Former President Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari are exchanging accusations on corruption days after the launch of Jonathan’s book in which he alleged that Nigeria is now more corrupt than it was during his presidency.
Backstory: The exchange began with a press release issued by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Shehu claimed Jonathan’s assertions were “hollow boasts” and that the former President merely played “the ostrich” instead of admitting that he lacked the political will to fight corruption or implement policies to halt stealing of public funds.
In a rebuttal, Jonathan told the current administration to leave him alone and face Transparency International, the organization which he claims published the report that Nigeria was more corrupt today than under the previous administration.
The statement released by Jonathan’s media office and signed by his former media aide, Reno Omokri, said the presidency is showing signs of guilt in its response to the content of Jonathan’s book.
The statement read: “First and foremost, it was not former President Jonathan who said Nigeria is more corrupt today than it was under the last Peoples Democratic Party administration. That fact was actually stated by Transparency International, the only global body acknowledged as an independent rating agency for corruption.”
The statement further read, “Whereas under Jonathan and the PDP, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, moving eight places forward from 144 to 136 in 2014, but under President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, Nigeria has made her worst ever retrogression, moving backward 12 places from 136 to 148.”
The statement also referred to a recent article by Priti Patel, the UK Secretary of State for International Development in which she described President Buhari’s anti-corruption war as a sham and an impediment to Nigeria.
It said, “if the Buhari administration is upset at their gold medal for corruption, they should not take out their frustrations at Mr. Jonathan. They should face the umpire who gave them the award, Transparency International.”
Bottom Line: The thing of interest about this squabble is the fact that both parties are essentially outing each other’s failure in the corruption fight. The ultimate victims of the noise are the Nigerian people who bear the brunt. It’s hard to say which of the two sides is more hypocritical though? The Jonathan side used to rail against Transparency International while in power, while the Buhari side cited the organization. Now the tables have turned and suddenly Jonathan believes in Transparency International’s data, and Buhari is crying wolf.