Corruption in Nigeria

The issue of corruption has been a subject of much debate in Nigeria ever since time immemorial. From the time of our forbearers to the period of independence, during the time of great thinkers and administrators such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe( The Great Zik) and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and co., the subject of corruption has always been a popular topic in their speeches, demonstrations, and arguments. Still, coming down to the post-independent period in Nigeria, during the era which ushered in the men in military uniforms starting from January 15, 1966 when a military coup d’e-tat led by an army Major, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, overthrew the government of the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Many resourceful citizens have been slaughtered, killed, wounded, mutilated, sent to exile and intimidated due to this same monster called corruption in Nigeria. Men such as the late Chiefs Anthony Enahoro and Odumegwu Ojukwu at some points in their lives went into exile. Heroes like the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, his wife late Chief Mrs Kudirat Abiola and the fearless Ogoni activist, Ken Saro Wiwa also suffered death as a result of the corruption in the land at the period when they lived.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (11th Edition), corruption is the action of corrupting or the state of being corrupt. Meanwhile, corruption has also been broadly defined as a perversion or a change from good to bad. Specifically, corruption or corrupt behavior involves the violation of established rules for personal gain and profit. Corruption is efforts to secure wealth or power through illegal means, private gain at public expense; or a misuse of public power for private benefit (Lipset & Lenz, 2000, p.112-114). Presently, Nigeria is ranked 139th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, tied with Azerbaijan, Kenya, Nepal, and Pakistan. These are countries in which Nigeria should not even have anything bad in common with judging by our human and mineral resources not to talk of our age since independence. Later this year come October 1st, Nigeria is going to celebrate 53 years of independence. Countries of our stature and age such as India, Singapore and Malaysia have already become manufacturers of automobiles, computers, refineries etc. but Nigeria continues to remain in a lugubrious and sardonic state of stand-still due to corruption, which continues to baffle the senses of the remaining vibrant old and young in the country who are yet to lose their sanity and consciousness.
There are many unresolved problems in Nigeria, but the issue of the upsurge of corruption is troubling. And the damages it has done to the polity are astronomical. The menace of corruption leads to slow movement of files in offices, police extortion, tollgates and slow traffics on the highways, port congestion, queues at passport offices and gas stations, ghost workers syndrome, election irregularities, among others. Even the mad people on the street recognize the havoc caused by corruption – the funds allocated for their welfare disappear into the thin air. Thus, it is believed by many in the society that corruption is the bane of Nigeria. Consequently, the issue keeps reoccurring in every academic and informal discussion in Nigeria. And the issue will hardly go away! What continues to baffle me is that despite Nigerians stressing their dismay at our corrupt leaders each day through newspapers editorials and opinions, television interviews and programmes, seminars by independent and governmental bodies, caricatures and cartoon arts in magazines and dailies etc., the same occurrences we speak against continues to repeat themselves everyday.
THE most moderate estimates suggest that $4 billion to $8 billion is stolen from Nigeria’s state coffers every year. Yet not a single politician is serving a prison sentence for corruption or embezzlement. Charged with protecting the riches of sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest economy is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has brought charges against 35 prominent politicians, including 19 former state governors, since its foundation in 2003. The previous EFCC head, Nuhu Ribadu, made progress. But he floundered when he took on James Ibori, who was said to have stolen $290m. Mr Ibori was close to Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s president from 2007 to 2010. State governors still enjoy immunity from prosecution while in power. Three former governors, recently arrested for the suspected embezzlement of $615m, have yet to be tried. Moreso, those who have been tried before for corrupt practices and embezzlements now walk around majestically in the country and even attend ceremonial occasions where they glaringly spend their embezzled lucres.
Corruption is a huge brake on Nigeria’s growth. One official reckons the country has lost more than $380 billion to graft since independence in 1960. Foreign investors cite it as the main reason to avoid the country. Meanwhile, the problem of corruption has been around for a while, it is instructive to note that the will to combat it has become more resilient and with the expected co-operation of the international community and fellow Nigerians. It is already evident that corruption ruins a nation and Nigeria is currently under-developed because corruption is on rampage. It is our hope and prayer that very soon and in due course, the subject of corruption will become one that will be forgotten in our country and that the country would be free of perpetrators and saboteurs who do not have the love of Nigeria at heart. Amen.

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