Nigerians Must Accept Corruption As An Evil –El-Rufai ExplodesArticles/Opinion, Featured, Latest News, News Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
By Tajudeen Balogun
One of the best ways Nigerians can tackle problem of corruption in the system is to fully understand the evil itself and agree that it is anti-progress and development – a phenomenon that “denies them the opportunity for good governance”.
Yet, corruption thrives in the country basically due to the fact that the Nigerian system and the people shy away and pretend not to perceive the danger in the phenomenon, which is the effect of wrong mentality – sharing of “national cake or common wealth”.
These were parts of the Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Mallam Nasiru El-Ruafi’s thought as he delivered lecture on “Corruption and the Challenge of Good Governance in Nigeria” on Sunday, in Lagos.
At the National discourse organized by The Companion, an association of Muslim men in business and Professions, El-Rufai said whatever form of corruption that was being considered, there was an interrelation as they affected one another all translating to a larger effect on the country since governance is synonymous with management.
“Once government is seen as “corruptly” managing public resources, the entire essence of good governance is lost and society is in grave danger. This implies that ” we owe it to ourselves, families, friends, businesses, professions and political convictions to tackle corruption and fight it wherever it manifests itself. If we do not fight back, corruption will destroy the fundamental nature of our society and all that we stand for”, former FCT Minister affirmed.
If corruption must be fought, he posited it required people to learn from the failures of the past, reasoning that a solid program aimed at fighting corruption should address what accounts for the incidence of the phenomenon, directly attack its major causes and learn the relevant lessons from the efforts to tackle it, while dealing a heavy blow to the “global stigmatization of Nigerians as inherently corrupt”.
He expressed that the usual high grand standing in the media has sustained the global stereotype of every Nigerian as corrupt, hence, an urgent need to adjust and forge ahead from where the error has been made, while observing that the implication of this was to take certain specific but preventive steps to make bribery and corruption transactions more difficult to consummate by eliminating cash payments “by governments and contractors to establish an audit trail for public expenditure and withdrawing all exemption of due process accorded to national security spending”.
Generally, Corruption El-Rufai specified acted as an inefficient and unofficial tax on business, ultimately raising the cost of production and reducing profits, saying in Nigerian context, decreases the productivity of investments and also undermines the quality and quantity of public services as well as propels rent-seeking, causes inefficiencies and waste of resources. Worst, he declared it stifled good governance because resources that ought to improve public good, were either diverted into private pockets or are unaccounted for.
Making reference to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1997 definition of good governance in a policy document, he stated concept of good governance was about the processes and structures that guide political and socio-economic relationships. El-Rufai who served in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, itemized that signposts of a responsible and responsive government included: Rule of Law – fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially; Transparency – decisions taken and their enforcement, carried out in a manner that follows laid down rules and regulations; Responsiveness – serving all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe; Consensus oriented – mediation of the different interests in a society to reach a broad consensus in the overall interest of the whole community; Equity and inclusiveness – all members of the society are availed the opportunity of sense of belonging; Effectiveness and Efficiency – processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of the society while making the best use of available resources and Accountability – governmental institutions, including accountable private sector and civil society organizations.
Lamenting the prevalent corruption in governance at the various level of government today, he reasoned if the $20 billion allegedly vanished from the NNPC’s accounts, was enough to increase power generation in Nigeria by another 20,000 MW, while stating that one way of measuring the impact of corruption on national development and how it challenges good governance is “by looking at the opportunity costs of stolen funds..”
On security challenge in the country, El-Rufai did not mince words when submitted that one of the bane of the challenge was “intelligence failure”. He stressed that a serious and focus government’s security would not wait untill problems unfold, rather would pre-empt and prevent them. He noted many solutions have been proffered to President Goodluck Jonathan on the way out of the raging insurgency, but were rubbished, majorly because the administration has been partisan about the solutions and directions they come from.
Former Lagos state Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire in his discussion of the theme noted that solutions to stamp out corruption in Nigerian society was a collective responsibility of the government and governed. He complained about wrong orientation of people who always expect every public office holder to be “extremely financially rich”. He therefore called for quick re-orientation on this.
Earlier, in his welcome speech, the National President of the organization and former Commissioner in the Lagos state Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Barrister Musibau Oyefeso, revealed the choice of the discourse theme was borne out of state of affairs in the country. He called on the politicians to desist from using religion to divide the country and called on Nigerians to support the present administration in any genuine drive to solve and tackle challenge of insecurity in the country.
The discourse was attended by Otunba Lateef Owoyemi, FCA who was the Chairman, former National of The Companion, Alhaji Tunde Popoola FCA, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdul Rahman Ade-Bello and his former UNILORIN counterpart as well as Secretary-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Professor Isiaq, Professor Isiaq Lakin-Akintola and many dignitaries within and outside Lagos metropolis.
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