BY EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
ABUJA—Former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Senator Kanu Agabi, has attributed the endemic corruption in Nigeria to the 1960 independence and first state creation exercise of 1966, which he said led to acute shortage of manpower in the country.
Agabi, who made the assertion yesterday, while delivering a lecture with the theme, “The Challenge of Combating Corruption in Nigeria”, organized by the Law Students Association LAWSA of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN in honour of the retired Justice of the Supreme Court, late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa at the Public Service Institute, Kubwa Express Way, Abuja.
He said the development, culminated in the subsequent appointment of unqualified people into serious positions of authority in the various states created.
The former AGF and Minister of Justice stressed that the problem of acute shortage of manpower that came with the creation of states in 1966 was further compounded by the civil war which ravaged the nation between 1966 and 1970 and thus sent the remaining few qualified expatriate packing.
According to him, “after independence, we removed every Briton in the civil service at a time we did not have experienced indigenes in the bureaucracy and then, fell into a war when every Easterner withdrew from the civil service, compounding the manpower problems. Then we created 12 states, compounding and multiplying our manpower needs and people who were not qualified took up top government positions. We also segregated among ourselves, creating divisions, building bloc of hate”.
Senator Agabi also identified mindless pursuit of power and inability to build enduring positive character as further causes of corruption in Nigeria.
He noted that there was also the growing tendency to look at people not by their strength but by their weaknesses, stressing that Nigerians should not be ruled by their frustrations.
He said: “The issue of fighting corruption could come from what people might call mundane perspectives. When we get it right there and internalize those virtues, we would realize that the war against corruption has been half won.
“Take for instance, we must always sing our national anthem, not Yoruba anthem; Hausa anthem; Igbo anthem; christian anthem; moslem anthem or school anthem. We should only sing the national anthem and develop our mind on the positive attributes of life.”