By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
Corruption is a global threat. It is a phenomenon that has infiltrated all societies with devastating consequences, notwithstanding of the level of political, economic or social sophistications. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors restricting the perversity of the phenomenon in some countries as well as factors invigorating the corruption in the others. For some well informed opinions, corruption is endemic in all governments, and that it is hardly a specific character of any continent, region and\or ethnic groups. It cuts across faiths, religious denominations and political systems. It contaminates and affects both young and old, man and woman alike. Corruption is found in democratic and dictatorial politics, feudal, capitalist and socialist economies. Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist’s Religion, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures are equally bedevilled by one form of corruption or the other. And corrupt practices did not begin today; the history is as old as the world. Ancient civilizations have traces of widespread illegality and corruption. Thus, corruption has been ubiquitous in complex societies from ancient Egypt, Israel, Rome, and Greece down to the present.1
For Gbenga Lawal and Ariyo Tobi, ‘corruption is a term that has been perceived in various ways by various scholars. Its conceptualization has attracted in recent past, competing and numerous views and approaches. It is therefore seen as a worldwide phenomenon, which has long been with every society in the world. Incidentally, it has been identified as the bane of most political and economic societies.2 Corruption is not only found in developing countries but also in the so-called developed countries. You see corruption evident in the Offices or Work places, Schools, Security Forces, Immigration and Customs Services etc. In some climes corrupt public officers are less petty, they tend to target big corporations and sophisticated criminals. Bribing is everywhere even in Western society. A public official is corrupt if he accepts money for doing what he is bound to do under the law or abdicating legitimate responsibility because of illegal inducement. ‘Corruption is a betrayal of trust resulting directly or indirectly from the subordination of public goals to those of the individual. Thus a person who engages in nepotism has committed an act of corruption by putting his family interests over those of the larger society.3 It is an exasperating experience to have ones right repudiated because of race or natural circumstances.
The spread of the miasma, ‘corruption’, goes from a mere act of accepting bribes to a complete state of mind and way of life. It has progressed from the poor attempting to ‘make ends meet’ to a sense of entitlement for someone in positions of authority. For Agbu corruption is the behaviour of public and private officers who improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those closely related to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed. Systemic corruption also referred to as entrenched corruption, occurs where bribery is taken or given in a corrupt relationship.4 Alatas divided corruption into seven distinct types: autogenic, defensive, extortive, investive, nepotistic, supportive, and transactive.
According to Alatas ‘autogenic corruption is self-generating and typically involves only the perpetrator. A good example would be what happens in cases of an insider trading. A person learns of some vital information that may influence stocks in a company and either quickly buys or gets rid of large amounts of stocks before the consequences arising from this information come to pass.5 However, ‘defensive corruption involves situations where a person needing a critical service is compelled to bribe in order to prevent unpleasant consequences being inflicted on his interests. For instance, a person who wants to travel abroad within a certain time frame needs a passport in order to undertake the journey but is made to pay bribes or forfeit the trip. This brand of corruption is in self-defense.6 While ‘extortive corruption is the behaviour of a person demanding personal compensation in exchange for services.
Investive corruption involves the offer of goods or services without a direct link to any particular favour at the present, but in anticipation of future situations when the favour may be required. Nepotistic corruption refers to the preferential treatment of, or unjustified appointment of friends or relations to public office, in violation of the accepted guidelines.7 Alatas noted that supportive corruption usually does not involve money or immediate gains, but involves actions taken to protect or strengthen the existing corruption. For example, a corrupt regime or official may try to prevent the election or appointment of an honest person or government for fear that the individual or the regime might be probed by the successor(s). Finally, transactive corruption refers to situations where the two parties are mutual and willing participants in the corrupt practice to the advantage of both parties. For example, a corrupt businessperson may willingly bribe a corrupt government official in order to win a tender for a certain contract.8
The corruption, according to Akindele has long been ideologically, morally, culturally, politically and intellectually elusive to the point of losing sight of its detrimental and parasitic influence on people and the society at large.9 It is alright to define corruption as a behaviour which negates the duties and expectations of a public role-player customarily motivated by private or specific group(s) related interests. ‘Even though some of these definitions of corruption have been around for over decades, the recent development in Nigeria where discoveries of stolen public funds run into billions of US Dollars, make these definitions very appropriate. Corruption is probably the main method of accumulating quick wealth in Nigeria. Corruption occurs in many forms, and it has contributed immensely to the poverty and misery of a large segment of the Nigerian population.10
Wivendi, D. maintains that corruption fundamentally, includes nepotism, favouritism, bribery, graft and other unfair means adopted by government employees and the public alike to extract some socially and legally prohibited favours.11 Gibbons on other hand understood corruption exclusively in terms of politics. According to him, political corruption is the use of a public office in a way that forsakes the public interest, measured in terms of mass opinion, elite opinion or both, in order that some form of personal advantage may be achieved at the expense of public interest. Some scholars perceive corruption from two major broad perspectives political and bureaucratic corruption. It is political corruption when state resources are used for party campaigning and electioneering in a biased and unconstitutional way. Material support to political parties and political campaigns can also be obtained from private businesses, and will be corruption if state resources or other advantages are offered in return. One example of public money being used for a particular party or party campaign is the ‘Dashain allowance’ in Nepal and typically ‘trade money’ in Nigeria.
