Corruption: The 37th State of the Federation – by Theophilus Ilevbare @tilevbare

Published:3 Dec, 2012

Corruption: The 37th State of the Federation – by Theophilus Ilevbare @tilevbare

“Corruption has become a state of the Federation, drawing its weekly and monthly allowances from the Federation Account unabashedly” Lagos lawyer and activist, Fred Agbaje

Lately, the Nigerian media has been awash with opinion, analysis and editorials on the spiraling rate of corruption especially under the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration. The war against graft is now an issue of national interest in public discourse in the light of Nigeria’s consistent top rating in global corruption index and its eroded image in the comity of nations. More damning is the lethargic approach the President Jonathan administration has adopted in fighting corruption. As most Nigerians would readily agree that if the menace of corruption is reduced by 50% then more than half of Nigeria’s problems become effectively solved.

The long term iron-clad impunity of Nigerians political elite has escalated in recent time under the nose of President Jonathan’s Administration resulting in the disappearance of a whopping N5trillion in just two years as revealed by Punch investigation. The gargantuan sleaze over the years has left an estimated 11, 886 federal government projects abandoned across the country according to Professor Kole Omotoso. No surprise, the Gallup Poll and KPMG Report ranked Nigeria the second most corrupt country in the world and most corrupt in Africa respectively. Another study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, says Nigeria is the worst place for a baby born in 2013 but just days earlier Mr. Jonathan braved up in a media chart on National TV… “I can assure Nigerians and the global community that this government is fighting corruption frontally, we have dealt with political corruption, the corruption in fertilizer procurement and corruption in the oil industry. There has never been a time corruption in the oil industry has been attacked in all fronts. The effort this government has put in fighting corruption, I don’t think any other person has done that”. Going forward, he gave an insight to how he intends to fight Corruption using the staggered elections in Edo and Ondo as a template.

These and many more scams unraveled on a daily basis across all sectors of the economy , indicate that special attention at the ongoing constitution review process need be given not only to the removal of immunity clause and severe (if not capital) punishment for corrupt leaders, but appropriate laws to strengthen the relevant anti-corruption agencies so as to fast-track prosecution of cases.

The fuss by the anti-graft agencies about their efforts in the anti-corruption war have so far failed to translate prosecution of indicted individuals to conviction for any of the ex-Governors accused of enriching themselves through corrupt means save for James Ibori, former Delta State Governor, who was only sentenced with the help of a British court and Olabode George. A situation where Dr. Peter Odili secured a court injunction to shield himself from prosecution makes one wonder if such corrupt persons still enjoy some form of immunity even after leaving office. They employ the services of lawyers skilled in delaying court processes with unnecessary adjournments. Such injunctions have turned the Nigerian judiciary to a laughing stock. A slap on the wrist treatment of high profile offenders have inspire would-be-looters and emboldened those neck deep in the act.

Nigerians clamour for scrapping or merger of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as a way of strengthening the commission in the anti-graft war, should have a rethink as such move will not only hamper the fight but exacerbate the present endemic corruption. I am not an advocate of multi-agency approach in tackling the gargantuan graft in various sectors but if this argument is to be won on such numbers, then Nigeria is behind when compared with other countries around the world. For instance, China has 3, 563 agencies fighting its corruption and related offences, the Philippines with 94 million people has 18 anti-graft agencies, Argentina with 40 million population has three anti-graft bodies and Australia has four anti-graft agencies. In Africa, Ghana with just 24 million people has three, South Africa with 49 million has four and several countries around the world with more than two agencies waging war against corruption.

To the government of the day, of paramount importance should be the harmonization of the workings of the anti-graft agencies so as to avoid duplicity of functions and to eliminate waste of public funds considering it now cost as much as N9.32billion, from its 2013 budget, to run the EFCC in a year without any guaranty of convicting a single accused person.

The Western countries today are more advanced and developed not because of the absence of corrupt persons but by means of effective anti-graft agencies which are empowered with the right constitutional framework, making them strong enough to ensure whoever, be it a common criminal or looter of public funds, is prosecuted and convicted, thereby serving as a deterrent to others.

The bogey of Boko Haram, unemployment, rising crime rate, poverty are all concomitant effect of sleaze. The attack of the Police SARS headquarters in Abuja by a new Islamic sect is a testament that no part of the country is safe and no one, leaders, looters or political office holder will be spared if the country is left to continue in its steep downward trajectory.

To give a boost to the anti-graft crusade, grey areas in the law establishing them need to be revisited. A look at the Plea bargain for instance, former Governors of Edo and Bayelsa states Lucky Igbinedion and Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha were accused of gargantuan corruption, after plea-bargains with the EFCC, the former saw 191 charges against him reduced to just one upon conviction and thereafter asked to pay a paltry N3.5m while the latter was sentenced to only two years imprisonment. Offences that would have at least guaranteed life behind bars after forfeiture of all assets and ill-gotten wealth to the state. Such is tantamount to a slap on the wrist which will only inspire other looters. Unnecessary adjournment of cases and congestion of the regular courts have lead to calls for special courts to try corruption offenders.

