Let Us Support The Anti-Corruption War

This article appeared in the New York Tribune last week. The author is a friend, and I believe he raised some key issues that we need to consider. Enjoy,

LET US SUPPORT THE ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR
by Oziametu Taiwo Akerele

Sir,

As a Nigerian, I am very worried with the dimension the war on corruption has taken, it is fast becoming a fashion for ex-Governors to get injunction from Nigerian courts restraining the EFCC from arresting and or detaining them for corruption. At the last count, about four Governors have gotten injunction restraining the EFCC. This is very dangerous and should be stopped forthwith by the top echelon of the Judiciary in Nigeria.

The reason is that, Nigeria is heading towards total collapse if we don’t support the fight against corrupt practices. For the past three months my group POLICYHOUSE has been engaged in a research work with the theme, “The Political economy of Corruption; Perspectives from Nigeria. We have it on record that corruption as an industry in Nigeria is now 142% of Nigeria’s GDP. Nigeria’s GDP today stands at about US$116bn according to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), it is much higher if we use the Central Bank of Nigeria figures. This means that corruption is thriving more than what the Oil, manufacturing, mining and agriculture sectors combined can boast of in a whole fiscal year.

The evil thing about corruption is that it retards the efforts or contributions of all other sectors combined, be it mining, Oil and gas, education, manufacturing or power and energy. Last month, the crown court sitting in London lifted the temporary seizure of Ibori’s assets in the United Kingdom alone said to be worth BP₤35mn (about N9bn) (www.tellng.com). Now, if we look at the IMF projections on what Nigeria needs per annum to bridge the Infrastructure finance deficit, just about 50% of the Ex-Governors alleged loot is nearly enough to bridge this gap if this fund is consistently expended in these areas without stop. When we talk of Infrastructure, we mean roads, water pipes, dams, power and energy, electricity, Telephone system (land lines), educational equipments or learning tools etc.

The EFCC has not come out to declare the total amount that has been looted by former Governor Igbinedion and Victor Odili, I am very convinced that the total sum may not be far from the region of Ibori’s N9bn in the UK alone. This comes to about N27bn minus the other 32 other Governors whose loots are yet to be covered. However, if we do a blind calculation to the effect that each of the indicted 33 Governors stole N5bn (some may have stolen less, while some looted almost 500% more), we are looking at about N165bn. This is about 142% of Nigeria’s total GDP figure for 2006. What this means is that Corruption is negating whatever economic progress Nigeria tries to make on an annual basis by over 142%!!!

This is the reason, on a daily basis in Nigeria, people especially children still die of common ailments such as Malaria and measles due to lack of drugs in our hospitals. More Nigerian youths are out of jobs because industries are not working due to lack of power and energy, Over 90% of Nigerians roads are not motorable because the monies for construction have been diverted abroad, more and more people are homeless because, the budget for housing were diverted to private estates development by so-called leaders in the U.S, UK, Lekki, and South Africa respectively.

One is particularly irked with the continued cases of corruption in Nigeria; this is against the backdrop of the justification for the astronomical increases in the salaries of Political office holders across board. a councilor in Nigeria today’s earns nothing less than 200,000 per month for doing nothing, aside other allowances, A state house of Assembly member earns about 800,000 per month aside constituency allowance etc. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) have consistently justified this jumbo pay on the need to discourage corruption in Nigeria. So we are at a loss as to why political office holders are so thievery in nature.

It is important for Nigerians to appreciate these figures, In September, Goldman Sachs, predicted that Nigeria can only make the list of developed countries in the world by 2020 on the condition that we grow our economy by at least 10-13% per annum, the president agreed with them, but with a proviso that corruption must be stopped or reduced to the minimum level, secondly that our Infrastructures must be strong to support the level of FDI inflows expected in the industrial sector. Corruption cannot be stopped if we destroy the EFCC or ICPC through campaigns of Calumny, incessant court injunctions or in fighting between the Attorney General and the EFCC over superiority claim. The moment we disallow the EFCC from prosecuting ex-Governors, Nigeria as it were will be worse in Five years time, this is because, while the economy may be growing by 10-13% per annum (which is not possible), Corruption will increase astronomically by 50%, effectively eroding by 37-40% whatever gains we may have recorded in the economic front. This must stop.

The reason why corruption will be on the rise by 50% per annum is because as a result of the successes recorded by the ex-Governors in the EFCC cases, the incumbent politicians will outdo their predecessors in office.

For the sake of our tomorrow, for the sake of generations yet un-born, for our own sake, let us allow the EFCC/ICPC to work. Let the Attorney General give peace a chance, the truth of the matter is that if he has interest in defending any of the ex-Governors, he should resign and take over their case as personal lawyers as it were rather than obstructing justice using state powers.

The World is watching… let us stop making mockery of ourselves in the comity of nations. Kudos to EFCC.

Thank you.

Taiwo Akerele
Center for Values in Leadership,
Victoria Island, Lagos.

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