Monday, 29 April 2013

ACP dismissed for extorting N21.6m from police sergeants

Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar
The Police Service Commission has dismissed an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Fausat Oduwole for extorting  N21.6m from police sergeants who wrote promotion examinations in one of the police colleges in the country.
Oduwole, who was dismissed by the commission at its 35th plenary meeting in Abuja on April 3,2013 was found to have collected the illegal levy from the police officers to enable them to get promotion.
The commission’s axe also fell on Chief Superintendent of Police, Olusegun Fabunmi, who shot dead one Ademola Aderinto at Yaya Abatan Street,Ogba, Lagos during the fuel subsidy protest in January 2012.
Fabunmi, the Divisional Police Officer, Pen Cinema,’ Police Division was dismissed from the Force for acts unbecoming of a senior police officer.
The former DPO is being prosecuted for murder by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender at a Lagos High Court.
Other officers that were sacked by the PSC commissioners whose tenure ended on April 11, included  a Superintendent, an Assistant Superintendent,  and a Deputy Superintendent of Police for acts unbecoming of senior police officers.
Chief Information Officer of the PSC, Ferdinand Ekpe, confirmed to our correspondent on Wednesday that Oduwole and Fabunmi were among the officers that were sanctioned by the commission.
Meanwhile, there were indications on Wednesday that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has opposed request by the Bayelsa State Police Command  to conduct a mass burial for the 12 policemen killed by gunmen in the state two weeks ago.
Our correspondent gathered that some senior police officers in the command had advised that the policemen should be given a mass burial since their remains were burnt beyond recognition.
But Abubakar was said to have kicked against the idea, insisting that a medical examination must be conducted on the mutilated bodies to ascertain their identities.
A senior police officer told our correspondent that the IG had already sent a team of qualified pathologists to conduct the examination.
The officer, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the medical team was headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
“The IG has ordered medical investigations to know the identities of persons killed by the gunmen. The IG is against burying them in a  mass grave despite the fact that  their bodies were burnt beyond recognition,” the source said.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, said the command had insisted that the victims deserved a befitting burial.
Akhigbe in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said, “I am in Uyo for a programme. But before I left arrangements were on top gear to receive the pathologists. I don’t know whether they have come.”

Ex-minister misappropriated N3bn contract fund –EFCC

Ibrahim Larmorde
An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Chike Nwibe, on Wednesday told the Federal High Court, Abuja that a former Works Minister, Hassan Lawal, misappropriated N6.4bn for Brutu and Bagana bridges contracts.
The EFCC, on May 11, 2011, had arraigned Lawal, alongside 14 others, for alleged fraudulent award of contracts, money laundering and embezzlement of funds for projects in Kogi and Nasarawa states.
Lawal is standing trial on charges of  N24.3bn contract scam.
Charged with him are Adeogba Ademola, Digital Toll Company Ltd; Swede Control Interlink Ltd; Proman Vital Ventures Ltd; Nairda Ltd; Siraj Nigeria Ltd; and Wise Health Services Ltd.
Others are Dave Enejoh, Okala Yakubu, Thahal Paul, George Elzogbi, Abbey Ayodele and GIS Transport Ltd.
Nwibe, during cross-examination, said an investigation carried out by the EFCC showed that N6.4bn was the actual figure received by the contractors of the N24.3bn contract sum.
He alleged that of the figure, Lawal authorised the payment of N3bn in 2009.
He said, “I do not think it is correct to say that payment of  over N4.5bn was made before 2009 when Lawal became a minister.
“We went on-the-spot assessment of the contract site and found that the extent of work was not commensurate with the amount paid.
“The work done was about 30 per cent of the sum collected. The assessment was based on our projection and according to experts.”

Thursday, 25 April 2013


By Hajia Sani
Corruption is a global phenomenon, widely defined as the abuse of public office for private gain. It is a malaise that has contempt for due process and the rule of law, distorts the allocation of resources, undermines competition in the market place and has a devastating effect on investment, growth and development. 

Essentially, corruption denies citizens, especially the poor, access to vital basic services and erodes public confidence in political institutions. To varying degrees, a few countries have successfully managed to keep corruption in-check but the phenomenon continues to be a serious challenge in all countries, particularly in developing ones.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2002, Nigeria was ranked as the most corrupt country in the world. Although Nigeria contested the controversial rating, it however strengthened its existing anti-corruption machinery. In recognition of Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusade, it was ranked one hundred and thirtieth on the Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Nigeria instituted a comprehensive anti-corruption reform programme that emphasises fiscal, structural and institutional governance reforms, with the aim of improving transparency and tackling corruption. The reforms include the review of the public procurement process and institution of the due process mechanism in the award of public contracts.

It also involves the empowerment of a long list of anti-corruption agencies and establishments, like the Technical Unit on Governance & Anti-Corruption Reforms; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Bureau of Public Procurement; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Code of Conduct Bureau; Public Complaints Commission and the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, among others. While the large number of anti-corruption agencies and the increasing number of convictions secured have boosted awareness of the problem, it has not served as a deterrent.
An inter-agency task team of these anti-corruption agencies, set up in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ensures collaboration and co-operation amongst the various agencies. In addition, Nigeria is a signatory to several international conventions including the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AU Convention) and ECOWAS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption. The country also works with several development partners including the Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the European Union and several others.

Internally, the country has embarked on several legislations to strengthen and bridge the gaps in the implementation of its anti-corruption and due process crusade. The Freedom of Information Bill, the Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Bill are all pending before the National Assembly for passage into law.

Furthermore, a working group has been set up by the Ministry of Justice to draft a Witness Protection Bill in collaboration with other relevant agencies, to ensure protection for witnesses and Whistle-blowers.
Now that necessary legislations have been put in place, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the process takes roots and become a way of life. Government must also ensure that corrupt officials are brought to book to serve as deterrent to others.  

