From independence in 1960 till today, Nigeria has been turning out 99.9% corruptionists and psychotically corrupt leadership at all levels, so much so that corruption has become the domineering mantra and ingrained culture of Nigerians. Nobody is free, no, not one is free.
We are not short of ideas on how to wipe away corruption hook, line and sinker from Nigeria in all its ramification, but we lack men and women of integrity and courage to take the bull of corruption by the horn and drive it out of our socio-economic, religious, educational and political china shop.
The eradication of corruption in Nigeria has always constituted the Mission Statement of our leaders and all coups in Nigeria, from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Buka Suka Dimka, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Earnest Shonekan, Gen.Sani Abacha, Gen.Abubakar, President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and now President Muhammadu Buhari.
Their Mission Statements have never been fraught with flaws. It has always been a patriotic call to serve and total submission to the principles of commitment to building a virile, vibrant and corruption-free nation. In Gen. Murtala Mohammed’s glowing speech titled “Africa has Come of Age and Nigeria Must Move Forward” and many others including the Retreat at Kuru, Jos which came out with the Kuru Declaration and many other evocational speeches it has always been the same story of so much motion but no movement. Buhari has now in his second coming made the fight against corruption the fundamental objective and directive principles of Nigeria’s policy.
Can Buhari succeed in this weirdest of fight against the tyrannosaurus monster of corruption that has become a tradition, custom and culture that has not only permeated Nigeria not only from grassroots level, but from root hair bass to tree top heights. Corruption has become deified, mummified, institutionalised, exhaustively glorified, consummately idolised and placed in the sacred Pantheon of revered untouchability. Agreed, relatively speaking Buhari is a man of integrity and has the disarming credentials to fight corruption. But will the democratic process, rule of law and serpentine legal manipulations allow him?
Will Nigerians at all levels join him in this macabre St. Vitus dance of death? Can he unbundle and sanitise NNPC, NDLEA, ICPC, EFCC, CCB, DPR, PPMC, Federal and State agencies, Parastatals, Ministries, Corporations, the Judiciary, the Nigerian Press, the Governors, Local Government Chairmen, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, NURTW, NANS, JOHESU, Market Women, Captains of Industries, Traditional Rulers and RATTAWU, etc. ARE NIGERIANS READY?
The answer is a clear, concise and precise NO. To make the fight against corruption work, Buhari must be trusted and furnished with power through the amendment of the constitution and freed from the frivolous use of the Law Courts through judicial processes of hiding under court adjournments, Machiavellian manipulations through the Press, rent-a-crowd phenomena, excuses of I’m being blackmailed, oppressed, lampooned, persecuted, etc. We must be prepared to sacrifice some of our precious freedoms.
In the Dictionary of Criminal Justice, Fifth Edition by George E. Rush, corruption is defined as evil, depraved, debased and a dishonest act, like taking of bribes, cheating etc. In the broadest legal sense, it is any illegal act by a sworn peace officer, including all violations of fiduciary trust and the professional Code of Conduct and Ethics- specific examples include, taking bribes, selling favours, accepting gifts and committing, aiding or abetting criminal behaviour.
In his dissertation on corruption in Africa, Professor Benard Ikeguoha of Imo State University (Department of Political Science) defined corruption as the total reprobate act of systemic and structural debasement, desecration and decomposition. At personal level, it is a perverted character, depraved and putrescent in integrity and honesty and given to bribery. But, indeed a functional definition with regard to corruption in Nigeria is that, corruption is the systematic manipulation of socio-economic, political, legal, religious and traditional rules for parochial personal, tribal and pietistic interest like taking of bribes, inflation of contracts and championing family, personal or tribal myopic interest to the detriment of national interest.
To forestall the tentacles of communication blackout in the light of our current domestic chaos and corruption, the Buhari government must dialogue with International Agencies, Institutions and Governments and act through the instrumentality of the United Nations Convention against corruption, United Nations convention against Transnational organised crimes, United Nations Global Compact Tenth Principle, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention on the Bribery of Foreign Public officials in International Business transaction, Revised Recommendations of the Council of the OECD on combating Bribery in International Business Transactions. At the African regional level, there are the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, Southern African Development Community Protocol against Corruption and ECOWAS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption, amongst others.
In Nigeria, there is the prevalence of psychotic misappropriation, horrendously unbridled acquisition of filthy lucre, assets, deification of materialism and institutionalisation of unexplained wealth.
