Anti corruption crusader in Nigeria:
can the self acclaimed giant of Africa be salvaged? (I)
By SHUAIBU KASSIM ABUBAKAR
Corruption is synonymous to dishonesty or illegal behaviour, especially of people of authority. The expression can also be interpreted as the act or effect of making somebody change from moral to immoral standard of behaviour. From the foregoing, the issue of corruption and corrupt practices, is largely associated with those entrusted to shoulder the affairs of the people they lead. All countries of the world promulgate decrees or laws, depending on the regime, civilian or military aimed at preventing corruption and corrupt practices among the citizens of their countries. Nigeria is among those countries that have laws on corruption and corrupt practices which clearly defined the punishments that await the offenders. The Federal Government of Nigeria has established a commission called Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) whose main function is to bring to book any public office holder found guilty of corruption and corrupt practices in discharging his duties. It is not the only body that fights corruption and corrupt practices in this great country, other None Governmental Organizations (NGQs), groups and individuals citizens also join hands to conquer corruption and corrupt practices in our dear native land. Political history of Nigeria shows that corruption started during the First Republic when the top government officials of that regime were toppled in a coup d’etat by young military officers who accused the political chieftains of corruption and corrupt practices which according to them brought the country to a halt, meaning, the country was on the verge of total collapse. Regimes whether military or civilian have their own ways of fighting this negative phenomenon which destroys countries to their roots because of its devastating effects. The most noticeable among the past regimes that vehemently fought corrupt and corrupt practices was that of a very popular military junta under the distinguished leadership of the father of Africa of his time, General Murtala Ramat Muhammad may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. He sacked all public office holders guilty of corruption and corrupt practices and not only that their looted wealth was confiscated. He was also hand in globe with the West over their in human policies on African countries. The greatest General ever produced in Africa was reported to have addressed the Africa leaders at one of the Organization of Africa Unity meetings in Angola, that Africa had come of age, she would no longer be tied to the apron string of the West.
He sanitized the general conduct of the country by reforming the Local Government Authority. His policies were really aimed at salvaging the common man and the country that had been in bondage as a result of corruption. War Against Indiscipline, a very important policy identified with General Mohammad Burhari retired must not be forgotten in this country. It was a revolutionary policy that changed the behaviour and attitude of every Nigerian. Law and order were observed to the latter by the citizens of the country because of the punishments that awaited the offenders. These two military regimes were really transparent and accountable on the general conduct of their administrations. They administered the affairs of the people showing the exemplary leadership for not misappropriating or looting the treasury of the teaming populace. Appointments were based on meritocracy during their tenure in office. Only those who had the nation at heart were employed to take charge of the affairs of the country, despite that they were closely monitored by their supervisdrs. In these two regimes under discussion, no body no matter his position in the country was above the law, meaning, he must observe the law as the common man does. It is the absence of observance of law and order that destroys Nigeria despite our abundance of human and material resources. Their struggles to extinguish corruption and corrupt practices among the citizens of the country cannot be overstated in the history of this country because of their sincere commitment to the task. Everybody then whether in the Public or Private Sector was afraid to take or give bribe because he didn’t know who the bribe giver or taker was. The situation can he compared with that of Macbeth when he had to say that “there is not a one but in his house I kept a servant fed” this stands to mean that he had the report of everybody by his security agents. The two generals succeeded in their anti corruption crusader for up to today their names and regimes are being associated with honesty, sincerity, nationalism, hard work, practical accountability and transparency. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission as a body instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria charged with the arrest of those individuals and groups that engage in corruption and corrupt practices thereby sabotaging the development of the country. But the baffling thing about this commission is that it doesn’t seem it is up to the task in practical terms. The ostentatious living of those in the political arena is clear evidence that they are living above their legitimate incomes. Their display of vulgar ostentation in building mansions, having fleet of latest push cars and at wedding ceremonies or other social gatherings, is a clear testimony that they cannot be redeemed easily from the ocean of corruption and corrupt practices. If they can, objective criticisms on the Nigerian leadership style by prominent people both from within and outside the country should have redeemed them. For instance, the USA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Nigeria observeu LIIdc corruption is the vein of Nigerian’s development. Moreover, their trips to