Corruption in Nigeria: A New Paradigm for Effective Control

Causes of Corruption
The causes of corruption are myriad, and they have political and cultural variables. Some studies point to a link between ‘corruption and social diversity, ethno-linguistic fractionalization, and the proportions of country’s population adhering to different religious traditions’ (Lipset and Lenz, 2000). Yet, other studies note that corruption is widespread in most non-democratic countries and particularly in countries that have been branded ‘neo-patrimonial,’ ‘kleptocratic’ and ‘prebendal’ (Hope, et. al (eds.) 2000; Lewis, 1996; also see NORAD 2000). Thus the political system and the culture of a society could make the citizens more prone to corrupt activities.
Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to relieve some of its officials of their posts recently because they were corrupt. And it was not too long ago that all the commissioners of the European Union (EU) resigned because they, too, were found to be corrupt beyond acceptable limits. And quite recently, the Enron Corporation (energy giant) and World-Com (a telecommunication company) in the United States were perceived corrupt because they ‘manipulated their balanced sheets, profit and loss account and tax liabilities.’ And Arthur Andersen (Enron’s accountant) collapsed for greed and fraud, as it was charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the Enron probe (Reuters: June 27, 2002; The Observer (UK), June 9, 2002). These developments could be attributed to the culture and capitalistic nature of the society that would dollarize everything and places high premium on profit-maximization.
For Bryce (1921), the fundamental factors that engender corrupt practices in less developed nations include:
ii) Political office as the primary means of gaining accesses to wealth;
iii) Conflict between changing moral codes;
iv) The weakness of social and governmental enforcement mechanisms; and
v) The absence of a strong sense of national community
) Great inequality in distribution of wealth;
From the foreground it is evident that corruption is not peculiar to Nigeria, but it is a viable enterprise in the society. However, the causes of corruption in Nigeria may not deviate significantly (if at all) from the above factors. But some of the factors unique to the Nigerian situation include:
Obsession with materialism and compulsion for shortcut to affluence: Nigerians would like to be identified by their material possession. They talk about the kind of, or how many cars they own; how big their house is, and the number of traditional (and academic) titles are appended to their name, irrespective of how those things are acquired. Thus, many people in the society would not like to go full length to earn what they want -material or otherwise -but would prefer the dubious shortcut to affluence. Unfortunately, one of the popular indices of good life in Nigeria has become flamboyant affluence and conspicuous consumption (Ndiulor, March 17, 1999). The ‘brazen display of wealth by public officials’ they are unable to explain the source, points to how bad corruption has reached in the society. Many of these officials lived on modest income before being elected or appointed into political offices (ThisDay, June 24, 2002).
Glorification and approbation of ill-gotten wealth by the general public: Many people in the society (even the churches) do not any longer care about how people acquire their wealth. The society often worships and shower praises on known crooks that make jumbo donations to communities (local churches), and ridicule the honest and so rich that does not spray money on sycophants. Sadly, some communities would even decorate these crooks with countless traditional titles. Thus hard work is not recognized and adequately rewarded, but crooks are often glorified in Nigeria (Dike, May 15, 2003).
The society’s weird value system is a big problem. As Schlesinger said of United States in the 1960s, "Our [the] trouble [with Nigeria] is not that our capabilities are inadequate. It is that our priorities –which means our values -are wrong" (Howard (ed.) 1982). And with the zeal to get rich quick, some individuals get into dubious activities, including 'committing ritual murders for money-making.' Cases of ritual murders abound in Nigeria, but few examples will suffice. Recently, a middle-aged woman and an SSS3 (junior high school) female student were reportedly beheaded in Akure, the Ondo State capital (ThisDay News, July 7, 2002). And the case of Chief Vincent Duru -'Otokoto'- (a well-known proprietor of 'Otokoto' hotel in Owerri, Imo State) is still fresh in memory. Chief Vincent Duru (Otokoto) was arrested in 1996 for killing and selling the body parts (some of which were travelers that checked into his hotel). And not too long ago, another incident of ritual killing was reported in the area (Ogugbuaja, May 16, 2002).
Moral laxity: Some people engage in the Advanced Fee Fraud Scheme -‘419’ scam- to make quick money (even if it involves taking innocent lives). According to one who has lived in Nigeria, becoming corrupt in Nigeria is almost unavoidable, because morality is relaxed. This is because people struggle for survival without assistance from the state –government (Moore, 1997; Dike 2001 & Nov 20, 2003).
Lack of ethical standards. This is a serious problem throughout the agencies of government and business organizations. Many officeholders do not have a clear conception of the ethical demands of their position, and little attention, if any, is being given to this ideal. They often steal and rob to make accumulate wealth. Ethics is action, the way we practice our values, and a guidance system used in making decisions. And the issue of ethics in public sector [and in private life] encompasses a broad range, including a stress on obedience to authority, on the necessity of logic in moral reasoning, and on the necessity of putting moral judgement into practice (Bowman 1991).
Poor reward systems: Poor reward system and greed are other factors that cause corruption in Nigeria. Reward system in Nigeria is probably the poorest in the world; workers are not paid living wages (and not paid when due). There are not effective retirement program and social security benefits to see them through their unproductive years. Consequently, many of them are not happy, honest, law-abiding and productive, as they cut corners to make ends meet. There are many problems in Nigeria but that which involves non-payment or late payment of workers) for months is very difficult to understand (Dike, Feb 28, 2003).
Peer pressure and extended family system and ‘polygamous household’ are other factors (Onalaja, et .al 1997). The influence of extended family system and pressure to meet family obligations are more in less developed societies. However, the system is both good and bad. Individuals may get assistance from their extended families in time of need and are obligated to provide for them also. One could become bankrupt in an effort to help a family member. Thus, Harrison (1985) acknowledged that the extended family system, though it "is an effective institution for survival" posses a big "obstacle for development."
