Reference to corruption in Nigeria as the business of sixteen years of the former administration is a grand design to politicize the endemic problem that has bedeviled Nigeria and stunted her growth.
For political expediency, any government may be free to malign its predecessor. However, the truth is that the practices constituting corrupt practices in Nigeria have been in every aspect of the country’s national life for as long as one can recall. Some of the practices that fall within the ambit of corruption include cronyism, embezzlement, bribery, fraud, influence peddling, gratification, tribalism, smuggling, forgery and counterfeiting, extortion, advanced fee fraud, piracy, child trafficking and a host of others.
The sad situation in the Nigeria in the last few years is the deliberate promotion embezzlement and fraud as the only notable corrupt practices in Nigeria. With all attention drawn to those allegedly involved in the “corruption” with those two crimes in view, cronyism and others are not seen as corruption. Federal and state executives engage their friends and family members in key positions of government and they don’t give a hoot to what anyone says but cronyism is a corrupt practice as much as fraud or embezzlement. The corrupt acts of those corruptly engaged are neatly shrouded in secrecy.
In the first military coup d’état in Nigeria in 1960, the Nigerian Army claimed that it took over power and suspended the constitution to stem corruption and anarchy, among other vices. It was the same story line in 1976 when General Yakubu Gowon’s government was overthrown. The army alleged widespread corruption in government. When Buhari’s regime terminated the second republic on 31st December 1983, alleged widespread corruption was advanced as one of the reasons for the putsch. The coup of 1985 was not different.
This run down is indicative of endemic corruption in the Nigerian fabric. Even military regimes which claimed to hold the key to stamping out corruption were equally mired in practice. At least that was the claim by those who overthrew their predecessors.
So why are Nigerians being regaled with the claim of Nigeria being destroyed in the last 16 years by corruption? Was Nigeria any better before 1999? To nip a problem properly, it is best to get to the root. Corruption in Nigeria has roots in cultural and socio-economic dimensions, poverty and denial of access to the good and benefits of society as well as absence of social security to protect the poor and weak.
All administrations keep promising to “fight corruption”. The militaristic approach has been with us without checking corruption. The evil keeps eating into the fabric of society. How would corruption be fought from the top without support at the lower level of the society – the family unit? Everyone in government comes from the family. Most families have lost their values. How can they produce people with the right morals for governance? A begging question!