A prosperous Nigeria is possible… but why unmake your country? (2)
This columnist appreciates all Nigerians who are honest citizens and wish their country well. Let us be frank with ourselves, angels will not manage Nigeria. Nigerians will administer Nigeria. Certainly, everyone including the political class and other top executives in public and private sectors will be judged individually by the content of their character while serving either in elected or appointed positions.
Will critics be right or wrong to say that there is hardly any Nigerian leader even at the highest level of government who gets into office and sees a vision for Nigeria? It depends on what individuals understand as national vision.
Most Nigerians are worried because the level of corruption in our country is extraordinary. We have heard on many occasions that Nigeria has enormous potential. Fact! But some researchers and public affairs analysts have stated that corruption is the single greatest obstacle preventing Nigeria from achieving its enormous potential after almost 60 years of independence.
Power corrupts absolutely. Corruption has weakened the country’s economy, asphyxiates growth, and decreases the social contract between the government at all levels-local, state, and federal- and millions of its citizens. So, how do we defeat corruption when the hunter is hunted?
The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has been suspended from office by the Presidency. Ibrahim Magu is secretly facing an investigative panel for allegations of corruption and insubordination. How do we explain this? Public affairs analysts say that corruption and partisanship have fuelled the unceremonious exit of the czar of the anti-corruption agency. A pity!
But amid this corruption pandemic, some politicians are thinking ahead. You cannot beat our brand of politicians. It is in the public domain that the predatory behaviour exhibited by some members of the political class is in preparation for general elections in 2023. Apart from alleged corruption cases at the NDDC, there are allegations of fraud at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). The NSITF is one of the agencies under Senator Chris Ngige, the Labour and Employment Minister.
Senator Ngige is reported to have suspended the NSITF management over the misappropriation of N48 billion. The minister alleged that the management withdrew the amount through fake contracts, proceeds of which were recycled into fake pockets.
But the sacked NSITF management team also accused its minister of padding the 2020 Budget with N1.2 billion, 5 SUVS, and installing an ex-lover as new executive director. When Ngige appeared at the probe panel in the House of Representatives he told Honourable Faleke that: “I am your Lagos mentor’s mate, you Mushin boy talking to me, a VI boy, you yap me, I yap you.” It was a session of yap me; I yap you! What a laughable tragedy?
NDDC’S case is pathetic. The NDDC, set up by the FG to develop the Niger Delta region is a cesspool of corruption and maleficence. In fact, it has been turned into a house of scandals. Joi Nunieh, former Acting Managing Director of the NDDC accused the minister of Niger Delta of sexual harassment, and that the minister got slapped for harassing her. It is unbelievable! But Godwin Akpabio replied: “I love my wife and daughters, and I have been a champion of women and children.”
It was a week of drama. Godwin Akpabio accused NASS members of collecting 60 percent of contracts at the NDDC. After the Reps threatened legal action, Akpabio denied accusing lawmakers of getting 60 percent of NDDC contracts. Later, the “uncommon” Senator Akpabio released a bombshell by submitting a controversial letter to the Green Chamber of the NASS. According to media reports, those who benefitted from the NDDC contracts include House of Reps members, army, police officers, APC chieftains, ex-governors, and others referred to as “caucus lawmakers.”
The venue of the hearing was turned into a movie theatre where ministers and lawmakers yapped and made jest of themselves. The whole corruption issue became a joke before Nigerians. The investigation is still on, but the Senate has demanded for dissolution of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC and that the agency should refund the sum of N4.9 billion.
Weak institutions: If we examined most failed nations, they are unsuccessful largely due to weak institutions. In fact, weak institutions enable corruption. What we see today shows that our institutions are weak. Did the NASS conduct its oversight functions over the NDDC and other government agencies effectively? Not quite! If NASS oversight functions were effective, the magnitude of corruption at the NDDC and other agencies of government would not have been this high.
Why create an Interim Management Committee instead of a board of directors as expressly stated in the NDDC Act? Those in the government should follow what is contained in the NDDC Act. If there is anything to be changed in the NDDC Act, the NASS should follow due process to changing it.
Corruption is a global phenomenon. Corruption in whatever size and shape is hostile to the development of any society. A few Nigerians view their country as one of the world’s most corrupt. One may not accept this view. If we look at most sectors of the economy, one will be disappointed about the level of corruption that has taken roots in them.
How do we respond to rising calls by Nigerians for full accountability of the private sector COVID-19 donations? Can we blame those asking questions when they observed that “Ghana’s N2.85 billion COVID-19 hospital dwarfs
Nigeria’s N32 billion isolation tents,” as reported in Businessday July 31, 2020 by Hope Ashike et al.
The situation is so pathetic that Nigeria perennially ranks in the bottom quartile of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Can the nation make it a policy to teach all senior secondary students and those in tertiary institutions about the impact of corruption on economic growth? The question may sound comical, but today‘s youths will be leaders tomorrow. The future generation needs to be taught that corruption destroys a nation.
A distinguished elder statesman has equally suggested that the anticorruption crusade must start from the top. The people and government of Nigeria must have a desire and determination to eradicate corruption from the society. And the fight against corruption must not be used as a political weapon to attack critics of the government. Until there is a consequence for any proven case of corruption, the sleaze will continue ad infinitum.
All said, Nigeria is a work in progress. Corruption will not make democracy work. But where are the noble citizens of our country? Men and women of integrity who will respect citizens who elect them into office. Men and women who in every sense of the word are leaders. We should not doubt what a small group of thoughtful and concerned citizens can bring to the table to change our country positively.
Noble citizens will inspire the present generation and thus, strive to leave a legacy for the upcoming generations to build upon. We all have to be instruments of positive change that we eagerly desire. For Africa’s most populous nation to rise above a “giant” on paper requires sound leadership. A leadership that believes it is possible to have a prosperous Nigeria. A belief based on equity, fairness, and justice.
It takes a generation of committed leaders to build a nation. Thank you!