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War Against Corruption

Corruption, as we already know, is the major hindrance of development across all sectors in Nigeria.

Experience has shown that citizens of Nigeria are not, in anyway, different from any citizens of any other country across the globe. If anything, they are even more hardworking and determined than many other nationals across the world. This is the pivotal reason why almost every Nigerian survives and thrives successfully wherever he or she finds himself or herself anywhere in the world no matter how hostile such environment is. In actual fact, Nigerians are more often than not preferred over other nationals whenever it comes to employment recruitment competition just because knowledgeable and experienced employers all over the world know that an average Nigerian is not only honest but also hardworking.

The main issue about corruption in Nigeria does not lie with the common man on the street of Oshodi, or in an alley in Kafancha, or the widow who is toiling on a groundnut farm in Yola, or the penury market woman who is trying to earn some living to feed her five children at Ishan village, or the overworked oil field man who is struggling with the hydrocarbon engendered renal failure in the Delta region, nor does it lie with the semi-illiterate sales boy who has been forced to man his master's shop at Onitsha market at the tender age of fourteen when he supposed to be in a class room with his peers, the problem of corruption lies right at Aso Rock and with those that wine and dine with people in the corridor of power both at the national and state/local levels.

The most recent event to attesting to this non-guilty verdict on common Nigerians in the case of corruption in Nigeria was the experience that followed the transition from the corrupt democratic government of the second republic in the early 1980s to one of the most accountable, though unpopular, governments in the history of Nigeria in the mid 1980s that was immediately followed by the most gruesome and corrupt governments in the history of Nigeria between late 1980s and early 1990s.

During the short era of the duo of Buhari and Idiagbon between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985, the sanctification that was breathed back to the life of Nigeria as a community after a near half decade social decadence and broken-down law and order proved that Nigerians as a people are honest and hardworking people who are only looking for someone that is honest enough to lead by example and be a pacesetter in eradicating social vices, including corruption.

For the sake of those who are not familiar with this regime that I am making reference to, during this regime, though judged as being forceful and illegitimate because they usurped power from the corrupt elected officers by the power of barrels of guns and military boots, Nigeria and Nigerians quickly regained the once lost respect amidst international community in the area of discipline and economic management. With War Against Indiscipline (WAI), the anti-corruption and anti-indiscipline campaign put in place by this regime fully functional, law and order became the rule of the day in an erstwhile community where there was no respect for discipline and social morality. People started queuing, for the first time, for their turns wherever two or more people had to wait to be served. You would be very careful to collect any gratuity from any one, even if offered with good intention without any string attached, for the fear of being charged and jailed for taking bribe. For the first time in a long time, no petrol filling stations would close doors to customers unless they had no petrol in their stock, otherwise the hoarded product would be auctioned to the public. In the same vein, no wholesales or retail shop dared lock the store's door during working hours if consumable items were available in stock, otherwise those products would be auctioned, after such store had been broken into by the WAI corps, as a deterrent to hoarding of essential commodities that was prevalent, before this regime came to power, in order to create artificial scarcities and inflations.

Under the law of WAI, and for the first time in Nigeria history, past corrupt leaders were being tried and convicted for corruption and embezzlement they indulged in while in their formal offices. In the same vein, any servicing public, military or civilian, or contractor that was found in bribery or any form of act of corruption would be immediately relieved of his or her position and promptly prosecuted. No more 10% bribery for awarded contracts, as there was little or no more uncompleted or partially completed contracts after collection of the contract fee. Armed robbery incident dropped sharply, unemployment rate nose dived, the national economic rating soared and people started feeling more confident about themselves and about the safety of their lives and properties.

This is not to claim that the Buhari/Idiagbon regime was without blemish. The duo inherited an external debt of about $8.9 billion dollars from the Shagarri regime on December 31, 1983, by the time they were booted out of the office in a palace coup staged by the then Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1985 to usher in the alleged most corrupt regime in the Nigeria history, the Nigeria national external debt had doubled to about $18 billion dollars. Explaining this rapid surge in external debt despite the perceived high level of accountability may be difficult, though the oil price slumped during this two year period. The ballooning of this debt to US$34.1 billion during Babangida/Abacha regime however, is far beyond any resonable explanation, especially bearing in mind that this era witnessed significant hike in the oil price during Gulf war. About $12 billion dollars are still allegedly uncounted for from the oil price gain during the Gulf war. You may read details about the Nigeria exernal debts at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/14/8/1919422.pdf or at http://jubileesouth.org/journal/nigeria.htm.

The era of Babangida and Abacha not only eroded all the achievements of the WAI, it seriouly turned the hours of progress back to the ages of medieval in the history of corruption.

