WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION: IT IS TIME TO FIGHT CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA
Gentlemen of the press, about twenty (20) years ago, I spoke and wrote against corruption and itemized ways it can be fought and results achieved in my book "NIGERIA Seven years after Shehu Shagari, WHO NEXT? WHAT NEXT? (Chapter 12, War Against Corruption-WAC, Page 108) first published 1990 by Kilimanjaro Publishing Company Limited. In a nutshell, I dare say that I am not a later day apostle of a corrupt free Nigeria. I am here once again to tell Nigerians that the time to fight corruption in Nigeria is now; the effect of corruption is becoming more profound, unbearable. Infact, Nigeria is sliding into anarchy, it must be rescued. We have had leaders who paid lip service to the war against corruption.
It is now certain beyond doubt that corruption induced lack of will on the part of our leaders as well as deceit are the fundamental clogs in the wheel of progress ofNigeria. Innocent citizens are now finding it difficult to move about in search of what to eat for fear of being bombed. Insecurity of lives and property has become the order of the day, no thanks to this monster called corruption.
The billions of tax payers money already spent in providing security inNigeriacould have gone into projects that would have ensured employment of our teaming unemployed youths. Yet, nobody is willing to confront the real cause of unemployment inNigeria. We all know that the current spate of bombing inNigeriais direct fallout of endemic corruption in the system and the attendant loss of interest in governance by the citizens.
Setting up of probe panels has become a ritual inNigeria. The probe panels are only useful on the papers the final reports were written. It is only inNigeriathat definitive actions are not taken on conclusive probes. Between 2007 to date we have had about four high level probes, some are still ongoing. Eventually, the reports from the probes will be consigned to the trash can. The questions now are, how can government create employment opportunities for Nigerian youths, when the money meant for employment generation will end up in the pockets of the untouchables? Should we allow corruption to overrun us as a nation?
We have agencies that are saddled with task of prosecuting corrupt people, but I am yet to see Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) convict corrupt people, I mean those that have brought the country to its knees-heavily corrupt Nigerians. Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has equally not convicted those magnets in corruption industry inNigeria.
WHO WILL BELL THE CAT TO LEAD A GENUINE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA?
When ABN first approached the court to seek redress purely on the basis that its members were aggrieved over events leading to June 12 Presidential election, some people felt that we should have allowed ourselves to be trampled to death. But when all realized that the court is where one goes to seek redress if one feels aggrieved in whatever relation; political class started seeing court as the only hope and arbiter as against burning of tires on the streets and killing of innocent human beings.
The Freedom of Information Act should be utilized in this must win fight. After all, President Goodluck Jonathan, through his spokesman has given Nigerians the hope that one can utilize the opportunity offered by Fol Act to cross check fact as regard his indictment by EFCC, when he reacted to allegation making the rounds then that he was actually indicted by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu led EFCC. For avoidance of doubt, Ruben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity) said: "..Finally, let me state that, President Jonathan remains committed to Press freedom and freedom of speech which is why he signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With the passage of this bill into law, the expectation of the President is that such a law could be utilized by the Press to thoroughly investigate allegations before they are released into the public arena as truth. The FOI law allows reporters to request for records from the EFCC which when perused would establish the truth".
Since everybody is condemning corruption but nobody wants to stick his neck out in the task of genuinely fighting it in practical terms, there must be a pathfinder in this regard. I first tested the genuineness of Obasanjo's resolve to fight the monster called corruption when he was the President by presenting to him the names of five hundred (500) Nigerians that stole beyond their want. His response to my presentation was non-committal. When he however pushed for the establishment of EFCC, the thinking then was that the government will be brutal in combating corruption. The recent revelation by the Wikileaks of the meeting between the former US Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Sanders and the pioneer Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, where Ribadu allegedly described corruption under President Olusegun Obasanjo as worse than that of late Gen. Sani Abacha; clearly supported what many had already known that corruption was thriving then, just as it is widespread now. The fact that former President of Nigeria and his Vice openly attested to the fact that they are both corrupt, by calling themselves thieves, only goes to show that nobody is afraid of corruption. That event alone was enough to sack both men from office, particularly as none of them went to court to clear his name; after all silence means acquiescence.
WE MUST MOVE FROM RHETORIC IN THEBATTLEAGAINST CORRUPTION TO PRACTICAL COMMITMENT. CORRUPTION IS THE CAUSE OF INSECURITY, KIDNAPPINGS, ASSASSINATION, BOMBINGS AND UNEMPLOYMENT INNIGERIA. NIGERIA MUST CONQUER IT TO AVERT THE LOOMING DARKNESS.
A stitch in time saves nine, if the political elite inNigeriado not want to act to save themselves from the impending annihilation, the common man will do it. The recent window dressing visit of former President Obasanjo to the family of the late Boko Haram leader, Mohamed Yusuf, is tantamount to adding salt to injury as it betrays desperation and hopelessness; END CORRUPTION AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF BOKO HARAM AND OTHER GROUPS.
Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe
No. 4 C. C. Onoh Close
Appo Legislative Quarters
Zone E, Abuja.