WHAT IS CORRUPTION?
THE ACTS AND CONDUCTS
CORRUPTION IN THE WORLD
The key campaign promise of this Government to Nigerians was the determination and commitment to fight corruption to a standstill in Nigeria. This promises largely drove the winning vote for the APC led Government into power. Since assuming power, the Government has not ceased emphasizing and driving home its anti- corruption promises in its own special kind of ways, with its own passion and drive. The question is whether the Government fight against corruption is guided or misguided, whether it’s hitting at the target or not and whether it is yielding the desired result or not.
Like the unsolicited advices of some religious and traditional leaders in the wake of this Government that the Government should soft pedaled on the fight against corruption, which was largely and wrongly misconstrued as abetting and aiding corruption, I am also of the opinion that this Government fight against corruption, as good and nobly intended, it is not well directed, ill conceived and wrongly applied, and that is the reason why, it is yielding a counterproductive result. Before you start to crucify me and labeling me as supporting corruption, give me the chance to explain, as I intend to do below.
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION SO FAR.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION UNDER THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT.
Two years has gone by since this Government’s passionate fight against corruption, and it is pertinent to assess its achievement in this drive so far. It was said by the Information Minister, some weeks back that over N90 Billion Naira of looted funds have been recovered, large number of ghost workers have been discovered, EFCC have discovered and impounded large numbers of vehicles in retired permanent secretaries mansions, cases of impropriety against the SGF, and against the EFCC Chairman Mr. Magu, revelations of stolen huge sums of money against former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Maduekwe, Former wife of the Former President Mrs. Jonathan, the illegal and Rambo like raid on the houses of judges, so many arrests, few arraignment and almost no conviction. The only recorded conviction so far is that of the NIMASA boss, and that of the 2 directors of a Government agency who were handed 10years imprisonment, but this prosecution actually commenced prior to the coming of this Government.
In summary , and in totality , this Government fights against corruption is yet to record any significant achievement in the sense of recovering considerable loots, preventing the acts of corruption , deterring corrupt practices and punishing corrupt officials, but on the other side of the coin, Nigerians have been made to make considerable and painful sacrifices in support of this over celebrated fight against corruption, in the forms of business bureaucracy, and difficulties in conducting transactions associated with the TSA program, delayed payments in salaries and entitlements, reduction in employed labour, withdrawal of Government patronage of private entities, economic recession, inflation, falling value of the Naira, and increase in crime rate ,particularly kidnapping, and resultantly slow or almost non existence business activities.
There is no significant arraignment of acclaimed corrupt officials and no significant convictions yet to be recorded, and at the same time, corrupt practices are still going on under the nose of the President, in the office of the SGF, and even the EFCC Chairman’s hands are tainted, stopping his confirmation by the Senators as the substantial Chairman of the Commission. Even the allegation of padding in the Legislator is striving, under the watchful eyes of the President, in collaboration with members of the executive. The 2016 Budget as signed by the President was largely padded, after all efforts to prevent it.
In an Economy with over $34 Billion as foreign reserve, it is completely unheard of, irrational and defying all known economic and fiscal principles that its currency will be suffering so much free fall day in day out the way the Naira is doing. This is so because things are not right with our economy, and I made bold to say this is a fall out of the Government’s style of fighting corruption. It is as a result of the crazy rush for the Dollars in the open market, by laundered Naira’s, in an unfortunate manner and ways that is completely oblivious of the Economy, but rather anti Economy, as the acquired Dollars are constantly been pulled out of the Economy and to God knows where, but this, the Government Economic intelligence teams need a owl eyes to see that. But, this I know is a fall out of the Government’s corruption fight, with discoveries of Dollars and foreign currencies being stacked and stored in various former officials’ homes. Nigerians are the ones bearing the pains of all these Government un-intelligence.
It is funny that a Government that claimed to be fighting corruption, fighting corruption in the Judiciary, unlawfully clamping down on Judges in the bid to cleaning the Judiciary of corruption will not pay Federal Judges their salaries for good 4 months, its greatly laughable, and make one wonders how sincere is this fight against corruption. As much as I am tempted to think that this Government’s purported fight against corruption is selective, lump sided and ill-directed, I will not do that , I will rather see it like ,this is a war, led by a general leading a soldiers who either do not understand his missions, objectives and tactics, and it is also a war been led by a general who himself is too passionate with the pains of the act of the enemies, that he did not take his time to understand the menace, and formulated a misguided and ill- directed tactics of attack.
The war against corruption is such that the tendency is high for it to be fought passionately, especially by a clearly uncorrupt and upright man in the person of someone like the President Mohammed Buhari. But that will be completely wrong and counterproductive, especially in a democratic set up; where you are surrounded by the same enemies you are suppose to be fighting, serving as your fighting soldiers. Corruption is a product of societal value, and so long as the soldiers are from the same society, you will be fighting the enemies with the enemies, and that will clearly be a battle lost abinitio.
Corruption, like all menace and all medical diseases, it is pertinent to diagnose the disease, identify its scope and symptoms and all there is to know about it before the right medication can be prescribed and applied for an effective treatment. For an effective cure and eradication of corruption in our society, it is pertinent, therefore, to diagnose and understand the menace, corruption, the cause(s) and its roots , before an effective and permanent solution can be identified, prescribed and applied. Preventing corruption is as much important, even if not more important than fighting corruption itself and this is imperative.
WHAT IS CORRUPTION
In a sincere effort to curb corruption, it is necessary to understand what corruption is, what constitute corrupt tendencies, conducts and practices, what breeds corruption and what drives corruption. A good grasp of these indices is a true and necessary recipe for a true and honest fight against corruption, otherwise it will only be an exercise in futility, just as fighting corruption without first putting in place a system that prevents corruption will be a wasteful effort.
Corruption is a multifaceted ill that cut across every facet of our social lives and takes different dimension and colour depending on from which angle of the prism you are looking at it from. Corruption cuts across every level of our political, business and social activities, and no matter what the size, scope and extent, its effects on the texture and finesse of our social, political and economy fabrics as a people is in multiples of folds and grows astronomically, gradually , but destructively unnoticed and rarely identifiably . Corruption simply put, is “the use of one’s vantage position whether official or otherwise, to acquire unduly benefits and favours undeserving to one’s self”.
Benefits and favour may be in different sizes, shapes, forms, colour and perception. The consequences and effect of this act of undue acquisition or obtaining may be huge, clearly visible, mundane, immediate, gradual, prolong, protracted, devastating or even non effective, but clearly, corruption is an evil wind that does no nation any good. Corruption usually is being driven by greed, riding on abuse of power and position, and sometimes it is necessitated by the factors of social and economic injustices. One very strong factor that breeds corrupt tendency and corruption is the value orientation of the people, and that is why, no matter how much energy and resources sunk into fighting corruption, a society which values tilted largely towards corrupt tendencies will always have to deal with corruption. Sometimes, it may be difficult to separate indiscipline from corruption. An indiscipline person may not necessarily be corrupt, but a corrupt person is definitely not a disciplined person. Also in the same vein, indiscipline in a society fuel corrupt activities.
