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Corruption war goes clubbing

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
03 June 2020   |   1:52 am
For decades Nigeria has had the distinction of romanticising and deodorising corruption. Yet, every government of the day pledges zero-tolerance for corruption and harps on the heels of fighting the menace with some elements of briskness clothed with showmanship.

For decades Nigeria has had the distinction of romanticising and deodorising corruption. Yet, every government of the day pledges zero-tolerance for corruption and harps on the heels of fighting the menace with some elements of briskness clothed with showmanship. Perhaps, they do so in order not to be held accountable for doing nothing while corruption thrives under their administration. Under such a guise, governments past and present are seen to show off some radical steps towards fighting corruption by aiming at perceived enemies or used as a political tool to silence political opponents. Some of these attributes revealed themselves in the early part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office. A situation that saw some politicians with questionable character cross from the opposition to the ruling party and becomes saints over night.

The other day, the public attention was once again drawn to how to curb the menace of corruption in our society, by the director-general of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Garba Abari, whose wisdom saw the establishment of integrity clubs in about 1,000 schools across the country to purge young minds of corruption. No doubt corruption poses a great threat to the country and particularly so, for younger generation. It is important that the influence and proportion of corruption in high places should not be allowed to infect a generation constantly regarded as the future leaders of the nation. Therefore, integrity clubs in schools should be the guide against being corrupt among the teaming young population.

If one may ask, how did the NOA director general come to the conclusion that integrity clubs in schools will be an antidote to curb corruption when political leaders do not lead by example? At the moment, the menace has made the country to lose its self esteem and respect among the comity of nations as scoffing reports of backlash on corruption cases or ratings are regularly attributed to it. Not too long ago, Transparency International (TI) rated Nigeria to be among the most corrupt nations of the world and despite the hue and cry from government quarters in condemning the rating, nothing has changed as the misappropriation of public funds continues and no one is held accountable and made to pay dearly for it.

Of course, one will argue that there is, perhaps no country that is free of corruption, but what makes Nigeria’s case different is its pervasiveness and the audacity with which the political class indulges in it. As it were, corruption has taken hold of Nigeria’s politics jugular even as it has eclipsed patriotic and nation-building democrats from the political scene. Moral judgment concerning the masses and welfare of the country is defeated by selfish interest. No doubt, corruption has become endemic in the Nigerian polity as political office holders abandon the tenets of moral integrity and good governance for their selfish interest.

Anyone who has keenly followed events the political affairs in the country with the semblance of an open mind can see that the fundamentals have greatly changed and the real democrats, nation-builders and patriots are overwhelmingly outnumbered and therefore, have no voice. In fact, it has become a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. Political analysts are of the view that Nigeria has to kill corruption before the menace kills the dreams of Nigerians and render the nation helpless.

With such a perceived threat bedeviling the nation Abari believes that: “The integrity club was founded to purge the nation of corruption and inculcate in children the right values necessary for building a just society”. Again, does it mean integrity is missing from Nigerian family moral values? By the way integrity should be the watch word of every Nigerian and be seen in all our dealings and actions.

Without mincing words, the idea of exposing and disabusing young minds of corruption and making them to grow moral consciousness and ethical orientation is highly commendable. Perhaps, the integrity clubs may lead to turning the tide and see the fight against corruption yielding some fruitful results in the near future. But, there seems to be sand on the wheel of the integrity club even before it takes off. Abari himself rightly said, “I don’t think the federal ministry of education or the states ministries of education have capacitated teachers that can teach civics at the moment”. Indeed, this dearth of civic education teachers and the time it would take to recruit and train civic teachers to fill the gaps in schools across the country may slow down integrity clubs impact to fight corruption. In a way, the above revelation by Abari has once again exposed how government officials choose to always put the cart before the horse to gain cheap publicity.

In every sense, this can be termed too as corruption. Knowing that there are no competent teachers to teach civics curriculum in schools, why then announce and create clubs to that effect? Aside the above, there seems to be quite a lot that is missing from what the children ought to learn from the integrity club. Knowledge as we all know does not start or end in the classroom. Pupils do learn from what is happening around them and the society at large. Therefore, the negative values constantly portrayed by political elite and other public institutions’ officers go a long way to constitute the dominant value that shapes the general society’s mind set towards being honest or dishonest. It is worth mentioning that the potency of institution like the judicial pronouncements as well as need for political leadership to lead by example so as to help shape the young minds on the right path are greatly desired accordingly.

For instance, what sense does it make when the judiciary chooses to ask a person convicted of stealing billions of naira to pay a few hundreds of thousands of naira and sent home to enjoy the remaining loot. Also, there is a need to expand the boundaries of excellence and good governance among political office holders. This is because no society has developed on the greed and waste of public funds as we see in the country today. The burden of redirecting Nigerian values and repositioning the country lies squarely on the political leader’s shoulders and at all times they must lead by example.