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How Buhari can curb corruption (2)

By Momoh Obaro
20 May 2015   |   1:27 am
Projects execution is expensive. Goods and services paid for are not delivered. Money earmarked for projects is diverted. Salaries of soldiers, police and other civil servants are either delayed or not paid for months on end. Roads are not built. Hospitals are not working. Public schools are virtually gone.
Buhari

Buhari

Projects execution is expensive. Goods and services paid for are not delivered. Money earmarked for projects is diverted.

Salaries of soldiers, police and other civil servants are either delayed or not paid for months on end. Roads are not built. Hospitals are not working. Public schools are virtually gone.

Most of our young people have no jobs.  We are in this economic mess and our country is insecure principally because of corruption.

It is the same reason that we are running our economy on mobile phones and generators.

Our markets are filled with fake goods (building materials, electrical equipment, furniture, vehicle parts, cutlery, pirated books, clothing, drugs and even food to mention a few) from countries that don’t consume such goods or services.

Most of these items hardly work and they break down immediately you put them to use because organisations saddled with the responsibility of controlling and checking standards are riddled with corruption.

From the above we can define corruption as spending or using public fund for purposes other than what they are intended.

This will include inflation of contracts, taking money for services and not delivering those services, not adhering to budget, not accounting for the so-called security votes, as well as wastages, misappropriation, misapplication, etc.

From the analysis it can be seen that people who are saddled with the responsibility of managing public funds simply appropriate such to themselves. This has become a culture; it is a way of life.

This is what is causing the intense political struggle and has made political contest a do or die affair. Strangely, there are enough regulations and institutions (the Public Procurement Act, Code of Conduct Bureau, the EFCC, ICPC, SERVICOM, FOI, NOA, the auditor general’s office, the external audit system – just to mention a few) created to mitigate this sort of behaviour but this has not deterred corruption. There is the rule of impunity.  These laws are observed in their breach.

People saddled with enforcing the laws are the first to break them. Somehow people have accepted this as normal.

So how do we deal with this? The first thing is to convene a conference in the form of a truth commission to bring together public officers from President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Federal Ministers, Commissioners and Permanents Secretaries, Local Government Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, Directors of Local Government, Heads of other government agencies and Parastatals, leadership of National Assembly and State Assemblies; the Judiciary, government contractors both local and foreign; private sector collaborators including but not limited to their friends and families to come and say something before the commission.

The objectives and purpose of this conference is for participants to explain their role in the management of public finance from 1999 to date, to amongst others determine the extent of leadership, management or systemic failure (s) within the period under review.

The conference will enable the participants to see the linkage between their actions and the state of our economy and security and the victims they have created.

Retrospectively from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2015, we have 16 years which is 5,856 days, and taking our daily oil production as two million barrels per day at an average price of $50 per barrel, this will give a total earning of $586.6 billion dollars or  87.8 trillion Naira.

The truth and reconciliation commission should establish how this money has been spent.

Truth and reconciliation commission is often held where people fought bloody wars, where people have suffered persecution and oppression for a long time.

But the situation in Nigeria: the agonizing poverty, the bleak future of young people who have been made to live without employment, the displaced people and victims of insecurity (insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, trafficking in persons, prostitution etc.) are all consequences much worse than genocide.

This conference will make us to tell the bitter truth to ourselves and it is a strong signal that we are willing to unearth the stinking body of corruption for everyone to see. It is also a strong signal that whatever you do now, you will be called to account someday.

The outcome of the conference is to give some people amnesty whereby they return part of their loot to the state and if possible rehabilitated to join in the repair of a new Nigeria, this is because you can set up thief to catch a thief.

The advantage of this is huge; it will raise our public image as a country that we are serious about dealing with corruption head on and a country that is open for business as this will raise investors’ confidence.

This will bring real and lasting investment to Nigeria. Instead of our leaders’ globe-trotting and chasing elusive foreign investment, investors will find Nigeria a natural destination.

The convening of the conference should be backed by Act of Parliament. Not honouring the invitation will mean not benefitting from the amnesty of government hence prosecution.

Those that should attend should be listed in the Act in order of the office they occupied. Friendly countries, the World Bank and other institutions in possession of information about Nigerian citizens involved in corrupt practices should be invited to give useful information to the conference.  This conference to my mind is more important than constitutional conference.

If we do not deal with corruption this way we cannot make any meaningful progress, and I am afraid the Buhari administration could squander the huge public trust it has been given and could be brought down by the same people who have put Nigeria in the current situation and could be made to look more corrupt than their predecessors.

The second thing we need to do is to enforce our laws and regulations as it concerns public fund management.

As a result of the first step above, enforcement of laws will be easier. Along this line, a culture of asking people to explain the source of sudden wealth should be entrenched.   The use of Broadband will enable us to digitize our database.

For instance every person in Nigeria should be identified by their residences; by this method all houses must be designated into streets or names and numbered. In developed countries this has long been long achieved with street name, numbered and postcode given.

This is the basic data and all other information will be built around it: a person’s source of income, occupation and property owned, etc. are linked to this master data. This will ensure accurate declaration of assets and with prompt capacity to expose criminals as this will offer security agents useful information at all times.

Finally, let’s create a curriculum to teach the effect of corruption in our schools to save future generation from its scourge – in all schools from primary to university, in churches and mosques, at the level of ethno social groups, trade associations, etc .

People  must be able to explain the source of the money they have. People must realise that income illegally acquired harm others and deprive the people a vital resource to develop their lives and their communities. • Concluded. • Obaro lives and work in the UK as Governance, Capacity building and information technology specialist.