When a civil servant that should be on his seat by 8am, do not get to work until 10am, the end user of his service who is so impatient and could not avoid to wait, may be tempted or forced to offer him a bribe so he can render him a swift and personal service, and because the man who was suppose to ensured the civil servant get his pay check early, did not do that because he failed to attend to and treat the files on his table, the man is broke and in needs, so he will willingly and reluctantly accept the bribe and call it gratification. This sets up a trend; it grows into a style and culture, and soon becomes the norm rather than the anomalies.
Corruption is a product of lack of self discipline, and it flows from the act of one person’s indiscipline and irresponsible act to that of another and it goes on like a chain. It is cross indiscipline for an employer whether a Government, organization or individual to employ someone, and make the person work from the first day of the month to the end of the month and yet refused or delayed to pay him his wages. It is also indiscipline in whatever form for an employee to steal his employers money just because he was not paid his wages or his wages was delayed. It is also an act of indiscipline for a dependant of the unpaid employee to go to any extent to do whatever just, no matter how illegal to keep ends meets. No matter what justification can be located in this chain of action, lack of self discipline underlies their action and inactions. This is a typical scenario in our everyday life.
In a country where politicians and political office holders allocate huge sums of tax payers and public funds to themselves as wages and allowances even for doing less, the workforce that generate the resources are been paid peanuts as wages, even at that, while the public office holders never have their huge salaries delayed nor skipped, the labour usually have their meager wages delayed or sometimes unpaid for months. The rich and the superior rich politicians and public office holders, use their wealth to oppress the poor, do whatever they want to them and still get away with it. This is the role of injustice in the corruption chain. Acquisition of wealth becomes a panacea against injustice and oppression, as well as acquiring respect in the society. An average Nigerian is afraid of the future, injustice and lost of their self esteem, especially in a situation where our primary education and health system is down to zero, and the same people that killed them, can afford private schools and private hospitals , and even abroad. Everyone is afraid of the future, hence the desire and need to acquire wealth at all cost. These drives h corruption.
Our values are money driven. Our politics is money driven. A Nigerian musician, King Sunny Ade in one of his songs, sang and I translate “the wife of a poor man is someone else’s wife; the child of a poor man is another man’s child”. In families today, the most respected is the richest, no more the oldest or the wisest. Churches eulogises the man that pays the highest tithes and offerings, not the most God fearing. Parents judge the best suitor for their daughters by how rich he is. A good applicant does not click the job no matter how good he performs at the interview, only those who have the right connections do. Merit no matter count in our political, social, and education employments anymore. What count in our society today, is wealth and connections no matter how ill-gotten? Wealth, no matter how gotten has become the means for acquiring self respect, justice and an assurance for a better and secure future for the family. If you don’t have money, you are a no body and you have little or no respect, therefore there is a continuous race for primitive wealth acquisition, in other words, “CORRUPTION”. This is our value orientation today; this definitely was not our value orientation back then.
These are but a few hypothetical illustrations of how indiscipline, injustice, and negative value orientations that prevails in our society today, breeds, nurtures and drive corruption. Any fight against corruption that fails to recognize and address these factors, will only be an exercise in futility. It will only be like killing the flame and leaving the fire. Corruption is best tackled by preventing corruption rather than just stopping corruption. For as long as these three factors still reign in our society, there will continue to be an incentive and inducement for corrupt tendencies and corruption. Countries of the world with little or no corruption records are free of these three factors, and have systems in place that discourages and punishes any elements of these factors. All the efforts in this country to fight corruption has not been working and can never work, unless and until these factors are recognized and properly addressed. Little wonder, that with the establishment and heavily funded anti-corruption agencies, the ICPC and EFCC, working in tandem with the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police force, corruption seems to be rather increasing rather than decreasing. Even under this Government, with so much passion for fighting corruption, the 2016 budget, even after all hullabaloos on padding, still remains a padded budget. The SGF is been accused of corruption, allegations of corruption is being levied against the head of one of the anti-graft agencies. I do not see this Government’s fight against corruption as taking us anywhere; rather, corruption is fighting back hard and discrediting all the good efforts of the Government, sending us into deeper recession and making Nigerians suffer. No one has been able to give me a good explanation and justification for why a country with $34Billion as its foreign reserves have its currency suffering so much fall in value day in day out.
HOW DID WE GET TO THIS POINT AS A NATION?
From what I was told, as a young lad, in those days, farmers do not need to stay behind to sell their wares on the road side. What they simply do is display them on the road side, and tag them with the number of pebbles that represent the cost of the wares, and any prospective buyer will drop the amount for the wares, take whatever he or she has paid for and move on. This represents the highest level of trust, integrity and value that characterize us as a people. This was where we were before colonialism. As a people, we value hard work, honesty, godliness, tradition, age, morality and brotherliness above wealth. We are a people that respect people for their values and for who they are and not for what they are. We were people that question the source of your wealth rather than worship you for your wealth.
Our pre-oil boom era was characterized with national respect by committees of nations. Our transparency level was never questionable. Nigerians were accorded the highest respect anywhere in the world. Even though we had little resources then, we were very contented as a people. Our leaders were true nationalists, with humble and moderate life style, which the followers were happy to emulate. Our leaders were true civil servants and not flamboyant masters. There was strong sense of patriotism among the citizenry, true, clear and un-delayed justice, without fear and favour was the order of the day.
Appointment to both private and public offices and position were strictly on merit, and workers do their jobs with commitment, honesty and pride. Our civil servants were true civil servants, with so much pride in their jobs, while on the other hand, minimum wage was more than just a take home pay, it was a real commensurate payment for a diligent labour. There was free education, our public schools were worth dying for, our public health systems were up to standard, compared to any standard anywhere in the world, and our social infrastructures were impressive. Trades, both local and international were doing well and impressive. Family names and value were more important than huge bank account, so civil servants and public office holders strive more to maintain and build on the values of their family name and not tarnish them with greed for money and luxury. There was justice, equity and respect for rule of law, there was respect for dignity of person and respect for human rights. There was no fear of oppression, intimidation, humiliation and molestation. Then gradually, all that begin to change.