Strong family value: Related to the influence of extended family pressure is a strong family value. Banfield (1958) shows a relationship corruption and strong family orientation. The study, which helped to explain high levels of corruption in southern Italy and Sicily, notes that "Corruption is linked to the strong family values involving intense feelings of obligation." That was the case with the Mafia in Italy where there was the attitude of "anything goes that advances the interests of one’s self and family."
Ineffective taxing and records keeping systems: Nigeria does not have an effective taxing and records keeping system to keep track of people’s sources of income, like the end-of-the-year income tax filing system in the United States. (The society should consider setting up such a system). However, Lotterman (April 25, 2002), who noted that bad rules breed corruption, acknowledged that ‘ineffective taxing system’ makes it difficult for societies to track down people’s financial activities.
Bad policy and poor control mechanism: The ban on the importation of Tokumbo (used car) over 8 years of manufacture is an example of a bad policy is one of such policies that could lead to corrupt activities. (The importation policy was limited to cars over 5 years old, but the Federal Government later reviewed the policy due to public pressure). Business organizations could bribe custom officials to allow them bring in such category of cars into the country. The policy, which is anti-business, could affect the economy and government’s tax revenue, because such businesses could be diverted to neighboring countries. And those making a living on such businesses would be exposed to poverty and corruption (Vanguard, June 4, 2002).
Inefficient checks and balances (poor control mechanism) to track down and punish criminal behavior. Recently, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) reported that Nigeria’s banks recorded the disappearance of almost $10m through employee fraud in 2002 (BBC: May 22, 2003). This type of fraud does not occur only in Nigeria, but the unique thing about Nigeria is that such crimes (forgeries) often go undetected because of poor control mechanism.
Attitude of officials and lack of discipline on those holding power: The lukewarm attitude of officers enforcing the laws (judges, police and other public officials) lead to corrupt behavior, especially if one gets away with the criminal behavior. And Members of Congress in Nigeria engage in corrupt activities because of the absence of effective sanctions. Some of them are even involved in the ‘419 scam.’ For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), recently arrested a Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Mr. Maurice Ibekwe (who was re-elected in the just concluded 2003 elections), "for allegedly obtaining $300,000 and 75,000DM under false pretense" from a German national. As many critics have noted, this kind of behavior works against the efforts of many honest and genuine businessmen and women and ‘foreign capital inflow’ into Nigeria (Ushigiale, May 30, 2003).
Some unscrupulous police (public) officers would allow criminal activities to occur when they are ‘settled.’ This culture has tarnished the image of the Police in the society. As noted earlier, this type of behavior is caused by cultural and institutional factors. In addition, nepotism and strength of family values, which are linked to the feeling of obligation, would cause an individual to bend the law to favor ones close relative. Merton (1968) acknowledges the relationship between culture and corruption. The "means-ends schema" noted in the study implies that corruption is at times a motivated behavior responding to social pressures to violate the norms, so as to meet the set goals and objectives of a social system (and family values).
Lack of economic opportunity: This is a serious problem in Nigeria, a society whose citizens are achieve-ment oriented, but have relatively low access to economic opportunities. As mentioned earlier many civil servants in Nigeria work for months without getting paid (ThisDay, July 7, 2002; Daily Trust, July 9, 2002). The society is place where payment of workers makes news headline, as some Governors would list payment of workers ‘as one of their achievements’ while in office. Many of the employers and managers of labor in the society are ignorant of the fact that salary is not negotiable at the end of each month’s work. Can you imagine a person working for many months without pay? And many of these are parents who have their children in schools (Osadolor, June 4, 2003). And a good number of the youth are also unemployed in the culture that stresses material wealth as a measure of success. Under these circumstances, those denied access to economic opportunity would reject societal norms and criminally innovate to make ends meet. This probably explains the reasons for the upsurge of corrupt behaviors in Nigeria.
Toward this, Lipset and Lenze (2000) therefore note, that the cultures or societies "that stress economic success as an important goal but nevertheless strongly restricts access to opportunities will have higher levels of corruption." Thus those going through corrupt means to achieve their objectives could have little or no access to opportunity structure. (The hindrance to economic opportunity could be a result of their race, ethnicity, lack of skills, capital, material and other human resources.)
Thus lack of social justice (or distributive justice) and human right abuse lead to violence and corrupt behavior, as has been witnessed in the Niger Delta area where the people are denied access and control over the resources in their communities for community development programs. They are made poor in the mist of plenty; and this has obviously pushed them to violence and destructive behaviors.
Every cause has an effect. However, since it is impossible to catalog all the factors that cause corruption, let’s identify some of the consequences of corruption in Nigeria (and other societies).
Effects of Corruption
Studies have documented the myriad negative impacts of corruption on the sociopolitical and economic development of societies (Mauro 1995 and 1997; Lipset and Lenz 2000; Sen 2000). It has been noted that corruption causes a reduction in quality and quantity of goods and services available to the public, as companies would cut corners or hoard goods to increase profit margins. The NNPC and oil marketers, etc, in Nigeria are involved in many crooked activities to create artificial fuel scarcity to push up prizes. Thus, corruption effects investment, economic growth and government expenditure choices; it also reduces private investment (Mauro 1997). Despite the immoral aspect and pernicious effects of corruption, some scholars have argued that corruption could be beneficial to political development or "political modernization" (Pye, March 1965). Gluckman (1955) noted that scandals associated with corruption sometimes have the effect of strengthening a value system of a society as a whole. This is probably true in relation to Nigeria, where scandals associated with the General Sani Abacha’s pillage of the treasury gave the nation some food for thought. However, Nigeria has not been able to strengthen its essential structures, because fraud and corruption are still rampant in government. 
However, some studies have shown that corruption may help to ease the transition from traditional life to a modern political life. Thus, the vast gap between literate official and illiterate peasant, which is often characteristic of the countryside, may be bridged if the peasant approaches the official bearing their traditional gifts (or corrupt) money equivalent. Toward this, McMullan (July 1961) points out that "a degree of low-level corruption" can 'soften relations of officials and people.' And as Shils (1962) noted corruption could 'humanize government and make it less awesome.' These observations are common occurrences in Nigeria where communities pay political visits to the President, Ministers, Governors, Commissioners, Local Government Chairmen, and top civil servants (with cows, wines, cola nuts and ‘Ghana must go’ bags) in other to get them attend to their local problems.
