Opinion: Mr. President, first corruption, and then security
by Simon Sylvester Shanum
If truth be told, our leaders know the solution to the numerous challenges confronting Nigeria and what the country needs for a smooth and sustainability of democracy in the country.
The word corruption originates from a Latin word “rumpere” meaning “to break”. It implies the infringement of normal or societal norms or practices. Like many other concepts, Corruption has no universally acceptable meaning. For instance, the World Bank (1997) defines it as the abuse of public power for private benefit. Transparency International (TI) defined it as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Act, 2000, provides corrupt acts to include bribery, fraud and other related offences. To Vision 2010 Committee corruption implies those improper actions or transactions aimed at changing the normal course of events, judgments and position of trust. In effect, the motivation for corruption is to take undue advantage of position of trust which is not limited to pecuniary issues. It is also not limited to the public sector.
Corruption is complex, and a defining element of public and private existence in Nigeria. It encompasses a wide range of felonies such as bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, favoritism, money laundering, and advanced free fraud, among others. It manifests in different forms, such as the inflation of government contracts in return for inducements, examination abuses, corporate scam, tax ducking, forgery of accounts in the public services, taking of enticements, and twisting of justice among the police, the judiciary and other organs in the justice system, forgery of certificates, printing of counterfeit currency, and looting of public fund, etc. Whichever way it is regarded, the fact remains that corruption has become largely established in Nigeria in a way that both the leaders and followers have learnt to live by it. It is evident in both the public and private sectors of the society, that no facet of our national life seems unaffected by this cankerworm. Corruption, like fertilizer in a farm, develops the breeding ground for the prospering of unconcealed fears that dent security, development, and good governance in Nigeria.
For forty six years since the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria, it has recorded exceptionally high in material wealth made from the sale of crude oil. However our leaders have failed to use the revenue generated from oil for the good of Nigerians through development of human capital and critical sectors such as the transport, infrastructure, security, health, education, agriculture or investment in foreign assets as other resource-rich countries have done. Rather they have succeeded in enriching themselves through corruption and looting of public funds. Recently, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina embattled chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force who defrauded police pension fund of 21 billion naira ($132, 325, 000). Based on a World Bank report, About 80% of Nigeria’s oil and gas returns accumulate to just 1% of the country’s population. The other 99% of the population receive the remaining 20% (Akwuole, 2006:15). The 2011 ACN presidential candidate Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, confirmed this when he stated that “Nigerian leaders have stolen about $500 billion (N85 trillion) within the past forty Years” (Sheyin, 2007:22).
This misappropriation of public funds has fashioned and deepened conditions of human underdevelopment, also dejecting state bodies and moral values of the Nigerian society. As a result, it is estimated that in Nigeria over 5 million youths are jobless, about 800 pregnant women out of 100,000 die during child birth, and over 4.4 million Nigerians are living with HIV/AIDS (Akosile, 2007:52). Corruption certainly has illustrative significance in terms of these unwanted human development indices. Given this setting, the predisposition consequently is that the destitute, orphans, and unemployed will settle to crime such as armed robbery, pipeline vandalization, militancy, political thuggrey, sea piracy, and other social vices which evidently threaten national security (Onuoha, 2008:19). It becomes clear that insecurity will persist unless the problem of injustice, lack of empowerment of the majority of the people, lack of infrastructural development, lack of employment opportunities are prioritized etc.
If truth be told, our leaders know the solution to the numerous challenges confronting Nigeria and what the country needs for a smooth and sustainability of democracy in the country. Instead of prioritizing them, they prefer formulating policies that will benefit and enrich themselves and the cabals.
Security agencies especially the police must be well-equipped and trained to meet the present day security challenges. We must strengthen and encourage our institutions. We need to toughen our judicial system by guaranteeing that justice is dispensed regardless of who is involved. Nepotism and a culture of disregard for rule of law must be avoided from our national consciousness and life. EFCC, ICPC and NESREA must be INDEPENDENT and enhanced for improved service delivery. The private sector must be encouraged and supported to create the much needed jobs for the unemployed youth. Government should pay more attention to the power sector to enable a good number of Nigerian youths be self-employed.
Simon Sylvester Shanum is a 300L student at the University of Abuja
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.