In view of the foregoing narrated government transitions, with the experience they brought, it is obvious that eradicating corruption and its effects in Nigeria requires full commitment of a government whose judicial and legal horns do not mind goring any offender that crosses the path of law by committing corruption. Since democracy is the rule of the day, people are the one that really possess the ultimate power to elect in tested leaders that will not only be accountable to the people that elect them, but will also not hesitate to bring any corrupt individuals or group or organization to justice.

This is where our strategies come in. Every Nigerian knows the type of person each and every individual that canvasses for public office is. Nigerians can easily tell, either by virtue of the past or present individual performance, whether such public office seeker is likely to be corrupt and encourage corruption to the detriment of the people that elect him or her or not. The perception we however have as a major problem is that people do not really know or realize how much power they have as electorate in choosing or deciding who should be their leaders. Many people believe that their votes do not really count, and that whether they vote for candidate A or not, if "power that be" decides that candidate A must win, nothing will make candidate A lose. In view of this, many Nigerians either will fail to vote or will vote against their wishes just because they feel that their going to poll is nothing but ordinary formality. By virtue of this act of omission or commission, the money bags will either win with land slide because only the electorate they are able to dole out money to come out to vote, or end up with equivocal lose thereby giving rooms for subtle rigging that will eventually give undeserved victory to the potential thieves. Neither of these two scenarios would have been possible however if people had trooped out en-mass and voted for candidate of their choices without entertaining the morbid feelings of being inconsequential.

Our strategies are:

    1) To embarking on grassroots' level education of the electorate at homes and market places and youngsters at high school and university/college levels about the destructive effects of corruption and election of corrupt officers into public offices.

    2) Educating the electorate the features of, and how to identify, potential corrupt public office holders.

    3) Reorientation of the potential and active electorate across all walks of life about the importance of not according credence and credibility to ill gotten money by means of worshipping the culprits and accumulators of such illicit wealth in public places like churches, mosques, universities, clubs and so on in form of awards, praise singing, image laundry and the likes in return for a share of such illicit wealth in form of donations, fundraising and so on.

    4) Educating the public about the power possessed by the electorate in democratic government, with emphasis on the fact that local and international monitoring of any major election will make it difficult, and often impossible, for anyone to rig election if people speak out with decisive voice by voting en-mass for the candidates of their choices.

    5) Educating the public and potential electorate that taking money from an unscrupulous candidate that offers such as a way of lobbying for a potential electorate's vote, though morally wrong, is not illegal under most electoral laws and should not prevent such voter from voting for his or her candidate of choice without allowing such accepted money to sway or influence his or her voting decision.

These educational forums will be organized on regular basis all round the year and across all major cities and universities in Nigeria in the form of lectures delivered by renowned human right and anti-corruption activists, local paper advertisements, local radios and televisions jingles and advertisements and T-shirts and postable signs. The internet campaigns targeting young electorate will intensify and continue.

We will establish coordinating branches, each in every major city, town and university/college across Nigeria. These branches will have direct access to our professional committees and internet resources for easy communication and coordination.

Apart from the above itemized strategies, our function as a public, non-partisan and non-governmental anti-corruption pressure group will continue by focusing on monitoring the government's commitment in implementation of its anti-corruption programs. We will monitor public office holders activities to identify the corrupt officers that we will take to the court of people by using our power of communication, while rewarding the identified accountable public officer with award of recognition for selfless service to the public as a way of encouraging others to borrow a leaf from such sincere officer(s).

The courageous sense of selfless service to the people of Nigeria that was demonstrated recently by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is a very recent example of the type of transparency and accountabiliy we are praying for in the management of our motherland's economy.

We will continue our surveys of major organizations that are operating in Nigeria on regular basis to ensure that corruption is neither being abetted nor aided by bodies that supposed to serve public interests. We will continue to investigate, and periodically publish articles on, allegations of violations of Nigerian's right both at home and in Diaspora.

Our organization will continue embracing and working with other established bodies and individuals who share our common goals of eradicating corruption and its effects in Nigeria.

Our programs will continue to be funded by the proceeds from self contributions, fundraising, patrons' and patronesses' donations, sponsors' supports and funds generated from advertisements. We shall not take or encourage donations from any present or past corrupt Nigerians or their agents whether directly or otherwise.

Please, join the ConcernedNigerians in our grassroots' campaign and war against corruption and its engendered impoverishment in Nigeria.

Please send your concerns and comments to us at the address above or email us at moderator@concernednigerians.com.

You may also contact us by fax at 1-678-580-1528.

Thanks very much for your supports.