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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Nigeria Diasporas And Bribery Of Custom Officials At Lagos MMA By Paul Omoruyi



By Paul Omoruyi
In the next couple of weeks, thousands of Nigerians who travelled home to celebrate the holidays with their friends and families will be returning back to the United States, Europe, Asia and everywhere in-between.

Anyone who has travelled internationally in and out of Lagos Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) will agree with me that sometimes it could be very challenging to deal with the Nigerian Custom officials. I have gone through the hullaballoo experience every year in the last seven years and have a fair share of the tumultuous and disdainful encounter.
By the way, last year, I celebrated my third year of consciously and decidedly not giving any form of bribe to Nigerian Custom officials. Before then, I have had to give money to them to check-in my luggage that contain “allowable African Food” products like ground Pepper, Melon, Egusi, Crayfish. To them, I needed to “pay” to carry those items in the checked-in luggage.

As a frequent flyer, I am all too familiar with prohibited items on commercial international flights for carry-on and checked-in luggage’s. The rules for carry-on items of liquid and gel, food, guns and firearms, incendiary devices, checked baggage, sporting equipment, sharp objects are publically available either on the airline’s website or the Nigeria Customs Service’s site.

Knowing all the tricks the customs officials used to extort money from unsuspecting and na├»ve travelers, I made the decision in 2009, that I will not give money as a form of “bribe” to any Nigerian Custom official going forward. That, I thought, will be my two cents contribution toward not perpetuating bribery and corruption in Nigeria.

So, for the first time, I paid the bribe-free drive price in 2010. After five custom officials at the Lufthansa Airline desk have gone through a gruesome search of my luggage (only God knows why such a search requires five men. I think it is a waste of man power and time anyway!), they wanted me to “give them something” because one of the items was not “labeled”. I asked if I can label it right there since I have a pen on me. They indicated they have no time for that. I can either throw it away or give them “something” to carry it.

Bluntly, I told them I will prefer to throw it away because I have nothing to give to them to carry the item. My relative who was watching started pleading with me to give them something so I can “carry my thing go”. I refused and took out the product and gave it to my relative to take it back even though I spent so much money to buy the items.

That was my first bribe-free sacrifice and a promise that I have kept in the last three years even though some friends and relatives think I am crazy.

This is also the call I want to make to all Nigerian Diasporas travelling back from their vacation this year and going forward. We, as a people, cannot be clamoring to end bribery and corruption in Nigeria while we are perpetuating it ourselves by this seemingly little things. It is a simple concept: If you have no will to change it, then you have no right to criticize it! So Diasporas please STOP GIVING AIRPORT CUSTOM OFFICIALS BRIBES!

To facilitate this, I will provide some strategies I have adopted to avoid offering bribe to Nigeria Custom officials at the MMA:
1. Ensure you do not carry prohibited items. Read your airline baggage and carry-on policies or go to Nigeria Custom Service site for prohibited items and rules.
2. Arrive at the airport very early to check-in your luggage so you have time to go through the dehumanizing encounter with the custom officials. When they know you are running late, they will use delay tactics to extort you. Sometimes, they will say “we need to send you upstairs to see our boss for further processing. It will take you another 30 minutes or 1 hour for that processing; otherwise just settle us here”. So watch out when they want to play that game.
3. Make sure you label any item you carry. If necessary, use transparent plastic to wrap your items.
4. If you have a relative with you at the airport, let them stick around until you have checked in. If for any reason the custom officials come up with the game of throwing away something, simply give it to your relative to take back home.
5. Control your emotions when they speak to you unprofessionally, impolitely and condescendingly. Some lack professional training and others do it just to stir up an opportunity to get you agitated for extortion.
6. Respond with “yes sir or yes m'am” when they instruct you or ask you a question. They tend to treat you with more restrain when you display some form of sophistication and civility that is eccentric to them.
We must all pay the price to make Nigeria a better place. This requires telling the inconvenient truth and taking the pains that goes with it. Let me know of your experience with Nigeria Custom officials at MMA that you would like to share!
I wish all Nigerians home and abroad a Happy New Year. May God bless Nigerians and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Blog: www.diasporascope.com
Email: eng.p.omoruyi@gmail.com

source http://saharareporters.com/article/nigeria-diasporas-and-bribery-custom-officials-lagos-mma-paul-omoruyi

Corruption Eradication in Nigeria: An Appraisal


Introduction

Some of the things that cause poverty in Nigeria are the Nigerian ruling and business elite. The ruling elite lack the kind of philosophical and ideological vision and orientation that is committed to developing "a dream society." They have no dream beyond the satisfaction of desires. This paper examines the nature of corruption in Nigeria. 

