A President and The Corruption Conundrum by M.B.O Owolowo

By M.B.O Owolowo

The corruption conundrum continues as some incredulous statements were recently attributed to the President during the burial service of the late General Andrew Azazi. He was responding to a factual and frank homily by Bishop Hyacinth Ogbebor blaming corruption for the helicopter crash, amongst other issues in the country.

The President said, “Corruption is not the cause of our problems. Nigeria has more institutions that fight corruption. Most of the issues we talk about are not corruption. If we do things properly, if we change our attitude of doing things, most of the things we think are caused by corruption are not. If Nigerians would change their attitude, you will realise that most of these issues being attributed to corruption are not caused by corruption. If we change our attitude to life, if all Nigerians do what is right, Nigeria will change”.

Pondering over these statements, the president should be reminded he too is part of “all Nigerians” he has referred and his “attitude” must change as well. His attitude towards corruption must be taken into cognisance; he says “Corruption is not the cause of our problems”. Considering he previously made a statement rating Nigeria’s commitment to fighting corruption as secondary to only that of the United States, one might be excused for wondering if he is inhaling air and operating from the stratosphere above the public's atmospheric level.

I have always believed a people that tolerate drivel will accept gibberish; with these sort of statements it becomes apparent why corruption has been initiated, perpetrated and perpetuated for decades in our polity.

Unfortunately, we as a people have become accustomed to mediocrity and peddlers of lies. We accommodate in positions of authority the mortgagers of our collective futures, killers of dreams and marauders of aspirations.

Those in power know this fact and continue to take us for a ride; else the populace should have revolted. But not all of us have amnesia and not all of us can be fooled; Nigeria has been synonymous with corruption from yore and it predates the current regime. Corruption has become so endemic to the extent of being considered part of our ethos. The whole world knows it is our problem and constantly chide us to confront corruption head on.

According to Transparency International, Nigeria is ranked the 35th most corrupt nation in the world. The 2012 Corruption Perception Index revealed Nigeria scored 27 out of a maximum 100 marks to land the 139th position out of the 176 countries and territories surveyed in the report, based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. Nigeria was ranked alongside Azerbaijan, Kenya, Nepal and Pakistan.

According to a report by Sahara Reporters New York, June 7th 2012:

“The United States has again dismissed Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts as mere talk, describing the Goodluck Jonathan era as one in which the government is not implementing the law, and officials engage in corrupt practices with impunity.”

Also, during the visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Nigeria, she blamed failings by Nigerian leaders for the country’s woes and emphasized the prevalence of "unbelievable corruption.”
 
We recently read reports of how about $400 billion has been lost by our successive regimes over time and how most of that money ended up overseas. Even the nation’s anti-corruption agency, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, blamed infrastructural decay in Nigeria on corruption.

In view of these publicly known facts, I wonder why the President would make such a boorish statement as corruption not being the cause of our problems in Nigeria.

Paradoxically, some have argued that a credible head does not necessarily translate to an effective overhaul of a corrupt system. But we should also consider the countries that scored better on the Corruption Perception Index must have had issues of corruption, with adequate steps taken to mitigate the situation. So we can’t continue to allow the deterioration of our society based on these excuses. Drastic and effective measures must be taken to combat the menace.

For example, in 2009 there was an Expenses Scandal that rocked the United Kingdom Parliament, though the figures the Members of Parliament were accused of is a modicum compared to the whopping amounts our public servants embezzle, the United Kingdom didn’t treat the matter with levity.

The accused members of Parliament faced criminal charges that lead to many resignations, suspensions, arrests and prosecution with sentences varying between 9 – 18 months imprisonment.

In Nigeria, it’s our hope to see a replica of such virtuous actions. We genuinely accept the process of eradicating corruption would be gradual, as the deterioration to our current state of socio-economic inertia too was gradual. Sadly, corruption and kleptomania is as rife as it is alarming, some have termed it ‘LOOTING’ for unborn generations, and the figures emanating from fraud investigations are as staggering as they are depressing.

The President must realise Nigerians can’t be hoodwinked any longer. The public hearing about a scandal being unearthed isn't enough; we want to see arrests leading to actual indictments and prosecutions. I was once quizzed by a friend, who sarcastically asked, how many key government officials or top politicians have you seen arrested and jailed and how much has been refunded into the nations treasury? This was a critical question that made me ruminate on all the publicity stunts machinated by the government, aimed at not only boosting the President's image but also massaging his ego; witch-hunting opposition and critics or the settling of political scores against perceived adversaries isn’t fighting corruption.

Charity begins at home, so the attitudinal change must start from the Presidency. Budgeting obscene amounts of money for executive frivolities and unwarranted expenses isn’t fighting corruption. There are many aspects of the budget that are simply wasteful. Just because previous regimes embarked on such squandering doesn’t make it right; why not set a precedence of curbing expenditure?

Borrowing recklessly and not investing in infrastructural development or capital projects aimed at boosting economic growth isn’t fighting corruption. It is according to the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi “accumulating debts for future generations.”

