A bet­ter way to fight cor­rup­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Cor­rup­tion has been the root cause of each and ev­ery prob­lem rav­aging Nige­ria to­day. Gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions are weak be­cause cor­rup­tion has eaten up the fab­rics form­ing them. Power is still epilep­tic be­cause some cor­rupt peo­ple usurped and pock­eted monies meant for the sec­tor. Poverty is still en­demic be­cause some greedy gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials wouldn’t al­low funds meant to touch the lives of the masses trickle down to them. Health care de­liv­ery and ed­u­ca­tion are all poor be­cause of cor­rup­tion. And the list goes on and on.

Since as­sump­tion into of­fice, the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment has pri­ori­tised the fight against cor­rup­tion and took it to a whole new level. The gov­ern­ment didn’t mince word in declar­ing steal­ing of pub­lic fund as cor­rup­tion. With the swift im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count ( TSA) and other mea­sures put in place, some level of san­ity has re­turned into the sys­tem. High pro­file ar­rests and pros­e­cu­tions have been achieved, whis­tle blow­ing pol­icy was in­tro­duced, looted funds worth bil­lions of Naira were re­cov­ered, and the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) has be­come a night­mare to the cor­rupt.

For some well-known rea­sons, the present fight against cor­rup­tion has been slow and is suf­fer­ing some set­backs. Even the gov­ern­ment couldn’t hide its frus­tra­tion as to why the fight isn’t pro­duc­ing de­sired re­sult. The mag­ni­tude at which cor­rup­tion has been fight­ing back is un­equalled. Con­vic­tion of the cor­rupt seems to be tak­ing for­ever. The cor­rupt still find loop­holes to cir­cum­vent the sys­tem and steal. Cor­rupt prac­tices and ex­tor­tion are still ram­pant in Min­istries, De­part­ments, and Agen­cies. Se­cu­rity agents still ha­rass Nige­ri­ans for bribe. The whole sit­u­a­tion leaves one to won­der if cor­rup­tion is syn­ony­mous to the name ‘Nige­ria’.

End­ing cor­rup­tion re­quires ef­fec­tive law en­force­ment to en­sure the cor­rupt are pun­ished and to break the vi­cious cy­cle of im­punity. But with our weak le­gal sys­tem greatly af­fect­ing the fight, for now, gov­ern­ment should give more em­pha­sis on strength­en­ing its weak in­sti­tu­tions over se­cur­ing con­vic­tions. Strength­en­ing the role of au­dit­ing agen­cies, dis­clo­sure of bud­get in­for­ma­tion by all arms of gov­ern­ment, en­cour­ag­ing ini­tia­tives such as budgiT that pro­motes trans­parency by giv­ing ci­ti­zen the abil­ity to track the progress of projects in their lo­cal­i­ties, pro­mot­ing trans­parency es­pe­cially in the awards of con­tracts and pro­cure­ment, fully im­ple­ment­ing the Open Gov­er­nance Part­ner­ship (OGP) ini­tia­tive, im­prov­ing the pay of civil ser­vants so as to help re­duce pres­sures on them to sup­ple­ment their in­come in un­of­fi­cial ways, and elim­i­nat­ing the many need­less bot­tle necks in the name of reg­u­la­tions will abet in block­ing loop­holes pro­mot­ing cor­rup­tion.

Ul­ti­mately, the role of tech­nol­ogy shouldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated in the process of strength­en­ing our weak in­sti­tu­tions. Mas­sive in­vest­ment should be made on In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (IT). The in­ter­net should be used to cur­tail cases of fre­quent and di­rect con­tact be­tween gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and cit­i­zens since such contacts opens way for il­licit trans­ac­tions. Above all, the afore­men­tioned rec­om­men­da­tions will not pro­vide de­sired re­sults un­less ini­tia­tives such as SERVICOM are re­vamped for ef­fec­tive ser­vice de­liv­ery. Erring gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials should eas­ily be re­ported and pun­ished for ex­tor­tion, ha­rass­ment, and poor at­ti­tude to work. Af­ter all, most gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in Nige­ria act as though dis­charg­ing ser­vices they are paid for is a favour to cit­i­zens. Yahya Idris, Kaduna.

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