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Decontaminating Nigeria’s corruption pestilence

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This pestilence madly buffeting our attempts to escape from the morass of underdevelopment despite our endowment with natural and human resources cannot be abandoned to the mountebanks to fix. We cannot entrust a cat to guard a piece of meat. It is our patriotic responsibility to devise means of preventing the continued bloating of corruption via proactive institutions and harsh penal system. Pilfering of public treasury is a crime of national security proportion that mandates heavy-handed punishment as a deterrence, notwithstanding the amount involved. By now, I should be working in concert with other patriots to proffer solutions to ending the cancerous poverty in bid to free us from the clutches of underdevelopment.

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Doubtlessly, there is a direct nexus between sprawling corruption and chronic underdevelopment. The pestiferous corruption is on prowl ravaging the very essence of this country via: national insecurity; minatory external and internal debts; hasty exodus of able-bodied youths from Nigeria; brain drain; investment flight; discouraging entrepreneurship; entrenching and distending poverty; dilapidated social infrastructure; glorifying mediocrity; barely existent social amenities; brazen terrorism, banditry and criminality; and the list goes on. The anemic posthumous approaches to deter corruption has instead unleashed a burgeoning enterprise of corruption on every stratum, every sector, every organization and every institution in the country. The multiplier effect of corruption in terms of consequences and spread necessitates a post-haste strategy to extirpate it, so as to be on track to development. From the gateman, police, doctors, electricians to politicians, corruption is a way of life in Nigeria.

Whether you bribe for a favour or extort money for a favour, you are a partaker in and enabler of corruption. Therefore, to surgically and objectively consign analysis of corruption, we deploy decision-tree graph where we employ several alternatives that mull possible risks and benefits of choices in order to enhance high quality decision making on tackling corruption. Thus, in availing the decision-tree analysis, no idea is too sacrosanct to discuss. Also, we are not beholden to the pejorative and ethnic comparative analysis of looting propounded by Dokobo. With the decision-tree analysis, we can thoroughly diagnose the protracted, pervasive and persistent corruption, and the various forms it manifests: inflated contracts, privatization, conversion of public properties, unremitted revenues, diversion of security votes, peddling influence, extortion, conflict of interest, wastefulness, and so on. It is not that we are more kleptomania than any other nationals.

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The points are the institutions fashioned to fight corruption in Nigeria are ineffective, and we fail to mold our fight against corruption to our peculiar context. Most countries were affiliated with this plague at one time or the other but they nipped it in the bud before it became intractable epidemic like ours. Having said this, we still do not have to copy their successful strategies absent reverence to our context. The adoption of decision-tree graph shall illuminate and chaperone our quest for solution to the plague’s various media and prophylactic processes to ingrain anti-corruption norms and practices to structural reconfiguration of our institutions for effectiveness and to contextual penal system. At each juncture, we rely on the benefits of decision-tree analysis to create a number of answers to myriad of questions that go on after each affirmative or negative answer until a final decision is crystallized to decontaminate our corruptive system.

At the proactive process level, we are not dealing with prevention; we are focusing on stimulating the consciousness of the populace from childhood to old age. There must be a mobilization parastatal accountable to the Ministry of Anti-Corruption informing the public about the consequences of corruption and the penalty it carries. Ethics courses should be mandated from kindergarten to universities. Once it runs into our sub-consciousness, it instantaneously alerts us to any verisimilitude of corruption and it forewarns us of any association trying to lure us into malfeasance or any deed compromising our integrity or causing conflict of interest. Easily recitable jingoes must be run on the internet and television. The socialization process to disarm corruption must be total, absolute, nation-wide and dispassionate to be effective. On the second phase, structural reconfiguration becomes imperative and exiguous. Structural reconfiguration provides the benefits of prevention. There must be heavy investment in surveillance appliances with commensurate training to detect public purloining before it manifests. Multiple and cross-functioning law-enforcement agencies must be called to action on corruption, not only DSS. In the USA, the role of detecting corruption is not circumscribed to the FBI, other law-enforcement agencies at the state-, local- and federal levels are saddled with this responsibility, making bribery of one agency acarplous and counterproductive because other agencies lay in wait to uncover it. Unlike in Nigeria, where one can mute an agency into inaction through bribery.