At a Retreat held at the instance of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos between February 23rd and 25th, 2001 for Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, at the end of the retreat, a 12-point declaration was adopted which Buhari must use as an ideological format and Bible for strategic repositioning of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. It states that:
1) We subscribe to the new National ideology, which is to build a truly great African democratic country, politically United and targeted at creating a stable economically prosperous, socially organised, with equal opportunity for all and responsibility from all to become the catalyst for black Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contribution sub-regionally, regionally and globally.
2) We adopt the new orientation as an agenda for dealing with immediate and future issues of governance of Nigeria: Removing impediment to efficiency and execution of programmes initiated by the Federal Government, and Expeditors by actualisation of Government objectives and vision of national renewal and reconstruction.
3) We re-dedicate ourselves and those who serve under us to the value of patriotism, honesty, hard work, and diligence, merit and excellence, trust worthiness, personal discipline, tolerance and mutual respect, justice and fairness, love, care and compassion.
4) We pledge to eschew corruption, slothfulness, nepotism, indiscipline, bitterness, prejudice and other manifestation of antisocial behavior.
5) We shall undertake critical review of the practices and procedures in every department of Government, so as to rapidly increase the productivity and service delivery to the public.
6) We shall foster a culture of efficiency in the Management of funds and other resources, maintaining high standards of resources, management and reducing waste at all times.
7) We shall efficiently supervise all government departments and agencies, ensuring timely reports and returns, and undertaking regular spot-checking.
8) We shall abide by the terms of the code of conduct which we all have signed, as expression of our commitment to the crusade against corruption and working closely with all relevant agencies such as the Independent Corruption Practices and other related offences Commission, the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Public Complaints Commission etc.
9) We undertake to strengthen the partnership in working with the private sector, since this partnership translates to a better appreciation of the wealth creating capacity of this sector, and the need for Government, through its various Ministries and legislative processes, to create an enabling environment for the sector to function efficiently as the major driver of the economy.
10) We shall strive to strengthen and inculcate the culture of working closely and in consultation with the leadership of labor and societal organizations.
11) We shall mobilize, evolve and promote the interest of all stake holders, namely, the society in general; since, in the ultimate all decisions and actions of government are aimed at the promotion of public welfare, there is also the need for a new attitude that has that welfare permanently in focus, as the only goal, and the economic well-being of all citizens, under unfettered freedom, is of cardinal importance and we shall design strategies and techniques of implementation for the New Orientation so as to ensure that the values being inculcated are ingrained in the citizenry at large.
We beseech the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be of high integrity in this fight against corruption. They must adopt the Delphic Declaration by making their assets and liabilities public. They must stand firmly by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that he leaves no stone unturned and no turn unstoned in this gargantuan fight to cleanse the Augean stable of corruption.
The constitution of Panels, Tribunals and other investigating bodies to probe Corporations and individuals must be circumspectively kept select. They must ensure that the persons constituting the Tribunals and Panels are not sent on witch hunting escapades and a vendetta mission. Buhari must ensure that his much vaunted political agenda of massively reducing unemployment rate and poverty in Nigeria are vigorously pursued and the drive to spread the provision of amenities to the poor is given top priority. There must be aggressive pursuit of industrialization and agricultural revolution that will grossly alleviate poverty in Nigeria. We must be encouraged to shun ostentatious consumption through expensive marriages, burial ceremonies, frivolous award of chieftaincy titles, child dedication, naming ceremonies and dunderheaded public display of wealth. We must ensure there are checks and balances in the society at large to ensure that a man’s income is commensurate with his properties. Unexplained wealth must be investigated.
There must be massive and colossal mobilization of Nigerians at all levels to imbibe the mantra of the war against corruption in Nigeria. There must be no sacred cows and all hands must be on deck to ensure that the sledge hammer to deracinate corruption from all nooks and crannies in Nigeria are unsparingly applied with soldierly brevity. It is not an easy road to tread, but we must make the move to sanitize and rid Nigeria of prebendalistic graft. The Judiciary and the Press have a monumental role to play in this tortuous and adventurous journey.
Finally, the essayist and poet Edmund Burke posited that “the heights reached and attained by great men and nations, where not reached and attained by sudden flight. They toiled all night whilst others slept” and substantiated by the English playwright William Shakespeare that “if to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, beggars cottages would have become princely palaces and princely palaces heavenly paradise” (not verbatim). It is not an easy road for corruption and its quintessential sponsors and promoters will fight back. It will make or break Nigeria. Nigerians Beware!!!
Bobson Gbinije, a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State.
Culled from Vanguard
SEE ALSO:OPINION: Buhari: Snail or Sniper?
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