foreign countries should be instrumental to bringing changes and transformations to move the country forward but that is not achieved. They have not either individually or collectively given it a thought that the country used to have fleet of Airlines, functional Rail Way System, exporter of Agricultural Products, has viable industries across the country and things like that. Why all these pillars of development have died? Why even the few industrialists find solace in other African Countries like Ghana? Their silence on these issues is what makes one to draw a pessimistic conclusion that the country and her people can never be salvaged by the present crop of leaders. It is this corrupt leadership style that has eaten deep into the very fabric of the Nigerian society to the extent that no sector of this society is free of corruption and corrupt practices. For instance, the education sector no longer produces qualitative graduates as a result of financial and sexual exploitations that are prevalent among the lecturers at both institutions of higher learning and universities. Our markets are polluted with adulterated products the consumption of which causes health hazards to the consumers. The civil service has dilapidated as a result of corruption and corrupt practices. The bureaucratic procedure is sentimentally motivated. Meritocracy is thrown to the dogs only people born with golden spoon in their hands are employed. The religious sector doesn’t call a spade a spade in their exhortations to truth and justice. The contextual frame work of the revealed Books is misinterpreted to be in consonance with the myopic interests of the leaders. This is the source of our decay since the religious clerics are consumed by worldly materials. The teeming masses use poverty as a escape goat and engage themselves in corruption and corrupt practices in peasantry activities entrusted in their hands. If the leadership is sanitized the whole society must be sanitized too since the personality of a leader influences to some extend that of the followers. They should also discuss among themselves why trillion of naira has been spent yet the country is retrogressing daily? These are some of the fundamental questions the leaders should have been discussing among themselves with the view to finding lasting solutions to this unfortunate situation the country and her people find themselves in. One cannot be wrong if he asserts that they are more interested in themselves, their family and those around them then the development of the country and her people. This is why they spend millions of naira on educating and medication of their family and those who dance to their tone. This contrasts the living condition of other people in the country who are not holding any political office. The country is retrogressing everyday but the leaders are wallowing in absolute riches. The electorates are in abject poverty, disease, illiteracy, insecurity, constant blackout and joblessness. Are these their dividend of democracy? Nigerian budget is in trillion of naira which if utilized judiciously, the country and her people should have been robbing shoulders with any developed country in the world. Yet very insignificant number of those who misappropriate the resources of the country are arrested by the commission. Does it mean that the rest are not guilty of the same offence apart from those with immunity? Let us be fair to the commission, it might be these are the only ones reported to it by their communities or employers of their organizations across the Federation. It is part of the functions of the commission to monitor any financial transactions in the country, a strategy that enhances the officials of the commission to check illegal transactions thereby arresting the parties involved. The commission, under the able leadership of Farida Waziri, an iron lady who can practically rob shoulders with men has no skeleton in the cupboard, meaning, she doesn’t spare the rod in punishing any body guilty of violating the rules and regulations governing the activities of the commission. In her practical commitment to extinguishing corruption and corrupt practices in the country, she made a declaration that anybody wishing to contest any political office should undergo psychiatric test. Her sweeping statement may not be unconnected with the present primitive accumulation of public wealth. For whatever reason she said that, public treasuries are actually been looted every day by those who have total control of everything in the country whether at the Federal, States or Local Governments. United Nations declared December 9th as the day of fighting corruption across the globe. It claims that corruption is reduced to some significant percentage across the world.
The question is, which yardstick does the body use in validating the percentage? We know very well in Nigeria corruption and corrupt practices are always on the increase since the country and its people are dilapidating everyday. We have the highest number of beggars the world over as a result of joblessness and utter injustice by our leaders.
No infrastructural development that is functioning to the expectation in the whole country. Billion of dollars is budgeted and spent with the view to supplying power in the country and that turns out to be a dream which from all indications cannot be realized in the near future. Our education system is on the budge of collapse despite the billion spent on it. To say the least, none of our universities is among the five hundred selected universities across the world. About 84% of the candidates that sat for 2009 SSCE failed because of numerous factors that are daily militating against the progress of the education sector. According to WHO record, every minutes a child dies in Africa, Nigeria inclusive.