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From world poverty to corruption capital

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
02 February 2022   |   3:30 am
To say the least, President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s fight against corruption has been unrelenting and vigorous.

To say the least, President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s fight against corruption has been unrelenting and vigorous. Even though, we hear more poetic statements than seeing actions and convictions. However, one area the government has made a mockery of the corruption fight is not only in what seems like a selective or media trial jamboree. But the fact that, the country consecutively for years keeps dropping in global corruption ranking. This has shown that moral values are fast diminishing among the people and especially so in the political class and public office holders. As it were, integrity, honesty and dedication to duty have collapsed in the society. At the moment, the menace of corruption in Nigeria, especially in terms of the threat it poses to the country’s development is beyond explanation.

Therefore, the most charitable conclusion to be drawn from the recent Transparency International report is that, the country’s free fall in the world corrupt ranking shows that there have been no significant improvements in the fight against corruption over the years. Hence, for three years, Nigeria continued in its failure to improve its performance in tackling corruption by scoring 24 out 100 points in the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). So far, so predictable, you might say, Nigeria’s 154th position out of the 180 countries surveyed did not come as a surprise to anyone particularly government and its officials. According to the executive director CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa, the CPI is completely impartial, objective and globally acknowledged as the most widely used cross-country parameter for measuring corruption. He maintained that, Nigeria earned one of the poorest position because of delay in treating high profile cases of corruption. Also, the inability of putting round pegs in its proper space as it concerns officers in the National Judicial Council (NJC) to ensure the right appointment of judges and undertake rightful disciplinary action when necessary.

Indeed, the Transparency International report tells the undeniable true position why Nigeria seems to be constant in the news for the wrong reason over its stuck in mud of corrupt practices. It is sad that, the report is a damming indictment of the nation and its citizens as unrepentant corrupt people. More so, the rating dunk on the government and to a large extent caused potential extraordinary damage to the reputation of the country and Nigerians in particular. On this note, many questions are on the lips of well-meaning Nigerians over the Transparency International rating. One important question, though, barely asked: What would happen if government agrees to commitment serious enough to fight corruption to standstill? The question has an answer government and its officials try to shy away from. Reason being that it would send a shock wave through their corrupt networks.

Before the Transparency International report, government on several fora try to show off as being committed and indeed winning the war against corruption by sitting examples of few stones it threw at the public. Usually, such gesture tries to woo the international comity of nation’s mind that the government is a step in the right direction fighting corruption. While at home, it attracts mixed feelings in the society depending on the divide you are, whether religious, tribal or partisan politics. Regrettably, corruption has fueled the divide between the rich and the poor. This has made most Nigerians to carry on in their search for wealth with such desperation as associated to the Biblical healing pool of Bethesda. Also, so many young people are today involved in dubious practices in order to be rich, as if a record of wealthy people in history is about to be closed.

As was to be expected, corruption has made it very tricky to measure Nigeria’s growth or development. However, the most common gauge which has become very popular in recent time, despite being hard to interpret is the flock of properties in highbrow areas and the mad rush to acquire range of exotic cars. To a large extent, this explains why there has been rise in rents in the places where people mostly want to live and inflation in food prices. Of course, at the heart of narrowing opportunities, inadequate and unequal access to health care, housing, education among others reveals that, we as a nation, have the misfortune in leadership. We are ruled by leaders who have deliberately refused to understand the purpose of public administration. They either frantically stole public funds or energetically used their privilege position to fight petty selfish war.

Some political analysts have argued that, in a country plagued by corrupt practices, President Buhari’s shinning stance as incorruptible has somehow being over shadowed. By every standard President Buhari deserves his immaculate incorruptible garment. But beneath this integrity finesse, behind the mask of this perfect individual is the hidden affection for nepotism and partisan politics, a clear obstructions for a firm stand to fight corruption. The above has made all sorts of strategies to eradicate corruption unsuccessful.

Quite often in plain sight, you see how certain corruption cases try to dramatically play on the instinct of the public with a ridiculous sentence or fine. This approach was blithely tolerated and it became endemic in the past and present governments. Over time, people shrug it off as the ‘’Nigerian factor” but really, it has given root to corruption and continue to cripple the nation’s economy. Hence, in every ceremony, social gathering and indeed our daily life, corruption remains increasingly influential and the people have no choice than to celebrate and worship corrupt individuals.

Of course, nobody can expect a holistic corruption fight from a government that lack the political will, whose machinery and manner of approach in the fight against corruption is questionable. The inconvenient truth about corruption is that if we cannot kill or checkmate it, corruption will kill or continue to influence things negatively in the country. Thereby, makes the corruption plague sooner than latter lead the nation to ‘enjoy’ another worthless and ugly ‘award’ as the corruption capital of the world.