Notwithstanding the apparent benefits of corruption, any person living in Nigeria where ubiquitous corruption has ravaged the society would find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept that corruption is beneficial, no matter how plausible it might be. Therefore, this paper concentrates on the negative impacts of corruption on societies (and Nigeria in particular).
Corruption negatively impacts economic growth. According to Lipset and Lenz (2002), its effect on growth is in part, as a result of reduced level of investment, as corruption adds to investment risk. Corruption reduces public spending on education (Mauro 1997 and 1995). And the effect of corruption on education comes from the fact that governments spend relatively more on items to make room for "graft" (Shleifer & Vishny, 1993; Lipset & Lenz, 2002).
The effect of corruption on education is well stated in a statement made by Nicholas Costello (November/ December 2001) at a European Commission (EC) meeting to support Nigeria’s anti-poverty efforts. He was reported to have said, "Nigeria has enough money to tackle its poverty challenges. If the government can win this [its] battle against corruption and mismanagement, the money will start to turn into functioning schools, health services and water supply, thus laying the foundation to eradicate poverty" (Dike, May 27, 2003). And it has also been argued that the ‘mismanagement of public funds’ and not paucity of funds that the federal government often claims, is the main cause of the inability of the government to adequately fund the nation’s tertiary institutions (Obasi, May 22, 2003).
Corruption impacts negatively on government expenditure, because corrupt government officials would shift government expenditures to areas in which they could collect bribes easily. Unfortunately, this makes large and hard-to-manage projects, such as airports or highways or ‘large, high-cost capital intensive projects’ easy prey to frauds (Cooksey 1999). This is probably one of the reasons many development projects are often made unnecessarily complex in Nigeria to justify the corrupt and huge expense on it. The new national stadium in Abuja, which was said to have gulped millions of Naira more than necessary, is a case in point. Also, some studies have tied poverty and income inequalities to corruption (Lipset & Lenz 2000, and Cooksey 1999). In particular Cooksey (1999) notes that corruption ‘reduces the size’ of a nation’s ‘economic cake’ thereby exposing some ‘segments of the population to poverty.’
Corruption has taught the Nigerian society a wrong lesson that it does not pay to be honest, hardworking and law-abiding. This is because through corrupt means many political office holders have acquired wealth and properties in and outside Nigeria and display their ill-gotten wealth without the society blinking. This has, unfortunately, made politics a big business (a do or die affair) in the society, because anything spent to secure a political office is regarded as an investment that matures immediately one gets into office.
According to Haijia Aisha Ismail (former Minister of Women Affairs and Youth Development) in a report in ThisDay of July 7, 2002, corruption and immorality are among the causes of injustice against women. Thus, human trafficking (children and women), which is a corrupt behavior, is one of the ways to lure women and children into prostitution and slavery.
Corruption wastes skills, as precious time is often wasted to set up chains of committees to fight corruption, and monitor public projects, which are often abandoned by contractors in collaboration with some unscru-pulous politicians. Nigeria has unending chains of corruption-fighting commissions, including the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) the Police, Central Bank and the Court of Justice, etc. But none of them, as ThisDay of May 22, 2003 reported, has the will to fight corruption, because some of the officers are themselves corrupt. Corruption leads to ‘aid abuse’ or aid foregone (Hope, et. al., 2000). It was reported recently by Rueters (April 7, 2002) that the funds (about 20 million euros -about $17.5million) donated by the European Union (EU) for polio eradication program in Nigeria was missing. The report noted that the director of Nigeria’s polio eradication campaign placed the funds in an account at Hallmark Bank (a foreign bank) to yield her some interests for personal use. This is not surprising, because it is a common practice in the society.
However, foreign donors are now in the habit of withholding aid to corrupt nations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have now introduced tougher anti-corruption standards into its lending policies’ to corrupt countries. Similarly, Council of Europe and the Organization of American States are taking tough measures against international corruption (OECD, December 1997).
Corruption is politically destabilizing, as it leads to social revolution and military takeovers. Most "post-coup rationalizations" in less developed worlds point to corruption. The General Muhammadu Buhari's post-coup broadcast to Nigerians in 1983 is a case in point (Welch, Jr., 1987).
Bribery and corruption create the culture of late payment, delays and refusal to pay for services already executed in Nigeria. Sadly, those who fail to pay companies for services done seem to forget that the "life blood of any company is its cash flow" (Daily Trust, July 9, 2002). This type of behavior scares away investors and retards economic growth and jobs creation and exacerbate the poverty profile of the society. Therefore, because of the widespread of "petty" and "grand" the international business community regards Nigeria (and other African nations) as "sinkhole that swallows their money with little or no return" (Callaghy 1994).
Thus corruption discourages honest effort and valuable economic activities, and breeds inefficiency and nepotism. It leads to ‘information distortion’ as it ‘cooks the books;’ and ‘a high level of corruption can make public policies ineffective’ (Sen 1999; see Hall (Reuters) on the WorldCom scandal, June 27, 2002). Corruption tarnishes the image of a nation. Perhaps, Nigeria suffers more than most societies from an appalling international image created by its inability to deal with bribery and corruption.
For instance, the 1996 Study of Corruption by the Transparency International and Goettingen University ranked Nigeria as the most corrupt nation among the 54 nations on the study, with Pakistan as the second highest (Moore 1997). In the 1998 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) survey of 85 countries, Nigeria was ranked 81 (Lipset and Lenz 2000). Worse still, in the 2001 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), the ranking and image of Nigeria slipped further south, as it was ranked 90 out of the 91 countries studied (second most corrupt nation in the world) with Bangladesh coming first (Table A).
