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Confronting centuries of corruption By Ima Niboro

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

In more than a decade since the end of its military rule, Nigeria has made significant strides toward solidifying itself as a bastion of democracy. Today, Nigeria prides itself as a country with open elections and freedom of the press, the right to due process and an independent judiciary.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

But in spite of the substantial progress achieved, Nigeria, as with developing countries across the globe, remains victim to a history haunted by colonial injustices and insurgent pressures. In the decades that followed colonial rule, military dictators and a brutal civil war scarred Nigeria’s growth, opening the country to a long stretch of corrupt leadership by military dictators, and civil unrest.

This history predates President Goodluck Jonathan.

If history is any guide, confronting corruption rooted in centuries of development does not happen overnight. It is a slow and fragile process, requiring concerted efforts steered by a committed leadership. Of late, Nigeria faces a bitter battle against a growing insurgency, yet the nation—under the astute governance of the current administration— has come a long way in moving forward.

Policies emplaced and measures continually underway reflect the president’s steadfast commitment to establishing transparency and credibility across all government institutions. He has uncovered and seized fraudulent money from corrupt officials, dismissed judges for abusing their powers, led Nigeria as one of the first signatories to an anti-money laundering act, passed legislation to permit open scrutiny of government businesses, and established partnerships to ensure credibility in the country’s electoral process.

The groundwork in place to confront corruption has enabled the government’s success in responding to domestic threats. As the Ebola outbreak rampaged the country’s major cities, President Jonathan partnered with state governments and international NGOs to provide medical aid and develop innovative approaches to treat Ebola victims, successfully containing the virus in-country while deploying Nigerian volunteers to lead efforts abroad. His Victims Support Fund provides relief for those impacted by Boko Haram violence and his Safe Schools Initiative, and subsequent construction of hundreds of schools, serves to protect Nigeria’s academic system and ensure children’s right to education, most among Nigeria’s northeastern region where school enrollment lags behind other areas.

Yet despite this remarkable progress, Nigeria faces the constant peril of an escalating terror threat. Centuries of civil unrest fueled the evolvement of Boko Haram, the terrorist organization that has claimed thousands of innocent lives over the past four years. Since 2013, the president has instituted a state of emergency in three Nigerian northeastern states facing the worst of Boko Haram’s threat. He has established anti-terror measures to better equip and effectively train the military. And he has engaged in active negotiations to secure the release of the Chibok girls—all the while protecting the country from the very terrorists ravaging its soil.

Jonathan assumed his position in a national landscape laden by societal woes. Since 2010, his administration has worked tirelessly to institute measures to allow Nigeria to establish itself as an open, transparent nation that safeguards the democratic rights of the Nigerian people.

Clearing the roots is the key to creating a sustainable foundation in the fight against corruption. The President and his administration continue building onto these measures, keeping Nigeria moving forward in the face of daunting odds.

Niboro is managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, a state-run news reporting organization.


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