Injustice, oppression and disrespect for rule of law begin to find a place in our society. Government begins to use political power to oppress perceived oppositions. Politicians , public office holders begins to use political powers and the instruments of the state, including the police, the military and the justice system to settle, first political scores and then personal scores. Power became instruments of oppression, and the thirst for power became necessary tool for protection against the power full. Desperation for power became the order of the day, needless to say at this point, rule of law begin to take flight gradually. Growing desperation for power, gave rise to money politics as against politics of ideology, and having lots of money became an issue. The question now became a choice between protecting family value and protecting family and self from political oppression. It was at this time that corruption begins to sneak into our social, political and economic system.
Money, joined power as a tool of oppression, and the two became the objects of desire. Money is used to acquire power and power is used to acquire money, and everything begins to go down. Public schools begin to fail, and expensive private schools begin to replace them. Public hospitals begins to fail and expensive private hospitals begin to replace them, then class thing sets in, and oppression took another dimension, and the craze for primitive wealth acquisition took a higher climb. Then, merit begins to take back seats in political and public service appointment, and connection and mediocrity became the order of the day. Public service became inefficient and out for sale, salaries are being owed, pensions and retirements benefits became unreliable, then the fear of the future became alarming, and the need to secure it became a drive to provide for it, and stealing and corruption in public service became the order of the day. The discrepancies in the salaries of workers in the public sector and the private sector help to fuel the corruption in the public sector. Today, we are at a point where corruption has become a multi headed monster, and sewed into the fabrics of our social life’s and values. It does not matter how you make the money, you are celebrated everywhere, even in religion places, and can even earn you a national merit award.
We are running a system that does not only provide reasons and inducement for corruption, but also provide the enabling environment and justifications for corruption and corrupt tendencies. We run a society where you are respected for what you are and not who you are, for how much you have and not for how good you are, and this has permeated our social and family life too, where the youngest but richest member of the family is more respected than any other person, our women goes for the richest men not the most humble men, materialism and not nobility has become standard of measurement, even in our religious houses. Desperation for money and wealth has taken over our lives and values, and corruption has become the norm rather than the wrong, and we are sinking more and more every day. That is where we are today as a people, sadly and unfortunately.
This sub-heading may not be the appropriate in this circumstance but, it’s at least indicative. These are the factors, activities, policies, reasoning and conventions that induces, breeding, sustaining and supporting corruption. Though not exhaustive, they include, injustice, unreasonable payments, benefits and fringes attached to political offices, unaccountable leadership/irresponsible followership borne out of ethnicity and religious bigotry, unchecked and song rising extravagancy, class consciousness, insecurity/ injustice, substitution of merit for other considerations in both public and private appointment, insecurity in the civil service system both in the areas of commensurate wages, training, promotions and pension payment, Government failure in the areas of public school and public health system, change in our national natural orientation ,unjust tax system, indiscipline.
Injustice is when the powerful take away the rights of the less powerful and nothing is done about it. Injustice is when, a rich man’s son hit your hard earned car on the road with his father’s expensive car, and you were locked up by the police. Injustice is when a rich man son or the son of a permanent secretary or even a supervisor in your local government’s son, cause bodily harm to your son in his school, and it was difficult for you to even get a sorry. Injustice is when your boss in the office decided to transfer you to another station just because he is interested in your wife or girlfriend, and there was nothing you could do about it. Injustice is the use and abuse of political, corporate, administrative or even security power flowing from position of authority to oppress and suppress the rights and interest of others, without any remedy available.
The consequences of this is that the oppressed start to believe that their only security against such operation and injustice, is to be powerful and rich too, and that way no one will oppress them and treat them unjustly again. This thinking breeds the desperation for money and power, and induces corruption. Countries like the U.S and the U.K that have very low or no corruption level in their public service system, is largely due to the equality and justice system in both their social, civil and criminal administration system. No one is above the law, and the rule of law is fully and justly in application. If only our laws and law enforcement agencies will operate with no respect for any person or institution, the inducement for corruption will be largely reduced.
UNREASONABLE PAYMENTS, BENEFITS AND FRINGES ATTACHED TO POLITICAL OFFICES.
Nigerian political office holders are undoubtedly, the highest paid in the world, with incomparable benefits and immeasurable fringe benefits, without any corresponding relationship with the minimum wages structure paid to the labour workers. The effects of this, is two folds. One, it makes the political position lucrative and attractive, and make getting there a do or die affair, thereby encouraging money politics, with the attendant need to recoup political electioneering investments. The second fold is that it encourages abuse of power, impunity, political and social arrogance and gross disrespect for the law and human rights with so much impunity, recklessness and extravagant display of affluence and wealth, thereby encouraging greedy desires and inducing and encouraging corruption.
It is also no news , how far our politicians and political parties can go to secure a political position, and also how much they can spend to get to that position. It is not in doubt that political game in Nigeria is for the rich and not necessarily for the suitable candidates. “god- fatherism” is a medium usually engaged to bankroll electoral expenses, for which payback time and investment recoupment is naturally expected, and these are done by no other means other than corruption.
It is also no more news how political office holders, and their family members live expensive , extravagant, flamboyant and unreasonable life styles, with fleets of expensive cars, mansions all across the globe, wide and wild expensive overseas trips, both medical and frivolous, and throwing flamboyant parties ,all to the view and astonishing desires of the struggling followership. This act only induces and encourages greed and desire for corrupt tendencies. While the Prime Minister of England can be sighted in public train, the son of a Nigerian senator can never be sighted in a taxi, for as long as his father is still in Government.
UNACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP/IRRESPONSIBLE FOLLOWERSHIP BORNE OUT OF ETHNICITY AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY.
It is a common trend in Nigeria, for someone who was not rich ordinarily, probably owns a small smoking car, and lives in a rented apartment, to go into public or political office , and within few weeks or months of assuming office, witnesses an over 360 degrees change in fortune and begin to live in affluence. The culture of leadership un-accountability started with the era of military intervention in governance. Starting from the heads and leadership of the various Government ministries and parastatals, to political appointees, elected representatives and heads of Governments, even Local Government councilors and chairmen, do not deem it necessary to account for their stewardship. Leadership accountability as part of our culture has long been eroded. The Jonathan Government attempted introducing the monthly Presidential Press briefing that provides a form of stewardship accountability, but even that medium no longer exist. The leadership at all levels of governance, carry own as if they are a God unto themselves. The internal and external auditing system are either not taking seriously, not effective, compromised or completely non existence, and nothing is been done about it.
Where there is not in existence, a progressive structure of accountability that is credible, effective and working, it is a breeding and sustainable ground for corruption. If when the holder of the office does not have the intention to be corrupt, the laxity of unaccountability can induce corruption. It is also clear that once the head is bad, the rest of the body cannot be better off.
