War against corruption: The fundamentals
The war against corruption in our land and some other African countries is an age-long one.
In countries in which the military have made incursions in governance, the campaign against the malaise takes a remarkable dimension in terms of seriousness and commitment. It is given fillip.
The military men are driven by experiences of barracks discipline and knowledge of history of a few nations in which guns were brought out in governance in the course of their development.
If there can be discipline in the barracks, why can it not be instilled in the larger society? so dictates the patriotic zeal that runs in their veins.
So, the military gets irritated. They come out resolved that the human weakness must be exterminated; it must be uprooted from the soul of men. They roll out their tanks; they sling their AK47 across their shoulders to do battle.
The battle was the motivation when Rawlings shot his way into Flagstaff House in 1979.
It was the same motivation that drove Buhari into Doddan Barracks in his first coming on 31 December, 1984.
In this second coming, Buhari went back to pick up the battle where Obasanjo left it in 2007 with Nuhu Ribadu as the war front commander. And he has found Ribadu’s twin brother in Magu in terms of incorruptibility, drive and commitment.
Although what Buhari sold to Nigerians in 2014/2015 was a 14-point manifesto containing 90-action items, he has elected to concentrate on three he has made the cornerstone on which his Administration rests.
These are war against corruption, revamping the economy, and security. Of the three what he has made his sing-song and filled the airwaves with most is war against corruption.
He seizes opportunities of state delegation or groups visiting to rail against his predecessors, regaling them with reports of how the treasury was looted under their watch. He restates his resolve to wrestle corruption to the ground.
You can’t but see that he is drawing from his recognition that “if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
There is a ring of grave concern and sincerity in his tone. All well-meaning people will naturally share in his concerns.
As I did state last week, the war against corruption can literally be said to have lasted 52 years as of today, but we can see that despite the concerns and the attendant efforts the nation is marching on the same spot.
What this points out to us is that it is one thing to mean well, it is another to employ the right approach.
Given the approach to the campaign especially whenever Buhari is in the saddle, noising making in the guise of transparency and the rolling out of tanks to fight what is essentially human weakness, it means the government has to take another look at its strategies.
How much noise making should be made that the whole effort to rid the land of the malaise would not be counter-productive, for example? The other day, Magu mounted a roadshow characteristic of product marketers, political parties or an evangelizing church going “afishing for souls.”
His good intention was to bring to public awareness the manifold evils of corruption. How helpful the endeavour was, time will tell.
Apart from the talk by President Buhari to jail corrupt people becoming hot air, the war is being seen from the approach as the Administration’s least line of resistance.
Of course, arrests of suspects would need to be made. And they have been rightly made. You cannot condone evil that corruption is with impunity and not plunge the land into unmitigated lawlessness and chaos.
However, the fanfare and celebration that attend the arrests ought to be toned down.
Once the wrong impression of the intendment of the campaign is made to fester, the needed cooperation of the critical segments of the society will be lost.
There are two ways we may go about the war against corruption.
The examples of how Brig.-General Oluwole Rotimi and Brig.-General Mobolaji Johnson were helped in strengthening their own innate desire to protect their names and reputation and thereby escape General Murtala Mohammed sword can serve as an eye opener. They were saved by the civil service institution.
The institution made adherence to due process inalienable in the running of government affairs in the West, especially in matters concerning public funds.
General Rotimi discovered that, powerful as his office appeared to be and seemingly unaccountable as he was as a military governor, he could not bypass due process.
His words were not law; he must reduce whatever he wanted into writing and the process must be exhausted.
If his memo was not mature to receive due attention, the civil servant would minute K.I.V. (Keep In View) on it.
These were truly career civil servants. The system was there to protect them and their career in the courageous discharge of their duties should any of them be bullied or should he weaken in his decision.
As part of the checks from abuse of office at Ibadan at the time, official vehicles were released only upon requisition and endorsed by the appropriate authority. And what was more, the vehicles were not to be found outside office hours being used for private purposes by public functionaries.
The Simeon Adebo culture extended to Lagos and Johnson’s name was similarly saved from the hangman and written in gold.
To keep the due process working, it was ensured that the civil service was manned at the top by people of character and who had the courage of their convictions.
Today, it is self-evident that that era has receded in our memory.
A majority of those we have populating the service as gate keepers are largely spineless who see fawning on their principals as part of their schedule! This means the civil service is in need of urgent reforms.
This is, therefore, saying that the campaign against corruption must be multi-pronged.
The ultimate answer is in civil service reforms in which the civil servant is the accounting officer and in which he has his career protected by the system from the fears, bullies and machinations of their Excellences.
The reforms should not end with the civil servants of today; we must give thought to the civil servants of tomorrow.
This is where schools and colleges come in. The evils of wrongdoing in private and public lives and the consequences must be inculcated in pupils and students.
