– The Sun News

Culture of corruption: A universal cause, the ultmate remedy

  • Continued from yesterday

Being conclusiom of a paper delivered by Professor Tam David-West at the 27th and 28th combined convocation lecture of the University of Jos last year

BEFORE the University of Ibadan Lecture, under the auspices of the University of Calabar Students Union, I also delivered similar lecture, entitled: “The University at Crossoads.” Let me graphically list some of the unethical corrupt practices within our academia: Corruption in appointments and promotions. Inflation of examination marks of compromised female students. I must be quick to add that the odious much talked about “sexual harassment in the university is a double-traffic malady; bad female students harass or subtly invited lecturers’ attention with their well perfected antics. Some weak lecturers also easily fall victims. Bad Ph.D. degrees are sometimes awarded. I recall the recent withdrawal of bad Ph.Ds. (over six) by one of our universities.

On my part, I have been fighting a battle to withdraw a particular bad Ph.D. I encountered all sorts of hurdles. ButI will never stop until the system is sanitised. For this rubbish Ph.D, one of the expert assessors was categorical:‘This thesis has produced nothing new to virology.” He went further to state that it is more of Ricketsiology and not virology. Rickettsia and virus are quite different. The indicted supervisor of this scandalous PhD thesis later got himself appointed Vice-Chancellor to one of the top new universities. Shame. Shame. Shame. I am specially very much scandalised.

Still on my anti-corruption crusade in the university I would like to mention that in the late 1970s I put together a long well-researched critique, “Inside the Academic Ivory Tower.” I listed lots of corrupt practices from corruption of research grants to corruption in CV preparation, to corruption in publication.

My esteemed friend of Blessed memory, the great Professor Bill Dudley, of Political Science prevailed on me to shelve it in the interest of our university system.

Let me plead passionately that as academics we must ensure that our-academia, our universities, are purged completely of corruption in all its forms otherwise we will all sink with the identifiable rot God forbid. Please say with me a resounding AMEN! Amen!! AMEN!!!. Thank you.

I cannot resist adding a personal touch to the list of corruption among academics. I cite the story of myresignation as Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science (FAS) on principle and on ethical consideration.

A clearly unqualified applicant was rigged in as Fellow. There wen disquieting stories of the said candidate ‘bribing’ Fellows to manipulate the voting in his favour.

For the full story I refer to the following: “David-West quits academy in protest” (The PUNCH April 6, 1992 Front page). “Nigerian Academy of Science: Why I quit” (Saturday PUNCH April 11,1992) Page 6-7; very detailed and revealing. I recommend it for the total picture of this scandal of corruption.

“FAS” is still on my compliment card, printed long before my resignation. But I always cancel it. This further gives me the opportunity to tell the story of the corrupt election repeatedly for the avoidance of doubt.

Corruption: The combat

“If Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria” – President Muhammadu Buhari. Perfect diagnosis. I say “Bravo” – a million “Bravo” – to our great MORALIST president. I can readily attest to the genuineness of hisZERO-TOLERANCE to corruption and to his leadership by example.

It is a well-accepted fact that we can preach better sermons with our lives than with our lips.

Government after government, administration after administration have tried over time to combat corruption in Nigeria by one method or the other. But none of them has so far achieved its laudable object. I believe that this is largely because the approach or focus has not been correct; more of grand-standing.


In 1970 Gowon released his nine-point programme before handing over. Eradication of corruption was naturally included. However, instructively it was listed No. 7 of the 9-Point Programme. The rest is now history. Suffice it to say, however, that corruption was never eradicated. I so wrote at the time in the Daily Sketch. I was put under house arrest for my criticism.

Murtala Mohammed

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau: A number of Nigerians especially public officers were found guilty; and so punished. Property corruptly acquired confiscated. Babangida, however, reversed all that Murtala achieved. Confiscated property were gleefully released to their owners to the consternation of the public.

