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Published On: Thu, Sep 4th, 2014

Seriously, is this government fighting corruption?

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jonathan-sadBy Ochiaka Ugwu

It was reported yesterday in one of the national dailies that the nation is currently losing N16 billion to oil theft monthly, money big enough to turn around the lives of many Nigerians who are wallowing in abject poverty. According to the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibril while praising the effort of his men said that they have drastically reduced the volume of oil stolen monthly from 2.6 million barrels valued at N47.190 billion in January this year to about 900,000 barrels valued at N16.335 billion.

For Jibril, he has achieved a great feat by reducing the stealing of our common patrimony by some few Nigerians who cannot be touched or arrested, may be they are invisible to the agencies saddled with the responsibilities of guarding our cherished resources. Some have even asked whether these thieves are on mask and couldn’t just be unmasked.

This takes one to an allegation made by Chief Edwin Clark, Ijaw leader and a delegate to the just concluded National Conference. Clark had accused military chiefs of oil theft and claimed he had previously drawn attention to the nefarious activities of military officers, who were aiding and abetting oil theft to the authority for it to act.

Clark said that the then Minister of Defence, Theophlius Danjuma’s investigation, led to the arrest of three naval officers. Of the three, he said, one was eventually exonerated.

He even fingered the Niger Delta militants when he said the revocation of the contract given to ex-militants for the protection of oil pipelines could be responsible for the resurgence of pipeline vandalism.

Before now, one of the most-oft talked about issues in Nigeria is corruption. Government talks about it. Government condemns it. Yet government at all levels are guilty of it. No doubt, most Nigerians today believe that the Transparency International is pretty charitable to place us where we are in the scale of global corruption. For a people who act as if fraud is an integral part of their life, it will take much more than mouthing a campaign by the authority to chase the monster away from the system.

Corruption in the Nigerian society has prevailed from time but skyrocketed under the present administration in one form or the other. The basic inception of corruption started with our opportunistic leaders who have already done greater damage to our collective humanity. People who work on right principles are unrecognized and considered to be foolish today. Corruption in Nigeria is a result of the connection between bureaucrats, politicians and looters. Earlier, bribes were paid for getting wrong things done, but now bribe is paid for getting right things done at right time. Further, corruption has become something respectable in Nigeria, because respectable people that supposed to be moral of ideas are involved in it.

In today’s scenario, if a person wants a government job he has to pay through his nose to the higher officials irrespective of satisfying all the eligibility criteria. In every office one has either to give money to the employee concerned or arrange for some sources to get work done.

Political corruption is worst in Nigeria. The major cause of concern is that corruption is weakening the political body and damaging the supreme importance of the law governing the society. Nowadays politics is only for looters and criminals are meant to be in politics. It has become a case of bad people ruling good people. Elections in many parts of the country have become associated with a host of criminal activities. Threatening voters to vote for a particular candidate or physically prevent voters from going in to the polling booth – especially the down trodden who goes to bed in frustration and wake up in hopelessness. Recently, the government assembled 492 people in Abuja under the cover of making recommendation that will better the lots of country men under heavy monetary gain. But many of them were unhappy with allowance considered to be too exorbitant considering our poverty rate and want the Government to increase their allowance just to satisfy desire for easy money. This clearly shows how the politicians are in constant thirst for monetary benefits and not caring about the welfare of the people. Tax evasion is one of the most popular forms of corruption. It is mostly practiced by Government officials and politicians who lead to the accumulation of black money which in turn spoils the moral of the people.

The most important factor is the nature of our leaders. Leaders in this part of the world in general, have a great thirst for luxuries and comforts and as a result of which they get themselves involved in all unscrupulous activities that result in monetary or material benefits. You can count few governors without a private jet while some of them came to power as a messenger to some powerful politician and suddenly became emergency millionaires. All thanks to corruption.

Moral and spiritual values are not given utmost importance in educational system, which is highly responsible for the deterioration of the society.

The salary paid to employees is very less and as a result of which they are forced to earn money by illegal ways.

The punishments imposed on the criminals are inadequate. Those with less crime are in prison while those with heinous ones are in government houses. It was the first President of Tanzania and the proponent of Ugama system of social relation, late Mr. Julius Nyerere that said that thieves should go to prison and not government house.

Our leaders have spoiled the society completely. They lead a luxurious life and do not even care about the society.

People of Nigeria are not awakened and enlightened. They fear to raise their voice against anti-social elements prevailing in the society. They have been subdued to the extent that we are just existing and not living.

Although there are some specific measures put in place to control increasing corruption but it has virtually became an intention to decieve.

Yet, we make loud claims of fighting corruption. The man called Ibrahim Lamorde, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been at the helms for over three years now. One cannot quite remember any case he has diligently prosecuted and got the suspect jailed. And this is someone who has been in the commission for a long time. As the head of the organization, EFCC under him has not shown zeal or spark in dealing with the many financial crooks in town. If the EFCC has weak prosecutorial team, it should change them. People have concluded that the anti-corruption network has lost its vibrancy.

President Goodluck Jonathan has consistently spoken against the monster and his commitment to tackle it headlong. That our complaint against it will end soon and all the foundations for the radical transformation he has been planning for us will begin to manifest. Nigerians in their millions are however, waiting for Mr. President to redeem his pledge.

 

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