Rekindling Nigeria’s anti-corruption: Options for fresh strategy
Sir: Corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria and the single most important hurdle between “our country and potential greatness.” This is our view in The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), and we have, therefore, listed measures to be taken by the Federal Government if it is serious to tackle corruption in the country.
We mark this year’s International Anti- Corruption Day with concern that the anti-graft war in Nigeria has been viewed with suspicion by the citizenry because of the perception that it is selective, ineffective, and has therefore stumbled on without credibility.
The war against corruption in Nigeria must move beyond the tokenism of occasional recovery of funds and often theatrical convictions to the hard task of tackling the underlying structural defects, institutional failure, mediocre political leadership and other sundry predisposing factors.
Our association, like other Nigerians are appalled at how bribery in public and private life, even in ways that are not immediately apparent, has inhibited national development, enthroned mediocrity and inefficiency, encouraged unfair competitive advantages, while significantly eroding society’s moral ethos.
We draw attention to the recent disclosure by the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which listed the Nigeria Judiciary at the apex of the Nigeria Corruption Index. Corruption, therefore, is the most potent culprit of Nigeria’s retarded socioeconomic development.
The NAS, therefore, tasked the Federal Government to ensure that all anti-corruption institutions and ancillary bodies are given the much-needed teeth to stop barking and start biting without prejudice. We call for total reformation of the criminal justice system and the police in order to engender a more modern, proactive judiciary, and an honest, people-friendly policing service respectively.
Government at all levels must, as a matter of urgency, initiate the exemplary process of cutting the corrupt and unwieldy cost of governance. This should begin with a holistic pruning of the bizarre remuneration and perks for political office holders, which have made politics attractive as a shortcut to filthy lucre.
The national anti-corruption strategy should be removed from the immediate purview of, and dependence on, the Presidency. Otherwise, it will remain feeble, myopic and prone to political exploitation. The national orientation policy should be rejigged and empowered with a mandate that will birth a reformed civil service and civic space rid of the tribalism, nepotism, lobbying, and sleaze they have been associated with.
In line with this year’s International Anti-corruption Day, government must ensure that all those saddled with the important task of managing the resources for alleviating the harsh medical and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, must appreciate the onerous responsibility, and help Nigeria and its citizens recover with integrity by standing #UnitedAgainstCorruption.
Abiola Owoaje, Capoon, National Association of Seadogs