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Injection of random forensic auditing by different organizations will be efficient in exposing brooding corruption or consummated corruption. Either way, the proactive efficacy of the forensic auditing cannot be underestimated in blowing open an inchoate depravity before it is on a lam. Ironclad policies must be in effect to motivate, reward, lionize and protect whistle-blowers from any form of retribution. Today, technologies can monitor every stroke of action on any electronic, making detention of any financial malfeasance easy. The penalty phase could be decongested if the aforementioned steps derived from decision-tree chart are enforced. This stage would only be dealing with few culprits.

One of the options is to continue with the current, effete, compromised and biased policies with the continued risks of head-scratching amounts involved, and ever-escalating number of Nigerian partakers because of the ineffectual penal system. To be effective, the penal policy should not be based on personality, class, religion, tribe or amount stolen.

Irrespective of the amount involved, a minimum of 10 years in prison with hard labour to life imprisonment should be imposed with the loss of all properties acquired with the ill-gotten wealth plus penalty for increasing mortality rate, destroying our infrastructure, undermining our security preparedness, increasing ethnic tension, enlarging army of unemployed youths, prolonging and compounding abject poverty, etc. To be candid, looting should be a treasonable felony crime! Anything less is short-changing the overexploited, fagged and overwrought Nigerians.

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Because a successful looting procreates sundry looters devoid of any regard for the amount pilfered, or damages caused to the country, the public must show no mercy in drilling senses into the skulls of the looters. I personally subscribe to the Chinese way of publicly shooting the looters: a looter, a bullet. This is an instantaneous deterrence: suddenly kleptomaniacs would abstain from politics for patriots to emerge. In order to avert the imminent danger of mass demonstrations or coup or disintegration of the country or, worse still, armed insurgency, all patriots should unite to kibosh the unlimited caravan of disasters unleashed on Nigeria and Nigerians by unmitigated corruption epidemic by forming comparable association along the line of “Boycott, Divestment and Sanction” (“BDS”) akin to the Palestine’s against Israel or Black Americans’ against apartheid in the 80’s that culminated in the freedom of Nelson Mandela and subsequently South Africa. Foreign support for any Nigerian Government plundering the wealth of Nigeria through intention or negligence must be severed. The government must be held accountable for presiding over the massive corruption and its abrasive effects on Nigerians. Because issue of corruption is also an issue of human rights violation. Wide spread poverty dehumanizes human dignity and condemns the famished to die in penury. A country like Nigeria that cannot provide essentials to it citizenry does not deserve to belong to civilized international communities.

We shall pre-warn international communities that the loans given to Nigeria ends up in the pockets of few Nigerians; therefore, the future generations cannot he held accountable to repay the looted loan. Despite the astronomically burdensome debts, any additional loan is at the giver’s peril: susceptible to default. One, Nigerian is blessed with disproportional resources to extricate herself from underdevelopment and two, Nigeria is currently afflicted by an epidemic of corruption making repayment impossible. Thus, any further external loan will continue to trigger unwholesome ripple effects on Nigeria and Nigerians. Without a doubt, the international fora must enforce pressure on this government and any other government to end the reign of pervasive and contagious corruption, and its dehumanizing consequences by suspending free trade with Nigeria and gives Nigerian Government an ultimatum to substantially reduce corruption or else it will be expelled from international fora. A crippling and devastating corruption deserves a commensurate measure to hammer senses into this government and succeeding governments so as to urgently revamp the tripod of processes, structures, and penal system to batter corruption from our psyche and public sphere.

Olatunji, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.

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