Shehu Shagari Ethical Revolution

This came near the real target. Corruption is a moral issue: The impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle because of devalued or degraded or derogated self. Ethical Revolution in spite of its attractive social or philosophic posture did not enjoy public confidence. It suffered from skepticism to even cynicism. For instance, Wole Soyinka and Tunji Oyelana even parodied it: “Revo, Revo, Revo. Ethical kini? Revo, Revo, Revo.” Their disc“Unlimited Liability” refers. This is most unfortunate. One expected that their disc should had been designed to boost the intended anti-corruption crusade of the “Ethical Revolution” and not to ridicule it.

Muhammadu Buhari (First Round) 1984


This is so far the most successful. After all, corruption and indiscipline, are inextricably in tandem, or conjoined. The positive result of WAI (e.g. The Queuing culture) is still lingering even after over three decades. I have never been comfortable with people who castigate the WAI Campaign or Crusade because of what they saw as its harshness. Harsh measures are required and in fact necessary to combat unrelenting harsh social maladies.

Sani Abacha

WAI-C: War Against Indiscipline and Corruption.

In my published reaction I argued that the “C” in “WAI-C” is superfluous. It adds nothing new to the original Buhari “WAI.” I styled it policy plagiarism.’

Olusegun Obasanjo

On assumption of office on May 29, 1999 he cancelled or revoked all contracts awarded between January to April 1999. It was said to be an initial step in his anti-corruption war. Some hailed him as bold and courageous considering his many indebtedness to his predecessor in office, which many admired as honourable. A man of his words. Others saw it as hollow melodrama. Grandstanding.

Next, Obasanjo promptly setup the anti-corruption organ, The Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related Offences) Commission (ICPC). The ICPC Act was the first Act Obasanjo sent to the National Assembly in 2000. It has formidable 21 Sections to it. It was not successful and also ended up more as grandstanding; populist gallery stunt.

The ICPC was followed by a sister agency: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2004. This was also an ineffectual an anti-corruption weapon. I must once again refer and strongly urge everybody to read the incredibly audacious and very well researched book, “EFCC and the New Imperialism: A study of Corruption in the Obasanjo years” by Mathias Okoi Uyo Uyo” (2008. Published by Bookman Publishers Calabar) op cit.

Even the indicted EFCC was honest enough to commend the book: “A commendable effort in strengthening the fight against corruption” – a rare candor.

I was also independently undisguised in my concern or discomfort over the operation of the EFCC in my article:“EFCC: Ethical Sanitiser or Selective Inquisitor?” (Daily SUN October 30,2006page 16). I procured my copy of“EFCC and the new Imperialism” on March 10, 2014. Some eight years after my EFCC article. Obasanjo, might have been sincere with his anti-corruption posturing in spite of its clear contractions; may be the spirit was willing but the body was weak.

Muhammadu Buhari (Second Round or outing) 2015

“No matter how vast our resources, if they are not efficiently utilised, they will only benefit a privileged few, leaving the majority in poverty. I believe if Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria.” Renewed his resolve to fight corruption-head-on. NO more respite to Looters. Foreign governments cooperating to disclose Nigerian looters. Loots to be returned.

Set up the Professor Itse Sagay Presidential Anti-Corruption Committee.

“Workers demand death for all treasury looters;” anti-corruption rally by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) The Nation, September 11, 2015. Front page. I agree.

To the above review of the anti-corruption combat weapons so far I would like to mention what I consider a mostludicrous and embarrassing new addition to the fight against corruption.

A few weeks ago I watched with some pain an interview programme on the television. A professor was introduced as the provost of a said “Anti- Corruption Academy of Nigeria.” Incredible. A special Academy devoted to Anti-Corruption? Ludicrous indeed soon we will have “Professor of Anti-Corruption Crusade.” Trust Nigerians. Why now? I have my suspicions.

