Political corruption in Nigeria is parasitic, accompanied by its host, especially in a complex society like ours that has religion, ethnicity and tribe as determining factors.
The factor of we don’t want to be prosecuted for corruption makes it easy for this menace to survive. Eventually, Nigerians are gradually becoming dependent on the corruption as a means for income.
Corruption paves way for a non-transparent functioning of social, political and economic sectors limiting government to function effectively.
Politicians have forced it on Nigerians to be a norm, thus forming a symbiosis between the people who benefit from it, and the elite that regulate it. People sometimes ignore the corruption surrounding them, feeling that as long as the politicians do their jobs well, their compromised practices cannot hurt. The wound of corruption has eaten deep down the flesh and melted in veins of both the followers and leaders in Nigeria.
This satanic norm has made it difficult and almost impossible for successive governments to fight corruption in Nigeria as the language of witch-hunt has become the order of the day.
Nigerian leaders and followers have become conspirators in the theory of corruption by giving it ethnic and religious colouration whenever efforts are made to confront this menace. Lack of proper reorientation has made Nigerians to limit corruption to those in authority even when they are more corrupt than the office holders. It usually starts from home between husband and wife, mother and children, down to entire society.
It generates a lack of transparency and a lack of control by supervisory institutions.
Corruption is the dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power or followers which typically involves bribery. According to Morris (1991), corruption is the illegitimate use of power to benefit private interest. It also entails offering of bribe to an official so that the truth of a situation will be hidden. Nigeria since inception, political elite have embezzled and diverted public funds amounting to trillions of naira at the detriment of the governed.
The definition of corruption by Morris signifies that all Nigerians are stakeholders in the fight against corruption if the country is to win this war.
In 2001, Nigeria was ranked the second most corrupt in the world out of 91 countries, second only to Bangladesh. Recently in 2019, Transparency International ranked Nigeria as 146th out of 180 countries surveyed on corruption with 26% corruption index.
This reveals that level of corruption has mercilessly stabbed Nigeria deep to a state of unending stupor. Government has continued to deny these ranking and labelled it as the work of the enemies of Nigeria. The country moving down to 146th out of 180th is a step in the right direction towards ending corruptionin Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari government that campaigned under this very template in 2015 and 2019.
It is unarguable that the problem of corruption in Nigeria is as old as the country itself. Many attempts by successive governments to eradicate corruption in the country proved abortive. Corruption retards economic growth, slows down business, blocks employment opportunities and halts foreign direct investment as investors fear of losing their funds.
The federal government tends to not formulate policies and programmes for development, the judicial arm has been chocked with angry and money egocentric judges which make citizens to lose hope in them.The legislative arm is passive by not passing bills that could reduce burdens and dilapidated infrastructure due to high level of corruption.
The level of corruption in Nigeria hurts a lot of people as money which should be used for developmental projects is channeled into pockets of selected few.
Today, Nigeria is gradually sliding into anarchy due to increasing tensions and growing rate of crimes against the Nigerian state. Jumbo budgets that are tilted towards improving securityis unaccounted for while security votes in most states in Nigeria are left in the minds of its narrators.
Unemployment is on the increase that makes it easy for conflict entrepreneurs to recruit young energetic Nigerians into Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, yahoo and all sorts of crimes as they are now a multi-billion naira industry.
President Buhari led a life that earned him the trust and confidence of Nigerians. The masses share the opinion that among the high profile Nigerians who are privileged to serve in different capacities of government, it is only Buhari that is not corrupt.
This belief paved the way for him to be elected president of Nigeria in 2015 after the Goodluck Jonathan government was accused of corruption by the then opposition All Progressives Congress now the rulling party. He campaigned on corruption and has repeatedly stood by his words that corruption has been drastically reduced.
Those appointed to fight corruption in the country are also found to be guilty of the same problem. The appointment of the young Abdulrashid Bawa as EFCC chairman has set the ball rolling as he is the first to be appointed outside the Nigeria Police as recommended by Justice Ayo Salami-led panel. Leadership is the key, my wishes are that my brother in the commission will give a dog fight in ensuring that the narrative is changed. He should be a lion king that will lead the sheep to eradicate corruption in Nigeria as we are ready at the youth level to support him to achieve a corrupt-free Nigeria.
As a young Nigerian, I believe corruption will be eradicated if there is political will, though both the followers and leaders must be actors in this battle to win the war against corruption in Nigeria. It has been said that no society can develop without the commitment of leadership.
It implies that for Nigeria to win corruption, the leaders must urgently employ political will and lead in winning this war.Followers who protest the arrest of corrupt politicians must rethink and give necessary support to government. Leaders can help in fighting corruption by being good examples to citizens.
This can be achieved by judiciously applying requisite punishment to anyone devoid of tribes or religion. Making anti-graft agencies or commissions independent from government control, by giving them the wherewithal to charge all whether in ruling or opposition parties. Citizens should be allowed to have access to information concerning the country’s finance to enhance accountability.
Let me conclude by saying that Nigerians must be ready to live inconvenienly by making outstanding sacrifices today so that our children and grand children will be born to celebrate the emergence of a corrupt-free Nigeria. It is unarguable that the current state of affairs is a product of long tolerated political corruption.
Mohammed, National President, Arewa Youth Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi via [email protected]