruption. Political allies, ethnic majority politicians, godfathers and strategically useful politicians who are big thieves and wastepipes will enjoy in this government the largesse of impunity their predecessors have prospered under.

If a country like Nigeria is to move from being ‘very corrupt’ to ‘very uncorrupted’ or even ‘moderately corrupt’ the anti-corruption program of the government must necessarily be thorough with minimal instances of rare lucky escapes by the corrupt who for indefinite periods cannot sleep well at night. Unfortunately, a thoroughgoing or proper methodical anti-corruption program that is true to its purpose in Nigeria is not happening in the near future. Too many issues have been overlooked in the name of anti-corruption.

There will be the supporters of the corrupted anti-corruption program who see it as uncorrupted and there will be those who are very dissatisfied with its corruptness. We must note that support will be more ideological and dissatisfaction will be more empirical. All in all, the gimmick has worked and is continuing to work on large sections of the Nigeria people… for now.

Let time tell the story.

Grimot Nane

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