to second edition Dictionary of English is dishonesty or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery. Corrupt practices, can also be defined as a fraudulent activity especially an attempt to rig an election.
The Nigerian Nation since inception of democratic governance, is being entangled in a wide spread corruption practices. Indeed, corruption is today an anathema to effective enjoyment of human rights and often conceived as an ordinary and victimless crime.
As the APC government comes on stream on 29th May 2015, the level of confidence in Nigeria is remarkably high, and president-elect General Muhammadu Buhari has been described by his admirers as embodying the promise of change to this known cankerworm.
Interestingly, the reason to many Nigerians, why General Buhari, became president-elect is because of his apparent zero-tolerance approach to corruption and indiscipline.
As a matter of fact, Nigerians have continued to offer passionate support to the president-elect, and his team to succeed in his bid to stop corruption in the body polity of Nigeria. As the saying goes “charity begins at home”, this perhaps is the reason why the president-elect General Buhari, has decided to drop his military title “General” after his proposed inauguration on 29th May 2015 as president of Nigeria.
It is also expected that the General, should forfeit all entitlements attached to a retired military General, and as past Head of State to maintain his new status as President of Nigeria, in the present democratic setting.
Let us remind the General that as we speak, most of the out-going State governors are indebted to payment of pension and workers salaries from six to thirteen months.
The cause of this backlog of pension and salaries is majorly attributable to corrupt practices flagrantly displayed by governors, clothed in immunity attached to their office. For instance, most of the governors have been made to become larger than life, to the extent that their respective Houses of Assembly are kept and manipulated to their dictates.
The legislature, in these states has no voice; they cannot monitor the governors of their excesses and in some cases the governors have also muzzled the judiciary, such that the courts are rendered powerless or kept under lock and key for as long as a year and above in the watchful eyes of the out-going administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Therefore the people of Nigeria in this dispensation expects the APC government of President Buhari, to keep a close watch at corrupt practices in States of the Federation and critically advise where necessary.
In the past, the argument often put forward is that since no one victim of corruption suffers more harm than others, an insinuation that there may be no direct victim, therefore no need to search for an invisible victim. This line of reasoning should be dropped by President Buhari, as it tantamount to perpetrating both direct and indirect economic and social instability to the public.
It is a considered view that President Buhari, should adopt the legal means against corruption by enforcing the human rights law to empower the citizenry and provide effective remedies for victims of corruption. At the moment the legal framework against corruption and indiscipline in Nigeria do not reflect elements of the accountability of the government for the human rights violations faced by victims of corruption. This is because the victims are either largely neutralised or virtually anonymous in the criminal process, with no access to human rights remedies.
The overriding priority for the incoming administration of President Buhari therefore, is to provide strong and effective leadership by proposing and facilitating the passage of a bill by the National Assembly, that would brand “corruption” as a breach of national trust and grant the citizenry enforceable human rights to ensure the eradication of corruption and abuse of power by public office holders.
As a follow-up, Mr. President should focus on the APC manifesto, to monitor activities in the various States, to ensure that every policy of the party is duly implemented and reflected in the State budgets, especially the APC controlled States.
Essentially, if the citizenry is legally empowered to “sue” for violation of their human rights occasioned by corruption and indiscipline, as enshrined in the abandoned “1995 Draft Constitution” in section (35) that every person shall have the right to ensure the eradication of corrupt practices, and abuse of power; to protect and preserve public property; to fight against misappropriation and squandering of public fund. Of cause, such a bill shall be tenable when the immunity clothings are stripped off the governors and our legislature.
In fact, it is the wishes of Nigerian people that the All Progressives Congress (APC) can’t afford to treat corruption and indiscipline as an isolated incident if the party is to be appreciated after four years in office.
Fuayefika, a public affairs analyst writes from Port Harcourt.