In Nigeria, corruption is worse than cancer. It is a monster that has been consuming all that crosses its part.
Jose Uqaz, chair of Transparency International, while presenting the 2016 Corruption Perception Index said: “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity”. Uqaz definitely has Nigeria in mind; a country with great potential but derisively tagged a sleeping giant simply because of her inability to live up to expectation in terms of process, infrastructure and human development.
Here is a country enormously endowed with every thinkable natural and human resource. Gripped by the monster called corruption, the giant is unable to provide basic needs for humane standard of living of her citizens; leaving young boys and girls to risk their lives in the hash savannah desert and Atlantic Ocean, in search for greener pastures only to be traded as slaves.
One will not be surprised by the report of UK’s Department for International Development disclosing that about $32 billion was lost to corruption during the six-year administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Over $14 million lost daily to corruption in a country with rising poverty index, according to the World Poverty Clock 2017, is not only worrisome but appalling. Consequently, by February 2018, Nigeria will overtake India on the world’s poorest country not minding that India has over 1.3 billion people while Nigeria only has 180 million, with 80 million below the poverty level. This should prick the conscience of every patriotic citizen and provoke a national consensus in support of the fight against corruption.
Saddened by this deplorable corruption profile in the country, acting chairman. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, at the 2017 International Anti- Corruption day, declared the fight against corruption as a do or die affair. He was emphatic on the need for a national consensus against the cankerworm, by putting all hands on deck for the fight which the country will sure win or die trying. This aptly put, however, is a do or die affair if only we can have or retain any hope of saving a country of our own, realizing that the time has come to put an abrupt stop to this degrading and gross systemic waste.
Debbie Palmer of DFID also observed that youths in the country have a critical role to play in President Muhammdu Buhari’s anti-graft fight as agents of change, because they are the future. But the government needs to support the youth to be successfully poised for this exploit and not get caught in the same web. Unwitting actions that make youths hold in high esteem, those who think different than those who think alike and by extension fragrantly display corruptly acquired wealth is a sure way of corrupting these youths. Government, society and indeed every citizen must stand up and be counted in this fight. As EFCC helmsmant said, we all must join this fight. We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. Our natural and human resources should not and cannot be a curse to us.
The Buhari government has made the fight against corruption a major policy thrust. In this fight, there is need to move beyond platitudes; mere slogans is akin to treating a symptom, instead of treating the real cause and routing it out completely. Our society should realize that the corruption sorry state of Nigeria is a direct effect of past corruption which has been systemised in our social and bureaucratic environments. All shades of corruption such as embezzlement of public funds which is very common must be stopped at all cost.
Our education, health systems have been allowed to completely deteriorate to its current sorry situation with very little hope for our children who will never forgive us if we fail to stand up and be counted in this current fight against corruption.
Ezenwa is a marketing executive based in Abuja