Matters Arising

June 13, 2009

From Farida’s staple..

By Kunle Oyatomi
The revelation during the week that as much as N143.6 billion of public funds have been allegedly stolen by only 49 individuals is a grievous indictment on governance in the country.

But more disgusting is the fact that even the agency charged with the responsibility of making people in political office accountable, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is itself expressing frustration in getting judgment against the suspects.

In other words, inspite of its willingness to clean up the system, the EFCC is seriously handicapped because the power of corruption appears to have stalled the process of making politicians accountable for their action in governance.

Shortly before the EFCC made this disclosure, the Human Rights Watch had indicted government for lack of will to tackle the issue of corruption and human rights abuses that are becoming so flagrant in Nigeria.

The democratic process in the last 10 years which held promise at inception in 1999 appears to have stalled and has left corruption to grow greater root in the entire system than we have ever known in Nigeria.

Today, the power of corruption has stalled practically every facets of life in society, politics and politicians are unimaginably corrupt to the extent that most people in the country today take it for granted that politics is dominated by corruption. And to be a successful politician, you are expected to be part of that corruption.

So we have a scenario in which the primary purpose for so-called public service is the selfish gains that politicians through corruption make and certainly not because of any consideration of public interest.

Between 1999 and 2003. the political space was inundated by a motley of characters, the majority of whom then may have thought it a great opportunity to participate in the democratic process, but what that process has eventually turned into is so horrific that between 2003 and this moment as I write, has degenerated into one of the most maligned and corruptive democratic processes Nigeria has ever known.

In the last two years that the current president raised our hope that this desperate drift will be arrested, nothing is on ground to show that this decline and collapse is arrestable.

Those who have been publicly identified or alleged to have been responsible for this massive state of corruption are freer in society than even law-abiding citizens.

This has created the impression that the power of corruption appears to be greater than the power of government to deal with it. That is the tragedy of the whole episode.
Every where you look, the power of corruption is menacingly obvious.

It is at the heart of our inability to fashion an electoral reform that is credible and universally acceptable. Corruption is at the heart also of our inability to provide enough energy to power the economy and the individual needs of our people.

Except one refuses to look or perhaps one is blind, it is so obvious, how corruption has crippled the oil sector – that sector which in itself is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. Corruption has rendered it absolutely problematic for Nigeria.

The flame which has consumed all efforts by governments and all private sector to create jobs and expand the economy is corruption.

Everywhere you look which is causing us problem, corruption in high and low places is to blame.

Why are we unable to address this cankerworm? Why is the EFCC not making progress?

Why is government refusing to take corruption by the jugular and wrestle it to submission?

We do not need a telescope of a magnifying glass to see that at the core of government itself, corruption appears to be king.

So, as the saying goes, who bells the cart?