Definition

Corruption is a social problem that has interested many scholars. Ruzindana (1999) asserts that corruption in Africa is a problem of routine deviation from established standards and norms by public officials and parties with whom they interact. He also identifisd the types of corruption in Africa as bribery, private gain,  and other benefits to non-existent workers and pensioners (called ghost workers). The dishonest and illegal behavior exhibited especially by people in authority for their personal gain is corruption. According to the ICPC Act (section 2), corruption includes vices like bribery, fraud, and other related offences. Corruption is the abuse or misuse of power or position of trust for personal or group benefit (monetary or otherwise). 
Corruption is a symptom of numerous difficulties within contemporary societies. It usually involves more than one party. It takes a form of an organized crime. At times, an organization can be established on corruption to beget corruption. Gbenga (2008) asserts that corruption is contagious. According to thfe perception index of Transparency International, Nigeria was ranked 144th out of the 146 countries, beating Bangladesh and Haiti to last position. An analysis of the anti-graft/anti-corruption laws in Nigeria shows that corruption will continue in spite of the laws because the perpetrators do not fear any consequences. It is now dawning on the Nigerian public that the so-called private enterprise and legislators are free from scrutiny, and governors claim to be immune. Corruption is found in the award of contracts, promotion of staff, dispensation of justice, and misuse of public offices, positions, and privileges, embezzlement of public funds, public books, publications, documents, valuable security, and accounts. Corruption can be systematic in nature and affect the whole life of an organization or society.

Corruption in Nigeria

John Locke outlined the doctrine of the separation of powers, indicating the danger of oppressive and arbitrary rule when all   functions of government are exercised by a single person or institution. The growing corruption in Nigeria can be traced to people holding power at the federal, state, and local government levels. Corruption does not involve just people in government, but also to people in both private and public positions and even traditional rulers .
President Olusegun Obasanjo presented a bill to the national assembly on “the prohibition and punishment of bribery, corruption, and other related offences bill of 1999”. Obasanjo's regime has certainly fired the most critical shot at corruption in Nigeria in recent times. At the federal level, it cannot be business as usual in Nigeria. Corruption has also spread to both the state and local government levels, as well as some decentralized centers of power and authority. 
Thomson (2004)  reports on the then National Electric Power Authority (NEPA): 
There were powerful views on the problems of corruption. ... You need tip them to get them to rectify a problem, said one, while some people in the focus group thought transformer were being vandalized by NEPA officials to warrant either replacement or repair of the transformer.
Within the educational sector in Nigeria, especially from secondary to  university levels, corruption is very pervasive, and most of which is not in the public eye. Corruption in education includes: 

Corrupt Practices by Parents of Students

Parents are known to have used  unorthodox means to influence their children's or wards' admission to federal government secondary schools, commonly referred to as unity schools. A high JAMB score is critical for admission in to the university in Nigeria, and this has led to cheating by some students and parents. There are expensive coaching centers that charge exorbitant fees to guarantee a minimum score of 300 in the JAMB score, which is been orchestrated by coaching centers through aiding and abetting cheating in the JAMB examination with the connivance of JAMB officials. 

Corrupt Practices by Lecturers

Within the university system, some students resort to "sorting" (finding ways of purchasing of high and unmerited mark from a lecturer in order to enhance the grade in their final examination.) Such students will then say they have gone into the university and having what they not work for. Lecturers and students print fake receipts, which they use in collecting school fees, and some unsuspecting students are usually discovered by the audit department.

Corrupt Practice by Police

It has been alleged that some unscruplous officers rent firearms to criminals who use them to harass the public and engage in highway robberies.  The police are also alleged to be collecting an unauthorized fee before granting bail to anyone who is arrested. Some police in traffic control collect a graduated illegal charge on all operators of inter- and intra-city. Some tax officials are alleged to be using two types of receipts to collect revenue. Once receipt is the original, and hence genuine, while the second is usually a false one for the collector.s private use, thus depriving government of its legitimate revenue (Bello Iman 2005)

Causes of Corruption in Nigeria

With unchecked, unbridled, and uncontrolled, power, humans become corrupt. According to Thomas Hobbes, “life becomes solitary, nasty, brutish, and short." Our previous colonial background has been identified by scholars. Our colonial heritage has  altered our values and perception of morality; some of the causes of corruption are: 
  • Trade Restriction. This is Government-induced source of rent a seeking/corruption. The restriction on importation of foreign automobiles are examples of how government officials and politicians can make quick money via rent seeking/corruption. 
  • Government subsidies. When government allocates scarce recourses to individuals and firms using legal criteria other than the ability or willingness to pay, corruption is likely to be the result. Corruption can thrive under industrial policies that allow poorly-targeted subsidies to be appropriated by firms for which they are not intended.
  • Price controls. The purpose is to lower the price of some goods below market value. For social and political reason, these are also a source of corruption.
  • Low wages in civil service. When public wages are low, public servants may be compelled to use their official positions to collect bribes as a way of making ends meet, particularly when the chances of being caught are low.
  • Sociological factors. Muilti-ethnic societies may be more likely to fall prey to corruption as a result of failure to manage ethnic conflict in a way that is fair to everyone.