Corruption Index Report (2001)
New Zealand
South Africa
The Netherlands
Costa Rica
South Korea
United Kingdom
Cote d’Ivoire
Hong Kong
United States
Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
El Salvador
Dominican Republic
Trinidad & Tobago
Nevertheless, corruption leads to slow traffic, potholed and trash-filled roads and streets. In fact, because of the dangers posed by pot-holed roads and unhygienic nature of the streets in the society, they should have signs that read "Stay Out and Stay Alive." However, Police extortion and port congestion, queues at pass-port offices and gas stations are common. Ghost worker-syndrome and dirty public toilets at the airports; constantly power failure; dry water fountains; certificate racketing, as well as examination malpractice are the order of the day in the society. In addition, corruption leads to rigging of elections and political assassinations. Political killings and other election irregularities were rampant during the 2003 elections (Shekarau, March 6, 2003). And as rightly noted by Abdulkarim in the Daily Trust of March 19, 2003, every government in Nigeria (both military and civilian) claim that ‘it would fight corruption’ yet bribery and corruption affects every facet of the Nigerian society.
The above insight was reflected in the 293-page Jan 10, 2003 audit report prepared by the acting Auditor-General, Mr. Vincent Azie and his group in which the executive, legislative and judiciary branch (among other agencies) were indicted for ‘improper accounting practices’ including over-invoicing and payment for unexecuted projects. Unfortunately, instead of the presidency to appreciate the good work done by Mr. Azie (and because truth is always naked and bitter) the President and his team fired him. (See the Daily Independent of Jan 13, 2003 and Feb 26, 2003, and Ugwuanyi, in Vanguard of Feb 21, 2003). If the federal government takes its so-called anti-corruption crusade seriously, it would have endorsed the Auditor-General’s report. Toward this, the World Bank has faulted the nations weak auditing system in the public sector, which encourages diversion, waste and misuse of public funds (Anyikwa, June 3, 2003). Thus, to show any seriousness in its avowed crusade against corruption the government must ‘reform its internal audit’ system and institute serious preventive policy measures and prosecutes culprits.
Corruption could upset ethnic balance and exacerbates problems of national integration. For instance, if a corrupt but popular ethnic leader is replaced in his or her position, it 'may upset ethnic arithmetic' and the cohorts may revolt. The social brawl following the Chief Moshood Abiola's June 12, 1993 elections rebuff is one of the many cases dotting Nigeria's political landscape. Southerners (his ethnic Yoruba from the SouthWest geo-political zone) rioted, as they felt that the northern oligarchy mistreated them. Similarly, some politicians from the northern part of the country ignored the atrocities committed by Generals Buhari and Babangida during their regime (and they refused to testify before the Oputa Human Rights Panel), because they perceived them as their ‘home boys.’ And any attempt to bring them to justice would lead their cronies to riot and possibly take innocent lives. In fact, corruption could be attributed to the spate of social conflicts that engulfed the most part of the first civilian administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Corruption is destructive of governmental structures and capacity, destroys the legitimacy of a government, and makes governance ineffective. The Shehu Shagari administration (second republic) was written off as inept because of the magnitude of corruption and its lack of policy direction (Suberu 1994). And the first civilian administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was also tinted with corruption. TheNEWS of July 11, 1999 in ‘The Face of a Liar’ broke the news of the "forgery" and "perjury" committed by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, which put in disrepute the nation’s National Assembly. The removal of Chief Evan Enwerem and Dr. Chuba Okadigbo as Senate Presidents and the mouth-watering furniture and car allowances the Congress appropriated to its members. The N120 million scandals between Chief Anyim Pius Anyim (Senate President) and Chief Audu Ogbe (the PDP National Chairman; the N300 million Senate scandals, which Senator Arthur Nzeribe admitted, were shared by 84 senators to squash the impeachment move against Chief Obasanjo. And the news of the missing N2.459 billion in the House of Representatives, are some of the scandals that doted Nigeria’s political landscape during the first civilian rule of Chief Obasanjo (Dike, November 28, 2002).
All these happened despite Chief Obasanjo avowed campaign to transform Nigeria into a corruption-free society (see Obasanjo's Inaugural Speech, May 29, 1999). Again, during his May 29, 2003 inaugural speech at the Eagle Square, the President assured the nation of his renewed determination "to fight this evil [corruption] to a standstill" and "eliminate all forms of electoral mal-practices" (The Guardian, May 30, 2003). But can President Obasanjo deliver this time?
Corruption may alienate modern-oriented civil servants and cause them reduce (or withdraw) their service and to leave a country. Therefore, has been blamed for the 'brain drain' phenomenon in Nigeria (talented professionals leaving the country in search of employment some where else). And this trend will hardly reverse until the society learns to appreciate and adequately compensate its skilled workers. However, you can hardly enter an office in Nigeria and get your 'file signed except you drop' some money. Thus, the menace of corruption leads to slow movement of files in offices; but the "missing files" would "resurface immediately the desk officer is settled." Thus, corruption leads to unnecessary bureaucracy and "delays until fees are paid" (Oloja, April 21, 2002). Worse still, the security personnel at the door of offices would ask for ‘something’ ‘dash’ or tips?
With all this baggage, will it be possible for Nigeria to ameliorate the scourge of corruption? If so, what can the society do? This paper, however, has some suggestions on how to effectively control the menace in the society.For Effective Control of Corruption
Some human ailments would require good doses of medicine to be treated, and others could require a mere counseling. Corruption, which has defied all the remedies, would require more effective ‘medicines’ to be controlled, because it has been ingrained into the fabric of the society. However, Nigeria is said to have, in theory, most of the solutions to tackle corruption, but like other issues bedeviling the nation (such as poverty), implementations of the laws are the ‘Achilles heel’ of the society. Another problem with fighting corruption in Nigeria is that those wagging the corruption-wars are themselves corrupt.