To fight corruption, President Jonathan must first give priority to political corruption by powerful politicians and their immediate cronies. He must throw his weight behind the leadership of the anti-corruption agencies in their quest to go after corrupt persons and prove to Nigerians beyond doubt by his actions that he is not in tacit support of corrupt practices oozing from close quarters around him. He must ensure that laws that would engender speedy prosecution and conviction of corrupt persons are reviewed by the National Assembly. President Jonathan has got enough time in his administration to combat Nigeria’s monumental corruption and to see that it cease to exist in aphorism as the 37th state of the federation.

 

– by Theophilus Ilevbare

Follow on Twitter: @tilevbare

www.ilevbare.com

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Army Acquires Vehicles To Enhance Communication

The Nigerian Army has acquired six vehicles to enhance communication in its fight against insurgency in the North-East. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the vehicles were inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, during his visit to Lagos on Wednesday. Buratai said the vehicles, procured by the Army Signal Corps, would be deployed to help in prosecuting the fight against insurgency in the North- East. ``We are still pursuing the terrorists and we will continue...

FG Constitutes Committee To Address Demands Of Organised Labour

The Federal Government on Wednesday constituted a 16-man committee to address issues that necessitated the three-day strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) after the fuel pump price hike. Mr Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), stated this in Abuja after a meeting of the Federal Government delegation with the organised labour. He said that the meeting was called to work out modalities on ways to resolve the issues raised by the organised labour. ``I am...

Former PDP NWC Members Endorse Constitution of Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee

Members of the immediate past National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have endorsed their dissolution and other decisions taken at the party’s National Convention held in Port Harcourt. This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the immediate past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus and six others. The statement stated that in the absence of the then National Chairman of the Party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Secondus presided over the...

Agunloye Advises FG To Fight Corruption In Power Sector

Former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye, on Wednesday advised the Federal Government to address corruption in the power sector. Agunloye gave the advice during a chat with newsmen in Abuja. He had purchased Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the Ondo gubernatorial election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP). According to him, electricity generation is not rocket science and tackling corruption in the sector will ensure stable power supply across the country. ``When I was minister of...

FAAC: FG Recovers N1.5 bn, Shares N281.5bn To 3 Tiers Of Government

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said in Abuja on Wednesday that N1.5 billion, being excess bank charges, was recovered and paid into the Federation Account. Adeosun announced this while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting. She said this was done by a consortium of consultants for the Federation Account and that the money was proposed for distribution. She also said that N281.5 billion was shared among the federal, states and local governments as...

Army Renews Call On Boko Haram Fighters To Surrender

The Nigerian Army on Wednesday renewed calls on repentant Boko Haram fighters wishing to surrender to do so without wasting more time. Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, made the call while speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Nursery School and a Day Care Centre at the Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri. Irabor said that those who failed to surrender would pay the price for being stubborn. He added that ``I will like...

5 Herdsmen Arrested Over Enugu Massacre

The Police Force Head­quarters in Abuja, have announced the arrest of the masterminds and perpetrators of Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State on April, 25, 2016. The attack led to the death of several persons and destruction of prop­erty valued at millions of naira The attackers compris­ing a five-member-gang were arrested by op­eratives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT). The suspects were found with one...

Economy In Volatile Situation- Buhari

Nigeria’s economy is currently in a volatile situation due to the crash in oil prices, President Muhammadu Buhari has said. The president’s remark came at a time when oil price yesterday rose to nearly $50 a barrel, even though Nigerian will earn less from the boom due to drop in production in recent times.  Buhari spoke yesterday at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja at a farewell audience with Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria,...

Reps Order Halt Of Refineries Privatization

The House of Representatives Committee on Privatization and Commercialization has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stop its planned privatization of the nation’s refineries or joint investment ventures with some multinationals. The committee’s chairman, Hon. Ahmed Yerima (APC, Bauchi), who gave the order yesterday in Abuja during an interactive session with the managements of the NNPC and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the planned privatization of three  refineries in the country, said the...

$200 Billion Loot: EFCC Raids Dubai Firm’s Office In Abuja

As part of the ongoing probe of the laundering of over $200billion loot in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by former political office holders, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) yesterday stormed the office of a Dubai property firm, The First Group Company,  in Abuja. The company is also being investigated for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians by luring them to invest in real estate in Dubai. A prominent Nigerian lost about...

