Corruption in Nigeria is systemic, institutionalised and almost now a legalised norm in all strata of our life as a people.
Today, I take excerpts from a paper I presented at the just concluded NBA Conference that held on August 29, 2018.
The concept of institutionalization
Institutionalisation encompasses putting into place machineries to foster an organisation’s thrust or value in a way that the organisation operates within its laid down mechanism autonomously devoid from the undue influences of the organisation’s personnel. Institutionalisation is a process, which translates an organisation’s code of conduct, mission, policies, vision and strategic plans into action guidelines applicable to the daily activities of its officers and other organisation’s culture and structure.
Institutionalisation is thus intended to regulate societal behavior (i.e. supra-individual behavior), within an organisation. In the process of institutionalisation, at least three actions can easily be distinguished. They are: Rule making and installment; rule adaptation or developing best practices and; Rule change or replacing old rules with new ones.
The capacity of any nation to overcome any vices depends on the ability of the institutions put in place. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the resilience of nations is manifest in their ability to anticipate and prepare for shocks, which in turn depend on the technical capacities of organisations and institutions at the frontlines of crisis response, the overall functioning of county systems, and the governance structures that set the rules of the game.
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Therefore, institutionalisation is enacting a cultural standard and principles meant to facilitate a common growth and with the principal objective to place the country or nation in a proper perspective to achieve its values without undue external influences. This is better to build strong institutions rather than strong men.
The ironic trend of institutionalised corruption in Nigeria
Institutions in Nigeria ought to fight corruption, but ironically, corruption has been systemically institutionalised in Nigeria. Though corruption is not common to Nigeria alone, it has, however, held sway in all spheres of our national life. Corruption in Nigeria is systemic, institutionalised and almost now a legalised norm in all strata of our life as a people. Phrases like ‘egunje’, ‘oga settle’ ‘oga shake body’, ‘give us kola’ and ‘oga any thing for the boys’ etc, have evolved with their specialised meaning that every average Nigerian has gotten used to and understands. When you visit public offices, these words are uttered in the open without fear because of the nature of corruption in Nigeria.
Chinua Achebe, while expressing the great hold of corruption in Nigeria and on Nigerians said thus: “Anyone who can say that corruption in Nigeria has not yet been alarming is either a fool; a crook or else does not live in this country. The situation has become bad to the extent that as far back 1993, keeping an average Nigeria from being corrupt is as difficult as keeping a goat from eating yam”.
The boundaries of corruption are limitless. According to a commentator: “The range of corruption is as wide as the criminal mind that conceived them in today’s changing world. However, when we talk about corruption, bribery, blackmail, extortion, embezzlement, graft, nepotism and patronage systems readily spring to mind.”
What then is corruption? There exists no universally accepted definition of the term corruption. Corruption has been defined as a state of being decayed, spoiling or deteriorating.
According to World Bank: “Corruption occurs when a function, whether official or private requires the allocation of benefit or the provision of a good service…in all cases, a position of trust is being exploited to realise the private gains beyond what the position holders is entitled to. Attempts to influence the position holder, through the payment of bribes or an exchange of benefits or favours, in order to receive a special gain or treatment not available to others is also a form of corruption, even if the gain involved is not illicit under applicable law. The absence of rules facilitates the process as much as the presence of cumbersome or excessive rules does.
“Corruption in this sense is not confined to the public sector, and in that sector to administrative bureaucracies. It is not limited to the payment and receipt of bribes. It takes various forms and is practiced under all forms of government, including under well-established democracies. Corruption can be found in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, as well as in all forms of private sector activities. It is not exclusively associated with any ethnic, racial or religious group. However, its level, scope and impact vary greatly from one country to another may also vary, at least for a while within the same country from one place to another. While corruption of some form or another may inhere in every human community, the system of governance has a great impact on its level and scope of practice. Systems can corrupt people as much as, if not more than, people capable of corrupting systems.”
According to Otite, corruption is: “The perversion of (the) integrity or state of affairs through bribery, favour, or moral depravity…corruption involves the injection of additional but improper transactions aimed at changing the moral course of events and altering judgments and position of trust…”
Gibbons defined corruption as: “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 that public interest.”
