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Fighting Corruption, A Collective Responsibilty

Corruption has eaten deep into every fabric of the Nigerian society. Nigeria, according to transparency international report for 2019, released on Thursday, is the 34th most corrupt country the world.

The transparency corruption index scored Nigeria 26 out of 100 points ranking 146 out of 180 countries under review. According to data provided on its website, in 2012, Nigeria ranked 139 out of 198, making an improvement over the previous year by four steps up the table. By 2014, Nigeria moved eight steps up, ranking 136 out of 198 countries. In 2015 and 2016, we maintained our rank.

In 2017, Nigeria nose-dived 12 place down the table to rank 148 out of 198 countries, we made an improvement to rank 144 out of 198 countries. The 2019 report ranks us 146 out of 198 countries, a drop from last year.

This report rubbishes the present administration’s alleged fight against corruption. It came on the mantra to eliminate corruption of which it campaigned against the previous government. Looking through the report and comparing the two governments one can tell better.

          The Swiss government many ago refused to release about eighty six billion Naira as part of the stolen money starched in Swiss banks by the late Gen. Sani Abacha to the federal government for fear of it being used corruptly. The US government had also turned down request to release part of the famous Abacha loot but over the years especially the coming of President Mohammadu Buhari’s government, the Swiss and American governments have been making releases in tranches.

Shamefully there have been accusations and counter-accusations of the returned loot being re-looted by government officials who were meant to use the money for the good of the poor masses.

The setting up of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by former president Olusegun Obansanjo, little has been done to reduce the menace of corruption hampering the progress of the nation.

Politicians have even made it worst as political office has become a big business where people invest millions or even billions of Naira to acquire by any means. Elections are rigged by bribed election officers, thugs and by voters who get paid to vote for an opponent against their choice.

Once they are declared winners and sworn into office, they have to start recouping their capital investment and begin to make profit and the people cry in pains. The politicians fail to provide amenities or jobs as they feel they have paid off the voters during campaigns.

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Those who get appointed are expected to bribe their way into getting appointed. Promotions in the civil and public service are no longer by merit but by bribery and allegiance to a particular political block or ethnic group.

Prosecution of corrupt officials and businessmen has to get approval from the presidency or some powerful forces. The appointed anti-corruption agency heads are being controlled from oga at the top and should they falter, they are disgraced from office.

Some judges and judicial officers who are expected to administer justice and contribute their quota in curbing corruption collude with corrupt lawyers to twist the hands of the law to manipulate the scale in the wrong direction.

 The common man who swears and place cause on corrupt government officials, politicians and police men are themselves not clean. They too in their own level and small ways take pride in corrupt practices. Market women use magic cups to measure food stuffs for their customers. They buy a product for so little and deceive their customers into buying it for over two hundred percent in order to make excess profit.

Some lectures take bribes to pass students and those lecturers who do not would be persuaded and tempted by students who do not want to study hard to accept these bribes. There are lecturers who would set examination questions that they themselves cannot answer.

 Both dull and brilliant students now compete in examination malpractices. These students have perfected ways in beating security arrangement in exam halls to cheat.

Private companies including banks have taken advantage of corrupt leadership in the country to deal with gullible Nigerians especially the poor by robbing them off without any punishment. In fact the private companies and individuals are at the fore front of corrupt public officials so that regulating and supervisory agencies like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria and their counterparts have been rendered ineffective and redundant.

Substandard goods and services are provided for citizens. Most of the beverages and equipment supplied to the country are below what is acceptable in the countries where they are produced and imported from.

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International firms with the collaborations of some of their governments corrupt our officials and government to ensure nothing works in Nigeria,

Have you wondered why our power supply initiatives won’t work despite the billions spent so far? Have you asked yourself why Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Delta Steel Aladja aren’t working?

Nigeria is the largest market and largest dump of substandard goods in Africa. Should Nigeria work, countries supplying generators, cars, mobile phones, etc would have their economies collapse.

Why are many big countries so happy to continue to give loans to the Nigerian government, knowing fully well it would not be utilized? Why did China suddenly join the happy lenders club to Nigeria?

Over 90 percent of Nigeria 200 million plus population are young ones and millions graduate from the university and other tertiary institutions without job and a good life.

The suffering has become so much and unbearable that many of these young persons have joined the bandwagon of internet fraudsters. They defraud both foreigners and locals alike.

It is not surprising to see undergraduates driving expensive cars and living luxury lives beyond the means of their parents.

Many parents even go to the extent of taking their children to native doctors and religious clerics for prayers and even rituals to succeed in defrauding people online.

Those who want to do legitimate business to survive do not have the favourable environment or means due to the factors stated above.

Religious leaders especially prosperity teaching pastors take advantage of their followers love for God to rob them in the name of the lord. They even know the source of money from Yahoo boys and corrupt politicians but would give them front seats at the church just to benefit from their ill-gotten wealth.

The police which is to enforce law and order due to years of neglect have become painfully the most corrupt government unit. They collude with criminals to perpetuate their crimes.

It is not uncommon for men of the police force to stop and search the phones of young Nigerians just to see if they will see any incriminating photos, emails, whatsapp messages and social media apps that connect them to internet fraud. Once they find it, these young guys are made to part with large sum of money to go free. Some of the fraudsters even make regular payments to some senior officers to avoid being arrested and when they are arrested, they make calls to go free.

The list goes on and on. This nonsense must stop. There must be a new orientation for Nigerians.

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Foreigners consider Nigerians as criminals. To them the word Nigeria is synonymous with corruption and criminality. You will never feel the impact of this until you travel out of the shores of this country or you get an eye witness account.

But what they fail to realize is that they are more corrupt as they encourage corruption and underdevelopment in Nigeria and some African nations. They allow corrupt Nigerians to invest their loots in their financial institutions and real estate to make their economies better.

European countries came to Africa and plundered its human and natural resources and stealing African relics and other historic valuables. Many of these are displayed in their museums and still being auctioned without remorse.

 Our national identity and image has to be restored. Nigerians who want power should be re-educated on what leadership means – service to the masses and not the lining up of pockets. Family members should not put unnecessary pressure on their relatives holding public offices by making outrageous demand for money and other services that might make them break the law.

          Government should make effort in improving the economy and providing jobs for the over one million unemployed graduates and sincerely taking seriously the poverty alleviation programmes.

The truth is that for the fight against corruption to make any meaningful impact, it must start from the very top. The buck stops at the president’s desk and if he is willing, he would take the risk of his life time to achieve it.

The way in which Nigeria is presently structured is a major cog in the wheel against the fight on corruption. There has to be a new constitution and it must be inclusive.

Political offices, agencies, regions, the police and how our natural resources are administered must be restructured. The people whose land the natural resources are located must be seen to benefit more and have a greater control. Every state must be made to grow and develop at their own pace and allowed to be proactive.

The population must be controlled. There must be a law on birth control. Based on the crisis on ground and with the inability of the government and parents to cater for the millions of youths, there must be a limit how many children a Nigerian can have.

Foreign governments must stop encouraging Nigerian governments from borrowing from them and encourage them to look inwards and develop the nation, else they would continue to have problems with criminals from Nigeria not only defrauding their citizens but having to lose their investments in Nigeria in a near future.

All hands must be on deck in fighting this scourge called corruption. From market women to teachers, from politicians to students, religious leaders and businessmen. It is a collective responsibility.

 Nigeria is not the most corrupt country as we are being painted. American and her likes as far as I know have proved beyond doubt that they more corrupt than we are. A few corrupt Nigerians cannot rubbish the personality of the over two hundred million Nigerians who desire to be part of a greater better Nigeria.

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