Ludicrous. This is not how to win the war against corruption. In fact, I see it as corruption of the anti-corruption crusade. I strongly believe that the best anti-corruption tolls or weapons are those directed to man as man himself; since corruption is moral sin of mortals. Let me be graphic:

The Religious tool

Nigerians are very religious people. All the religious faiths pronounce against unethical practices. Belief in God, Allah, The ALMIGHTY is the pivot of all Religions. And God is PURITY unqualified.

The teaching of Religion, especially the DOs and DONTs (Moral Instructions) similar to all faiths should be brought back to our education curriculum. This should be compulsory from the nursery to the elementary curriculum with emphasis on Ethics or Moral Instruction. The teaching of Ethics and the inculcation of ethically correct behaviour from impressionable age could go a long way to producing corruption-free citizenry.

“Ethics,” deals with moral choices in our daily conduct. “Ethics deals with things to be sought and things to be avoided” – Epicurus.

During my Elementary School days, we had compulsory Moral Instruction lessons. I found it very beneficial in my later life. My mother of Blessed memory was one of such instructors on morality. An extension of the above is that parents should (MUST) have time to regularly teach their children the need (categorical imperative) for good behaviour. Children spend much more time at home than at school. Parents must not abdicate their sacred responsibility to teachers in classrooms.

The pride / self-esteeem tool

Some may dismiss me as moving with the time; a conservative. No problem. A controversialist? I love that.Because it is very complimentary. An unthinking person cannot be “controversial.” Like Rere Decartes I hold: “I think (because) or therefore I am:” “Corgito ergo sum.” But let me disclose, please, that I was brought up from very strict religious background. My family has been Christian (Anglicans) for over 100 years. No apologies whatsoever.

As discussed earlier pride, self esteem, self respect, belief in self worthiness are pivotal to addressing a universal cause of corruption.

Let me reiterate: PRIDE; a feeling of dignity and self-respect that you have about yourself (BBC English Dictionary). It is also a feeling of, even belief in being superior to other people or situations. To the extent that a man lacks self esteem or pride, he lives negatively and defensively; … Feeling inferior should be killed at every stage of one’s life. This is a potent weapon against temptation for corruption.

Children should be taught from impressionable age to be proud of themselves and their parents’ background (no matter the position in the Social Register). I recalled my parents (especially my mother) always insisting “Never look across the fence.”

This moral lesson is similar to that given to Lee Lococca, now one of the wealthiest in the world.

He recounted in his book: “Talking Straight:” When I was young, for instance, I used to envy

some of the richer kids in town. My father would say, “be grateful for what you’ve got. Envy won’t

only turn you green. It’ll kill you.”

Imperative of God-fearing leaders and followers: Effective anti-corruption tool

I posit, leaders and followers (in short, any person) who honestly or faithfully believe in GOD/

ALLAH are most unlikely to succumb or degenerate to UNETHICAL or questionable practices

(CORRUPTION) in daily conduct, personal or official. It is germane here to quote Epicurus:

“Ethics deals with things to be sought and things to be avoided.” In other words, Ethics deals with

eventual decisions on moral choices, especially in conflict situations or circumstances. This tandem

with religion or one’s sincere commitment to belief in GOD or THE ALMIGHTY.

Common to all Religious Faiths are obligatory prescriptive DOs and DONTs. The DON’Ts are effective tools to combat corruption or corrupt practices.

I have always held that there is no “No – Religious person.” Every normal human being believes in or at least cherishes some Power higher than self.

This usually manifests itself especially in moments of fear, “Oh my God!” or “My Goodness”

are populousexclamations under such circumstances. I also argue that propounding “A-theism” is not intellectualism. In fact, it is counter intellectualism. The great intellectual Einstein, himself held similarly.

I wish to conclude with the following quotations: “There will always be selfishness, greed and corruption. But pray God we may have the courage and the wisdom and the vision to raise a definite standard that will appeal to the best that is in man, and then strive mightily towards that goal” (Harold E. Stassen).

“In the final analysis, if Nigeria is to survive as a viable entity, the moral dimension cannot remain as a missing link in our public and private lives” (Allison A. Ayida)


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