Tackling corruption the soft way

Nigeria is at war, and the war is mostly within, from all corners, north, west, east and south; from the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnapping giving the northern part of the country sleepless nights to secessionist agitations in the South-west and South-east. At the center, youth are angry with the government for not providing jobs for them. Also, those at the center have been accused of mismanaging public funds, the funds that are supposed to be used for the people.

All of these and many Nigeria’s challenges have been blamed on corruption, which for a long time has made us all victims in one way or the other to the challenges before us. Corruption has had its toll on our sovereignty and security, national and economic development, good governance and democracy as well as dented our country’s image in the eyes of the world. There are actually two sides to corruption; the side of the giver and that of the receiver. A simple definition of corruption is diversion from the acceptable norms, rules and standards for selfish means. It is a situation where whoever finds himself at the helm of affairs exhibit negative tendency to enrich himself or his cronies unlawfully.

Corruption can be political, bureaucratic, electoral, bribery, fraud, swindling and deceit, counterfeiting, trickery, forgery, smuggling, racketeering, embezzlement, extortion, favoritism, and nepotism, money laundering and terrorism financing which are both linked to corruption because the proceeds laundered and money used to finance terrorism are believed to be ill-gotten.

A man arrested by the police, for example, can pay any amount of money to secure his release, students can pay any amount to their lecturers to help them pass exams. A traveler can pay any amount to get train ticket from Kaduna to Abuja, a public office holder can use his position to secure a huge government project, a vehicle inspection officer and other traffic inspection officers can use their positions to racketeering a car plate number or any other document, market men and women. Yahoo boys can disguise and obtain money by false pretense in the name of love scam, husbands and wives all have their ways of getting a piece from corruption.

Most people engage in corruption because they want to enrich themselves at the detriment of the many who should enjoy the services. An unemployed graduate can pay any amount to secure a job in one of the big ministries, agencies or a company in the country, a political office holder can divert millions of naira meant for the construction or rehabilitation of a primary school, a health center or solar powered electrical panels in his constituency. Ministers, senators, emirs, governors can all influence the awards of scholarships to students, or contracts award in their states.

In an effort to fight corruption the soft way, Nigerians need to collaborate with the relevant agencies. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is at the heart of this fight as the commission is not only mandated by law to prevent it but to prosecute it. From the public to private sectors, all agencies and ministries of government must collaborate in any way possible to bring this menace to its knees. The EFCC has reiterated that it cannot fight corruption alone and this is because it takes two to tango in corruption, the giver must be willing to give and the receiver must be willing to receive.

Through collaboration, we can also prevent corruption even before it happens. The aim of those who engage in corruption is to enrich themselves; there is need to be very proactive. Being proactive means working with institutions to identify corrupt conduits and ensuring these corrupt conduits are eliminated from the system.

 According to Ben Ubi, Head of Legal and Prosecution, Ibadan Zonal Office of the EFCC, who charged students and management at a sensitization lecture at the Faculty of Law, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun state, “Our mission is to collaborate with you, especially the management, to help the students make a meaningful impact in their lives. We can work together towards having the youth we can be proud of. The youth are our future. The society that doesn’t have a future is no society. He added that “We have mass young talents growing in this community. We need to help them to be better people”.

Umar writes from Jabi, Abuja.

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