He further expanded the definition thus: “… any behaviour pattern where a power holder is induced by some reward to take actions, which favour the individual offering the reward and thus conflict with the public interest; or, any behaviour pattern where a power holder seeks to maintain or extend his personal advantage by inducing individuals with some reward to assist him in neglecting the public interest.”
This is why corruption is more odious in appointment in public offices in the form of cronyism, nepotism, tribalism, and from the prism of ethnicism, religion and gender considerations. Corruption is not new Nigerians. Its effects are negatively far reaching on every facet of the country’s social economic and political life. Corruption in Nigeria is not only endemic but also systemic and as rightly described by Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in his paper during the 2017 NBA, Ekpoma, Law Week, “corruption forms the 37th state in Nigeria”. In describing the stronghold of corruption in Nigeria, Osinbajo has this to say: “It is a system that feeds on corruption and it affects all aspects of governance, so trying to deal with it is certainly not a walk in the park”.
Since Nigeria’s independence, the country has had to struggle with the scourge of corruption, the political leadership class, in its quest to secure or retain power, suppress opposition, and since they have access to unlimited funds for personal use, they have sacrificed positive leadership on the altar of corruption and vindictiveness. Indeed, from the first generation of political leadership class through the successive military and civilian generation of political leaders, Nigerian political leadership had grown continually in corrupt practices. Corruption has become a cancerous phenomenon that pervades the Nigerian state unrestrained. Over the years, we have seen the development of a vast system of institutionalised corruption most times emanating from the very top and pervading all governmental institutions with perverse influence on the entire society. No institution is speared from corruption as their exist allegations of wanton corruption and filth from the executive to the legislature and to the judiciary.
In Nigeria, the case has become so worrisome that you bribe to get your child into a school, you pay to secure a job and you also continue to pay in some cases to retain it. You pay 10 per cent of every contract obtained as kickback, you dash the tax officer to avoid paying taxes, you pay the hospital doctor and nurse to get proper attention, and you pay the policemen to evade arrest, whether legal or illegal, you also pay to get bail whether you were detained legally or not, contractors get paid for jobs not done, ghost workers keep collecting salaries, public monies go into private pockets and business, this catalogue of shame can continue with an end.
Corruption has remained stumbling block to people enjoying the social fruits of good governance. In fact, it has continued to reign menacingly from electoral malpractices, police brutality, unsolved murders, ethnic cleansing, godfatherism. For example, the country was into mourning in December 23, 2001 when news filtered the air that the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, was murdered in cold blood in his GRA home, Ibadan, Oyo State.
To be continued next week.
Does President or faction of Senate have power to reconvene upper legislative chamber on vacation? (3)
Today, we shall conclude our series on the above topic, which we started two weeks ago.
The only circumstance in which the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives can lose his seat is provided for in section 50(2) of the same Constitution. It states, inter alia, that the president of the Senate, the Deputy President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall vacate their offices through a resolution passed by 2/3rd majority votes of members.
Consequently, for Saraki (and later, Dogara), to be removed, each of the houses needs 2/3rd majority votes. In the case of the Senate, that is a humongous 73 senators, and whopping 240 members of the House of Representatives to remove Dogara. That is an impossible task under the present circumstances even if this corrupt government that feigns anti-corruption war promises all the oil blocks and automatic tickets to the legislators. This is because its antecedents of self-denial on everything it ever promised during campaigns makes it very untrustworthy to be believed on anything.
In law, we call it similar facts. The last time I checked, APC and PDP stand shoulder to shoulder on membership, with each laying claim to numerical superiority. So, where will it achieve this talismanic constitutional superiority of 2/3 majority votes to sack Saraki and Dogara? It will not happen! Read my lips. The deft Machiavellian and superior sagacious political acrobatics of Saraki and R-APC movement have left APC breathless and confused. They must go to the drawing board, a tabula rasa, if it hopes to snatch the burning kernel from the blazing inferno. The next weeks and months will be very interesting. My Kobo take.
• The End
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Corruption is a cancer: a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity; already-tight national budgets, crowding out important national investments. It wastes the talent of entire generations. It scares away investments and jobs.”
– Joe Biden.