Corruption: More Lethal than Terrorism

Corruption: More Lethal than Terrorism

by: Idumange John

All over the world corruption has been identified as a silent killer perhaps worse than any disease ever known to man. In Nigeria corruption has had a ruinous
effect on all facets of life. Nigeria operates an ugly brand of monopoly
capitalism - an ideology which thrives on competition, governed by
self-aggrandizement and consolidated by corruption. Monopoly capitalism indeed
feeds on corruption for its sustenance and that explains the ever-increasing
rich-poor gap in Nigeria and our inability chart a clear development direction.
Nigeria ranks among one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Over the
years, several attempts had been made give the scourge a human face, even
though such attempts were not designed to eradicate the monster. The
establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is counted
as one of such efforts we have made as a nation. Every nation and international
organization is finding measures in tackling the menace because it undermines
democracy, helped the wrong leaders get elected and distract societies from
facing urgent problems.

In virtually all the institutions of the Nigerian state, corruption rears its ugly head as the hallmark of official business. From the awesome Abacha loot to the
Abdulsalam profligacy, from the Niger Dock scandal under Ozobia-led management
to the controversy surrounding the removal of Auditor-General of the
Federation, virtually all government agencies ranging from federal ministries
to the National, State and even at the local government levels, have recorded
one case of corruption or another. The housing scam Ikoyigate in 2005
committed by the state and its agents is another dimension to the collective
mentality of corruption. In a similar collective unconsciousness, the financial
institutions in Nigeria are pinnacles of corruption as revealed by Governor Sanusi.

There is a correlation between corruption and the development of democracy. Democracy emphasizes transparency and accountability as two strong pillars of good
governance. The push for transparency is
becoming an increasingly important topic in both stable and new democracies.
The task of measuring the level of corruption in public office is difficult but Transparency International has come up
with a standard measure known as the corruption perception index (CPI), which
predicts, with some exactitude the feeling of a people about the degree of
corruption existing in a country. In
2003 the World Bank reported that about 51% of the corruption takes place at
the Presidency. Further to that report Transparency
also conducted some empirical studies and discovered that
high level corruption in Nigeria is the bane development. The study further
revealed that the monster of corruption is so pervasive that all institutions
in the body politic of the nation are affected by the scourge.

The most conspicuous forms of official corruption are over inflation of contract values, the use of cronies or fronts to execute contracts, outright abandonment
of development projects after mobilization, investing government money in
private businesses and outright stealing from the commonwealth and primitive accumulation. In 2008 Nigeria
ranked 121st and now 130th
among 180 countries in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) courtesy of
Transparency International investigation. The implication is that in spite of
the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the
incidence of corruption is on the increase because it is sustained by
entrenched political interests in high places.

In the court of public opinion, the EFCC under Ribadu achieved unprecedented success to the extent that he carried out Obasanjo’s instructions. At least for
the first time “some” State Governors and highly placed persons were prosecuted
and incarcerated – a feat its Siamese twin the Independent Corrupt Practices
Commission (ICPC) is yet to achieve.
While the efforts of Mallam Ribadu were highly commended, Nigerians also
appreciated that the EFCC was almost turned into a Capo regime where only the
untouchables kept their heads high. The anti-graft war should not be
personalized as the scourge is a public disease. In fact, the intent of the
EFCC Act was to wage the anti-corruption war irrespective of who can be
appointed as the conscience of the nation. Now, the war against corruption has
assumed a life of its own, and not even Obasanjo who initiated the Bill can
stop the crusade; and I have the conviction that sooner than later the
mountains of Otta Farm would be leveled.
IBB is believed to have guzzled over $12 Billion Naira windfall during the
American invasion of Iraq in 1990. But all these men walk about free even as
they pose a threat to the nation.

President Obasanjo did a lot to compromise the integrity of the EFCC. First, the Commission was answerable to him hence he administered selective treatment to
reported cases of corruption. Before the PDP primaries in December 2006, the
EFCC released an “interim report” on
the state of finances in Rivers State. The report indicted the ex-Governor of
the State and alleged that N100 Billion Naira was mismanaged, misapplied or
embezzled. With such a damning report wonders aloud why Ex-Governor Peter Odili
is still walking about a free man. Other known enemies of the people like
Governor James Ibori are being beatified by the Law Courts even to the
consternation of Farida Waziri’s EFCC.