The Nigerian people are not making the campaign any earlier, as it is difficult for many of them to change their pro-corruption behavior. In an apparent effort at turning Nigeria into a corruption-free society, the nation has tried the Judicial Commissions, the Code of Conduct Bureau, and Public Complaints Commi-ssion without success. It has fiddled with the Mass Mobilization for Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) and the National Open Apprenticeship (NOA), but corruption instead blossomed. And General Muhammadu Buhari clobbered Nigerians with horsewhip (branded the War Against Indiscipline Council), but nothing was achieved. And the Police that are supposed to lead the war are themselves ‘as corrupt as parrot.’
The current civilian administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has constituted Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to fight money laundering, and an Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), which seems to have power only over the corrupt poor. While the Justice Oputa Panel and the Justice Akambi commission were cruising around the cities interrogating the poor involved in ‘petty thefts’ powerful politicians and well known corrupt ex-military Generals who committed ‘grand thefts’ were busy politicking clutching huge Ghana-must-go bags unperturbed for the 2003 elections. The ex-military Generals who were invited to the Oputa Panel refused to appear, and are now trying to stop Chief Obasanjo administration from implementing the Panel’s recommendations. To win the war on corruption, Obasanjo’s slogan of ‘no sacred cows’ should be put into practice by prosecuting all the known corrupt political ‘heavy weights’ in the society, as they contribute immensely in making the nation’s laws inoperable. Thus, corruption, which is currently a high-profile issue, was rampant during the first civilian administration of Chief Obasanjo, because those holding political power were (and still are) the main culprits. Therfore, there is a dangerous mixture of celebrity and corruption in the society.
As Kanu Agabi (former Attorney General and Minister of Justice) in the first civilian administration of Chief Obasanjo noted at a meeting with State Commissioners of Police:
‘Some of our leaders are doing everything they can to make the work of the police impossible. Big men are the greatest criminals and except you go after the big criminals and bring them to book, the rate of crime may not reduce. [But] If you bring three or four of these big men to book, the rate of criminal activities would reduce." He declared, "Arrest ministers, arrest [the] big people and others would fear’ (Vanguard, 30th March 2002).
If his Attorney General has such a brilliant idea, why did Chief Obasanjo strike a deal with the family of General Abacha, instead of showing an example with them? According to Dan-Ali (BBC News) of May 20, 2002, the agreement would allow the Abacha family to keep about $100 million (part of the loot) and to return about $1 billion to the federal government. The ‘financial deal struck’ made a mockery of the much-lauded war against corruption in Nigeria. It would encourage the many political opportunists in the society to grab whatever funds they could lay hands on, since the State would allow them to keep a part of it when (and if) they are caught. More importantly, the deal showed that Chief Obasanjo has not the political will to fight corruption. In fact, one of the authors whose work was reviewed noted that one of the reasons the measures against corruption have not worked is that they have "operated at a level [of mere] symbolism" (Osoba 1996). Currently, the ICPC has its bait in the water, but so far it has not landed any ‘big fish.’ Or, has it caught any fish at all? How far this Commission could go to sanitize the already corruption-infested society remains to be seen.
Any society faced with the challenge of corruption would continue to find ways and means to break the circle. This author has argued elsewhere that Nigeria cannot effectively control the menace of corruption by merely instituting probe panels (Dike, Oct 6, 1999). To tame the scourge of corruption in Nigeria and improve governance, the general population must be re-educated and re-orientated to a better social value system, because Nigerians have been living on the ‘survival of the fittest’ and grab-whatever-comes-your-way mentality since they have under the claws of the military. Lack of adequate rewards for good skills and honest efforts are among the reasons for the upsurge of corruption in the society. Thus, the society worships and rewards crooks that spray money around without minding the sources (Dike, Feb 5, 2002 & May 15, 2003).
To effectively control corruption in Nigeria, adherence to ‘ethical standards’ in decision-making must be the foundation of the nation’s policy on corruption (Bowman 1991). Without ethics, which are ‘set of moral principles or values or principles of conducts governing an individual or a group’ in the management of the affairs of the nation, any funds budgeted toward fighting corruption is a thing cast to the wild cat (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980). According to Aristotle, the aim of ethical philosophy is ‘to make us better men’ (The Philosophy of Aristotle (not dated) Bambrough (ed.). The society should also reduce the influence of moneybags in politics and reject parties and politicians that are not issues-based. And the constitution must be unambiguous on the limit of political campaign donations by citizens and corporation (and who should or should not donate) to political organizations. Thus, the society must make tough laws and implement them to the letters (Maduekwe, May 26, 2002).
The nation was shocked by the huge influence of money in the 2003 politics, as was observed in the donations made to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a fund raising party organized for the automatic re-election of Obasanjo and Atiku. Also other candidates raised some billions towards their re-election bid. For example, Aliko Dangote and Emeka Offor donated N1billion to the Obasanjo-Atiku re-election bid; Dasab Airline donated a Boeing 727 (150-seater), and some companies contributed N400 million. As Wada Nas reported in the Weekly Trust of March 8, 2003, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which is a federal government agency, was among the public organizations that dolled out money to the Obasanjo/Atiku re-election campaign. And all Federal Cabinet Ministers donated N10 million, and the 21 state-controlled Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors contributed N210 million. Worse still, the Guardian of February 25, 2003 reported that the managers of some of the ‘solvent’ government parastatals handed in millions, while an anonymous individual dolled out 1million Euro to the campaign. In all, about N2 billion was raised at the party.
As mentioned earlier, other candidates raised several billions of Naira toward their re-election campaign. For example, the Vanguard of March 21, 2003 reported that the Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, and Governor Bola Tunubu of Lagos State raised about N2billion and N1.36billion respectively. This is not to mention the former Speaker of the House of Rep., Ghali Umar NaAbba, who raised about N150million.
