A nation withered by corruption

For more than 62 years of our independence, economic and financial crimes became major threats to our nation’s progress. Nigeria is being crippled by multiple economic and financial crimes perpetrated by its citizens at home and abroad. It is like cancer that permeates the body of the society. It is an unfortunate trend which nearly brings our nation to total collapse in government, politics, civil service, business, community and individuals.

News headlines on high profile cases of corruption and financial crimes have tarnished the nation’s image and scared away foreign investors. Nigeria is doing badly in global index of most corrupt countries in the world. It has even derailed efforts at making Nigeria a business friendly destination. To reclaim our glorious position, we must salvage the nation’s reputation from all sorts of economic and financial crimes.

It is often said, “If Nigeria fails to kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”. Economic and financial crimes is big umbrella which shelters various crimes such as bribery, corruption, cyber fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation, mismanagement, tax evasion and à host of others. Nigeria is yet to redeem itself from these economic ills which have almost crumble our nation to rubbles.

Financial crimes have deemed Nigeria, according the World Bank, a nation ”so rich, yet so poor”. It is a country with unfair distribution of wealth as small number of political elite, ruling class and privileged few live in abundance, while the poor majority are wallowing in poverty and destitution.

More worrisome is how the youth in Nigeria engage in various financial and economic crimes via internet. Instead of learning useful digital skills, they use gadgets like computers and cell phones to defraud unsuspecting victims. Although youths are the nation’s future, It is unfortunate that many youths are being arrested for committing heinous cyber crimes.

Economic and financial crimes are major setbacks which hamper Nigeria from achieving full economic growth. The prevalent economic and financial crimes have given birth to few rich at the expense of poor majority. Funds appropriated for public spending are being looted by few corrupt officials for their selfish gains, which deny the rest of the fellow-citizens decent living.

Financial crimes are more disastrous than kidnapping and armed robbery, for it has deprived 90 % of Nigerians quality education, health, food, power supply, job opportunity, good roads, water, security, among others.

However, for Nigeria to be a great nation, the rule of law must reign supreme, and impunity must be eliminated. There should be no selective justice in the fight against financial crimes. The law should spare no one regardless of his social background. Anyone found culpable must be arrested and tried before the court.

Youths should be oriented on the evils of get-rich-quick syndrome. In every level of education, school curriculum should be embedded with ills of economic and financial crimes to the nation and the individual. Students should be made to know opportunities of earning a living on the internet and shun cyber fraud. Youths should be taught digital opportunity that was capitalised by youths in America and Europe which catapulted them into self-made world billionaires.

Mass media campaign should be intensified through radio jingles, songs, films and literary arts to educate the general public on the danger of cyber crimes. Stiff penalty should be meted out against media contents that glamorise (yahoo-yahoo) and cybercrimes. Youths should be made to know that the real economic prosperity comes only with skills and hard work.

Furthermore, every citizen must earn according to his ability, knowledge and skills. Nigeria is a country with the worst record of inequitable distribution of wealth. For many got riches though the means of unfair advantage, money laundering, shady deals in awarding contracts, bribery, racketeering, hoàrding, diversions and misappropriations. Many even got appointment into civil service and government posts through unfair selection and nepotism.

In addition, people must desist from voting selfish politicians who are in politics just to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies. In many cases, people themselves are aiding financial crimes by voting corrupt persons into power instead of patriotic citizens. Nigerians should learn to stop celebrating and honouring corrupt politicians with their ill-gotten wealth.

In many instances, when you fight corruption, corruption equally fights you back. Legal and institutional supports should be adequately granted for whistleblowers and campaigners against corruption from victimisation and intimidation.

Decisive legal actions should be taken against those who are guilty of economic and financial crimes. Loopholes in the judicial system should be plugged which is exploited by the accused to evade justice or to elongate his trial unnecessarily. There is need for speedy trial of persons accused of financial crimes. Guilty verdict must include longer jail terms, life imprisonment and forfeiture of the looted money and assets.

Another factor is building the capacity of the agencies fighting corruption to have unfettered autonomy along with special powers to investigate acts of corruption without interference. They should be equipped with modern investigative tools and techniques. Competitive allowances and salaries should be paid to them to avoid being influenced by the rich and powerful.

We must also know that fighting economic and financial crimes should not be saddled with government alone. It is a civic duty upon every citizen to join anti-corruption war. From private sector to civil societies, media, community, religious institutions, schools and parents everyone has role to play if we aspire to rid our nation of evil consequences of economic and financial crimes.

Lastly, if we are to make Nigeria great and to restore our prestigious position, economic and financial crimes must be reduced to the barest minimum. And “Now is the time”. And also, “It is fatal for the nation to overlook the fierce urgency of now”, As Martin Luther said. For it is serious menace militating against foundation and progress of our nation.

Adnan Abdullahi Adam,
Ungogo local government area,
Kano state
[email protected]

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