Buhari is only fighting corrupt people not corruption – Bishop Kukah

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By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah on Tuesday said jailing perceived looters can never be the solution to fighting corruption in Nigeria.
Bishop Kukah who said this in Ibadan while speaking as the guest of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), organized book reading club, pointed out that President Mohammadu Buhari is not fighting corruption but only fighting corrupt people.
According to Bishop Kukah, if corruption is to be effectively tackled in Nigeria, adequate efforts should be in place towards build strong institutions, workable and functional educational system in the country.
“Fighting corruption is not just about putting people in prison, almost every Nigerian President, at least a good number of them have been to prison and come back so I don’t think prison is a threat to anybody. There are so many people in the National Assembly who have been to prison and come back, there are many people in government houses who have been to prison and come back, for me, the larger issues are beyond just arresting people,”he said.
Stressing that “corruption is a symptom of a sickness”, he added that “it is a product of the malfunctioning of the Nigerian state. You might deal with the problem by jailing corrupt people but as long as the systems that produce corrupt people remain intact so long will the cycle continue”.
“We are beginning to behave as if this corruption started and ended in the office of the national security adviser over $2.1 billion when the President himself has said that between $150 and $200 billion is out of Nigeria. Over one year, we are still in search of people who misappropriated $ 2.1 billion dollars left with $179 billion to find. For me, it is a question of strategy, a question of re-thinking and defining our objectives”.
Bishop Kukah maintained that “the fight against corruption can only be meaningful if it is tied to governance and Nigerians have to become convinced that the proceeds of corruption would be used for the benefit of their own lives” adding, “moreover, we are behaving as if fighting corruption is the business of one man, the issues are much more complicated than that”.
Speaking on call by some Nigerians for capital punishment for corrupt officials, he declared that in as much as there was nothing wrong with the proposal, “we should remember past measures to curb such criminal pieties have not yielded much positive results”.
“When we started shooting people on bar beach for participating in armed robbery, did armed robbery reduce?  We started killing people for participating in coups, did coup reduced? The question is you have to prove that life is better than death. Where we are now, people will take any risk that they can take so whether you decide that you want to kill corrupt people, that is not a way of fighting corruption, killing people has never been a solution to the deeper issues”.
He disclosed that we need a particular aggregate of educated people to make a society functional and that the whole question of education and people’s capacity to be useful to themselves are some of the challenges, saying, “they are not things you are going to solve by simply talking about fighting corruption and taking back money, it would be no use if you don’t commit resources”.
“The more educated people become, the less vulnerable they would be to the manipulation of corruption, that is why if we see corruption as simply arresting people perceived to have stolen money, it would continue to linger .”
Speaking, on the rumoured plan to topple the present administration, Bishop Kukah stressed that the antidote to coup is good governance, saying, “coup is a manifestation of people’s frustration and the arrogance of those in power who believe they are not accountable to the people”.
He emphasized that Nigerians are even becoming confused that the promise made to them that the proceeds from corruption fight would be used to better their lives have not started yielding any gains, saying,”everybody should know that the solution to our problems now does not lie in threatening anybody with a coup”,
“If people perceive that there is a measurable change in their lives and hope that tomorrow can be better if they work very hard, Nigerians must also learn that governance is a complicated process and a dysfunctional society such as ours with high level of illiteracy doesn’t get to that point until after a lot of painful work has been done.
Commenting on the notion that Oputa panel was not a success, he declared that the panel ended in raising more questions on the way forward for true reconciliation about the future of Nigeria was in itself a success.

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