A nation that has been spared the agony and uncertainties of natural disasters, persistent flood, hurricane, protracted drought, famine, earthquake, volcanic eruption, should infact, count its blessings and concentrate on vital developmental projects the open the vital developmental projects to open the gate of progress for its citizens. Concrete and coordinated investment programmes should be embarked upon to judiciously tap to the optimum, its natural facilities and human resources.
The ideological essence of the on-going programme “anti-corruption crusade in the country lies in the conscious effort to eliminate the pernicious anti-social attributes that have rocked the nation to its very foundations. It is, in effect, difficult to talk of rebranding the nation without bringing the issue of corruption to the front burner. In line with this train of thought, the main thrusts of the review examined in this expose focus virtually on corruption and fraudulent practices, with a view to ridding the country of the malignant menace. Indeed corruption – the use of public property for private gain is the main cause of the pervasive poverty, instability in this country. As already indicated, this review is dedicated to the general masses of our people who stand to lose if bribery and corruption, the hydra-headed monster is not completely manacled and rendered impractical. That is the essence of the current anti-corruption crusade in the country. Nigerians of all walks of life must learn to appreciate the concept of altruism (unselfishness) as propounded by William Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar, “What touches us must be last served.” This also is part of the great lesson of the rebrand/ change programme. We cannot rebrand or change in a vacuum. It is a war for the liberation of the people from the bonds of moribund and anachronistic social order.
Education, generally considered one of the most important instruments for fostering economic and social emancipation should not be handled with levity as it is at this moment. And, indeed, no Nigerian would be unhappy to learn that education is free at all levels. Arch-Bishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu of South Africa, during his visit to Nigeria stated succinctly: “Education is the key to unlocking inter-generational deprivation as it offers the knowledge people need to live healthy, happy lives.” The renowned 18th Century French Philosopher, Voltaire puts the same reasoning in his own way, “As long as people believe absurdities, they would commit atrocities.” Briefly put, education is an indispensable tool in fighting the plight of ignorance, superstition and self-pity. Alas! There we are. Today, in Nigeria, the story is different. Each man to himself and the devil takes the hindmost. The rat-race for wealth, selfishness and callous insensitivity has persistently thrown the spanners into the wheel of progress. Instead of moving forward, we take delight in setting the hands of the clock several centuries backward, through corruption, indifference, ethnic chauvinism and unaltruistic department.
“Not so much that officers are corrupt, but corruption is official.” This heart rending and worrisome statement is attributed to a one time Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG) Alhaji Shehu Musa. He knew exactly what he was talking about. The anarchy and wanton corruption that surrounds our crude oil production pattern is a cardinal case in point. The black gold is the mainstay of our economy – the source of our revenue and foreign exchange earnings. With illegal bunkering, indirect diversion of sales and misappropriation of revenue by managers, can these, earn this country commendable conduct. Do we know that oil is a wasting asset? We should make hay while the sun shines and should not behave like Spain with gold deposits in Mexico. History has the details. Africa’s most populous country should embark on a wide range of specialized technical fields of study and forward-looking strategies which make a country great through inventions, innovations, discoveries and investment. Why should we at these stages of our development be looking elsewhere for solutions to the problems impeding the growth of the nation into a stable progressive political entity? Self-reliance is the answer.
The central focal point of our leaders should be just, fair and democratic governance – a role model for others to emulate. Conducting of elections in Nigeria, a simple exercise of democracy is nothing to write home about. The absence of strong and effective democratic institutions had permitted on-going corruption, impunity and human rights violations. A society that cannot guarantee equal opportunity for all its citizens cannot be said to be democratic. It is hardly an exaggeration, therefore, to opine that the Nigerian polity in its entirety is systematically designed to increase instead of diminishing the misery of the common people. A – third of the Nigerian population are poor indeed. They are condemned to live as best they could, from hand to mouth in the midst of abundance. 99 percent of our national revenue goes to only one per cent of the population. The situation is not a dying convulsion, a momentary phenomenon, but a stark reality, a permanent demoralizing ordeal. Needless to say that inacceptable inequality in the country is a direct invitation to chaos and instability that is now testing the nerves of the leaders and putting them on their tiptoes. There can be no action without reaction. The entire nation is ghost at the show of shame now permanently pursued by the politicians in the country. They are nearly all consumed by the sick desire for material possessions, unmindful of the consequences. Public disgrace and reproach means nothing to them, until, of course, when they have their fingers burnt, when caught up with nemesis – the godless of retribution. And it is in this wise, that some of the senseless political profiteers, particularly those among them with the virus of diabolical kleptomania and squander mania, find themselves inextricably cobwebbed, when the chips are down. They must endorse the campaign cry of the anti-corruption crusade.
All the babbling and bleating about democracy dividends in the country is all jazz: it is a way of saying things, a political jargon and insidious lip service, calculated to mislead the undiscerning citizens. Until we are able to climb out of the abysmal depth of poverty and ignorance to which the bulk of our people is held, we cannot talk of democracy dividends. Bribery and corruption is inimical to public good. It degenerates our sense of value. “In a society where everybody is a rogue, the dishonest man is the one who does not steal,” – a society of inverse value – the painful paradox that gives away the society in which we live. How many of our leaders have clean hands. They persistently soil their hands with filthy lucres. We cannot continue with such an appalling incongruity and galling irritant. The greatest political headache of Nigeria is corruption. Its elimination, total suppression, must be underscored as a matter of priority on the balance of considerations. Who does not like wealth? Who does not want to carry that wonderful appellation – rich man? None, Brutus, none.” But when it borders on theft, bribery and corruption, embezzlement, falsification of facts and figures, political turmoil and rancor, then, we are talking entirely of something else.
Apprehended and unrepentant offenders must be lampooned openly and chastised without reserve. There must be nothing like extenuating circumstances what so ever, for they are the most wicked souls on earth. They must be made to face the full force of the law because they are a disgrace to the country. The apparently uncompromising stand of most of our past leaders against bribery and corruption makes them to be looked on as the embodiment of the new national spirit and the guardian of the national welfare. The most brilliant monument of their endeavours is the promulgation of the Anti-Corruption Law, a conscious policy decision, designed to sanitize the society. They have by so doing, introduced systematic accountability and transparency into the art of governance, in an effort to make political impropriety a thing of the past.