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The Rant about Lies Behind the Corruption Fight

The Rant about Lies Behind the Corruption Fight

Bashir Kabir

The last year’s TI rating of the country’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was somewhat rejected by the Nigerian government as inaccurate.

However, it is not very far from the truth that not much has changed as far as corruption perpetration is concerned in the country despite the waged war. Even more so, the agencies saddled with the responsibility to spearhead the anticorruption battle need to come under scrutiny in order to understand why their efforts have not been producing tangible results that might change the country’s CPI ratings.

Often times there are adequate anticorruption instruments and relevant laws to effectively achieve a sizeable success in the arduous pursuit of curbing corruption.

However, the careless instituted anticorruption efforts at various levels are more or less responsible for the lack of progress in the crusade. Those laws and instruments available to aid in the struggle are picked and applied selectively which makes the process handicapped and not wholesome in objectivity.

Ironically, here is where lack of transparency, accountability, due process, adherence to rule of law and fairness is prevalent. Here is where corruption is used in the so-called corruption battle.

Why is the concept of corruption so hard to understand when it could be the simplest in terms of ease of comprehension?

Corruption is any act that directly or indirectly deviates from the stipulated rules and regulations and or laws governing a practice. There are several definitions of corruption but this one covers it all. It is not true that corruption in the US is not corruption in Nigeria and vice. Culture might have different perceptions of moral uprightness but where corruption is concerned, there is no such thing as cultural differences. The consequences of corruption are the same in Brazil as they are in Nigeria.

To further break that down for better understanding, abuse of power for personal benefit is by any definition anywhere in the world, under any law an act of corruption.

Accepting favours for self or a member of family (such as a wife) by virtue of one’s office is corruption. Acquiring plots of land to be shared among family members as a dividend of office duty rightfully or otherwise carried out is corruption. Using public trust to fund a flamboyant lifestyle that involves owning big mansions (through monies acquired other than legally) in the state and in the capital is corruption. Frequent oversea travels, expensive oversea tuition for children with funds derived from public office is corruption.

There is no way these can ever be explained other than outright corruption. All kinds of grammar could be used but the name of a donkey will never be a horse.

The question as to which one is the best scenario in the maintenance of rule of law; having people of integrity in the leadership positions or having sound sets of well-defined standard procedures or rules of operation?

Perhaps the most logical answer to that is the latter option. Opportunity for corruption is always created where the rules are not adequate or for whatever reason ignored.

The so called men of integrity are the ones found neck deep in the nasty pits of corruption because of the prevalence of opportunity and also because nobody and nothing checks them periodically. Leaving them to their devices and justifications of the heinous acts they are committing as perfectly in order.

Being poor doesn’t automatically predisposes one to being corrupt, however, the pressure of wanting to belong to a certain class of people and lifestyle can easily prompt some to corruption. The sad reality is when the corruption act is reciprocated between the accused and the accuser. If someone collected 10% kickback and was declared corrupt, what will make the accuser if they are found collecting 15% as kickback? Why does the definition of corrupt practice easily change from person to person?

In the same vein of preventing corruption and corrupt practices, documents such as the Code of Conduct, the Public Procurement Act, the Civil Service Rule and tons of other public financial management guidelines and international anticorruption charters and instruments that guide the best public and civil service practice targeted at preventing corruption are clear about what is right and what is wrong in that regards.

Blatant disregard to these manuals and guidelines in the form of  using personal acquaintances to secure and award contracts in order to make personal arrangements for personal benefits such as kickbacks, single-handedly procuring goods and services with secrecy in direct disregard of PPA provisions, abandoning projects worth hundreds of millions leaving them in dilapidation, diversion of funds specifically meant for projects that would boost the functions of a specific service delivery. These are the manifestation of corruption and will remain corruption regardless of who perpetrated them.

The lack of sincerity in the fight against corruption, where the noble baton that signals fairness for all, is diffused into the use of office for personal gratification, is lamentable, backward and can only be dealt with when proper monitoring mechanisms are put in place to detect such deviations and acted upon by the proper provisions of law.

Corruption fight is not a personal affair where emotions are poured in and allowed to mar the process with impulsiveness, egocentricity and thirst for power.

As provided in the whistleblower policy, if someone is to report a corrupt act he or she was part of but somehow got unsatisfied with, that person is also guilty if proven by court of law beyond reasonable doubt.

What about when someone in the position of trust to prevent the occurrence of illegality decided to collect handout to look the other way?

The deception mostly comes in the disguise of integrity and honesty that doesn’t exist.

Targeted activities are scored to boost media image and fake reputation to give the impression of wholesome intentions.

The publicity of what needs to be confidential, disclosure of information of ongoing processes, using intimidating approaches where non is needed are all indications of conflict of interest, malpractice and abuse of office where the corruption fight is expected to be free of all that.

Even more extreme is the maltreatment of the working force supposedly doing the donkey work while the credit goes upstairs. How do you explain a situation where the emperor built himself a palace, forming a formidable entourage worthy of a high government figure while the subject are left hanging about carrying out official business under trees or squatting in overcrowded offices with hunger-stricken stomachs? How do you explain a working staff suffering from lack of promotion, advancement and any other accorded right and privilege while the leadership vastly enjoys wealth and affluence? The non-ceasing threats of  being cut off from the payroll for no apparent reason other than to strike fear in a Nazi style leadership is hardly an intellectual approach.

Politicization of the process makes a huge difference between what’s right and what’s presented to the public as rightful. Selective justice due to personalized interest makes it difficult to spread fairness to all. Weighing a complaint based on how much money is involved, the reputation of the parties involved and the credit to score if treated is not the best practice and a total deviation from the guided principles. The worst is when every situation is designated to carry a price or favour.

Before you can accuse anybody of embezzlement, favoritism, cronyism, abuse of office, financial mismanagement, diversion of public trust, taking gratifications, violation of rule of law in general, self-enrichment, blackmail for personal interest, conflict of interest and what not, ask yourself the direct question of where you stand in all of those.

Integrity is not a shirt that you wear and appear in the public. It is what one does when no one is watching.


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