By Aminat Yusuf and Salmat Abdulwaheed
In Nigeria, endemic corruption permeating the three arms of government constitutes a major threat to social, economic and political development.
Apart from the arms of government, corruption is consciously and unconsciously encouraged in the smallest unit of the society like the family.
Corruption spreads like epidemic in all ramifications with a clear tendency to hinder growth and development in the country.
It is mainly responsible for the vast inequalities in the country with incessant diversion of public treasury into private pockets by public office holders giving chances to greater impunity and their lavish lifestyles.
The recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International, a global anti-corruption watchdog, further exposes the extent of the country’s vulnerability to corruption epidemic despite the present administration’s campaign against corruption.
Meanwhile, the CPI ranks Nigeria high in corruption showing lack of progress in anti-corruption as the country regressed in ranking from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017 out of 180 countries ranked. This shows that the Buhari‘s administration has failed in that aspect, especially when his anti –corruption campaign was one of the main reasons why he was brought to power.
Majority of the public institutions lack institutional anti-corruption policies thereby making public funds susceptible to looters. Contracts are awarded based on favoritism without following due process. This may not be unconnected to the deliberate delayed establishment of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP), a regulatory authority with mandate to oversee the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as contained in the Public Procurement Act. Delayed establishment of the Council has a grave implication on the Nigerian Public Procurement system.
The Proceeds of Crime Act Bill (POCA), for example, if passed is focused on recovering illegally acquired properties through forfeiture, confiscation, and provides the powers to seize, freeze, and restrain criminals from having access to such properties through the establishment of an Agency that would be responsible for the management of loots recovered from unscrupulous individuals and companies. Non-passage of the Bill has made it difficult to hold anyone accountable for what happens to the loots and how it has been channeled.
Corruption in politics takes many shapes, starting with embezzlement, bribery, ritual killings, rigging and so on. The endemic level of political corruption remains a major motivating factor necessitating most politicians who do not only see politics as a lucrative career but also as an enabling platform to embezzle public treasury as a permanent settlement for their generations.
The menace is evident in the Police Force, where bribery, intimidation, human rights abuses and sexual harassment are not uncommon. Because of the encounter, many Nigerians have had with police personnel even officers are termed as bad.
As observed by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Nigeria’s education sector has hitherto continued to suffer from corruption and incompetence. According to him, corruption in the public education system symbolizes “unchecked mismanagement of funds meant for educational projects, resulting in ill-equipped laboratory, library, and classrooms; politicization of the education system by corrupt politicians who are elected on university boards, making learning environment non-conducive, unproductive; embezzlement of education budgets allocated for the purchase of teaching materials, resulting in declining performance of students; institutionalized and systematic bribery, abuse of office, sexual misconducts fuelling examination malpractices, unmerited advantages, and poor performance; high level ghost teachers phenomenon with teachers on the payroll but do not teach, giving chance to difficulties in the coverage of work content and ineffective lessons delivery by unqualified personnel who maybe standing in for the absentees; fast declining personal effort with little or no regard for merit as success comes through manipulation, favouritism and bribery, thereby shaking the foundations of society; and serious preference for financial rewards in admission process into education institutions, where the best but poor students are denied ones”.
Corruption in the education sector was a major challenge to achieving the Goal 2 of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of comprehensive primary school education for all children by 2015.
The mismanagement of the education funds in Nigerian educational institutions which have critical roles to play in renewing and reengineering the nation has resulted in poor students and academic staff welfarism.
Re-looting of recovered loots is a great concern to successful fight against corruption. Citizens cannot specifically say where and what has happened to the recovered fund.
Appropriate sanction must be equally levelled against culprits of corruption scandals in spite the political and socio-economic backgrounds through passage of relevant legislations to penalise anyone who laundered the proceeds of crime.
The way anti-corruption reforms are being implemented in Nigeria makes it easy for anyone to conclude that the corruption problem is deeply rooted. This is because there are too many people fighting corruption in different directions leading to a cacophony of voices. The multiplicity of anti-corruption institutions and interventions with little coordination has been one of the perennial impediments in the success of anti-corruption in Nigeria; hence the apparent struggle among the institutions for public attention.