Craft in Nigeria has become systematic for too long. Today, public funds disappear right from the nose of the receiver of revenue and government treasury.
President Goodluck Jonathan has emphatically stated that he is all out for a result-oriented anti-corruption crusade. The on-going crusade against corruption he said would be rigorously pursued to ensure that anyone involved in financial misconduct is brought to book.
Mr. President made the declaration while addressing the opening of the Regional Conference of Commonwealth Association For Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) in Abuja and other ford since assumption of office.
Earlier, while inaugurating the new Board of Code of Conduct Bureau on Friday, 30th April, 2010 in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan while acting as President, stressed the need to fight corruption to a finish. And on Friday 14th May, 2010 at a civic reception in his honour at the Sharks Stadium Port Harcourt, President Jonathan again noted the commitment of the Federal Government to fight corruption, and urged Nigerians to support the crusade against bribery and corruption in all segments of the society.
In Nigeria we have established Budget Monitoring and Public Intelligence Unit, Anti-Corruption and Transparency Units in most Federal Government Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (PFCC), Due Process Mechanism etc. With all these bodies, one can say that we have constitutionalised the fight against these vices at Zero Tolerance.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo while launching one of the abovementioned bodies said “I want to appeal to all Nigerians that the fight against corruption in all its ramifications is a relentless one and should involve all citizens. Nobody, no matter, how highly or lowly place, irrespective of status or stature that is caught engaging in any act of corruption will go free”.
In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame says and I quote, “There is no one big or small, powerful or weak who can steal public funds. If we find out we are unforgiving, we don’t let them get away with it. I hear in some countries corrupt officers are tried from their homes, here you have to be in jail”. Today Rwanda is nearly corruption free.
The statement by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was a serious warning just like the statement issued by the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame to his country men which seems to be effective. While it could be said that things are getting better in that small country, they seem to be getting worst in the giant of Africa-Nigeria.
Often, names are mentioned, just as news flash, on both electronics and print media of public figures caught stealing public funds. While well-meaning Nigerians are all ears waiting to hear the details, noting more will be heard of the case. In some cases, the only punishment is that the thief is relieved of his job and gets away with his loot, which he considers enough money that will take care of his needs for the rest of his life. This is our own style of zero tolerance.
Others are encouraged by this to take the risk. Some years ago, I attended an interview for the post of Public Relations Manager to a government-owned parastatal in Port Harcourt. His performance was so impressive that there was no reason why he should not be given the job. But the head of the panel of interviewers was constrained to inform him that “the ‘Oga’ had given us instruction on the candidate that should be taken”. That is our own style of Due Process.
This type of thing compromised national development, contaminates collective morality and values, distorts national planning, corrodes integrity and discipline and destroys the foundation of creativity, innovation, democratic structure and development” one said our former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. That is true globalisation is for real. The West is entitled to trade with Africa and vice-versa. WATO World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with their new approach on debt to the impoverished world will certainly bring a new lease of life and hope to trade and business in future. This is only if they selectively lift the debt burden on countries that abide by democratic values and good governance.
Ichoku is a retired director, Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications.