Diaspora Stories

Corruption: Daring The Monster

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Corruption is no longer a series of isolated cases exposed by the Nigerian media. it is culture fostered by years of misrule and mismanagement, trickling into every faucet of the Nigerian life. Corruption is best described as a hydra-headed monster that has become buoyant because of the lack of fairness and justice which bolsters greed. The multiplier effect of the lack of punishment for crime are replete in the interconnectedness of the industries and ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.

Judge Tsoho John, Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, has admitted in a statement that he is not surprised that there is corruption in the judiciary because the Judiciary mirrors the society. This position is faulty because the Judiciary is meant to be the last bastion of hope in society. It is the Judges who should help vindicate lawful Nigerians instead of collaborating with legal luminaries who help to stretch cases into points of no return. Femi Falana’s position on the need for the media and civil society to engage corruption is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, it portends some dangers.

The media whose tireless work of presenting facts, engaging the Nigerian people on recent happenings, politics and governance, have also swerved into corruption. It is no longer news that journalists have played a major role in derailing discourse and positioning ideas based on the exchange of message for brown envelopes. This makes the highly underfunded institution of governance to be incapable of leading Nigeria out of the quagmire. In fact, in a Carnegie Development for Peace article, Micheal Page asserts that ‘Brown envelope journalism and other types of media corruption are commonly practised and undermine democratic norms.’ This is the same situation with every aspect of the Nigerian life where the Naira must change hands in surreptitious manners for rights, privileges to be short-changed and justice subverted. The Nigerian Police is part of the apparatus of Justice that has been smeared with stories of unethical highhandedness, extortion, and brutality which go against all the statutes that establish law and order in the country. However, we cannot lay all the blame on the policeman on the street. The policeman on the street has often been reported to make huge returns to corrupt superiors.

For many, the civil society has helped immensely in the fight to secure and maintain the nascent democracy in Nigeria. Civil society groups are also immensely exposed to best operational practices and management skills. However, it has been revealed that the civil society groups have also fallen short of expectations as the third sector of governance, and as a force in shaping culture.

Jide Ojo, a civil society consultant, wrote an article in the media which concluded with the fact that many respected civil service personalities have been besmirched by corrupt practices such as doctoring accounts from grantors. In other references, the Civil Society has been employed to present untrue pictures for the gain of certain parties.

This unending tale of corruption cannot be full and convincing without exploring briefly the corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. This cesspool of corruption oils the entire mechanism of governance. So, stories like the secret implementation of subsidy, the diversion of 378 billion NLNG dividend, the failure of due process in the acquisition of bids and contracts are replete. The fact that the NNPC, is a business of government and is a regulatory body, is not only contradictory in a country that peddles privatisation but it is ultimately contradictory for a firm to be in competition and yet be the regulator, leading to a leverage of opportunism and sleaze. Recently, the NNPC was named as one of the government agencies who are unable to account for the government allocations approved to them between 2014-2018.

It is therefore not surprising that the saga of the Niger Delta Development Commission is at our national doorsteps. Our shock is only the fact that despite the clamour for the development of the Niger Delta by its intellectuals, elders, and community members, this opportunity given, through the vehicles of the agency has been misplaced and diverted to untracked pockets through bloated contracts, ghost employments, juicy allowances, among other acts. The NNDC saga may soon be archived in our habitual and systemic forgetfulness and self-denial when a far overbearing saga of corruption is revealed in the public space by the national assembly or the media. Nigerians have reduced the saga to memes and troupes of fascination out of the inherent powerlessness.

Nevertheless, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Buhari government is doing all it can to fight the dreaded and established monster called corruption. It cannot be done in four years even if all energies are exerted to overpower it. The exposure of corruption within the Buhari government is a trustworthy declaration that the government admits that it is purging the scourge from within, making unequivocal signifiers to those who are not within government circles that no one will be spared in the fight against corruption. How much Buhari can do will be dependent on the collaboration of all well-meaning Nigerians to lead honest lives irrespective of the faulty reward system.

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