Nigeria: Nation Under The Captivity Of Hurricane Corruption By Odusote Oluwakayode
As the flood waters of corruption refuses to recede in Nigeria and the survivors of poverty continue to wallow in penury, one truth has become achingly clear over the past few weeks: Our government is not ready to go into war with corruption and save its own citizens from a catastrophe.
As usual, the Nigerian people have always forged ahead with courage in a fate that “one day e go better”. But despite the courage, this can-do spirit has been stifled the more by a can’t-do government that seems to think it has no role in solving great national challenges or rallying a country to a cause. The National Conference is a typical example.
I guess Nigerians forget easily, at least, by the continuous silence to acts of corrupt practices by persons in position of authority. By the last count, the number of “Gates” in the life of the present administration is alarming.
Public funds are stolen at will and due to a possibly controlled judiciary; justice is always merciful with those sometime described to have misappropriated money – There are several definitions for theft and stealing when it is being perpetrated by officials of government. When elite steals, they steal with preparedness to fund the aftermath. The end result will be several adjournments upon adjournment, a people of a nation will shout and brag, journalist will write the ink dry, opposition camps will condemn till the throats are thirsty and the “mumu” society will let go to face another political distractions.
I guess the masked man (Lagbaja) was right about the “Two Hundred Million Mumu”.
We have a government that’s content with simply protecting the interests of alleged corrupt associates than protecting the lives of the governed. A government that’s content with giving tax breaks to corporate industries loyal to the government without considering the feeling of its own people.
Corruption is not new in our political landscape, it is not a challenge peculiar to Nigeria, it is a general problem which had existed in societies for a long period of time. It is killing and the way to stop it from further destruction is to stem the tide of its incursion in our society. That is how developed nations have reacted to it. Developed nations aren’t immune from corrupt practices but they have a system devoid of personal handling to challenge it.
We have allowed corruption to eat deep into our national system and it has become a cancer. Corruption is robbing the nation of the opportunities to develop and progress, create jobs, social and basic amenities, good road networks, rural development and success the people deserve.
We have heard of strong defence by the Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister of the Economy that our economy is strong and buoyant, alas, in the midst of all these reports and emotional defence, the vast majority of people in this country desperately stagnate in poverty. Poverty has even become a rhyme. It doesn’t move the government to tears, to them, it your choice to be poor or rich. It is painfully obvious that corruption stifles development – it siphons off scarce resources that could improve infrastructure, bolster education systems, and strengthen public health. It stacks the deck so high against entrepreneurs that they cannot get their job-creating ideas off the ground.
Corruption in itself has become a career which costs millions to sustain. It is a choice of career that the rich and poor have taken to. Corruption pay some salaries, it secures judgements and enters into plea bargain. The judiciary system is totally messed up with sound administers of the law that take time to twist the law just to satisfy the survival quest of corruption. The enforcers of the law have also taken the poisoning apple of corruption with their services rendered to pervade such practices at will.
The arm of corruption has also provided succour for criminals. Communities have stories of armed robbers arrested, taken to the police station and later released by the police only to go back and hack down the patriotic minds that arrested them in the first place.
Corruption takes care of criminals – the stories of the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun and his six month imprisonment for corruption and money laundering; the two-year imprisonment of ex-governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State for corruption and money laundering – a criminal that eventually got pardoned by President Jonathan; James Ibori, former governor of Delta State, who was surprisingly set free by Justice Awokulehin , only for him to be found guilty and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment by the British authority; the six-month imprisonment with an option of N3.5ml ($23,000) fine for ex-governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, for corruption; and the 30-month imprisonment of Bode George, former Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, and national vice-chairman, southwest zone, of the People’s Democratic Party for contract fraud are reference points.
Erastus Akingbola who is being charged for money laundering is still playing the legal game of hiding away from justice with the huge funds he siphoned – by seeking safe haven for a time and robbing all humanity of the opportunity to bring the criminal to justice. Cecilia Ibru had a stint also, after all acts of fraud; she spent most of her sentence on hospital bed.
The list is limitless. Hon. Farouk Lawan In January 2012 chaired the House of Representatives committee that investigated the Nigerian government’s fuel subsidies.The committee was set up in the wake of nationwide strikes in Nigeria after President Goodluck Jonathan removed a fuel subsidy that resulted in the doubling in the price of fuel. The Committee’s report released in April the same year revealed a huge scam in which Nigerian fuel companies were being paid hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies by the government for fuel that was never delivered. It was estimated the scam cost the country $6.8 million.
In February 2013, Lawan was charged with corruption after he allegedly accepted $500,000 from Femi Otedola, as part of a $3 million bribe Lawan had solicited from Otedola. Otedola claimed that Lawan demanded the bribe in order to have his company, Zenon, removed from the list of companies that the committee had implicated in the scandal. The initial fuel subsidy report said that Zenon owed more than $1 million to the government, but legislators later voted to remove the firm from the final report. Lawan said that he accepted the money in order to expose blackmail and informed the committee and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Till today, a supposed “Honourable” Farouk Lawan is still legislating and making laws.
Officials in positions of governance and Civil servants are most confronted by the serious temptation of bribery especially when the take home pay is not enough for just basic needs. Government contracts are awarded without recourse to due process, even when it is called due process, the process is tainted by undue hand from above.
It has been suggested that to curb corruption, government should be downsized by reducing ministries, especially the ones that are not necessary and duplicating efforts. Government should not be seen as a payback time for good deeds of political followership. Government should be about employing merit for needed performance. Offices should not just be created from the blues; a situation where the elected officers would have multiple PAs and SAs doing nothing but occupying capacities to steal.
The Boko Haram insurgency which has shed innocent blood of Nigerians are facilitated by unscrupulous officers who can be paid off because they are so crippled by corruption that they do not care for the personal safety of Nigerians they swore to protect. These kinds of movements germinate as a result of endemic corruption.
The people are the sufferers of these consequences of corrupt practices and in the end, if the people cannot trust the government to protect them, promote good governance and provide basic amenities, insurgency may increasingly surface.
The recent scandal involving the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah is a clear case of corrupt practice that will, as usual, be swept under the carpet.
When a serious government, committed to work, employ people that are judged by merit, not connections, when a country have responsible and noble men in the Legislature and a legal system have incorruptible judges, then the best and brightest can lead the country, people will be committed to working hard, there will be productivity, economic growth and development.
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