For the President to be taken seriously, he must use his executive powers to ensure the arrests of culprits and that priority is given to such cases within the Judicial process to expedite prosecution.

The President must enforce the forfeiture of assets from those indicted and the reimbursements of retrieved funds to the nation’s coffers.

Surely with purposeful leadership change can be effected, else the change of a purposeless leadership would be initiated. Change must start from the Presidency! His offices' ineffective reputation can only be ameliorated by effective and sincere actions aimed at tackling corruption.

The concomitant melancholy this administration exudes and forlorn felt by majority of the populace can only be changed with drastic implementation of progressive mass oriented policies.

“The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not” – Niccolo Machiavelli

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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@osita,you have captured it

@osita,you have captured it rightly.First,the President dont seem to agree with any one that corruption even exist let alone fight it.Stealing from the treasury has long became the norm in as much as you have th opportunity and if you don't,you are in deep shit and shown the way.Most corruption starts from a faulty budgeting process.Our National Assembly is our greatess albatross,they have the constitutional responsibilities to make things right but what do we see,they are part an parcel of all the lootings.The President s surrounded with those that sings YOUR EXCELLENCY.

@DERI, At Least Oshiomhole is More Intelligent than GEJ

To fight corruption, you need clean hands and guts. GEJ has neither. OBJ had one of these and was able to create EFCC&ICPC. But GEJ is clueless. When he speaks, I hold my breath until he concludes 'cause chances are he 'd make some ridiculous gaff. He cant analyse the simplest question and respond intelligently let alone seize the initiative in an interactive session and marshall out his points or convey his msg to his audience. He doesn't 've to be an orator or eloquent speaker, but GEJ is supposed to be a PhD holder! He should make some sense when he speaks. He 'd at least be coherent, intelligible, logical and demonstrate some ability to reason intelligently. I don tire. I no just undastand. Oshiomhole being derided by DERI has no advanced degree, but certainly he's way better than GEJ whether in terms of ideas or eloquence. That's what we are talking about. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, GEJ is always bereft of ideas and lost.

it took a British court to

it took a British court to convict an umrepentant thief who was celebrated government official in Nigeria. when the president says corruption is not the problem, maybe he's right. it's not a problem; it's a lifestyle...

WASTE OF TIME

Waste of time making recommendations on how GEJ can fight corruption. You cannot give what you don't have, GEJ is a product of corruption and it is frivolous to expect such a person to embark on any fight against official graft. He is graft personafied and his remarks during the ceremony only confirmed what some of us knew all along. The only thing left for discernible Nigerians to do about GEJ is to send him back to the creeks where he came from. Shame on all those who voted this goon as Nigeria's President.

9jas are not patriots-we dont love our country period

The president was right-our problem has nothing to do with corruption--boko haram is not out because they hate thievery-they yearn to impose sharia law on us period-buhari is not into the presidential race to fight corruption-cause he would not have had a man like Alhaji Hassan the former minister of works, accused of stealing billions meant for the repair of our roads as a member of his party after collection millions from him-he would not have allowed alhaji alhaji to go free when he was caught bringing in foreign currencies at MMA-he would not associate with rogues like Tinubu! and certificate forgers such as the Edo state state governor Adams-ours is about pursuing the ideals that patriotism stands for-if u love yr country enough-u will not steal from her-u will ensure that money for roads, water, schools are properly utilized-and not siphoned into foreign bank accounts-9jas dont love their country-its been (na my papa get 9ja?) since 1960-

Issues Facing Nigeria are Values and Principles:

The Issues Facing Nigeria Are Values & Principles:
There are no values without principles and no principles without values. The society can only move forward by accepting the concept of shared future founded upon common humanity in all Nigerian diversity, and only then can sustainable development be made fully inclusive and equitable. The issue of Shared Responsibility: This shared responsibility means protection, safety and security of all Nigerians, regardless of religion, tribes, poor or rich. Along the line of shared responsibility include: Those Nigerians who benefit most from the resources of Nigeria to re-invest in Nigeria, so that, those who suffer or who benefit least can deserve help from those who benefit most. There is also no doubt that the perceived culture of violence challenges will be overcome in due course by Nigerians. There is HOPE for good Nigerian society.

PRESIDENT JONATHAN'S "TRAGIC DISCONNECT" WITH REALITY

The recent statements of denial credited to our President at the funeral of the late NSA is disheartening.The mindset of our President is in question when it comes to eradicating corruption,If he cannot accept that corruption is the major cause of our backwardness as a nation then there is just no reason to trust any "effort" made on his watch to fight the hydra-headed monster,it sure does look like a charade especially when all his PDP comrades with charges of corruption hanging around their necks all walk free.
It is quite surprising that the President has failed to take the pulse of the nation he presides over,he is rather fixated on the sycophantic expressions of "YES SIR" coming from his cronies.This is the second clergy telling him to his face in a place of worship that corruption is an issue and in as many times he has acted in a belligerent manner to this inconvenient truth.Our President is just not the person we thought him to be.