Corruption And Culture Of Impunity In Nigeria
Nigeria is the “giant” of Africa! Is this just a mere say or the truth in fact? Anytime the name Nigeria is mentioned in global politics, so many unfair adjectives are used in qualifying its citizens. Most common is “corrupt” people, “suffering in the midst of plenty”, etc.
How can a country so blessed with both human and material resources still have its citizens living below the poverty line? All these narrow down to the quality of leadership.
A country where the leaders lack the creativity to harness these advantages and transform the resources to a quality standard of living.
Secondly, a country riding on corruption in every facet of its economy. Corruption in Nigeria is like a household name. It is seen as an identity while Nigerians have given it several nicknames. It is not even seen as an abhorring adjective, it is celebrated.
Interestingly, one of the past leaders was quoted saying stealing is not corruption. It didn’t come as a surprise. This is the extent to which it has been accepted or embedded in the fabrics of our culture and traditions.
Successive administrations have come and gone, making frantic efforts in proffering solutions to this ugly trend, but no one has actually taken the bold step to stamp it out.
No administration has shown sufficient steps in ending it. Though the present administration has attempted to give the fight against corruption a boost, it is perceived to be selective.
No leader wants to take the fight against corruption seriously because he/she do not know who the arm of justice might be seen to fall on as some persons become saints if they switch political parties.
The previous administrations came up with different agencies, EFCC, ICPC, etc., saddled with the responsibility of curbing corruption, which is perceived as a step in the right direction.
The questions arising from this set-ups include, are these agencies faring any better? Are they living up to expectations? The answers are obvious for all to see.
Major concerns; are these agencies working? Do they just hunt perceived political enemies? Are they instruments in the hands of the party in power? How do they go about prosecutions?
We all have seen a lot of high profile cases go down the drain, but it is unfortunate to see that when it involves the poor masses, the law takes its full course.
Is the fight against corruption in Nigeria selective?
Attention is drawn to the EFCC and the fight against corruption. It is often quoted as saying “he who must go to the equity must go with a clean hand”.
Are the hands of our anti-corruption agencies clean enough to successfully prosecute the war against corruption? If they are, why would some people have the impetus to challenge the integrity of an agency saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption? Why are they losing court cases here and there? Is there a loophole in the constitutional backing of the agency?
Most worrisome is the recent cases lost to the Senate president, the wife of the former president, federal high court judges, etc. or should we say that these cases are being lost because of the existence of sacred cows in government? Or corruption is seen to be fighting back? Or the agencies themselves are corrupt? Or that the major stakeholders in these agencies do not have all it takes to prosecute these cases? Or could it be that the non-confirmation of the acting chairman as chairman of the commission is affecting his capacity to function? Or some personalities seem to be above the law?
Someone somewhere must have a case to answer or give answers to some of these pertinent questions.
The mentality that poor citizens who do not have the money to hire good lawyers are meant to be guilty of all crimes they are accused of, and the “big criminals” who have all it takes to finance good lawyers eventually walk away free as innocent ones.
What a nation! The fight against corrupt leaders are only seen or read on the pages of newspapers or television screen and the poor citizens who are eventually convicted are seen overcrowding the prisons.
This is why crime isn’t going to end anytime soon because once a criminal gets to power, he/she becomes a saint.
In some cases, they become lawmakers, who won elections or rig themselves to power without a proper background check.
These and many more are reasons why there’s so much desperation in the Nigeria polity. People do anything to get into power so that they become overnight billionaires. The EFCC and other agencies are kept busy having a “goose chase” without results and the cycle continues.
The fight against corruption can be effectively tackled by the EFCC if it is financially autonomous and independent where its leaders are appointed by the highest decision making body in the land.
In order to forestall unnecessary influence from the power that be, and a boundless limit should be accorded to them to prosecute anybody both the mighty and the weak. The issue of immunity should be removed from the leadership if they are accused of being corrupt.