The situation is made worst by an equally bad followership that do not ask question as to why things are going wrong. A Local Government councilor, who is very much aware that the allocations to the Local Government for the past months have been going into the private project of the Chairman, he is careless and will not ask question, so long as he is getting his own share of the loots. Same goes for the Local Government bursar, accountant and other staffs. Even the ordinary people on the street in the Local Government, who sees their councilors and Chairman who before assuming office had no car, but suddenly drives the latest SUV’s and living in mansions, with monthly expensive trips abroad while roads and other infrastructures in the area are continuously decaying, will not ask question, rather they will applaud and song praise them, and even fight anyone who attempts to.
We leave in a society where no one ask question and no one explains. It is only once in like five years when the Government over steps their bound and push the people to the wall with over –insensitive policies, directives or decisions, that we witness a slight protest and question asking, and once they give us some threat, bullying, harassment or some carrots, or use us to silence each other, then, the whole noise will go down. The few social critics and human right activists amongst us are the few that, kind of air their voices for whole lots of us. And even with that, once some of them get a little patting on the back and a little gift in the hand or a juicy position, he or she shifts to the other side. It is a well established system, cultivated to silence the critics and noise makers any ways, either with a rod or a carrot.
The consequences of this kind of settings, is that it not only induces corruption, it also breeds and sustain the growth and development of corruption. If I hold an office, and I have so much money to spend , and do not have to or can evade accounting for it, and all I need to do is spend N100, and give N30 out of it to those that can ask question. I did it the first time out of necessity and it went on unquestioned, I will do it the 2nd, 3rd,and 4th time, and gradually, it will become a culture, and soon my subordinates will soon be absorbed into the culture, then it becomes the norm, then a value, and a way of life . This is the breeding ground for corruption that exist in our government offices, with different kinds of corrupt devices and sophistications developing every day, growing resistance to every forms of anti-corruption devices and defying every anti – corruption measures.
INSECURITY IN THE CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM BOTH IN THE AREAS OF EMPLOYMENT, COMMENSURATE WAGES, TRAINING, PROMOTIONS AND PENSION PAYMENT.
Employment into the Nigerian Civil Service use to be reliable and secure. It is usually base on merit, and not who or what you know. Because, right pegs were always fixed in the right holes, efficiency, dedication and commitments were in full play, and the Government offices and parastatals were working efficiently and perfectly. Ethics was of the highest standard in the civil service, and corruption had no place at all. Then, our private school, hospitals, airlines, transport system just mention it, were not only working perfectly, they were enviable.
Then came the era when , merits in employment into the civil service gave way to “man know man”, and wrong pegs started going into wrong holes, then the boom in the private sector, especially in the banking sector, when the best hands in the labour market goes to the private sectors where the pays make more sense, and then comes the Federal Character rules, that justifies putting the wrong peg in the wrong holes on the platform of Federal Character, and all these dropped the ethical standard and efficiency in the public sector and the civil service to a very regrettable standard, where corruption find its roots squarely.
In an economy, where a fresh banker earns an average of N150, 000.00 per month, an oil company graduate employee earns double that amount, and a political office holder who is a friend to a graduate and age mate, but got his political position through street wisdom, is now driving an SUV, and their counterpart in the Civil Service, as a fresh graduate is earning less than N40, 000.00 a month and yet they are expected to shop at the same market. There is an unjustifiable discrepancy in wages in the nation’s labour market. This is economically and socially a corruption inducing platform. In countries where corruption thrives, this is a common decimal, and in countries where corruption do not thrive, this discrepancy do not exist, and even when they do, they are not so pronounced as we have in Nigeria.
These factors have the potentials to push a civil servant into temptations of corruption. A man ,knowing that his classmate , with whom they studied together and had the same grade is earning three times as much as his, and living a life he can only dream of, yet he is in a position where he has the opportunity of making as much money or even more , only if he gives in to the temptation of corruption, especially when he goes months with his salary not paid, it is just a matter of time , before he will be dragged into the temptation of corruption, then sucked into it and become addicted to it
The salary of a Director in the Federal Ministry, I doubt if it’s up to N200, 000.00, but he may have 4 to 5 official cars attached to him, all with paid drivers and all. It is usually a big office with non commensurate wages. The issue of training and promotion in the civil service is another factor responsible for the inducement and encouragement of corruption in the civil service in particular and the nation in general. Unfairness and injustices, in recommendations for training and promotion, just as much as employment without merit, create a great sense of insecurity in the service and directly and indirectly induces and encourages corruption.
When a man remain in the same office for a long time, while, some one under him is being sent for training and promoted above him over and over again, may be because he is not in someone’s good book or he do not have the right connection, such a person will be highly susceptible to corrupt tendencies, more out of fear of insecurity in the service and fear of what tomorrow holds. Constant, necessary, relevant and sufficient training of civil servants in the areas of ethics, good governance, service delivery, commitment, honesty and accountability should be the bane of a good civil service devoid of corruption. But in Nigeria, this has not been the case. Usually, trainings are organized with corrupt flavour; just to enrich the purse of few selected staffs rather than enriched their skills. Staffs are more interested in the financial benefits of the trainings rather than the intellectual benefits, as in the same vein, most time,the management themselves will only approve trainings that will benefit them financially, rather than benefit the organisation.
Our pension system in Nigeria use to be very reliable. Our senior citizens do not have to wait or suffer to have their monthly pension hit their accounts at the end of their retirement. After service, they are well recognized, appreciated, rewarded and remunerated. With this kind of expectation, it was easy to be accountable and avoid the pitfalls of temptation of corrupt influences while in service. This is no more the same situation with our pension system in Nigeria anymore. Our senior citizens, who have served this country honestly, diligently and with accountability, were turned to mere beggars at pension offices, some of them have died of terminal ailments that would have cost very little to treat without any help. With the fear of ending up like them, the tendency of serving civil servants to fall into the temptation of corruption is very high. Countries where corruption is not in their records also have good, commensurate and reliable pension system in place for their senior citizens.
GOVERNMENT FAILURE IN THE AREAS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL AND PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM,
I always propose that ,unless it is collectively accepted and made mandatory that all civil servants from level 12 and above including all political holders and any public office holder, must patronize only public institutions like schools and hospital, and not private institutions, our schools and hospitals will never work to standard. In the same vein , if our public schools and hospitals remain in the stage they are, private schools and hospitals will continue to thrive, and out of the reach of an average Nigerian. The need for a better educational system and medical provision for their family will always drive the desire for corruption.
When I was growing up in the ancient city of Kano, in the early 80s, our public schools and hospitals are far better than most of the private schools and hospitals we have now, and they were working perfectly. Nassarawa Hospital then was of a better standard than the most expensive private hospitals we have today, with white men as doctors and nurses. The Federal Government Colleges we have then were of the same standard as schools like Loyola Jesuit College of today, and all these were affordable to an average common man. Today, rich people send their family members to schools and hospitals abroad, the less rich ones patronize the expensive schools and hospitals in the Country. These private institutions are not affordable to an average Nigerian, and the public institutions are not reliable and not adequate as they lack necessary staffs and equipments. These desire and need drive the desire for corrupt enrichments.
