The Federal Republic of Nigeria, commonly referred to as Nigeria is a federal constitutional republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the West, Chad and Cameroon in the East, and Niger in the North. Its coast in the South lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Comprising of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory which is Abuja, Nigeria is officially a democratic secular country.
Modern-day Nigeria has been the site of numerous kingdoms and tribal states over the millennia. The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, and the merging of the southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures while practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms which continued till Nigeria became a formally independent federation on the 1st of October, 1960.
With approximately 184 million inhabitants, over 500 ethnic groups speaking over 500 different languages, to say the least, 57 years have been eventful in all spheres is not an overstatement.
It is an incontrovertible fact that corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s development. Thus, without mincing words, the phenomenon has ravaged the country and destroyed most of what is held as cherished national values. Most unfortunately, the political class saddled with the responsibility of directing the affairs of the country until recently when the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that seem to have a clear-cut anti-corruption programme came on board, have been the major culprit in perpetrating this dastardly act.
Regrettably since independence, a notable surviving legacy of the successive leadership both civilian and military that have managed the affairs of the country at different times has been nothing other than the institutionalisation of corruption in all agencies of the public service, which like a deadly virus, has subsequently spread to the private sector of the country.
It is apposite to state that it is a paradox that Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest exporter of crude oil, a country endowed with many resources still, has not less than 70 per cent of its population living below the poverty line as a result of corruption and economic mismanagement. Pathetically, the logic of the Nigerian political leadership class has been that of self service, as a good percentage of the leaders are mired in the pursuit of selfish and personal goals at the expense of national interests. This is evident in the numerous corruption cases that are being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) among others, a good number of our supposed leaders (former and even present) with no single successful trial or prosecution of any of them since the establishment of the two anti-corruption commissions in years 2003 and 2000 respectively. This is very ridiculous, horrendous and shameful.
Suffice to state that over the years, the basic necessities of life in our dear country such as food, housing, water and power are still being used to canvass for votes by the political class consistently at every electoral season and despite sugar-coated promises and beautiful manifestoes in these regards, the citizenry strive to make adequate provision for the four in their own interests.
I can’t circumvent from the fundamental verity that if we don’t kill corruption as a country, the scourge will kill the largest black nation. This is the more reason why all hands must be on deck to eliminate corruption hook, line and sinker from our land.
While I commend the boldness of the current President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to fight corruption which sadly has percolated into our systemic existence to a standstill, the fight must however not be seen as selective, as anyone found culpable must be made to face the music no matter how highly placed.
The present regime of inconclusiveness of corruption-related cases is not healthy for our system as the current administration in the land will not be seen as serious with the fight against the scourge. Nigeria must be rid of impunity, selective justice and sacred cowism if the fight against corruption must be successful.
Of late, the call for the restructuring of the country has resumed and it is becoming stronger and stronger by the day. While one might agree with the proponents and canvassers of restructuring which borders on devolution of power, true federalism among others, the need for a restructuring of the mind of both the leadership and followership classes in the land cannot be overemphasized. It is only when our minds are restructured from ethno-centric chauvinism, religious bigotry, prebendalism, nepotism and corruption that the restructuring of the country can be meaningful. Putting a restructured set up in the hands of a corruption-stricken mind will only restructure corruption, economic quagmire, social stupor, political phantasmagoria and bad leadership at large, as something cannot be built on nothing.
As Nigeria turns 57, the onus lies on all and sundry to rededicate ourselves to the progress of the country. The leadership class at all levels must embrace unparalleled responsibility, transparency and accountability; the followership class should consistently be on their toes praying and encouraging the leadership knowing well that the citizenry are always at the receiving end of bad leadership.
- Fagbohungbe is the Press Officer Of The Bureau Of Social Services, Office Of The Governor Of Osun