Routine experiences in the fields of finance management and administration readily made the concept ‘corruption’ a familiar expression. People talk about corruption in these spheres more recurrently than in any other important component of human sub-system. Corruption without exaggeration is a single concept that has attracted the greatest public outcry, vilification, caustic criticism and periodically violent reaction. Even in ordinary conversations people make corruption the center of preponderant attention and interest. It is quite common to hear people remark, ‘Roger is a corrupt politician’, a ‘corrupt manager’ and a ‘corrupt government agent’etc. It is said ‘the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is corrupt because he allegedly solicited bribes from an arms company in return for protecting the company from investigation and giving it his ‘permanent support’.12 There are controversial assumptions that all politicians are corrupt. There are companies and countries brought to genuflecting humiliation by obstinate brands of corruption. We have seen chief executive officers of giant companies and institutions denuded and manacled as chastisements for corruption. In places like Nigeria, top government functionaries are daily dragged to the filth and lampooned on allegations of corruption. Nigerian society is unendingly fighting intense war with the political and religious elites who profoundly corrupt and overwhelmingly imprudent.
Nigeria is a country considered crippled by corruption. Corruption is absolutely responsible for her bad leadership, ravaging insecurity and continuous impoverishment of the citizens. Corruption is responsible for poor infrastructure and dearth of sustainable investments for integral development of the nation. Corruption is the foundation of the current of the government of Buhari. This is All Progressive Congress, APC government that is heavily armoured by folks who are deeply corrupt and intensely insensitive. Corruption is wholly accountable for “an on going Islamist insurgency in the northwest, the ravages of Fulani herdsmen, the increase in sectarian crisis and organized crime, the resurrection of nationalism in the Igbo heartland, the re-emergence of violent militias in the Niger Delta and the severe economic recession.13
With the rapidly growing spate of corruption under the dispensation, the political system, the government policies and programmes have continued to face “considerable problems regarding state coherence, institutional efficiency of the government, internal security, patterns of democratic representation and attitudes, enforcement of the rule of law and economic reform. Thus, the economy still suffers from major shortcomings: economic growth rates are down to zero, economic and financial affairs are poorly managed and the unemployment rate, especially among youth, remains high.14
This is a government that came to power with a pledge to tackle corruption, but the reverse is the case. We are witnessing unprecedented official impunity and significant failure in bringing corrupt members of the government under control. The government condones colleagues tainted by serious allegations of corruption.15 Again, “none of the many corruption cases initiated by the administration has ended in a conviction. A former secretary to the federation who allegedly diverted 270m naira (£578,000) of funds meant for people displaced by Boko Haram to accounts linked to him was only charged recently, two years after being indicted by the Senate. It took months of pressure from the press and parliament for him to be fired; he was one of the leaders of the president’s campaign in his home state of Adamawa. At least two ministers had petitions against them for misappropriation of funds as governors of Lagos and Rivers…16 Oshiomhole the APC Party Chairman and also a former state governor, was served papers by a federal high court for fraud perpetuated in office; a month later, the secret police interrogated him for collecting bribes to subvert party primaries nationwide. “There has also been no investigation of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Kano governor who was secretly film stuffing wads of dollars into his robes – allegedly a large bribe in exchange for lucrative government contracts. On the contrary, Buhari has been happy to appear in public with the governor, and came in person to endorse his campaign for re-election in Kano, a traditional APC stronghold…17