UNJUST AND UNFAIR TAX SYSTEM
Our tax system clearly not only gives room for and encourages corruption, but it provides a robust inducement for corruption, as it provides no deterrents for senseless wealth accumulation. In Countries where little or zero tolerant for corruption is recorded, the rich pay more in tax, especially for luxury assets and life styles, whereas in our country, the richer you are the less tax you pay. Our income tax system, our Value added tax system, vehicle licenses, and withholding tax system is targeted at genuine and honest income earners. A genuine worker has his/her income tax deducted from source. He pays whether he/she likes it or not, both in the private sector and the public sector. Company tax and other business related taxes, and stamp duties for genuine business entities are compulsory, even though we cannot deny the issues of compromises among the tax officers to surcharge the Government revenue. Consumers are charged VAT on consumption. Market women and men, hawkers and genuine landlords are besieged and harassed daily by the state government and local government revenue agents daily for revenue collections in various form and names. Whereas treasury looters who buy mansions all over the cities and have fleets of luxury automobiles pays little or no taxes or tariffs , either legally, (because there is no law asking them to pay) or by evading taxes or tariffs or by cutting corners.
An average American or Briton will not steal tax payers money because he understood that they will be of little or no use to him. This is because; the authority and citizens are watching him, because he will pay heavily on property tax and luxury acquisitions, so it makes no sense. Even celebrities and show business people who live flamboyant lives end up going bankruptcy over tax payments, and lots of them have been to jail for tax invasions, including politicians and business men.
If we have in our tax system, effective property tax laws and luxury assets tax laws, couple with a law that tax dormant huge bank account deposit for a long time, I am sure that our treasury looters will have deep rethinking before embarking on treasury lootings. A system that allows a single person who actually cannot explain his/her source of income, but having over 30 mansions scattered all over the country, with over 30 luxury cars, most of them untouched, yet he pays no tax nor import duties on them, has no deterrent , but inducement to embark on his/her primitive wealth acquisitions. Even the Dangotes of this world do not spend the way some of our politicians spend; they will rather invest in income yielding ventures.
CHANGE IN OUR NATIONAL NATURAL ORIENTATION.
Our national natural orientation has evolved from highly positive and valuable to negative and condemnable. We have evolved from a people whom the world holds in high esteem to a people whom the world views with suspicion. Back in those days, Nigerians do not need entry Visas to go to great countries of the world. But, just recently, some Nigerians were denied entries into the U.S even with their Visas. The reason for all these loss of respect is derived from nothing but the huge and unfortunate degradation in our values as a result of our negative orientations. A negative orientation that sacrifices our respect for values, education, honesty, respect and hard work for materialism and opulence, which has driven us into greed, arrogance, shamelessness, deception, oppression, ritualism, fraud, and some many unnamed negatives.
We have evolved from a people who will condemn any man or woman found spending extravagantly beyond his or her income to a people who will applaud a rich and affluent man even when we are sure the source of his wealth is questionable. Even in our families, we do not respect age any more, we now respect money. The family meeting will have no meaning unless that rich chief is presence, after all he will foot the whole bill and still give some dash, and who cares where he got his wealth from. In our old values, meeting is held only with the elders around, and decision are led and made by the elders. In our old values, people are respected for who they are, their age and wisdom, and not for what they are or what they have.
In the family, the most adored and revered child usually is the most successful. Most women now make how rich a man is a priority consideration for marriage. Even the men, wants to marry a girl from a rich family. In places of worship, the rich are given special front roll seats and consideration. Blessings and miracles now have price tags. The security men at entrances of buildings and edifices look at you with scorn and subject you to all forms of questioning and embarrassment once you are not affluently dressed, no matter how noble your intentions are. But once you are regaled in white flowing expensive Agbada, and driven in a big Mercedes Benz, even if you are the most wanted criminal on the security list, you will be admitted with a warm salute, especially if you are too generous to grease their palms. The point is, we have evolved from a people who place high premium on values, to people who worship money, a society, where money talks.
Our worship houses and praise singers do not help matter, as a matter of fact, they fuel the menace. Some religious institutions have abandoned the preaching of honesty, values and contentment, they now not only preach prosperity, they also encourage it, applaud it, commend it, and reward it, and in the process condemning poverty as a curse. According to them” money answereth all things. In occasions and in their records, musicians and praise singers, never sings to praise or appreciate any other achievement other than opulence, riches and financial prosperity as if it is the only measure of success in life. The ultimate goal of an average Nigerian, is money, money, money and money, because, it is the means to every other end. It is believed that money will earn you respect, dignity comfort, security and honour. As erroneous as this believes is, this is what holds sway in our society today and this is what drives our current national natural values and orientations, and naturally fuels the embers of corruption.
Underlying the whole concept of corruption is indiscipline. All act of indiscipline may not amount to corruption, but all act of corruption have a coloration of indiscipline. Indiscipline is that desire and act of doing something that is wrong knowing very well that it’s wrong and still goes ahead and do it anyway. Indiscipline is a deliberate and conscious effort, when face with the choice of doing right and doing wrong but still go ahead and do wrong. Indiscipline may be borne out of misplaced values, wrong upbringing and deliberate and conscious desire for personal aggradisement. Indiscipline has grew to permeate all the fabric of our social lives, such that it has become a norm rather than a vice, and it is continuously been passed from generation to generation. Even the growing number of places of worship is not helping matters. It has gotten to such an alarming rate that a disciplined person is more considered archaic, anti-social, un-civilised and not in tune with social development.
It is indiscipline, which will make a married woman or man have extra –marital affairs. A not too recent report from Durex, gave it that Nigerian wives are the most unfaithful in the word going by a survey conducted. Another Nigerian DNA expert stipulated that 4 out of the first child in 10 Nigeria homes do not belong to the Husband. The family is the first unit of a home, and if it begins on this footing of indiscipline, then we can imagine how far it will spread.
Our youths grew up mostly abandon to the mercy of house helps, neighbours and street lessons. We can imagine what kind of values they pick up. Domestic violence are perpetuated in the presence of children, our streets are adorned with gun carrying security men hhin the open enough for children to see. All these shows little of how the seeds of indiscipline are been sowed in our society and further watered to grow. We can go on and on as to how indiscipline has found its roots in our schools and even places of worship. Basically, the desire to choose to do wrong at the expense of doing right underscore the basis of corruption, because in the face of any form of temptation, a discipline person will always stand above corruption.
