Finally, the final word!

By John Igoli (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

This is the verdict regarding Nigeria in the just released list of most corrupt countries by Transparency International.

Africa's two largest oil producers, Nigeria and Angola, are still mired among the nations seen as the world's most corrupt, ranking 143rd and 168th -- little changed from past showings.

What more can be added to this summary? Those who are mocking us that things have changed in Nigeria should respond to this. When Prof Chinua Achebe said nothing has changed, the government said he was misinformed! One of the first clich├ęs I learnt in Physics is the term ÔÇśNo work is done if the displacement is zero'. The displacement we look for here is a positive one for the people and not economic graphs and budgetary projections or provisions.

Nigerians have not left where they were in 1999. Begging has become the order of the day. People beg for political positions, jobs, to pass examinations and for government and our leaders to carry out promised projects and programmes. We even beg sit tight leaders and non-performing ones to remain in power. We beg for our salaries and for our corrupt leaders not to be punished or removed while at the same time begging for justice in other areas. While we cry against general injustice, our courts dole out selective justice.

Economic begging has developed from hand held bowls to hand held phones. The fact still remains that people are begging to eat, transport or to meet bills and fees. Before 1999 beggars may have worn ragged or torn clothes, todays beggars are in suits and appear very fashionable. Then beggars accepted N20 or less, todays beggars will not thank you for N20, 000.00 gift. Then people begged to eat, today people beg to recharge their phones and feed their blackberries.

So much effort, so much willingness, so much good will, so much commitment, so much sacrifices, so much opportunities yet it has all been motion without movement, fire without power, water without wetness, words at odds and rulers whose length of service or contribution to national development cannot be measured.

Today we are being invited to patronise and enjoy home made products yet the key to industrial development-food is lacking in Nigeria. A hungry man is an angry man the popular saying goes. Nigerians are angry with the situation on ground, their politicians, schools, salaries, power supply, exchange rate of the naira and the corruption perceivable in the public sector. To cap it all the only subsidy on their anger is about to be removed!

Rather than expend energy rejecting the report or claiming that Nigeria was not properly assessed or all indices of the fight against corruption in Nigeria were not taken into consideration we should take a cue from countries that have battled corruption to a standstill and have risen in ranks in the corruption index. Catching big fishes only to go for a swim with them and then let them go with thank you bargain is not sufficient to serve as a deterrent to others. Convicted persons should be punished and should be seen to have been punished.

The global demand for accountability and the speed at which information is being exchanged can no longer be ignored. This is no time to tell the people that what you have heard, read or seen is not true. It is now more profitable and prudent to investigate and let the truth be exposed. The tentacles of corruption snares everyone in and leaves no room for people oriented programmes and policies.

This submission by TI must serve as a catalyst for our fight against corrupt practices, poverty and developing a truly visible change in the life of Nigerians. To respond to it in any other way is to attempt to run from our present shadow. We welcome on board the new helmsman at EFCC. His work has certainly been cut out. The government through his actions and the EFCC must tell the world that it is no longer business as usual in Nigeria.