Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 21 September 2013 | 4,517 times

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Long after one of the world’s greatest writers, the late professor Chinua Achebe, wrote that Nigeria’s problem is fundamentally traced to bad leadership, several other erudite writers have backed up this factually irrefutable claim.

Osita Okoro, a scholar, once opined that all that Nigeria needs to do to become developed is for the citizenry and the leadership to imbibe, externalise and enforce the enduring principle of good governance.

He defined the concept of good governance as follows: “Governance becomes good when it operates in accordance with legal and ethical principles as conceived by society. In other words, good governance is the urge to steer the ship of the state in accordance with defined laws, rules and procedures and ensuring that governance in all ramifications serve the interest of the greatest number of people through a collective participatory endeavour.”

Professor Achebe, it would be vividly recalled, had in his little but deeply philosophical 1980’s book titled The Trouble with Nigeria, urged Nigerians to wage unrelenting war against corruption. This prophetic call went largely unheeded by the military ‘boys’ who captured political power through the barrel of the gun and ruined the better part of Nigeria for years before grudgingly giving up power in 1999 (May 29th).

Another younger but erudite thinker, Mr. Samuel Anayochukwu Eziokwu, had stated in his recent book titled Good governance; Theory and Practice, that lack of good governance and disrespect to the principle of rule of law also has an international dimension in that the country could incur the global sanction as a pariah state which it did during the draconian military regime that ended in 1999.

His words: “International community has a way of assessing governance in political communities and reacting appropriately whenever the international community rises strongly against any state, in view of its human rights posture, election malpractice, coups d’etat, corruption or other acts of bad governance, it is an indication that the bad governance has reached a crescendo.”

In the light of the above statement of fact by Mr. Eziokwu, it is appropriate to state here without fear of contradiction that prior to the return of civil rule in 1999 and even 14 years thereafter, corruption and economic crimes have combined to unleash devastating regime of mass poverty; collapse of infrastructure and general state of insecurity.

The establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the civilian government of the then president Olusegeun Obasanjo, are direct responses to the global voices of reason that Nigeria must confront the hydra-headed monsters of corruption and economic crimes.   

After a decade of waging war against corruption, these monsters of corruption and economic crimes among political office holders are still huge stumbling blocks to the rapid advancement of economic growth and total restoration of peace, prosperity and progress to the teeming populace.

Ben Igwenyi, a law teacher, had recently written in his book titled “The Crime of Corruption in Nigeria: Laws, Issues and Solution, that “corruption leads to non-availability of the necessary infrastructures in Nigeria. As a result of corruption, such infrastructures in the education, health, housing, agricultural, public transportation, and works sectors of the country are either non-existent or largely lacking or in serious dilapidation because funds meant for their provision are embezzled by men of power.”

Mr. Igwenyi recorded that during the regime of the civilian presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, the Works Ministry’s officials stole approximately N300 billion released for the fixing of the woefully collapsed federal roads network in Nigeria. These bad federal roads have led to the untimely killing through road accidents of a considerable number of travelers. 

Unfortunately, till date, those who mismanaged these huge national resources are celebrated as leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) even as the two anti-graft institutions seem overwhelmed by the gravity of the cases of theft of public fund. The National Assembly once threatened to probe the activities of the former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, under whose authority the allegations of widespread disappearance of public funds was made but this attempt was futile even as key figures of the National Assembly were visible during the recently celebrated lavished 80th birthday bash organised for Chief Tony Anenih by his political platform during which time his loyalists spent whooping sums of money in congratulatory newspaper advertorials.     

Conversely, the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory, are said to be places whereby corruption and wanton mismanagement of public resources are carried out with reckless abandon.

It was therefore a shock and indeed pleasant surprise that the young but very accomplished public accountant who is today the Kaduna State Governor was in the news for the positive reason of sacking his commissioner for works for alleged corruption.

Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, the governor of Kaduna State, is also credited by some observers to be seriously concerned about practical measures to be adopted to eradicate corruption and pragmatically take development to the rural areas of the state.

Midat Joseph, the Kaduna State Correspondent of Leadership newspaper, had on September 13, 2013, written a beautiful report on how the Kaduna State Chief Executive played the good role of a whistle blower and an anti-graft warrior by uncovering series of fraudulent deals in the state Ministry of Works and indeed alleged that the immediate past commissioner was sacked for fraud-related allegations.

In that report, we were told that the Kaduna State Governor uncovered alleged actions by the recently sacked Commissioner of Works to undermine government’s effort to rehabilitate bad roads within the Kaduna metropolis.

The reporter also told us thus: “The state governor had approved the sum of N50 million for the state-owned Kaduna Public Works Agency (KAPWA) to rehabilitate the roads that need urgent attention.” But the outgone commissioner allegedly divided the works into small segments of N5 million, N9 million and so on.”

While on a unscheduled visit to the works ministry last week, the governor discovered that the former commissioner allegedly sabotaged the rehabilitation projects by splitting the works piecemeal apparently for pecuniary interest.   

The discovery reportedly angered the governor, who has also retrieved documents from the ministry showing the alleged arbitrary splitting of the rehabilitation works.

While commending this uncommon approach of the Kaduna State Governor to tackle corruption right within his executive cabinet, it is my wish to plead with him to hand over to the relevant anti-graft institutions, any of his former or serving aides that is indicted for corruption for appropriate judicial measures so that public funds diverted to private accounts are retrieved and returned to the Kaduna State treasury.

The people need to support their governor so that he can take the war against corruption to a very serious level so as to reduce the high rate of poverty and infrastructure deficits that the people of that state live with on daily basis.   

The retired Inspector General of Police, who is now the Chairman of the Nigerian Police Service Commission, Mr. Mike Okiro, had co-authored a book with Basil Anasoh titled The Legal Implications of the Mismanagement of Public Funds in Nigeria, whereby they argued lucidly that indicted public officials who commit corrupt acts must be prosecuted in the competent courts of law to send a clear signal that impunity and lawlessness have no p lace in any democracy.

Section 311 of the Penal Code defines criminal breach of trust in the following words: “Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged or of any legal contract express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or willfully suffers any other person so to do, commits criminal breach of trust.”

The law must therefore be made to run its full course in Kaduna State as well as other component parts of the Nigerian federation so that the hydra-headed monster of corruption can be defeated.

RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

Source: News Express

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