How Can We Reduce Political Corruption Levels in Nigeria?

I will start off by defining the word ‘corruption’ alone. Corruption is defined and perceived across a spectrum of illegal payments and transactions such as bribes, embezzlement, and money laundering among others. Corruption is a symptom of deeply rooted economic and social maladies, and affects public finances, business investment as well as standard of living.

Political corruption to be specific is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.

Political corruption has been an ongoing problem in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been several cases of official misuse of funds and resources. The rise of public administration and the ‘boom’ of oil and natural gas are two major factors that led to the increase in corrupt practices in the country.

In 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence.

“Corruption is a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm that undermines the fabric of all societies. It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries. It constitutes a serious threat to good governance, rule of law, peace and security, as well as development programmes aimed at tackling poverty and economic backwardness” said Muhammadu Buhari.

Muhammadu Buhari is the current president of Nigeria and was elected in 2015. Part of President Buhari’s manifesto before he became president was to start an anti-corruption war. Since being elected, he has started this war. This war is against all forms of corruption in Nigeria. With the help of the research I’ve done, I will be analyzing Buhari’s Corruption campaign by looking at its successes and failures.

Some of the ways Buhari has planned to fight corruption are;

The creation of an assets recovery account so that all the assets that are recovered by the country go into one account to remove the opacity of reconciliation and lessen the chances of a report of re-looting of the returned assets, that had dogged the country in the past.

The establishment of an inter-agency asset tracing team to centralize the management of recovered assets, prevent re-looting and mismanagement.

The vice president has also taken several bills to president Buhari for consideration, some of these being; The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill which is Meant “to provide for the manner in which individuals may, in the public interest, disclose information that relates to unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of others”.

President Buhari has also given anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), as well as the judiciary, the liberty to fully launch offensives against corruption and it’s agent.

So How Successful Has This Anti-Corruption Campaign Been?

Since Mr Buhari came to power in May 2015, dozens of public officials and their cronies have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); an anti-corruption agency. Some of those being;

Alison Mdueke; a former minister of petroleum, Steve Oronsaye who is the former head of service and was arrainged on a 24-count-charge of allegedly stealing. Another example is Abdulrasheed Maina who was the chairman of Pensions Reform Task and was charged with alleged embezzlement, misappropriation and looting of police pension funds.

Some Criticisms of Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Campaign:

In a report titled “Heavy Knocks For Buhari’s Anti-Corruption” published by Sahara Reporters, Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders claimed he had contacted the president and the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, numerous times. He did this to express to them his worry as to why several people such as the former Governor of Ekiti State, Kemi Adeosun, has had several allegations against him regarding corruption and mismanagement of public funds but has not been looked into for investigation or questioning. He went on to express his disappointment in Buhari’s actions in the statement “We are dissatisfied with the way the anti-corruption war is being fought and we are afraid that we may not achieve anything better than what we had before Buhari assumed office”.

In a statement by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Dayo Adeyeye of the Makarfi faction, it was said that Buhari’s letter to the senate clearing Ibrahim Magu and Babachir Lawal of corruption confirmed that his anti-corruption war was a ruse.
 
 “Mohamadu Buhari is a farce. Those who are serving or close to him can do no wrong. And if you are a sinner, simply cross over to the APC and all your sins will be forgiven. Without any fear of contradiction, we hereby further assert that the anti-corruption war of President is a complete failure.’ Said Mr Dayo Adeyeye.

‘President Muhammad Buhari’s War on Corruption is focused on politicians instead of civil servants who are tasked with budget implementation’ , some Nigerian lawmakers have said.

“I fear none of these cases will stand up in a court of law,” “The current tactics are undermining Nigerian institutions. — said Manji Cheto, a West African risk analyst.

A personal critic of mine regarding President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign would be that several people have been accused of various corrupt practices but the cases have not been looked into. As well as that, his government claim to have repossessed a lot of stolen assets and funds but us, the people, are still yet to see what this new repossessed money is being used for, as there has not been any new development in any aspect of the country.

