Winning The War Against Corruption, A Realist’s Approach By Oseini Wale Bamigbaiy

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WHAT IS CORRUPTION?

DEFINITION

POSTULATIONS

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.

CORRUPTION INDICES

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

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.

 

INDISCIPLINE.

 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.

CURBING CORRUPTION

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.

  1. 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

  1. Oppression of the poor by the rich, without any enforceable
    remedy
  2. Any form of judicial injustices, delayed court proceedings,
    unreliable justice system.
  3. Police and security agencies oppressions and harassment
  4. Ethnic, religion and class discrimination of any form
  5. Delays in payment of salaries, delays or discriminations in
    promotions in the service.
  6. Any 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,
  7. Failure of Government to provide necessary social, medical and
    educational amenities and facilities for the benefits of the
    citizens
  8. Unreasonable 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.
  9. Inadequate compensation that reflects low or no respect for the
    dignity of labour.
  10. Low or no respect for the citizen’s fundamental human right and
    non effective enforcement mechanism of same.
  11. Political insecurity in the form of electoral fraud, violence
    and discrimination.
  12. Eradication 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.

  1. INSTALLATION 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.

  1. A 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.

  1. INVESTIGATING, 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.

THE 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 begin 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

bamigbaiye@yahoo.com.

WHAT IS CORRUPTION?

DEFINITION

POSTULATIONS

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.

CORRUPTION INDICES

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

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.

 

INDISCIPLINE.

 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.

CURBING CORRUPTION

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.

  1. 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

  1. Oppression of the poor by the rich, without any enforceable
    remedy
  2. Any form of judicial injustices, delayed court proceedings,
    unreliable justice system.
  3. Police and security agencies oppressions and harassment
  4. Ethnic, religion and class discrimination of any form
  5. Delays in payment of salaries, delays or discriminations in
    promotions in the service.
  6. Any 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,
  7. Failure of Government to provide necessary social, medical and
    educational amenities and facilities for the benefits of the
    citizens
  8. Unreasonable 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.
  9. Inadequate compensation that reflects low or no respect for the
    dignity of labour.
  10. Low or no respect for the citizen’s fundamental human right and
    non effective enforcement mechanism of same.
  11. Political insecurity in the form of electoral fraud, violence
    and discrimination.
  12. Eradication 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.

  1. INSTALLATION 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.

  1. A 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.

  1. INVESTIGATING, 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.

THE 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 begin 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

bamigbaiye@yahoo.com.

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