Dana Air Pilots Go On Strike, Passengers Stranded

Dana Air pilots have gone on strike in protest of the non-payment of their salaries, grounding the airline’s operations and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded nationwide. “The strike started this morning and passengers that were supposed to travel this morning are stranded,” a source at the airport said. According to the source, the airline had continued to sell tickets to passengers earlier today in the hope that the dispute would be resolved.

Edo Govt Withdraws Letter On Appointment Of Oba Of Benin

The Edo State Government has withdrawn a letter earlier issued on its approval on the appointment of the new Oba of Benin, saying it was issued in error. In a retraction signed by the Secretary to State Government, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, dated May 25, 2016, the government stated: “In deference to the revered age-long tradition and respect for the sensibilities of the people of the great Benin Kingdom, the Government of Edo State hereby withdraws a...

Sheriff, Makarfi Sent Out Of PDP BoT Meeting

The former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff and the chairman of the Caretaker committee of the Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi were excused out of a meeting of the board of trustees of the party which is on going in Abuja. Senator Sheriff walked into the Transcorp Hilton venue of the meeting at about 11:10 am and was followed five minutes later by senator Makarfi who also walked in to the meeting.

NLC Leader Tagged “Ghost-Worker” Gets Sacked By Kogi Govt

The Kogi State government says the state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Onuh Edoka, is a “ghost worker”, and has fired him. Mr. Edoka was one of about 9000 people sacked following a screening exercise to weed out illegal workers from the 21 local government areas of the state. Mr. Edoka, who serves as head of both the Medical Health Workers Union and the NLC in the state, said he was employed in 1989,...

Value Of Electronic Transactions Hit N48.9tr In Nigeria

Although, it is still plagued by inadequate levels of awareness, poor banking culture, lack of trust and a love for the status quo, the value of e-transactions recorded in 2015 hit N48.93 trillion, up by 11.6 per cent from 2014 in Nigeria. This disclosure was contained in a White Paper report titled “Africa on the Verge (AoV) Convergence Series”, put together by AfricaPractice, a strategy and communications consultancy firm, with offices in Nigeria and abroad. A...

Niger Delta Avengers Blow Up Oil Pipeline Again

Militants suspected to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers have blown up an underground Chevron crude oil trunk line. The trunk line is located along the Seria Creek near Abiteye, a few kilometres away from the company’s multi-billion dollars Tank Farm in Escravos, Warri South West local government area of Delta State. It was gathered that the incident, which occurred midnight, was noticed by workers in the production department when they observed drop...

NAF To Enhance Weapon System Through Collaboration

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday said it had concluded arrangements to collaborate with the Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion (CSTP) to enhance its weapon delivery capability.   This is contained in a statement signed by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Capt. Ayodele Famuyiwa, in Abuja.   The statement said NAF was zealous about optimising indigenous capacity and willing to expand existing frontier of collaboration with research institutions in the country that possessed the potential to enhance its...

Kenyan Army Kills 21 Al-Shabaab Terrorists In Somalia

Kenya's army has killed 21 fighters from the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia, a military spokesman said on Wednesday. Army spokesman Col. David Obonyo said in a statement that the dead include junior al-Shabaab commander Salad Bart, who is believed to have been in charge of the group. According to Obonyo, Kenyan soldiers on Tuesday clashed with al-Shabaab members in the Somali town of Hawina, where the terrorists were mounting an ambush along a major road. ``No Kenyan soldiers were...

Lagos Govt. Inaugurates N457.3m Mosan Okunola Waterworks

The Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) said on Wednesday that it had inaugurated N457.3 million Mosan Okunola mini water works, located at Abesan, Alimosho Local Government Area. This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Oluwaferanmi Akinmeluye, the Controller, Media Affairs, and made available to newsmen in Lagos. According to the statement, the Commissioner for Housing, Mrs Aramide Giwanson, inaugurated the water works on behalf of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode. ``This mini-waterworks has the capacity to meet the needs of residents of Abesan,...

INEC To Conduct Bye-Elections In Nasarawa, Kwara On May 28

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has fixed May 28 for the conduct of bye-elections in Nasarawa and Kwara. This is contained in the commission's daily bulletin issued on Wednesday in Abuja. The bye-election according to the bulletin would be conducted into Nasarawa-Toto Federal Constituency of Nasarawa State and Oke-Ero State Constituency of Kwara.   (NAN)

Kaduna Anti-Cattle Rustling Team Recovers 59,515 Animals, Arrests 59 Kidnappers

The special anti cattle rustling team set up by the Kaduna State Government about a year ago has recovered 59, 515 animals in various part of the state, the Coordinator of the team, Yakubu Soja, has said. Soja said the team was under the multi security force, known as Operation Yaki. He said at a press briefing on the one year anniversary of Gov.. Nasiru El-Rufa'i, that all the recovered animals were handed over to their original owners. The coordinator said that...