Corruption, that is to say bribery, fraud and other related offences is a menace that confronts all countries of the world though in varying degrees of prevalence, gravity and persistence. Corruption is one of the most debilitating problems confronting Nigeria today and its damaging effect pervades virtually all facts of our national life, damages the nation’s economic and social well-being, causes distortions in the political system and inhibits developments and progress. It is a vice that must be tackled with every amount of seriousness now.
The problems of corruption are too well known to be catalogued here but regrettably they remain with us for a long time yet. Rather than bemoan the situation the challenge is to proffer and device solutions and remedies to the malaise.
The two main agencies established by government to tackle corruption are the Independent Corrupt practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) established by the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act in 2000 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) established by the EFCC (Establishment, etc) Act in 2002. Other related anti-corruption agencies include the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Bureau for Public Procurement/Due Process office.
The challenges that remain to be overcome are two-fold-Funding; and legal and institutional reform.
Both the EFCC and ICPC have cited poor funding as a hindrance to their effective performance in the area of investigation and prosecution of suspects. Informed opinion has it that the trial of former Governor James Ibori in the United Kingdom has cost the UK government over $16 million of tax payers money which comes to over N4 billion. The total budget for EFCC in 2014 is N3.4 billion and for ICPC N132.8 million. Given this disparity in level of funding alone the difference in the success rate of anti-corruption drive in both Nigeria and the UK should not come as a surprise although we hasten to add that other “human factors” also have their parts to play.
This is one task that President-elect Muhammadu Buhari must be told. In his avowed agenda to fight corruption which is no doubt already in the hearts of men and women in and outside the corridors of power and the public service, funding is a sine qua non. In addition, he has to also ensure needed reforms are put in place in the two anti-graft agencies for positive effect.
Good enough, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission has proposed amendments to both the EFCC Act and ICPC Act to ensure their improved performance. In a paper he presented at a forum last year, the Commission’s chairman, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor stated inter alia: “among the reforms proposed for the former is to –
(i) Enhance the independent of the Commission in its composition by including a legal practitioner of not less than 15 years standing nominated by the Nigerian Bar Association; a Banker of similar years standing nominated by the Nigeria Institute of Bankers, a Chartered Accountant nominated in rotation by ICAN and ANAN and a representative of organized Labour nominated in rotation by the Nigerian Labour Congress NLC and TUC.
(ii) Creating a new offence of being in possession of unexplained wealth; and
(iii) Introducing an Operations Review Committee comprising persons who are holding or have held office as Chief of Justice of Nigeria, a retired Inspector-General of Police, President of the Nigeria Bar Association and President of Nigerian Union of Journalists. The Committee will have the responsibility to receive information about-
(a) any complaint before the commission;
(b) any investigation carried out by the commission; and
(c) every case prosecuted or not prosecuted by the commission.
This should help to boost public confidence in the work of the EFCC.
For the ICPC, similar reforms have been proposed to enhance its independent and amend sections of the Act are considered defective or inadequate.”
Hate speech and falsehood
In the heart of man too, is the tendency to falsify everything about his opponent and colleague to achieve some selfish objective. Nigerians saw mush of these during the just-ended political campaigns. But must it continue now? It must not if we must chart the course that will take all to gloryland.
Methinks that politicians do not really love themselves. In their domain, hatred reigns supreme. But they easily and temporarily paper over this negativism, come together to steal our commonwealth in the name of some fake entitlements. This wickedness accounts for the largely retrogressive position of the country today.
And so bad is the situation today that even in private offices, the same scenario plays out.
No matter how a leader postures his uprightness, he cannot achieve his set goal with preponderance of disloyal people around him. I align with the school of thought which holds that loyalty must be total, complete and final. No half measures; no what ifs; no may bes.
Perhaps when the story of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration over Nigeria is written, it will not be difficult for all to read about the hordes of disloyal personal aides, ministers, party men and women as well as so called friends of his government. At best, history will record them as fiends that reveled in opportunism. Even in the media, they are there. They evolve schemes to present themselves as dependable; only to turn around to back stab their employers even at the risk of great losses to the organisation.
Truly, the heart of man is weekend; who can see, read and understand it?