The colour of corruption in Nigeria

Mahmoon Baba-Ahmed

The law of gravity states that whatever goes up must come down, but the astronomical index of corruption in Nigeria is clearly an exception to that rule. Corruption which had been the country’s curse from time immemorial had progressively become more severe in the past few decades, without lessening, and has now transmuted into a national malaise. Last year, the Transparency International, a body responsible for defining or judging countries according to their level of corruption placed Nigeria 144th out of 177 most corrupt countries.

Every day brings in fresh news of monumental, reckless financial scandals involving highly placed government officials or prominent politicians that aid and abet the malfeasance of elected officials. The receptive public who couldn’t help this unfortunate situation only hiss their hopelessness away while appealing the matter to the court of God. Now corrupt practices have become the order of the day in this country and virtually all citizens are partaking in it blindly and unselectively and nobody seems to be interested in stamping it out.

Two factors are largely responsible for that unfortunate situation: First is the complacency of the leadership in dealing with anyone involved in corrupt practices no matter how well connected or highly placed to serve as deterrence to others. Second, vain or half-hearted attempts are often made in recovering ill-gotten wealth from thieving officials who often get scot-free without paying any consequence.  As a result of that majority of Nigerians have been forced into destitution, coupled with extreme poverty in which the basic necessities of life are lacking. Majority of Nigerians are bothered by extreme want and deprivation and only the opulent elites, made up mainly of public treasury looters, lead a lavish life-style characterised by an obvious display of affluence.

All these negative tendencies happen at a time Nigerians were sweating while struggling to build a truly great and dynamic nation where justice and equity will flourish, their leaders were busy siphoning the common wealth into their private bank accounts abroad. Children of the poor masses are more and more bogged down by penury and neediness while their counterparts from the affluent parentage are gratified by corruptly acquired riches. The scarce resources needed to grow the nation’s sluggish economy have been frittered away on unnecessary luxuries or squandered little by little on things that were not worthwhile.

That explains why Nigerians are continually alarmed by the reported level of colossal waste of public funds by some high profile public functionaries, especially state governors and cabinet ministers which lean toward corruption, using public funds for self-gratification. This loathsome attitude is common among the female ministers who always throw caution to the winds while perpetrating the worst form of corruption. The lot of Nigerian political leaders has collectively failed to take any meaningful step to guarantee the welfare of their languishing followers by failing to guarantee their interests in all aspects of governance. While the leaders enjoy all the privileges the government could afford unceasingly and unrestrained, they still deny the poor masses such concession insisting often times that they lacked the wherewithal to do so.

It is disgusting and sickening that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, MrsDiezani Alison-Madueke, whose ministry supervises the NNPC, has become most prominent in financial scandals involving public institutions in this country. In fact, she had ranked above her erstwhile counterpart in the Aviation Ministry, Mrs Stella Oduah, who bought two bullet-proof BMW cars at prohibitive cost for her personal use with tax payers’ money entrusted in her care. Diezani opted to be flying in hired private jets while her compatriots had to cruise on dilapidated roads, through many years of neglect, in miserable jalopies.  That has shown that what a woman in Nigeria can do her male counterpart couldn’t do it better. What a shame?

Refineries and other infrastructure under her supervision have totally collapsed as she junkets across the globe in an aircraft she maintains at huge public expense. It was reported that she had so far expended about 10 billion dollars in that regard. That was not all. Her total disregard for her official responsibility has caused the management of resources meant to serve the oil industry bedevilled with numerous scandals. While the nation is still to recover from the shocking allegations of missing $20 billion from the NNPC coffers, and the public groaning under shortages or complete absence of petroleum products at pump stations, Diezani has the effrontery to court further hardship for her fellow countrymen by recommending total removal of subsidy on petroleum and kerosene which the poor masses depend on.

In fact, the colour of corruption in Nigeria is becoming brighter by the day and is being defined by the pertness of public officials and their entire financial recklessness in plundering resources of this country. The unrepressed corruption has really wrecked irreparable havoc on the nation’s economy and contributed much to the rising rates of unemployment and crime, mass poverty and near total infrastructural collapse. What this means is that corruption is alive and kicking in Nigeria and nobody can tame it.

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