Towards the end of the Obasanjo decadent administration phrases like “soft landing” and “plea bargain” were introduced as patchworks
into the lexicon of the anti-corruption outfit. There was deep-seated suspicion
the ex-President OBJ was using EFCC to protect those he loved and to persecute
those who had fallen out of favour with him. Such fears were confirmed by the
behaviour of the then EFCC Chairman. The alacrity with which OBJ pursued the
cases of Governors Joshua Dariye and DSP Alamieyeseigha portrayed him as a man
waging a war of vendetta of some sort. It was the same “holy war”
he waged against the succession bid of Atiku – his Vice-President. As long as
the battle against Atiku lasted, the then EFCC Tzar was never known to be an
impartial umpire in the struggle. The anti-graft war in Nigeria is a principle,
indeed a philosophy that deserves the unwavering commitment of all well-meaning
Nigerians. The crusade transcends an individual or a group of individuals. This
point has been driven home by the vigorous efforts of Mrs. Farida Waziri since
she assumed office.

Whereas Senator Wagbara, Professor Fabian Osuji and others were promptly removed once corruption charges were leveled against them, most Nigerians are not happy that Obasanjo’s first son was fingered as a
dangerously rich oil mogul yet EFCC was not keen to establish any case against
him. The National Assembly succeeded in resolving Ettehgate but EFCC under
Ribadu turned deaf ears to the Iyabogate on the N3.5bilion contract
scam. . Prof Adenike Grange was summarily sacked but Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello has her umbilical cord in Otta
Farm hence she subsumed among the group of the untouchables. Ex-President
OBJ has retired into stupendous wealth and albeit even clerics have been
calling for his probe, EFCC has ignored such calls and it may be put on hold sine
. The case of Olabode George was prosecuted by EFCC to save its face
in a matters that was ab initio a bad case. I do believe that Bode George would
be given a Presidential Pardon from Jeddah.

Before Chief Ojo Madueke begins to make a case for de-listing Nigeria from the list of States sponsoring terrorism, he should ask himself if the Nigerian leadership
has given the true account of the lives of Late Uncle Bola Ige, Dr. Marshall
Harry, Chief A.K Dikibo, Funsho Williams and many other high profile political
murders in the land. The Foreign Affairs Minister should also rebrand
the nation enough to reduce the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and give
reasons why no sector of the economy is thriving other than the criminal
sector- which has further worsened the ruination of the nation.

Ribadu fought a patriotic battle but deliberately covered-up some corrupt people who are either Obasanjo’s cronies or PDP apologists. That was why the Pentascope
saga; PTDF; the financial malfeasance of the ex-inspector General Sunday
Ehindero; Bells University of Technology (owned by Obasanjo); the privatization
and sales of many National corporations including the refineries; money stolen
to fund the tenure elongation project and other sundry corruption cases have
not been investigated. The divine standard of judgment is not crooked. As human
mortals our standard of judgment should be a reflection and approximation of
God’s divine standard of justice. But
unfortunately Ribadu’s behaviour was most of the time inconsistent with his
role as an impartial umpire. Plus or minus Malam Nuhu Ribadu increased the momentum
of the anti-corruption war which is now being sustained by his successor.

There are many unresolved issues the anti-graft agency has to tackle. The Senate Committee had asserted in a report in 2007 that the President and his Vice were complicit
in the PTDF funds issue and as a result asked the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)
to step into the matter. Obasanjo was indicted over the N250 million fees
purportedly paid for some PTDF projects. As the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the
Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) started the probe of allegations
of corruption in the PTDF, the Campaign for Accountable Governance through
Elections (CAGE) has asked the Committee to uphold transparency, accountability
and fairness in undertaking this important constitutional task. The Senate
Committee was established following reports that out of about $700 million
realized during the 2002/2003 bidding rounds only about $145million is known to have been transferred to the PTDF
account. All these are unresolved issues and those involved have, by their
actions sentenced hundreds of people to death by denying them basic amenities
such as health, education and road infrastructure. They can be likened to Al
Qaeda or Taliban terrorists who blow up public places with a view to causing
massive destruction of lives and property. Nigeria should have been penciled
down as a State sponsor of terrorism since the Obasanjo administration because
of the high corruption profile of Nigeria’s unrepentant public office holders
in power.