There must be enough poems already by the likes of J. F. Odunjo and literature to help in this effort as was the case in the days of old.
They must be told that there is no crime that can go unpunished if not by the government, but by through the incorruptible and unchanging Law of Life.
The National Orientation ambassadors must be up and doing. The churches and mosques have a big role to play. So do the NGOs.
Vanguards of volunteers can be encouraged in higher institutions that will render voluntary services in communities.
Immediately the civil war ended in 1970, for instance, the first groups of helpers to set foot in the East were Mayflower students led by Dr. Tai Solarin himself.
Their assignment was to clear roads, cleans streets, reconnect electricity and water pipes to public buildings and restore normalcy generally as far as their capability could carry them. That is the way to prepare for Nigeria’s tomorrow.
All said, it is most crucial that those who wish to lead the country and their fellow men to joy and happiness must familiarize themselves with the higher correlations of life.
Our world does not exist in isolation. It is part of the entire Creation and therefore there must be intervening forces in the affairs of our world with which we must reckon.
How can any thinking person believe that our world is not being governed and it is left to mere creatures that we are to do whatever we like in it and with it, including devastating it.
The word corruption in the process of the war against it is being thrown into our faces everywhere you turn.
It is assailing the ears and the air is suffocated with the concept of the word corruption. Drawing from our make-up as human spirits, we faintly sense the potency in the power of words.
A word is capable of healing wounds and it is capable of evoking anger and set a whole community on fire.
As the saying goes, it can bring kolanut out of the pocket as a symbol of peace and friendship, and it can bring out the sword. Words bring tears and they bring laughter.
A discerning person would necessarily want to sit down and ask: Why is it so? Why does a word have such an all pervading power and influence?
In 1978, the Federal Government established Traffic Wardens to ease enervating traffic gridlock in Lagos, covering the Island and the metropolis.
As Lagosians are wont to do, they wasted no time in giving them their own appellation, Yellow Fever, both in derision and in admiration.
Surprisingly, after a while the city began to witness an outbreak of yellow fever everywhere, in different parts of the city. Hardly did it occur to anyone that words are potent and are seeds.
In the outworking of the immutable and incorruptible Laws of Creation, after the seeds of the yellow fever planted in the connecting world of the Beyond had gone through maturation process, Lagosians were given what they wished: yellow fever! From where do words get their awesome powers? It may be asked.
In the higher knowledge available on earth today, it is revealed that words, a special gift to mankind, are a precipitation of the sublime Word of the Creator.
Are we not told in in the Bible that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God? If the Word is God, it then follows that the Word is Life because God is Life?
Creation came out of the Word. The Word carries Creation in its Palms and entity of Creation vibrates in the Word that gives it life and motion.
The human word is governed by the Law of Life and through its pressure, a word is capable of producing two kinds of results.
The Law works on both the word as well as on its content imbued with the motivation of the speaker. It takes on an ethereal form in the Beyond.
The form attracts similar forms and they form power centres which unceasingly get reinforced by attracting more similar forms.
The implication of these is from the power centres flow radiations.
It is such that those who faintly nourish the thought of corruption and seeking opportunities to dip their fingers in the till get strengthened and emboldened and get on with the act.
Those who would not normally want to associate with it are bothered by the radiations of the corruption power centres.
With constant menacing with thoughts they cannot explain arising from them, they get lured to develop the desire to taste and to experiment. The belief soon arises that they cannot be caught.
Today, because the land is choked with noise-making about corruption, from the intervening forces just described, it may so happen that the efforts by President Buhari and Magu work in the opposite direction and the problem is compounded.
The cankerworm becomes a nine-headed snake, raising one of the heads even in the most unexpected quarters to the chagrin of everybody.
Words are words and we cannot be too careful in the way we employ them.
It cannot be for nothing that the Lord Christ admonished us: “Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay for whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil.”
If we want to make progress in the war on corruption, the narrative should be to replace what may be seen at the moment as acts of vengefulness and mockery with word of love and compassion and faith in Nigerians.
Nigerians must be given the confidence that they are good and they have a great nation. We must be made to believe in ourselves.
Magu should continue to work diligently quite alright, but with reduced noise-making.
Not many saw the jailing of Dariye, jolly Nyame and Bala Ngilari coming. When the imprisonment did come, it sent cold shivers down our spine. That is the effect of quiet working.
The focus of Buhari should be more on how to get the looters to the point of atonement and reformation.
This will require extensive work by the judiciary and the expertise of psychologists and sociologists helping out.
Atonement comes from a conviction of guilt. A feeling of guilt leads to a feeling of shame. A feeling of shame engenders embarrassment.
A shameless person cannot be embarrassed. That is why some of the people with proven cases of sordid misconduct are deviant.
Their inner being which alone is capable of atonement has not been reached! Familiarization with knowledge of the mechanisms that govern life, which are the immutable and self-acting Laws of Creation, can help lift the veil!