Corruption is not only when you steal money or breach the trust of your office, corruption is also when you do not justly earn or justify the wages you are being paid at the end of the month. Most civil servants in Nigeria, especially at the Federal level, will resume sluggishly at their desk at 10 am or even 11am, and will close by 1pm, even when there are lots of files on their table calling for their attention. Some don’t even come to work at all. The orientation is such that , civil servants have lost the concept of service , as servitude and rather embrace the concept of service as favour to the consumers and beneficiaries of their services, this is not only an act of gross indiscipline, but it is also an abuse of power and office, and the spring of corrupt practices. Acts of these nature that has become the norm in all our Government offices is what leads to bribery, PR, “clean my back ,I clean your back” concepts and all other decorations of corruptions , that has passed through all forms of development and becomes so sophisticated beyond control.
From the above expositions, one thing is very clear. Corruption in our system is more than deep than this Government and any other previous Government can understand. It has permeated all corners of our political, social and economic lives. It has not only reoriented our values, it has become our culture as a people. Fighting corruption in Nigeria, will be like fighting the people. Corruption has not only become a way of life of the people, it has become the norm. A non corrupt political office holder , who held office for 4years, and still return without a mansion, is frowned at by even his own people , considered stupid, and can be sure not to get elected the next time, he may not even have the resources to re-contest anyway.
There have been various attempts by various Governments to fight corruption, and obviously, none of these attempts have yielded any positive result. On the contrary, the menace was getting more sophisticated and deviant every day. The reasons are very simple. Those attempts lacked the right political will, the right and effective institutions, the right mechanism, and more importantly, because ,like a good Doctor will do, before prescribing a good and effective medication, it lacks the right and correct diagnoses of the problem appropriate enough to understand the cure.
We have various forms of institutions set up to curb corruption, but surprisingly, the menace is growing bigger and bigger into a wildfire by the day. With the wake of huge monumental failures and frauds in the banking sectors in the early 80s, angrily the Failed Bank Laws, the Failed Banks tribunals were set up, and like a “toothful” dog, many top bankers were clamped behind bars, but today, we still have banks failing and top bankers arrested and charged , prosecuted , convicted or released. The answer is simple, the real problem behind corporate failure is failed corporate governance, and until that ailment is attacked with the right medication, the ailment will persist and continue to grow resistance. It is as simple as that.
The problem of corruption is been wrongly and badly diagnosed, that is if there were ever any attempt to diagnose it in the first place. The medications or measures that have been administered or applied are therefore bound to fail, and the result hence is that corruption has been growing to be more sophisticated and resistant to all forms of measures against it. One thing that is certain is that we are all aware of the evils and consequences of corruption to our country socially, economically and politically, and we do not desire them, but, in all sincerity, do we all have the will to fight corruption? Are we all ready to sacrifice the benefits we obtain from corruption and its practices? This underlines the mantra “Change begins with you” it is a good starting point, but it should not just be a mantra, it should be a forceful national re-orientation campaign, pushed with so much energy.
From the foregoing, it is in my own opinion, that the fight against corruption should be a double sword thing. First is preventing corruption, and the second is discouraging corruption. Punishing corruption as the Government of the day like those before it did, is not just a tedious, fruitless and tax payer money wasting venture, it’s also like hedging the flower, while the roots are still very firm to the ground and the rain and sun still so much available. The flower will only continue to grow and grow stronger too, someday it will become so wild, you can’t even hedge it again. Please, permit me to break this down.
Like I enunciated earlier, corruption has gotten its grip on our every sphere of life; the first step is to prevent its further grip. By this, I mean stop all forms of acts of corruption, discourage it, and take away all inducements to corruption, and make corruption and all forms of corrupt practices un-attractive. Punishing corruption as we are doing now is fruitless, because it is not serving as a deterrent in any form, as long as the incentives, inducement and opportunities for corruption outweigh the punishment and deterrent expected. More so, even the corruption fighting institutions and mechanisms are manned by the same Nigerians with the same prevailing corrupt orientation. No wonder with over 4 different anti graft agency, the anti corruption war is still far from being won.
RIGHT STEPS TO FIGHTING CORRUPTION.
1 MASSIVE AND AGGRESSIVE RE-ORIENTATION CAMPAIGN.
This is a basic and honest prerequisite. It provides the basis and justification for punishing corruption. This campaign should include both print and media, portrayed in our songs and movies, taught in our schools, especially at elementary level, made part of our recruitment assessment test, preached in our religious institutions, and by our traditional rulers, as a basis and part of our culture as people.
Corruption should be condemned by all in our sayings and acting. The essence of these is to return us back to our enviable root and cultural values and orientation, where and when we respect people, merit, values, honesty and not wealth. The beneficial effect of this approach is two folds. One, it makes the whole world see and perceive our fight against corruption as well intended, good willed and serious, and two, it will lay a solid and effective background for an easy and effective fight against corruption and also make a corruption soldier out of many Nigerians, so making the fight against corruption much easier. However, for this to be effective, it must be aggressive, well organized and continuous.
2 ERADICATION OF ALL FORMS OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND INSECURITIES, ESPECIALLY THOSE CAPABLE OF INDUCING CORRUPTION.
Social injustices and insecurities provide inducements for corrupt practices. Like the Speaker of the House, Dogara, rightly put it when he was addressing the pensioners over nonpayment of their entitlements. He said, non-payment of pensions appropriately to retired senior citizens, will induce the serving ones to steal to secure their old age when they retire. It is as simple as that. When people that have worked all their lives serving the nation diligently and honestly, had to suffer to get their stipends on retirement, under a Government that is hard on fighting corruption, it is laughable. Because, you are not giving those in Government any good reason not to be corrupt, rather, what you are giving them is a very justifiable reason to be corrupt, if they must secure their retirement age and not suffer like the current retirees. Social injustices and insecurities among citizens, fuels and induces corrupt practices among the citizenry.
In Countries where they have low or zero corruption records, the level of social justice and securities are very high and enviable.
Social injustices and insecurities includes but not limited to areas of
1Oppression of the poor by the rich, without any enforceable remedy
2Any form of judicial injustices, delayed court proceedings, unreliable justice system.
3Police and security agencies oppressions and harassment
4Ethnic, religion and class discrimination of any form
5Delays in payment of salaries, delays or discriminations in promotions in the service.
6Any form of recruitment that sacrifices merit for mediocrity, and any form of discrimination that bestow undeserving benefit on one class of people to the detriment of others, and that causes someone else to suffer,
7Failure of Government to provide necessary social, medical and educational amenities and facilities for the benefits of the citizens
8Unreasonable discrepancies in the salaries and wages of workers in various spheres of economic, social and political institutions as well as between the private and public sector.
