Over the years, the menace of corruption has assumed the dimension of a sing-song across different spectrums of the nation. Almost all woes bedeviling the nation today have been attributed to this monster called corruption. This has raised concerns whether solutions would ever be found to this evil.
However in the last six months, hope appears to have been rekindled, following President Muhammadud Buhari’s resolve to prosecute his anti-corruption war.
Without mincing words, the evil that corruption has done to the nation is monumental, a situation that has brought about tactical support of well-meaning Nigerians, young or old, to join in the anti-corruption crusade.
Public opinion has raised some curious observations. If the antecedents of Buhari on corruption issues are anything to go by, his style of prosecuting the battle since taking over government on May 29 has been a mixed grill to discerning Nigerians. Close watchers have faulted the current anti-corruption style of the government, which, why professing to be fighting the evil, is also encouraging it by romancing with indicted corrupt politicians.
Corruption has been the dominant word in the APC-led government, and there seems to be financial stillness, as economic activities appear to have gone to sleep in readiness for the sanitization exercise promised the people. But what is corruption, if one may ask?
In Nigeria, when the word corruption is mentioned, most people are hasty to define it as the “act of looting public funds by public office holders.” Others say corruption is “the abuse of public trust by those who are in constituted authority.” But, these definitions are not out of place, except that corruption is much more than stealing of public funds and abusing public trust. Corruption in real sense means, to distort acceptable standard of doing things.
Corruption is denigrating acceptable mores. It also involves decaying, debasing, ruining and spoiling a system. This system cuts across all areas; political, economic, social, religious and educational segments and is more than just stealing, even though stealing is corruption. From whatever angle it is viewed, it is a social sin, whose multiplier effects are multi-faceted. While corruption exists in every nation, its dimension varies from nation to nation.
Corruption is a social sin, and just as sin cannot be stopped completely, it exists in one form or the other in every nation. But what sane societies do is to curb the evil and minimize its toll to a reasonable level.
Expectedly, in fighting corruption, what is needed of any government is to put policies in place that will discourage corruption. In the light of this, one strong demonstration to fighting corruption is the setting up of strong institutions, including granting financial autonomy to the judiciary and other anti- graft agencies. Unfortunately, successive governments in Nigeria have deliberately weakened these relevant institutions.
Going by the active participation of alleged corrupt people in this government, some have posited that President Buhari could literarily be said to be corrupt. Having been a strong a crusader of anti-corruption, the president is seen as a General that he is who is battled-ready to continue with his corruption crusade. Unfortunately, since coming into power, damning public views show that he has not shown any real determination to fight corruption. According to ardent observers, the reason for this stance is not farfetched.
Yes, the president may not be corrupt in the ordinary parlance, but he is seen as a friend to corruption and corrupt people. Since corruption is not limited to looting public treasury, his attitude in the handling of national affairs has been described as corruption in itself. He has been publicly condemned for debasing the system by the unrepentant biases that he has demonstrated sofar. In the opinion of these critics, he is seen as guilty of tribalism and nepotism, the twin evils that provide fertile ground for corruption to thrive.
The President has been accused of corrupting the rules of natural justice, which situates on fairness and equality. Away from that, President Buhari, while seeking for the peoples mandate, sought the assistance of some corrupt Nigerians, some of whom have been indicted by the anti-graft agencies. While the source of campaign funds is a strong issue in the advanced democracies, here in Nigeria, Buhari allegedly compromised when he fraternize with indicted politicians to prosecute his electioneering campaigns. As critics continue to call for the prosecution of these alleged corrupt officers, the President has not shown any wiliness to hearken unto the voices of reason.
Besides, rather than protecting the integrity of a nation that he sworn to defend, he has many a time, washed Nigeria’s dirty linens abroad, thus corrupting the image of Nigerians within and outside the country. The implication of this is that the cordial atmosphere needed for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) may have been soiled.
For a government that wants to fight corruption, political affiliation and party loyalty should not be a barrier. There is widespread allegation that in his new style of fighting corruption, he is shedding his party men from prosecution, while unleashing same on the opposition and perceived enemies. Also, it must be stated that although the anti-corruption propaganda has been very high, in reality nothing has changed, as six months down the line, no notable public figure has been arraigned for prosecution.
Be that as it may, it is instructive to state that the fight against corruption is a commendable step by any leader. However, as the saying goes, charity begins at home; therefore it is instructive that the anti-corruption war is not in any way limited.
In fighting corruption in the mode that the public expects of this government, opinion in public domain is that the President should start the fight from his party.
He should also extend the dragnet to all sectors, including the past privatization exercises, sources of his campaign fund, the rot in power and petroleum sectors, and above all, previous government beyond that of immediate past president Goodluck Jonathan. That way, the spirits of our founding fathers will be appeased that, this is indeed the Nigeria that they laboured for.
Written by Ominabo Wealth Dickson.