Effect of Corruption on Nation-Building

Many have noted the effects of corruption on nation-building. Development scholars observe this effect. Corruption has an adverse effect on social and economic development and also in building a nation. The effects include: 
  • Diversion of development resources for private gain
  • Misallocation of talent
  • Lost tax revenue
  • Negative impact on quality of infrastructure and public services
  • Slowing of economic growth.

Role of Law Enforcement in Combating Corruption

Before President Olusegun Obasanjo's regime, the police and some related agencies were the only ones fighting corruption. When Obasanjo became president in 1999, the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) were put in place, they have dealt seriously with the pandemic situation. The EFCC and ICPC have a number of roles in fighting corruption in Nigeria.  The ICPC is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.  The EFCC collaborates with international and local agencies.

Solutions

In order to prevent corruption from happening at all, Nigerian should emphasis transparency, integrity, and accountability in all their private and public transaction. There Achanism Model is named for Achan who appears in the Old Testament of the Bible. Achan in the scripture was avaricious (Joshua 7). He was caught and his entire family was severely dealt with. His children, who might have expected to inherit the proceeds of his illegal act were not allowed to do so. The solution is as follows:
  •  Social Transformation. Rransformation in education of the public is a necessary factor in social transformation. There is need for formation and reformation, orientation and re-orientation of the minds and heart of Nigerians, for them to  see that corruption is the enemy of development.
  • Enforcement of Anti-Corruption Law. The law should be enforced to its fullest and without fear and favor.
  • Improvement of Sociopolitical and Economic Life. This is another weapon against corruption in Nigeria. The multiplying effects of this improvement will reduce the tendency of public servants to demand and take bribes and get involved in other corrupt practices. 

Conclusion

Corruption in Nigeria is systematic, and to address the problem a systematic approach is needed. To curb and eventually eradicate corruption, children, youth, and adults must be given the power to distinguish right from wrong. All schools should return to the teaching of moral education to empower children with the spirit of stewardship, while adults live exemplary lives, reflecting truth, kindness, dignity of labour, and integrity. Permit me to conclude with this popular Yoruba moral song on corruption. 
1. Kini ni no fole se laye timo wa (2x)
Laye ti mo wa kaka kin jale
Kaka kin jale makuku deru.
Kini ni no fole se laye timo wa.
2. Eni to jale adele ejo (2x)
Adajo awa fewon si lese
Fewon si lese bi olugbe
Eni to jale Adele ejo
3. Aye ema fole segbe ti moni (2x)
Egbe ti moni ewon ko sun won
Ewon ko sun won fomoluwabi
Aye ema fole segbe ti mo ni.
4. Oluwa ma fole segbe ti mo ni (2x)
Egbe ti mo ni kaka kin jale
Kaka kojale bo ba ku to
Aye ema fole s’gbe ti mo ni.
5. Beni to jaleba Lola laye(2x)
Balola laye kole rorun wo
Kole rorun wo bolojo bade
Beni to jale Balola laye.

The condition of peace of mind is contentment.  Thirst for ease of mind. Get satisfaction, be placed with what you have changed to grow, and serve our nation, for God’s sake. Look to see the miseries and damages of graft. Listen today to learn and beautify your society

References

I.B. Bello-Imam (2005).The war against corruption in Nigeria: Prospects and problems.
The Guardian Newspaper. "EFCC; ICPC, record average performance, says poll. April 7 page 13 
Olusegun Obasanjo (1990). Inaugural Address, "Was a new dawn delivered on May 29." 
Hassan A. Saliu, Ayodele, et al. (2006). The National Question and Some Selected Topics and Issues in Nigeria. 
Lai Olurode, et al. Poverty, corruption, social policy and social development
Haralambous and Horbon (2004). Themes and Perspectives in Sociology. 6th Ed.

Dissertations

Dr (Mrs.); E.A Ogunsanya; (2006). A paper presented on social implication of graft in Nigeria polity Christian, Muslim, and traditional belief(practical orientation) 
Isaac A. Olomolaiye ;( 2006). Application of anti-graft act to the private sector: Implication for management and ethics. 
Ajayi, Vincent (2006). Sociology of bribery and corruption in Nigerian society

Source: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/ayobami.htm