9Inadequate compensation that reflects low or no respect for the dignity of labour.
10Low or no respect for the citizen’s fundamental human right and non effective enforcement mechanism of same.
11Political insecurity in the form of electoral fraud, violence and discrimination.
12Eradication of apathy and discrimination in any form.
This list is not exhaustive. The effect of these points will be realized and appreciated in a comparative analysis, of corruption free societies and corruption filled societies. In Countries with minimal or no corruption records like England, it is apparent that these factors that induces corruption are either nonexistent or very minimal. The social justice and securities of it citizens are very well ensured and guaranteed, fundamental human rights of the citizens are guaranteed ,social security systems for all are provided, the justice system is reliable, social, education and health facilities are not only provided, but they are effective, affordable and reliable. Retirement and pension system is not only adequate, but also reliable and effective. The democratic system is just and equitable, and the electoral system is such that ensures that the electorate’s votes count. On the contrary, in countries, mostly in Africa, with high rate of corruption, the reverse is prevalent.
A government that failed to provide and ensure its work force enjoy social justice and security to an acceptable standard cannot complain of growing corruption. Even in the early 60s and pre colonial era Nigeria, when we can boast of considerable amount of social justice and securities, corruption was either nonexistent or very minimal. A situation where the managers of our national affairs, who are responsible for securities of life, provision of quality education and health care, avail themselves with the services of private securities, private educational institutions and health facilities leaving the public version of these facilities in shadows definitely cannot be described as social justice and security.
3INSTALLATION AND INSTITUTION OF ALL SYSTEMS, DEVICES AND INSTITUTIONS THAT WILL DISCOURAGE CORRUPTION.
An environment that allowed for impunity, abuse of office and unaccountability is a thriving ground for corruption. Due process, best good corporate governance particularly in the public sector, effective internal control, internal and external audit system, build in check and balances and adherence to regulations, rules and guidelines, will discourage corruption.
If there is an effective and reliable staff records system in place, ghost workers will be impossible. If effective due process is well established, effective and operative, contract inflation and abandoned projects will be non-existent. If an effective internal control system is well entrenched, and an effective internal control is effectively operatives, and an independent external audit control is well institutionalized, and not compromised, looting of public funds in such an organisation will be difficult , if not impossible. An environment without reliable, effective and sustainable accounting system provides a breeding and ripe opportunity for corruption.
Even though, our public service systems and parastatals seemingly appears to have in built check and balances, due processes, procurement requirements, internal and external auditing systems entrenched, which had worked effectively in the past, but have now being compromised, underutilized, ignored, underfunded and poorly staffed, thereby giving a thriving opportunity for corruption. To discourage corruption, we must make it difficult and un-attractive to be corrupt. There must be in place effective internal control system, effective due process control system, as well as both internal and external audit system. These institutions must be well equipped, properly manned, and financed and must also be independent and also subject to other supervisory controls.
In 2001 or there about when the ICPC was created, headed by the Retired Honourable Justice Mustapha Akanbi, the pioneer Chairman of the Commission. A nationwide recruitment exercise was conducted with 20,000 applicants nationwide. I was so confident that the scheme is bound to succeed, because I thought then that with such huge volume of recruitment, there will be more than enough staffs to man the commission, believing that a minimum of 4 staffs will man and over see every Government offices. But when it eventually turns out that the volume of staffs recruited was very economical, I knew that the commission has a limited and defined scope of success. And that explained their handicap in my opinion. In my humble opinion, its core duties should be to monitor and ensure that all the inbuilt internal controls, due process mechanisms, internal and external audit systems are followed, applied and adhered to strictly in the day to day operations of every Government offices. But clearly , this was not the case.
4A REVIEW OF OUR LAWS, ESPECIALLY THE CRIMINAL LAWS AS THEY RELATE TO CORRUPTION AND TAX LAWS TO MAKE WEALTH ACCUMULATION UNATTRACTIVE.
Our criminal laws, especially as they relate to prosecuting corruption and allied offences, do not foresee the sophistication level that corruption has grown to attain. Even the recently promulgated Corruption and other related offences Act, is still very far behind the current sophistication level corruption has attained, and that is why must corruption related charges are easily dispensed with by mere no case submission by clever lawyers.
The Laws in force do not have enough scope to cover the ingredients contained in the sophistications of corrupt acts and practices. Most of the offences covered by the law do not cover or take into consideration, the acts that constitute the classes of corrupt practices we have these days, so it is always difficult for the prosecutors to prove the guilt of the accused, by proving the elements of the offences by the facts which they have in their possession, in relation to the accused, hence they struggle in vain, while the defence counsel have a field day, walking away with a no case submission. In all these, the Court suffers, as the public perceived the Judge as aiding corruption or worst still tainted as corrupt himself. More so, the punishment prescribe for such offences even if conviction is attained can be very ridiculous, as the same punishment the Court is allowed to pass on an accused convicted for stealing N100, 000.00 is the same for a man that stole N100, 000,000,000.00. Even though, the Court has no discretion in this, he still get blamed and sometimes labeled corrupt.
This point will be best understood in the obiter of Justice B. Belgore of the F.C.T High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja, in the Case of Dimeji Bankole and others against the State, in which the brilliant SAN, Wale Akoni , walked away with a brilliant no case submission. The Prosecuting Counsel, Festus Keyamo struggled in vain to seek a conviction for a sophisticated crime under an old model law. The Criminal Administration Law is a good development, but it only takes care of the procedural aspect of criminal prosecution in a more sophisticated way, but it did not deal with the substantial aspect of criminal law as it relates to corruption.
A sophisticated law that will match the sophisticated level of modern day corrupt practices , must be one that understood the level of sophistication that corruption has attained, which to a very large extent dwell more on abuse of office, breach of trust, non disclosure,criminal circumvention of due process , protocols and regulations, subordination, fraudulent misconduct, fraudulent perjury, dishonesty, fraudulent negligence, fraudulent and corrupt inflation of contract, corrupt conspiracy, abetment and connivance. The list is non-exhaustive. Also the prosecutorial system , where the prosecutor has to prove that a corrupt accused stole certain amount of money , should be replaced with the accusatorial system where it will be the burden of the accused to explain why he has so much assets and wealth far beyond what his /her income can justify.
On the Tax Laws, our tax laws as they exist currently provide an enduring tax regime for corruption as it does not discourage primitive wealth accumulation; rather it makes it attractive and encourages corruption. We need a Tax regime that encourages investments in the economy and industries, rather than the one that encourages investment in luxury assets.