Corruption in Nigeria is a phenomenon that has interwoven into its fabric for decades. It is because of this that the gap between the rich and poor members of society continues to widen, with the less fortunate suffering devastating effects. There’s no doubt that President Buhari does want to make a change in the levels of corruption in the nation Nigeria and has made a difference already, but from the criticisms of his campaign we can see that even his plans are flawed. In order to curb corruption within the Nigerian government more effectively and simultaneously guarantee constant economic growth in order to get the country out recession, several strategies will have to be carried out. Some ideas of strategies that I have researched that could be carried out will be listed and explained below.

Decentralization;

it is imperative that the government be decentralized. Decentralization is the transfer of authority from central to local government. This process makes it significantly less feasible for politicians to control the purses of the nation, as these roles will become merely regulatory. What this means is spreading duties between more people. Some of these duties being financial. If this is done, Corruption levels will decrease because less government officials will have such large sums of money (public funds) available to them as all finances will not have to be handled between too few hands. If these sums of money become less available to them then they will be less likely to steal and hence reduce corruption.

Paying Government Workers well:

If government workers feel their wages are too low, it will affect motivation and incentives. They will be more likely to compensate their low wages with public funds, and this won’t be difficult seeing as they are in charge of the public funds.

In Nigeria, being underpaid and sometimes unpaid is the normal thing.

‘Last year, it was reported up to 23 states of Nigeria’s 36 states left their civil servants unpaid for months on end’.

The quote from an article on the culture Nigeria has of not paying it’s workers supports my statement of Nigerian workers being underpaid. So if a system of efficent payment could be established it would reduce the chnaces of government officials stealing public funds. Van Rijckeghem and Weder, did some research on the correlation between corruption levels and average public sector wages (public sector being government officials, civil servants, etc) and they discovered there was a strong correlation between these two factors.

Creating transperacy in Governemnt spending:

Subsidies, tax exemptions, public procurement of goods and services, soft credits, extra-budgetary funds under the control of politicians — all are elements of the various ways in which governments manage public resources. If these allocation and transcations of the several funds the government are in charge of were more transparent and open, government officials would be less likely to abuse the funds or any resources as chances of them being caught would be high. Collier(a US magazine) in 2007 provides persuasive evidence on the negative impact of ineffective systems of budget control. Countries where citizens are able to scrutinize government activities and debate the values of several public policies also makes a difference, this all comes down to being able to make the government more accountable.

Deploying smart technology;

The frequent direct contact between government officials in order to get their jobs done; such as meetings with ministers discussing what the country’s funds should be allocated to do, increases the chances of corrupt transactions taking place as it opens room for negotiation to benefit just themselves. One way to solve this problem would be to reduce this direct contact by using readily available technologies to encourage more of arms-length relationship between people within government.

Developing A Sense Of Moral Character:

The country needs to develop a sense of moral character in citizens, starting with the family, and all other institutions in society. If this is done, more people, even faced with the opportunity of committing a corrupt practice to benefit them, will not solely because they know it is wrong.

Educating the youth on The Negative Influence of Corruption:

This is more of a long term solution, but children at school should be informed about the negative influence of corruption on the country, so when they grow older and are faced with the opportunity to steal or commit any type of corrupt practice, they will think twice because they know how it impacts the nation.

Enforce Stiff Punishment:

Another way will be to include stiff punishment for corrupt officials of all classes in the laws of the land. Public policies on corruption have to combine rewards for honesty and punishment for bad behaviors.37 if more corrupt people are caught and punished severely, less people will go on to be corrupt themselves because of the fear of being caught.

In conclusion, Corruption is clearly a persistent phenomenon Nigeria has been facing and is yet to be conquered, there have been efforts leaders have taken to curb the level of corruption but there is still a long way for the nation to go. I believe that with the right policies taken, we will very well be on our way to the goal, so i have hope for the Country.