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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Corruption in Nigeria and the Way Forward by Mandy Kaunan


Today i am in my sitting room thinking out loud! Thinking about corruption and it attachment to Nigeria; so i decided to get on my keyboard to drop some notes. 

Corruption in public life in Nigeria began in the 1950’s when the first panel of inquiry was set up to look into African Continental Bank (ACB).  The accusation was that the highly received politician abused his office by allowing public funds to be invested in bank in which he had interest.

Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon which has been with societies through history.  In both developed and developing countries, corruption is a serious problem which confronts the people and the government. Corruption generally, is associated with misuses of entrusted power for private gains. 
Forms of corruption varies, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. 

The history of corruption in Nigeria is rooted in the over 30 years of military rule, out of 48 years of her statehood since 1960 where Successful military regimes subdued the rule of law facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated public institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. 

The result has been total insecurity, poor economic management, abuse of human rights, ethnic conflicts and capital flight.

This negative phenomenon called corruption has been identified as the greatest bane affecting the rate of socio-economic growth in Nigeria which would have led to better standard of living for the citizenry.

The causes of corruption in Nigeria are multi-faceted and diverse, these includes, low salary of public officials

  • Job insecurity
  • problem of extended family 
  • lack of transparency and accountable political process
  • lack of effective incentive mechanism for public officials
  • Lack of effective reporting system cultural aspects and l
  • Lack of independent and effective media. 

Nigeria’s reward system is perhaps the poorest in the world. The salary paid to public officials is so low that the basic needs of officials cannot be met. The influence of extended family system and pressure to meet family obligations are more in Nigeria than in any other country. This however coupled with the cost of transportation, housing, feeding and education for the children makes it difficult for a public official to make a living thereby seeking corrupt means to meet his needs.

The longing for riches among public officials is due to uncertainty and anxiety of the individual about his general welfare after retirement from active service. In Nigeria there is no constitutional provision for the basic socio-economic needs of the individual, besides the poorly managed pension scheme. 

Part of the reason why politicians continue to treat the citizens with supreme contempt and regard the nation as their personal property is that no one wants to die for the good of society. People wonder why they would sacrifice their precious lives so that the rest of us can live and benefit from other people’s sacrifices. It’s a smart position to take but it is also the kind of argument that cowards are made of. In the land of lily-livered men and women, you will hear too many people criticise the nation’s political leaders for their unparalleled corruption and uninspiring performance but no one will actually take the first step to commence non-stop non-violent protest, the kind that a poor man started in Tunisia in 2011, or the type that unfolded in Hong Kong. We look at what is happening in other countries, how citizens have successfully challenged their political leaders, and I wish we could do the same in Nigeria.
Our politicians do not care, they are mostly too greedy. Everyone knows that most of our politicians are conspicuously crooked and live exaggerated and deceitful lifestyle.
Today Nigeria is singing a new song, a peaceful revolution is unfolding and I am happy to be alive to see Nigeria gets back her glory.
President Buhari's willingness to tackle corruption is already yielding results. The ones dead anti corruption agencies are all of a sudden working and making landmark invitations, arrests and procecutions. 
I have the following advice and voice to lend to Mr. President, as a patriotic citizen of my dear country; 

  • That the EFCC and ICPC will need to be strengthened financially and legally in their efforts at fighting corruption. The agencies need independent funding that would free it from the charm unethical control of the federal executive. 
  • That the freedom of the press and electronic media will ensure free flow of information investigation journalism and safeguarding of the fundamental rights of free speech and opinion thus where there is freedom of the media, it is soon or later bound to be discovered and blown open. Corruption officials hate where there is free media as they resent their practices to be disclosed. It is in this light that the National Assembly could be encouraged to maintain its stand of rejecting the Media Reform Bill (MRB) 2006. Also the rumoured plan to gag the media must be rebuffed as the media is strongly needed in effort against corruption. As a result there must be careful structuring of the relationship between anti-corruption agencies and the media,  and in many cases there must also be effort to develop and enhance the capabilities of the media to ensure that they can work effectively as recipients of information about corruption, appraise such information in a dependent manner, use it meaningfully as the basis of further communications and disseminate the information to the entire public.  Today we the media rely on inside sources and paid informants for information s that would have ordinarily been handed down to us. The hash attitude towards the media must be checked
  • That they should be no sacred cows ; the fight against corruption should be total and not selective. As we all know, most of the members of APC were once members PDP and other political parties; these members held positions to which they plundered and milked the nation dry. They should not be spared.
  • That the Nigeria embassies which previously used the various access of diplomatic protection and immunities to cover up money laundering must be put in check. 
  • That the anti corruption agencies should dust up all the old cases that were aprutly terminated due to certain orders from above. The cases that were staled due to the corruption in the then Judiciary. Those cases should not be left out. As we all know, Abacha's loot is still been recovered, therefore both Obasanjo and Jonathan's administration should be probed and those found wanting should be prosecuted and forced to refund our monies. This is the only way we could get it right. 
  • In other to win the fight against corruption, Nigerians need re-orientation; in their way of life and way of thinking. Overtime, we have accepted corruption as way of life in Nigeria. We celebrate and sing praises to corrupt officials, the people we know were once penniless and all of sudden without any business becomes billionaires, just by holding a public position. These people have become demigods and no one dares to question them. This attitude must stop, we must learn to ask questions and demand answers. We must learn to make them feel ashame of their I'll gotten wealths. Nigerians must be thought to speak against corruption no matter who is involved. The change starts we you and I, so we can begin by paying our taxes, teaching our children good morales and stop paying bribes or any form of gratification.
  • Public offices must be made unattractive; The TSA policy is a good way of checkmating the cash flow that was previously unaccounted for, but in as much as the government is making efforts in this direction; I still urge them to do more, especially in the aspect of  reducing the unnecessary allowances of our political office holders. 
Let's imagine a situation where people will volunteer for elections duty without expecting anything from government but rather seeing such a duty as giving back to the society and contributing that quota to make the Nigerian project work. Imagine the billions that would be saved?

Imagine an election without the paraphernalia of state apparatuses such as the police, the military, and civil defense? Imagine the amount that could be saved from the payment of their allowances.

Imagine an election that is issue based, touching on matters that have direct bearing to the lives of Nigerians? The hatred and bitterness that is evoked as a result of hate speeches during campaigns with the resultant violence will be a thing of the past.

Imagine a situation where politicians will stick to the political ideologies underpinning their parties without jumping from one party to the other or being swayed by ‘every wind of doctrine’?
We must all support president Buhari as he takes on the herculean task of kicking out corruption in Nigeria. 

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