By Pita Ejiofor
Cont’d from last edition
3.3 The Codes of the Corrupt
About twenty years ago we (Ejiofor 1984: 171) tried to identify the major ‘do's and don'ts’ that governed the operators of the pandemic. Six were identified. We quote (the naira values have been multiplied by 100 to reflect the change in the purchasing power).
‘Don't be mean’, that is, do not meddle with what is below your “dignity”, like say, a Level 16 officer demanding a bribe of N500.00.
“Don't be a rogue”, that is, do not reach out for goods above your level, like say, a messenger demanding a bribe of N10,000.00.
‘Don't be Greedy’, that is, do not keep all the loot to yourself. Share with your superiors and subordinates. Allow others to loot within the limits of their “status”. If you do not want to loot, allow those who want to do so.
“Do not be stupid”, that is, remember that looting is still unlawful and punishable if caught. So do not fail to take reasonable measures to cover all the traces.
“Be reliable”, that is, once you get your consideration, make sure you deliver the goods.
A final one, the most vicious of them seems to be gaining currency. It is, “be realistic”, that is, know that you alone cannot change this country. You are a Nigerian. Take what comes your way. Opportunity comes but once.
I then rounded up by observing that:
“Within the limits so defined, many managers fall over one another in the course of converting to personal use whatever company property they have access to. While the top executive misappropriates millions of naira, the clerk carries away reams of paper and the cleaner steals brooms and toilet rolls ... Periodically, a new government comes in with new promises and new hopes for greater probity. But in no time the pigs of bribery and questionable integrity swarm back to their muddy water”(Ejiofor 1984, ibid).
Take Rule 2 “Don't be a rogue”, and Rule 6, “Know that you alone cannot save this country”, until recently, Nigerians had almost resigned themselves to the reality of corruption being part of the culture such that only two main aspects of it now upset them, namely, the magnitude and the spread. On the magnitude, the news that hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of naira are found in the private accounts of their fellow citizens shocked them. For instance, that as much as thirteen billion naira could be allegedly misappropriated by a top public officer from his organisation. The second is that Nigerians never knew that the spread of corruption in their country when compared with other countries was that bad. But by the time corruption escalated in magnitude in terms of the amount of money involved and expanded laterally engulfing so many Nigerians, and billions of naira started missing from various public treasuries as frequently as common biro pens, many Nigerians wept learning that out dear country has ingloriously braced the ignorable tape as the most corrupt nation on earth.
Mr. President himself stated that “Our goal is to fight corruption to a standstill”; a key aspect of the institutional reforms is to fight corruption and ensure greater transparency”. Following the ruthless drive of the present administration, the Transparency profile of Nigeria has improved to the 6th position. But it is not yet Uhuru. The UNDP in its most recent report listed 177 countries in its report and Nigeria is the 171st. Few parents would not spank a child mercilessly who returned with a report card listing him as 171st in a class of 177. This is the position our dear country took in a world-recognized trans-national examination on bribery and corruption.
3.4 Election Rigging: The Mother of Corruption
By now, the reforms of the anti-corruption crusade could have attained the fury of a revolution but for the recent memories of the massive election rigging of the year 2003 hanging like a millstone round the neck of the policy. Electron rigging is the mother of all corruptions. It is both the cause and the effect of corruption. It feeds on corruption and begets corruption and is in turn begotten by corruption. The USA ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, understandably put it with diplomatic mildness when he said that “there is one thing perhaps more than any other which adds cohesion and strength to a young nation. It is free and fair election.” (Vanguard Editorial Oct 21, 2005. P. 16). The editor was more positive when he said that “free and fair elections have been the Achilles Heels of democratic sustenance in the country since independence. Rather than abate, election malpractices and irregularities have been on the rise” (Vanguard Editorial Oct 21, 2005: 16).
There is no way elections can be free and fair where corruption is rife and reigning. Election rigging is made possible by corruption while the booties of corruption are recycled back into election rigging. Unfortunately, after being on the driving seat during the elections, corruption cannot be easily returned to the back seat. It simply sets the moral tone of the nation. It impacts negatively on almost all aspects of life in a polity. It messes up the judiciary. For instance, it took our judicial system more than 33 and a half months: (May 2003 to March 15, 2006) to tell the nation who won the 2003 Governorship election in Anambra State than the time it took to fight the Nigerian civil war (30 months: July 6th, 1967 to January 12, 1970). In the USA, it took the USA judicial system under three weeks (November 26, 2000 to December 12, 2000) to decide on the legal tussle between two Presidential candidates, Governor George W. Bush (a Republican) and Vice-President Albert Gore (a Democrat) over who won the November 2000 Presidential election in USA. Bush was declared President. The Point being made is that the Anti-corruption crusade would not achieve its full potentials if elections keep being rigged in Nigeria.
IV. Non Implementation of Plans
One of the commonest explanations given for the failure of government plans in Nigeria is that the problem is not in planning but in implementation. The paper is of the opinion that the problem is not just in implementation but also in lack of planning, in faulty planning, in goal displacement as well as in non-implementation. Of course, the root cause of all these is corruption.
4.1 Our Development Plans.
Nigeria has had about nine Development Plans between 1945 and Year 2001 (Eyiuche 52-59).
The 1945-54 Plan (including 1951-55 sub plan)
The 1955-62 Plan
The First National Development Plan 1962-68
The Second National Development Plan 1970 – 74
The Third “ “ ... 1975 – 80
The Fourth “ “ “ ... 1981 – 85
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) 1986 – 88