Buhari’s way forward and his legacy (II)
So far PMB can be said to have his priorities right in selecting to solve two serious problems facing the nation before all others namely the insurgency and corruption.
However, there is only one way to fight insurgency to a standstill and that is by ensuring the state monopoly of violence. This is best exemplified by today’s China or yesteryears’ Soviet Union. How do we achieve this in Nigeria? This will be the topic for another day.
Fighting corruption is akin to the situation where someone finds one’s sitting room flooded with water. One can start removing the water from the sitting room but that would be a losing battle. The smart thing to do is to trace the source of the leakage and stop any further flooding before embarking on the removal of the water in the sitting room.
So similarly, one can safely say the fight against corruption has not really started in Nigeria since we have not traced and blocked the source of corruption in government and until we do that, the flood of corruption will continue unabated. There are two sources of corruption namely impunity and money politics and unless these twin evils are eliminated we can never hope to defeat it.
We should also realise that totally eliminating corruption is a tall order. What is more feasible is to remove the conditions that make corruption possible. Impunity is one of the root causes of corruption and can be described as the oxygen for corruption; without it corruption cannot thrive. Impunity has also been described as a situation where actions have no consequences. As long as there is impunity corruption will be pervasive and almost impossible to eliminate but definitely difficult to fight. The other root cause of corruption is money politics. As long as there is money politics, corruption will thrive and become impossible to eliminate. Money politics will be pervasive only in the presence of impunity. Many aspects of money politics are actually illegal and so with sincerity of purpose it can be more easily eliminated. Since the preconditions for corruption, impunity and money politics, are easier to tackle, the war against corruption should be changed to the war against impunity and money politics. Both impunity and money politics have one panacea and that is assets declaration by public officials both appointed and elected.
We all know that most of the elected officials in government today from State Assembly members. House of Representatives, Senators right up to State Governors got elected through money politics and are hoping to recoup the money they spent in their campaigns as if politics were a business venture. The aims of such officials have nothing to do with selfless service to the nation; they see elective office as an opportunity to ‘invest’ (i.e. buy a position) where they can ‘recoup their investment’ (i.e. steal from the Government). The only way to stop such businessmen-politicians is for them to routinely declare their assets publicly. Once they know that their assets are being monitored they will have no incentive of running for public office. In fact, many current office holders would resign if PMB were to insist on complying with the policy of assets declaration as happened recently in the Department of Customs and Excise. This way only people with the genuine desire to selflessly serve the people will be attracted to political office.
In view of the crucial role the asset declaration policy (PAD) is expected to play in the effort to eliminate impunity and money politics, PMB is advised to set up an office in the Presidency (to be named Asset Declaration Monitoring Office) to keep track
We should also realise that totally eliminating corruption is a tall order. What is more feasible is to remove the conditions that make corruption possible. Impunity is one of the root causes of corruption and can be described as the oxygen for corruption; without it corruption cannot thrive.