Fantastically Corrupt: Yes Or No? By Adedamola Adejobi
‘Fantastically corrupt’ is the new lexicon used to describe corruption in Nigeria by David Cameron, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, during a conversation with the Queen of England at the pre-summit of the Anti-Corruption Summit in London.
This is not the first time such comments will come up when Nigeria is being mentioned or talked about in other climes. It is so sad that foreign leaders talk about us without respect but the truth be told, we are responsible for all the insults and abuses. There is no denying the fact that we are a terribly corrupt country with terribly corrupt leaders and followers. There have been several rhetoric from government on fighting corruption in the past but all to no avail; unable to achieve anything tangible.
There are notable cases of corruption which still remain largely unsolved and cause some of the reasons why we are being branded with all sort of unfavourable names in the international community. Some of these cases are listed below:
Stella Oduah: Before her removal as Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah was shrouded in a N255 million armoured car scandal. She was accused of abusing her office by compelling an agency under her ministry to buy such exotic cars.
Police Pension Fund Fraud: Five people, including former Director of Police Pension Fund, Esai Dangabar, were accused of misusing N32.8billion from the Police Pension Fund. Mr. Dangabar accused some committee members of the Senate of benefiting from the loot.
Missing N20billion Naira oil money: In 2013, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPC failed to remit billions of naira in oil proceeds to the state. This caused a huge rift between the then CBN Governor and President Goodluck Jonathan which saw him suspending Mr. Sanusi from office.
Malabu Oil Scandal: This was one of the biggest oil scandals that did not receive the kind of attention it deserves. It involves a former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, who was convicted in France for money laundering. His illegal company, Malabu Oil, received an illegal $1.1million from the Nigerian government as proceeds for the sale of an oil block. Upon receipt, the money was immediately disbursed to certain individuals.
Farouk Lawan: House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan, was caught on tape collecting $620,000 out of a $3million bribe while his committee investigated the fuel subsidy scam. He was seen collecting the money from oil mogul, Femi Otedola.
Col. Sambo Dasuki: Former National Security Adviser was accused of diverting the sum of $2billion meant for the procurement of arms to fight insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.
What do we have to show for over $690 billion dollars generated from crude oil alone in 17 years, we have little or no result at all. We cannot boast of good roads, stable power supply, standard healthcare facilities, portable water, the list is endless. To reverse this trend, the current administration of President Buhari said that if we do not tackle corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.
Sincerely, we need to be realistic with ourselves. The current state of corruption in this country is very appalling and not befitting of us as a nation that seeks to be a global player by the year 2020. I believe the current probe of some notable figures accused of one crime or the other, should no longer be seen as an act of victimisation, because it is very glaring how reckless we have been with public resources. These personalities under probe have betrayed public trust by arrogating public wealth to themselves for selfish reasons. This is condemnable and against the rule of law.
It is saddening how Nigerians have developed a thick skin to issues of corruption. We often ignore such issues as though they had nothing to do with our welfare, reputation and existence. The reason for this is not farfetched, we are yet to see notable figures sentenced for corruption. Some will be quick to mention the likes of Chief Bode George but we all know he was pardoned by the previous administration.
With these demoralising trends, one is pushed to be pessimistic with the issues of corruption in the country. This has given impetus to some who believe that ‘if you can’t beat them, you join them.’
As former President Olusegun Obasanjo once said, “Fighting corruption is not a one-night affair. Of course there are deep-rooted interests, and if you are going to deal with it, you have to deal with it consistently [and truthfully]. If you deal with it today and you then turn a blind eye tomorrow, it will come back with vengeance.”
At this point, the current administration must go beyond being rhetorical about the fight against corruption. It must be strategic with its decisive actions yet within the ambit of the law and respect for human rights. Some of these actions will include:
Establishment of Special Courts: specialised courts to try persons accused of corrupt practices, this will ensure speedy dispensation of justice and send a clear signal to anyone thinking of stealing or mismanaging public resources.
Making of laws that protect whistle blowers: there should be special provision in the constitution to protect whistle blowers from victimisation or attack. This will encourage more people to raise alarm when they see any act of corruption and also have a sense of safety knowing fully well that they are protected by the law.
Independence of the EFCC and ICPC: ensuring the independence of EFCC and ICPC will allow both agencies to perform their duties without having to take directives from above which could hinder the integrity of job their jobs.
Improved welfare for security personnel and civil servants: improved work conditions for security personnel and civil servants is sacrosanct. When this is done politicians will not be able to manipulate these groups of individuals to syphon public funds.
Above all leadership must be exemplary at all levels of government. This will dissuade citizens from acts of corruption and send the same signal to both the public and private sector if corruption must be stamped out.
Nigerian Youth Parliament
Osun East Senatorial District