There exists no law that tax investments in luxury assets like exotic expensive automobiles, out of this world mansion, in multiples all over the country, private jets, and expensive mansions abroad, lavish expensive and fund wasting parties, and accessories and apparels worth fortunes. In Countries where corruption levels are non-existent or minimal, they have in place a very effective and robust tax system that do not only discourage investment in reckless luxury living but also punishes it. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case, the poor and genuine workers are forced to pay income tax deducted from their salaries, consumers of daily needs are programmed to pay VAT for every consumptions, professionals and contractors pay withholding Tax from source, petty traders and hawkers are constantly under the siege of the revenue generation chase of the Local Government. Genuine business outfits are suffering under a huge double taxation regime, and in all these, investors in luxury assets go off without any tax burden.
We need to adopt and apply the effective luxury consumption tax laws, and property tax laws in countries with non-existent or minimal corruption so as to discourage such spending, as such investment windows induces corruption.
5INVESTIGATING, PROSECUTING AND PUNISHING CORRUPTION.
In all that has been said above, the most worrisome kind of corruption is the high profile corruption cases, that are so monumental, and clearly threatening the economy, yet this kind of corruption are the most sophisticated and most difficult to fight. In fact, these are the kind of corruption that fights back when fought. This is because the actors are not just highly connected; they are seemingly untouchable and have more than enough resources to manipulate both the investigation and the justice system. Sometimes, the system is arm twisted to settle for a plea bargain.
The bulk of corruption cases failed in securing a conviction due to improper investigation, and consequently, punishment will be escaped by the accused. The issues are what are the potentials of the past and currents fights against corruption? To me, the answer is that, the various fights against corruption has been more passionate and less real, sometimes it is sectional and political. The anti graft agencies and not only without the right policy direction and they are not only underfunded, inadequately and competently manned, but also they are not independent enough. The anti-graft Laws as we have them today are not sophisticated enough to match the growing sophistication of anti-graft crimes. We need more dynamic anti-graft laws, if the war against graft must be successfully won.
For the anti graft war to be well prosecuted, the anti graft agencies must be well and adequately and effectively manned. Like the former president said, we need “ogbologbo” lawyers to prosecute the anti graft war. To this much, I agree, but that is only to the extent and belief that an ‘ogbologbo” lawyer will know when to go to Court and when not to go to Court. Taken a shoddy investigated case, upon which a flawed charge is drawn, will only means going to Court to give a good defend lawyer, a good day at no case submission.
To my understanding, the EFCC structure as it was constituted from the onset and as it still stands. is not programmed to win the anti graft war. The head of the agencies by law must be a police officer, whatever is it that conceived that idea, to me, it is a misconception. The life wire of a good prosecution is a good investigation, as that is what drives a sustainable charge. A good anti graft agency must have a very robust, sustainable intelligence resource. With my experience as a lawyer with the EFCC representing clients, I am very impressed with the interrogatory feat of the operatives of the agency, but there is room for much to be done in the area of intelligent gathering, in such a way that the agency can swoop in before the act is don and not after it has been done.
6THE WOES OF THE BUHARI LED GOVERNMENT FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION.
The Buhari led Government fight against corruption is in no doubts its winning card, and its passion for the anti graft war is in no doubt, and that corruption is fighting back too is very evident, and that Nigerians are at the receiving end is glaring too. What I can say about it is that, we are not where we use to be , but we are still very far from where we are going. But when will we get to where we want to be and whether or not we will ever get there is another question. and whether the sacrifices being forced down the throat of Nigerians will or will not be in vain, is yet to be decided.
When the Government started its anti graft war with so much passion , I remember reading and hearing on the print , electronic and social media ,of the warnings and advices of political, traditional and religious leaders that the anti graft war should be fought with caution. These advices were obviously not heeded, but rather, the advisors were almost tagged as supporting the looters of our national funds because they were beneficiaries. The anti graft soldiers, swung into action, arresting high profile suspects, mostly members of the opposition parties, and under the Jonathan Government, and it wasn’t too long and not too surprising too , that their arrests and anti graft war was tagged sectional and targeted at perceived political opponents, and used as a vendetta.
The actions of the anti graft soldiers, without any doubt, send shivers down the spines of the looter and culprits. There were panics, and like rats caught in the acts, there was a rush for escape routes. The looted Naira’s started making a rush for the safer and more secured foreign currencies, especially, the Dollar. This was simple to understand, because, the volumes of $ will be more compatible for storage away from the piercing eyes of the anti graft soldiers and also immune from the possibilities of a change in currency by the Government of the day.
Not too long, the value of the Naira, begin to suffer a free fall, unprecedented. Obviously the reason for this fall in the value of the Naira was oblivious to the Government and its finance team at the time that this was due largely to the rush for the Dollars by the stolen Naira’s. The Government started taking all forms of fiscal and monetary measures, to tackle the menace, but since they do not understand the question, they definitely couldn’t get the answer right. As if the rise in the value of the Dollars against the Naira and its attendant hardships on Nigerians was not enough, the drains of the Naira from the economy by looters in fear of stalking or account freezing by EFCC authorities, threw in further hardships in the form of liquidity issues in the economy. Government withdrawing its funds from banks threw in a bigger liquidity problem, the TSA policy was not helping issues either, businesses were dying, prices were going up, and even the Government had no money to spend, and “recession “sets in. In desperation, so many monetary and fiscal policies were put in place, to generate revenue, forced tax payments, job cuts, delayed salary payments, and many more, climbing the sufferings of Nigerians to another almost unbearable level.
Every efforts of the economic and financial teams of the Government was continuously proving abortive and the so call recession ( I call it corruption fighting back) was defying all known economic and financial theories, simply because it was not the kind of recession contemplated by those theories. It was a man made and corruption induced recession, of which the Government was not aware of.
Then came the ridiculous so called “Sting” operation of the DSS, which completely made a mess of the anti graft war. The operation which clearly leave so much to desire , and left so much to be seeing as sectional and vengeful, was not only carried out in compliance with due process, it was done in gross disrespect for the rule of law and separation of powers. Little wonder, that all the perceived culprits of the operations are largely free, un-arraigned, arraigned and discharged on no case submission. The sad thing about it, is that it only show case the lack of synergy among the security operatives in the Government’s passionate anti-graft war, just as much as the rift between the legislature and the executive is reflecting.
The anti-graft war is not only threatening to destabilize our democratic structures, it has put Nigerians through so many hardship with little or no result to show for it, while corruption is still very hype under the very same Government.
One impressive move of the Government towards the anti-graft war is the introduction of the whistle blowing policies, which clearly is beginning to show result. The Andrew Yakubu case comes to mind, and so many hidden Dollars are been revealed. This has stepped down the Naira rushed after the Dollar, and the Naira has begun to gain some momentum, and the economy is beginning to recover. For a true and sustainable anti-graft war, more must be done than this.
OSEINI WALE BAMIGBAIYE
Corporate Legal Consulting
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