It is corruption that is making Buhari and his APC party to adopt exclusive government in a multi ethnic society like Nigeria and have made elevation of Hausa-Fulani over and against every other ethnic nationality in Nigeria the top priority in policy and governance in Nigeria. Today, the rustic tribe has become the lords of Nigeria and irreproachable as they terrorise, invade communities to slaughter the folks, rape and destroy the properties. It is corruption that makes the government to refuse to grow the economy, enthrone justice, breed unity and tolerance, and love for one another. Corruption is the justification for the repositioning of the security agencies by sacking all competent hands and replacing them with Buhari’s kinsmen to drive their ethnic domination of the rest of Nigerians. It seems the Buhari’s kinsmen, the Fulani were armed and encouraged to slaughter other citizens with impunity. According Nnamdi Kanu the Fulani “are coming to ensure that my people are enslaved forever. Those who do not believe me will soon see it happen before their eyes.18 Prior to the catastrophe, Kanu predicted that “… a group deadlier than Boko Haram will emerge, they will seize our farmland, rape our women, kill our people and their master will protect, defend and even arm them, because their sole agenda is to enslave us forever. Those who cannot see it now, will soon see it. The hatred in their souls for my people is legendary. They do not see us as humans. They kill, they slaughter, they burn and they destroy. Mindless bloodletting is in their DNA. My people are in trouble.19
The Buhari’s government is without restraint in the plans of giving Nigeria away to the Fulani and its militant wing, the deadly herdsmen, with the proposed a ‘Ruga settlements’. Discerning Nigerians have described Ruga settlements initiative as repugnant, repulsive and provocative. The Fulani herdsmen’s endless fatal attacks on villages have “led to massive displacement of people in the affected communities, with death of hundreds and loss of livelihoods, posing a formidable threat to the country’s food security and long-term stability. The devastating calamities provoked by the herdsmen’s cruel assaults and the consequent predicaments undercut prospects for sustainable peace and development in Nigeria. Herdsmen who over the years, have invaded, killed, displaced and attempted to take over peoples’ homes and farmlands have adversely threatened the families and properties of Nigerians. “In the last four years, we have seen the rate at which the herdsmen have turned non-Fulani communities into killings fields, with the government turning a blind eye to all their crimes, while using the instrumentalities of state to defend and shield them from interrogation. “If the herdsmen as wanderers had perpetrated untold crimes against indigenous people on a scale that is nothing but genocidal, it is left to imagination what they would do when the Federal Government of Nigeria now forces them on these communities as landlords.20 Corruption is despicable and corrupt people are terrifying.
The media also reported the shady financing of politicians in Costa Rica. There were scandalous corruption charges involving ‘former president Rodriguez in a bribery scheme with the French telecommunications company Alcatel. Alcatel was awarded a contract to improve the country’s cellular phone system after its officials successfully paid a US $2.4 million bribe, with 60% allegedly demanded by Rodriguez personally.21 Also in a case “brought by the US Department of Justice, with Brazil and Switzerland in December 2016, Odebrecht and its petrochemical subsidiary, Brasken admitted bribery to the tune of $788m (£553m) and agreed a record-breaking fine of at least $3.5bn. The construction giant paid off politicians, political parties, officials of state-owned enterprises, lawyers, bankers and fixers to secure lucrative contracts in Brazil and abroad.22 Apart from being the largest international bribery case ever, the Odebrecht story has one component that makes it exceptional: this was a corporation that created a bespoke department to manage its crooked deals – something prosecutors in Brazil and the US had never seen before. “How a company created a whole system only to pay bribes, and how many public agents were involved. This case implicated almost one-third of Brazil’s senators and almost half of all Brazil’s governors.23 It is unnecessary to chronicle many other celebrated corruption cases. We have these few cases as pointers to global dimensions of the disorder.
According to Oxford English Reference Dictionary, corruption is being morally depraved, wicked, influence by or using bribe or fraudulent activity.24 Corruption has on the one hand been understood very broadly as “unethical behaviour, which violates the norms of the system of political order’. This includes almost anything and may embrace all sorts of moral and political judgements. On the other hand, it has been understood as ‘the breaking of the formal rules that regulate a position of political authority.25
To be continued