Since late 2005, there was an upsurge of militancy, which is largely caused by corruption of the Nigerian State and the neglect by the Multinationals of their
Corporate Social Responsibility. Militias have also carried out copy-cat
abductions, robberies and oilfield invasions, seeking ransoms or benefits for
their villages from oil companies. Western multinationals operating in the area,
including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Royal Dutch Shell, are on a heightened
state of alert, and thousands of foreign workers and their families have left
the country. All these were aggravated by corruption. The thousands of lives
lost to the Niger Delta crisis, the job cuts in oil companies and the loss in
oil revenues to the Nigerian State are all products of official corruption.

Corruption is not only one of the original sins of monopoly capitalism, it is terrorism as deadly and destructive as nuclear weapons. It undermines good governance,
fundamentally distorts public policy, leads to the misallocation of resources,
harms the private sector and particularly hurts the down trodden masses.
Corruption is a serious scourge that negates Nigeria's democratization process.
This is because it is bedevil by such problems as mismanagement, wasteful
spending, and spending State funds on unproductive sectors among others.

Because of the obnoxious laws that govern the mining of crude oil, even the oil Multinationals obey the principle of Matthew
. In the book of Matthew Chapter 25: 14-30, Jesus illustrated this with the
parable of the talent and concluded that the ingenuous and productive shall be
given more resources while the docile and indolent will be further
impoverished. “To those who use well what they have been given, even more will
be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even
the little they have will be taken away”. In mundane materialistic philosophy
the classic case of Matthew Effect is an aberration since it negates equity and
good conscience. The principle of Matthew Effect has been turned upside down by
the capitalists in Nigeria to buttress their tendency to amass wealth at the
expense of the less-privileged. This policy also underscores why the Vice
President has not been sworn-in as Acting President in spite of overwhelming
evidence that the President is not capable of discharging his executive
responsibilities in office.

Today, Nigerians are resisting the Petroleum Industry Bill and clamouring for fiscal federalism because corruption has denied the people the opportunity of enjoying
the fruits of the crude oil they produce.
It is therefore ridiculous for the Petroleum
Minister Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and his junior counterpart Mr. Odein Ajumogobia to
muster up the temerity to deceive Nigerians that the planned “Deregulation” of
the Petroleum industry is a developmental imperative when Nigerians know that
the petroleum sector has had an overdose of deregulation. For me deregulation
is another word for punishment of the masses and the triumphalism of the
thieving class, who have decided to keep the economy prostrate, leprous and

Official corruption is the worst form of human rights abuse because it engenders mismanagement of resources, which results in under-development, poverty and chaos in the polity. Under the
military, the freedom of expression and the press is repressed because a free press exposes the evils of
primitive accumulation and its attendant negative effects on the society.
Corruption is said to have rendered our social
infrastructure inefficient and has contributed to the prevailing problem of
Nigeria is a nation where there is
high level of contract inflation, embezzlement and diversion of monies in
banks, industries and other parastatals. All these evils weaken the rule of law
and constitutionalism. A nation that neglects accountability pushes her
population to frustration, anomie and criminality. If world leaders know the
havoc caused by the Nigerian ruling class, they would concede that the
terrorist-minded 23 year old Farouk Mutallab is not as guilty as the corrupt,
inept leaders who have foisted stagnation and a no-grow ideology on the masses.
My verdict is that the ruination and bastardization of the economy by the
corrupt political poses a growing and graver danger than terrorism in our
landscape. Corruption appears to be more lethal that the atom bomb unleashed on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Idumange John, is Fellow, ICEN, IPMN, & ACCD, London

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