December 14, 2016

Fighting corruption and economic rescession

THE current economic crisis, an exposé on the predicted disabilities and inhuman dispositions of neo liberal policies, especially its role in developing economies just as it is in all sectors, seem to be one that will ignite, if it has not already ignited a revolt that will sure upturn global fortunes for the better.

Not sure if Nigeria will be a beneficiary, given the nature of our intellectual, organisational, state and structural ineptitude as well as absence of national cohesiveness in a situation where nearly every analysis is garbed in ethnicity and clear allegiance to anything but national interests.

Most critics, these days, see issues in the context of who was there and who is now there and from where; nothing much about what was there and what is there. Indeed, somehow contemporary Nigeria has degenerated so fast, perhaps faster than any human abode at all levels.

It may seem that because we never had situations when the opposition becomes government, no one, including the present government planned for the crisis we are now collectively burdened with. That just one citizen keeps millions of dollars at home, amounting to sums that could have either rejuvenated or built sectors that would have shot the citizens and country to better life and greater heights in human endeavour, doesn’t seem to be as worrisome to many as it would be if it were not perceived or analysed in regional or ethnic garbs with party biases; nauseating debates over legalities and constitutionality even as our legislators brazenly display superiority in self-interests above our collective future and fortunes as if there were no laws and constitution before now.

When any of the three arms of government treats the fourth arm, the real arm of government- the citizens- with so much impunity, the country goes down. The worst is when the “last hope of the common man”, as the judiciary is commonly referred to, becomes a convenient abode of the devil sullying the common man.

While Nigerians have been compelled to contend with growing debts, debts imposed on the citizens by selfish and inept leaders who swam and possibly still swim with our collective wealth; monumental debts that have mostly been brazenly embezzled beyond anyone’s imagination before the advent of the present government, some people still argue that it was wrong to pick judicial officers, Judges of the highest court, the Supreme Court, who kept monies in different currencies- proceeds of compromise; monies handed them by those spending our collective treasure- in their homes. Judges; those who should be revered, feared professionals that should have been leading examples in decency and professional discipline; those who should be presiding over cases of corruption; those who should have been ordering prisons opened for all the characters slowing us down, are the ones keeping proceeds of corruption in their homes.

This is the highest of all scandals emerging from the rot of several years of maladministration of a country with so much resources in human and material quantum enough to rule the world.

When the judiciary becomes as compromised as it has so far been exposed by alleged discoveries by those who carried out midnight sting operations in the homes of Judges suspected to have compromised their professional ethics, any such country is already doomed.

But, somehow, the battle against corruption must be trap free. It must have good legal and constitutional unbreakable grounds strong enough to make judges or anyone unable to circumvent.

There are questionable methods and the regime is obviously serious enough in the ordinary about the battle against what has slowed the country down than to allow legal or constitutional pits as obstacles. There are questionable actions that point to obvious pitfalls in the investigation, arraignment and trial of the accused persons/judges.

For instance, is the State Security Service, SSS, responsible for any form of operation in corruption related cases? When did the SSS become Department of State Services? Which law changed its name? Why wasn’t the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission or the anti-fraud unit of the Nigeria Police involved? Any of the accused judges can throw these questions as obstacles to proper prosecution. Haven’t they used these to free previously prosecuted individuals?

Yes, the judiciary stinks, and we must say this very loud, but the den of crime must not be invaded in manners anyway seen much more helpful to criminality. Agreed, the element of surprise is necessary in situations where accomplices of suspects sits within the agencies with direct responsibilities to deal with corruption related cases or any crime, but there should be some fine officers in the appropriate agencies that can carry out flawless operations without compromise.

More worrisome is the escapist clearance of criminality by a man who should be ashamed he presided over the most corrupt civilian regime in Nigeria’s history, conveniently defeating the Shehu Shagari regime; that regime that truncated civil rule by every means possible but more by impunity backed with a warped constitution, a product constituted in impunity for the promotion of impunity just like the current constitution; a product of the contraptions of an old class of the same group of beneficiaries of our common wealth.

That former President Jonathan had to openly declare support for his erstwhile security adviser who is currently undergoing prosecution for criminally diverting monies budgeted by his administration for the defence of the Nigerian people and our collective sovereignty is not only irresponsible and ludicrous but an admission of ineptitude, emptiness and lack of remorse by a man.

Our current economic woes cannot be blamed only on the Jonathan administration alone.

Indeed, between 1999 and 2015, Nigeria had the opportunity to have minimal or zero impacts from the current global economic recession, if our leaders were selfless, honest, patriotic, focused, people driven and committed to the development of the country.

What we suffer today seem a tip of the proverbial iceberg as nothing has happened to show that the country will not slide from economic recession to depression.

We can only avoid economic depression if the Buhari regime realises its responsibility to urgently commence a recovery process that will return industries to production, give productive jobs to the unemployed and ensure sustainable anti-corruption structures backed by stronger laws that would outlive the regime.

No import dependent country, as Nigeria is at the moment, will survive the surging hurricane of global economic recession. We must return to local production or face full depression.

We must avoid external policy influences that has been tested and evidently found to be counterproductive, such as the Breton Wood institutions and their proxies. No foreign institution or country will offer any policy or assistance that will make another country better than theirs. The Breton Woods are not directing development towards countries like Nigeria. Their policies are directed towards taking what will sustain developed countries, advance them in their global power contestations while they advance us, poor countries in our dependency status that will perpetually deepen mass poverty, unemployment, corruption, bad governance and war that will provide market for their arms.

We have enough human resources to develop our own policies in the interest of our people. And with a government that “belongs to nobody and to everybody”, it is possible to move on without policies and programmes alien to our collective interests as one people. One country.


Denja Yaqub is an Assistant Secretary at the headquarters of Nigeria Labour Congress, Abuja.