The fund raising parties seemed to serve as conduit for some of the corrupt officials to channel their loots to their parties in the name of political contributions. The questions therefore are, if the governors could afford to donate millions of Naira to their party, why were the teachers and civil servants in their states owed many months of back pay? Why did they not maintain the roads in their states? And why are the streets in their states littered with trash? One cannot ask enough questions here. Why are the water fountains often dry in these states whose Governors dolled out such amount of money? Why are state hospitals, clinics and universities not adequately funded? Are civil servants permitted by the Constitution to contribute to political campaigns? If the answer is in the affirmative, how much are individuals and business organizations permitted to donate to political parties? Thus, Nigeria withers if those who were supposed to protect and defend the Constitution are the most violators of the laws of the land!
Poverty and ignorant of what democracy is all about causes the masses to vote for those that would spray money on their heads (Vanguard, March 21, 2003; Newsday.com; April 19, 2003). And lack of principles caused the political ‘doves and vultures’ to shift from one party to another when they failed to realize their selfish political ambition during the 2003 elections. To effectively control political corruption, the society should demand that politics, which is now less a matter of issues, should be issues-based. This would make it a game for politicians who could deal with issues, and not for the ‘area boys and area girls’ who buy and sell votes, and assassinate political opponents. Buying and selling of votes, which were rampant during the 2003 elections, were widely reported in newspapers, including ThisDay of May 11, 2003 & Feb. 11, 2003, and The Guardian of Nov 21, 2002, among others.
In addition, Nigerian politicians should be made to pay for their housing, electricity, and transportation like others in the society. The method by which politicians are housed, fed, given free cars and jumbo severance pay, even to those who lost re-election), makes politics attractive, thereby encouraging unreasonable competition and corruption. The severance gratuities for the politicians in the first part of Chief Obasanjo civilian administration were put at N30billion. That was waste of resources that could have been used to fund the nation’s tertiary institutions that lack funds (Adejokun, May 29, 2003; Vanguard, May 22, 2003).
To ameliorate the scourge of corruption, Nigeria must hold politician accountable for their actions, and have effective judiciary and law enforcement to monitor the financial statements of foreign and local corporations to avoid tax evasion and other corrupt behaviors. It was recently reported that Halliburton, a US Oilfield Service firm admitted that it gave a bribe of $2.4 million to Nigerian tax officials through a Nigerian company (KBP Engineering Construction Company) to avoid payment of its due tax of $5 million (Vanguard, May 27, 2003).
The society, therefore, must restructure and fortify the institutional ‘checks and balances among the country’s major social forces and the separation of powers within the government’ (Dahl 1998). More importantly, the society should ensure that those entrusted to manage the affairs of the nation are men and women of virtue (those who always do what is right). According to MacIntyre (1981), ‘virtue’ is an acquired human quality, the possession and exercise of which enables us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices, and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any of such goods. Virtue, in other words, means recognizing and doing with is right. And virtuous leaders [in government and business] are persons of honesty, integrity and trust. (Also see Liebig 1990; Frankena 1963; Dike 2001).
Armed with ethics and virtue, the nation should reduce personal gains from corrupt behavior by instituting "effective sanctions" for corrupt behavior (de Sardan 1999). It has been argued, therefore, that making tough rules with vigorous enforcement could deter corrupt and criminal behavior. And as an incentive (good step to controlling corruption), the society should begin to give out good rewards to those who expose corrupt activities.
To control administrative corruption, the society should not grant too many powers to officers, such as customs and immigration and the poorly paid police officers, that issue business licenses, goods clearance documents and international passports. The Police officers should not have a place on the highways (with tollgates) or the markets places from where they collect bribes from the public, and custom officers should be made to guard the borders, and their Excise counterparts should only be in the factories (or at factory gates). Thus, it is known that the police and custom officials in Nigeria are synonymous with bribery and corruption. Therefore, the police should be restructured into an elite profession, which would be open only to those with good character, and be well trained, well equipped, and well paid. Without good working conditions the poor officers would be tempted to be corrupt, because, as Sen (2000) notes ‘when officials who have a lot of power are themselves poor’ they would be tempted to commit frauds to make ends meet.
This does not, however, suggest that upper level officers could not be corrupt. Top bureaucrats with excessive powers could abuse them. Cases abound in Nigeria, but the cases of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha are well documented. As well-stated in 1887 by Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." In addition, a British statesman, William Pitt, observed earlier that unlimited power "is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it" (Dahl 1998).
Good working conditions and retirement benefits could discourage fraud, because "When you know that you will get something to keep you going after quitting office you are not likely to be stealing public funds" (The Guardian, May 19, 2003; Dike, May 27, 2003). And if the police and other security agents would learn and understand their limits (not to harass and kill innocent citizens and follow the rules), the nation’s corruption profile might improve, because any society without law and order would be wild and chaotic, and may not progress. As De Bono (1990) notes in Future Positive, "Law and order are a basic part of the fabric of society. Society needs to give a high priority to this aspect of life, because poor quality here downgrades everything else."
The mass media has a crucial role to play in the war against corruption, as it should educate the masses of their rights and duties as citizens, and have an eagle’s eye over those with excessive power, with a view to exposing the crooks. This is because ‘nothing chills nonsense more than exposure to thin air.’ The "expansion of basic education" of the citizens could assist in tackling corruption, because some of them fell prey to it due to ignorance (Sen 2000). The society needs the necessary weapons to combat corruption. So, every strategy should be experimented with, even those tried in times immemorial. To tackle corruption in ancient China, bureaucrats were paid a "corruption-preventing allowance" (yang lien) as an "incentive to remain clean and law-abiding" (Alatas 1980; Klitgaard 1988; Sen 2000). A payment system of this kind, could, according to Sen (2000), help reduce corruption through what he calls "income effect" as the officer who gets this payment might be "less in need of making a quick buck." Also, the payment could result in what he calls "substitution effect" because those receiving the payment "would know that corrupt behavior may involve serious loss of a high-salary employment if things were" to go bad.
