How corruption has destroyed Nigeria, by Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday declared that corruption has, alongside lack of visionary leadership, remained at the centre of Nigeria’s backwardness since independence.
He said efforts must be directed towards addressing the cankerworm.Delivering the inaugural lecture of the Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Centre of the National Open University of Nigeria, (NOUN) in Abuja, the former leader believed that, rather than leaving the issue to the government alone, all segments of the society must be involved.
He also picked hole in the concept that only power institutions would help in addressing societal problems, noting that powerful people, were also needed to drive the powerful institutions, without which, no progress could be made.
In a lecture titled, “ Leadership, Governance and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria: The Way Forward,” the former President, who addressed other social issues such as education, healthcare and infrastructural development as the basis for a sustainable development described corruption as the enemy of progress and development.
While admitting that that there are traces of corruption in every society, he noted that its pervasiveness, deleterious effects and debilitating impacts are more in societies with weak ethical frameworks, rule of law and institutions to prevent and control corruption.
Citing a World Bank annual cross-border flow of proceeds from criminal activity which is estimated at between $1.6 trillion, he said half of the figure is looted from developing and transition economies, while $20-$40 billion of this are bribes to public officials in developing and transition countries.
“The impact of corruption on the Nigerian society and the economy has been devastating as it continues to affect the government’s ability to provide basic services and negatively impact on the wellbeing of the population and its ability to rise out of poverty.’’
He noted, however, that despite these efforts by successive governments, corruption still poses a daunting challenge to the progress and development of Nigeria.
According to the former leader, lack of successful prosecution of high profile corruption cases involving some politically exposed persons (PEPs) is giving serious course for concern for both Nigerians and international community.
Obasanjo noted that fighting corruption was not a popular agenda, but stressed that the apparent realization of the negative impact of corruption has promoted the fight against corruption as a measure of good governance, stressing that the aim of fighting corruption was to correct certain wrong doings and most importantly, to remedy the dark sides of bad governance, such as poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease.
The Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, the immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama and a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Alooma Muktar commended the choice of Obasanjo to speak on good governance and development in Nigeria, because of his track record in governance in the past three decades.
Adamu noted that, besides serving as a shiny example of good governance, the former leader’s perseverance in demonstrating the value of education by enrolling into the institution after over 80 years of age should serve as pointer to the fact that no Nigeria deserves such an honour besides Obasanjo.
The occasion was witnessed by a cross section of Nigerian society including two former Vice Chancellors of NOUN, Profs. Olugbemiro Jegede and Vicent Ado Tenebe as well as a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola.