Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria: Ten Reasons Why We Are Not Succeeding; Ten Things We Must Do If We Want to Succeed


By Udems

Memory Verse:
A major duty legal researchers and rule of law campaigners owe society in the practice of constitutional democracy for promotion and sustenance of responsible and responsive governance is to constantly offer legal opinions on issues of law to guide our leaders and institutions in the discharge of leadership responsibilities.

Let’s call a spade by its name, if we want the fight against corruption in Nigeria to work as effectively and efficiently as similar projects work in some other countries, then certain principles and attitudes must be in place, and honestly respected. I respectfully put forward the following suggestions, the pursuit and realization of which, I believe, would help nip corruption in the bud in Nigeria:

(1). GOOD AND INCLUSIVE GOVERNANCE: this has eluded Nigeria for decades. Bad governance is the best cause and the most effective promoter of corruption. Our plight in Nigeria is best captured by the words of Che Guevara: “Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.” David Hume put it more succinctly: “the corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst.”
Until we enthrone good, transparent, inclusive and selfless governance, we might never get it right in our fighting against corruption.

(2). EQUITY AND EQUALITY: Political Leaders and Governments in Nigeria must enthrone equity and equality as their core governance principles. These extend to respect for the federal character principle and provisions of the constitution (see Chapter 2, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999), and enthrone tolerance for opposition and dissent. Section 13(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999 as amended provides that “it shall be the duty and responsibility of … government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter Two of this Constitution. Section 14(1) of Chapter Two of the CFRN, 1999 provides that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice” while section 14(3) states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Says section 15(2): “National integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited. Finally, on this point, according to section 15(4), “the State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.”

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(3). MODERNISM AND MODERNIZATION OF GOVERNANCE: deployment of ICT, paperlessness, and use of the internet as a leadership tool for implementation of all government policies and programs without any exception.

(4). DIVERSIFICATION & REDUCTION OF COST OF GOVERNANCE: government has no business being involved (beyond playing the role of a regulator) in telecommunication, banking, power generation and distribution, oil/minerals exploration, mining, refining and distribution, and so many others. Besides, the cost of governance in Nigeria is unacceptably huge, compared to other countries.

(5). RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, RULE OF LAW & DUE PROCESS: Corruption of rule of law is worse than economic corruption and financial crimes. Until strict observance of rule of law is elevated above all else, we’re going nowhere with our pretensions to fighting economic corruption. Violation of rule of law in order to fight corruption is a much worse act of corruption than the economic corruption you purport to fight. Let’s put a legislation in place; (a)anyone who violates rule of law should be arrested and jailed. (b) any institution that violates rule of law should have its head immediately relieved of his position. In this way, we would wake up and be civil, sane, and law-abiding in our approach.

(6). GIVE CORRUPTION FIGHT A CRIMINOLOGIST’S TREATMENT: We ought to concentrate more on identifying and tackling the root/causes of corruption and stop mere scratching of the surface by unnecessarily dwelling on who aids it, and who does not; who is a realiable partner and who is not. If we remove the causes, the environment would become infertile for corruption which would then die a natural death. Let’s adopt the criminologist’s approach, and let it coexist, side by side the arrest-and-prosecute approach. As long as the causes of CORRUPTING remain, corruption would persist, no matter what we do to eliminate corruption.

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(7). THE IMPURE CANNOT SUCCESSFULLY PURIFY THE UNCLEAN: The next is illustrated in the words of President Vladimir Putin, “those who fight corruption should be clean themselves.” Corruption cannot fight corruption. Those appointed to drive the crusade must themselves be above suspicion. “Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power,” says William Gaddis. If we elect the same corrupt politicians every time, that’s a very clear message that we don’t want a change. There’s a saying that, “Diapers and politicians should be changed often. Both for the same reason.” According to George Orwell, “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims… but accomplices”.

(8). The eightieth is seen in the words of Eduard Shevardnadze (Georgian politician and diplomat) “Corruption has its own motivations, and one has to thoroughly study that phenomenon and eliminate the foundations that allow corruption to exist.”

(9). BUILD POWERFUL, ENDURING INSTITUTIONS, NOT POWERFUL LEADERS: The ninth has to do with building strong institutions and deemphasizing the role of persons and personalities. To this end, Rigoberta Menchú, a Nobel Prize laureate said: “Without strong watchdog institutions, impunity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain.” Hear Leo Tolstoy, “since corrupt people unite among themselves to constitute a force, then honest people must do the same.”

(10). ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY: The tenth is found in Olusegun Obasanjo’s declaration that “fighting corruption is not a one-night affair.”

In conclusion, If we think of, and do ,the right thing, as is done in some other countries, we would get good results like they. If we ignore the above concepts and principles, it still boils down to the words of Steve Magee was of the view that corruption persists and blossoms in some countries because, in those countries, “Corrupt governments are run by corrupt politicians that run corrupt law enforcement agencies.” As an alternative to government by corrupt people, Turkish playwright and writer, Mehmet Murat ildan has the following suggestion: “Instead of politicians, let the monkeys govern the countries; at least they will steal only the bananas!”
Sylvester Udemezue
“Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Crusade And Renewed Search For “Reliable Partnerships:” A Few Questions For Distinguished Prof. Sagay, SAN”
By Sylvester Udemezue. <>

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