Corruption still exists because the authorities in Nigeria are not sincere.
A renowned professor of law at the University of Lagos, Akin Oyebode, has attributed the failure to curb corruption in Nigeria to the “hypocrisy” of the nation’s ruling class.
Mr. Oyebode stated this during the session ‘Building Systems and Institutions that precent Corruption’ at the 3rd Retreat of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, held in Lagos.
According to Mr. Oyebode, the tolerance exhibited by the ruling class for the misconduct of its members and friends is an affront on Nigeria’s corporate interests.
“Where there is selective enforcement and a high tolerance level for the misdeeds of public office holders, it becomes highly problematic to sermonize on the survival of the Nigerian nation state,” Mr. Oyebode said.
“The nation would be judged by the preparedness of the ruling class to apply the full weight of the law on all violators, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The moment it is sounded loud and clear that in the enforcement of law, there shall be no sacred cows, there is most likely to be greater compliance with the law.
Mr. Oyebode said that successive efforts to tackle corruption had failed due to the insincerity and lack of tenacity of purpose by the powers-that-be in the country who have refused to lead by example.
“The hypocrisy of the ruling class who demonstrate double standards and inability to walk the talk has induced long yawns among the populace who can no longer stand the cant, hypocrisy and
sanctimonious, holier-than-thou stance of their rulers who fail egregiously to practice what they preach.
“Nigeria has enough laws and institutions to combat corruption. The architecture of the war against corruption seems adequate even if there might be the need for re-tooling here and there. What has been lacking hitherto is the requisite political will to fight the disease to a logical conclusion.
“A situation where anti-corruption agencies are denied the wherewithal to sustain anti-corruption crusade smacks of a calculated attempt to disembowel and incapacitate them,” Mr. Oyebode added.
Governors’ lavish lifestyle
In attendance at the retreat were Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the NGF; Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Governor; Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State; Aliyu Wamakko, Governor, Sokoto State; Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State governor; Abdulazeez Yari, Zamfara State Governor; Segun Adesegun, Ogun State Deputy Governor; Eze Madumere, Deputy Governor of Imo State; Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, Deputy Governor of Osun State; Peter Kishira, Kwara State Deputy Governor; and Bukola Saraki, a serving Senator and Former Chairman of the NGF.
Also speaking in the same session, Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, accused state governors of fuelling corruption with their extravagant lifestyles.
Mr. Ribadu said the tendency by the citizens to indulge in corrupt practices would be minimised if leaders lived moderate lives.
“Show us how to behave and we will follow you, if we have less private jets,we see you live in moderation, we will follow and copy you,” the former anti-graft boss said.
He said corruption is a major threat to development, saying Nigeria would be far better fighting it.
Mr. Ribadu, a former presidential election under the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in 2011, called on state governments to put in place mechanisms to check corruption in their respective states.
He said corruption is a deep-rooted malaise which could not be fought by centrally-controlled agencies alone.
He said that the active involvement of the states in the fight against corruption would check leakages and promote development.
“The states can do more and achieve more in the fight against corruption because they control a substantial amount of development resources.
“If they leave the fight to centrally controlled agencies alone, we will not get the desired results.”
Mr. Ribadu also urged state governments to put in place a sanction regime to punish offenders to serve as deterrence to others.
Also speaking, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd), the former Chairman, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC, said there was the need to strengthen anti-corruption agencies to fight the menace.
Mr. Akanbi said corrupt leaders were powerful and influential and urged heads of anti-corruption agencies to muster enough courage to bring them to justice.
“The heads of these agencies must have the political will to fight corruption. Without courage, you can’t fight the menace; these corrupt people are powerful and it takes courage to fight them.”