In most cases, how people behave depends on how they perceive others behave; if the prevailing behavior in a society is bad, others could imitate the ‘bad’ behavior. The ‘lousy’ argument would be that "others do the same." This was reported as one of the reasons for corrupt behavior in Italy when the Italian parliament investigated "the linkage between corruption and the Mafia in 1993." Thus, corrupt behavior encourages corrupt behavior, especially when the culprits go unpunished. This could explain the rampant ‘419-scam’ episodes in Nigeria. However, respects for rules, honest and upright behavior, as Sen (2000) notes, are "bulwark against corruption" in any society.
Changing the mind-set of the society to a better value system could help in the war against corruption, as the unscrupulous politicians used some of the unemployed youth to commit murders during the 2003 elections. The World Values Surveys of 1990-1993, which has good information on atti-tudes and values, notes a relationship between values and corruption (see World Values Study Group, 1994). Preaching the gospel of virtue alone, as is often the case with the leaders of Nigeria, would not be enough to fight corruption. The ultimate solution to behavioral change is putting the ‘right value-and-good behavior’ rhetoric into practice. It is also important to mention that Nigeria may not win the war on corruption without increasing the nation’s "economic pie" through good economic policies and increase in productivity. Because economic growth and prosperity would mean enough goods and services that would allow the citizens, as Sen (2000) notes, the "substantive freedoms" to live a meaningful life.
In conclusion, it is appropriate to re-emphasis the importance of good and enforceable policies, without which efforts toward controlling corrupt behavior would be an impossible task. More importantly, policies should be reviewed periodically to catch-up with events in the society. Toward this, Robert S. McNamara (former Presidents of the World Bank and Ford Motor Corporation) argued at some point that for any campaign against corruption to be successful in Sub-Saharan Africa, certain characteristics should be common in the plans. Some of his suggestions towards tackling corruption in the region, which worth re-emphasizing, includes to,
  • Require direct, clear and forceful support of the highest political authority; the president or prime minister;
  • Introduce transparency and accountability in government functions, particularly in all financial transactions;
  • Encourage a free press and electronic media to forcefully report to the public on corrupt practices in the society.
  • Organize civil society to address the problems of corruption brought to light by the process of transparency and the activity of the media. d) Introduce into government watch-dog agencies - anti-corruption bureaus; inspectors general; auditors general and ombudsmen [government official appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials, etc] - which will identify corruption practices and bring them to public attention;
  • Minimize and simplify government regulations, particularly those involving the issuance of licenses, permits and preferential positions, thereby restricting opportunities for rent seeking by corrupt means.
  • Insert anti-bribery clauses into all major procurement contracts and with the assistance of both inter- national financial institutions and bilateral aid agencies insist those international corporations, bidding on African procurement contracts, accept such clauses and the penalties associated with their violation.
  • Introduce similar anti-bribery clauses into contracts relating to privatization of government enterprises, and the development of natural resources.
  • Ensure that enforcement is predictable and forceful; and
  • Criminalize the acts of bribery; prohibit the deduction of bribes for tax purposes; and erect barriers to transfer to western financial institutions of financial gains derived from corrupt practices (see United States Information Agency, Nov 17, 1997).
    Diamond (1992) recommends ‘declaration of assets’ by certain level of civil servants. Thus, the government should require all high-level officials (President, State Governors, Local Government Chair-men, Councilors, Congressmen, Central bank Governor, Police and Customs Chiefs, Military Generals), sign a statement granting permission to banks (both local and foreign), real estate or investment house to disclose any personal assets they may hold. Breaking this veil of secrecy, as he argued is crucial if assets declarations are to be verified and accountability enforced. unscrupulous politicians are known to ‘abuse’ and ‘misuse’ foreign aid (Hope, et al. 2000).
  • For effective control of ‘administrative corruption,’ it would be helpful to withhold financial aid (or completely cutting off other kinds of assistance) by the international donors (the IMF and World Bank, EU, etc) from any country marked for high-level corruption. And scrutinizing individual depositors of huge sum of money by financial institutions for sources would go along way to curbing looting of national treasury by civil servants. The Commonwealth of Nations and African Union should join with other international organizations towards making it difficult, if not impossible, for banks and other financial institutions to accept monies looted from the national treasury of member nations.
  • Conclusion
    There are many laws already on the book to fight corruption in Nigeria (including those crafted by the international organizations), but what is lacking (given what the leaders are doing) is the will to implement the laws. As Peter Eigen, Chairman of the watchdog group -Transparency International- has noted, having "the political will to fight corruption at home…" country matters and not setting up of unending ineffective commissions and bureaus. In addition, because corruption has cultural variables, each country should adopt its policies that work in their peculiar circumstances. Toward this, Robert McNamara remarked at the Second Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity at The Hague in May 31, 2001, that "Every country has to determine it own priorities" on the war against corruption.
  • Each country should "focus on concrete actions that can yield measurable results" and "…publicly report whether results are being achieved" (Odessey, May 31, 2001). For now, the remedies for corruption in Nigeria are not working, and the inability of the leaders to report on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the nation’s anti-corruption strategies make the war on corruption a joke. As was reported by Mohammed in the Daily Trust of May 22, 2003, the former Minister of Defense, Lt.-General T.Y. Danjuma acknowledged that the first civilian administration of Chief Obasanjo lost the war against corruption. But one wonders what his inputs to tackle the menace were since his department could not pay the pension benefits of the nation’s retired military officers. To effectively control corruption, the leaders should use words as well as actions -a multifaceted approach.
  • Finally, the keys to effectively managing the menace of corruption in any society are honesty and integrity, effective leadership and governance, transparency and accountability, because corrupt leaders cannot wage effective war against corruption.
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  • Victor E. Dike is Chief Executive Officer, Center for Social Justice and Human Development (CSJHD), in Sacramento, California. He is Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, National University (Sacramento Campus) and the author of Nigeria and the Politics of Unreason: A Study of the Obasanjo Regime [London: Adonis and Abbey, Nov 20, 2003]

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