Corruption has been the root cause of each and every problem ravaging Nigeria today. Government institutions are weak because corruption has eaten up the fabrics forming them. Power is still epileptic because some corrupt people usurped and pocketed monies meant for the sector. Poverty is still endemic because some greedy government officials wouldn’t allow funds meant to touch the lives of the masses trickle down to them. Health care delivery and education are all poor because of corruption. And the list goes on and on.
Since assumption into office, the incumbent government has prioritised the fight against corruption and took it to a whole new level. The government didn’t mince word in declaring stealing of public fund as corruption. With the swift implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and other measures put in place, some level of sanity has returned into the system. High profile arrests and prosecutions have been achieved, whistle blowing policy was introduced, looted funds worth billions of Naira were recovered, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has become a nightmare to the corrupt.
For some well-known reasons, the present fight against corruption has been slow and is suffering some setbacks. Even the government couldn’t hide its frustration as to why the fight isn’t producing desired result. The magnitude at which corruption has been fighting back is unequalled. Conviction of the corrupt seems to be taking forever. The corrupt still find loopholes to circumvent the system and steal. Corrupt practices and extortion are still rampant in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. Security agents still harass Nigerians for bribe. The whole situation leaves one to wonder if corruption is synonymous to the name ‘Nigeria’.
Ending corruption requires effective law enforcement to ensure the corrupt are punished and to break the vicious cycle of impunity. But with our weak legal system greatly affecting the fight, for now, government should give more emphasis on strengthening its weak institutions over securing convictions. Strengthening the role of auditing agencies, disclosure of budget information by all arms of government, encouraging initiatives such as budgiT that promotes transparency by giving citizen the ability to track the progress of projects in their localities, promoting transparency especially in the awards of contracts and procurement, fully implementing the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) initiative, improving the pay of civil servants so as to help reduce pressures on them to supplement their income in unofficial ways, and eliminating the many needless bottle necks in the name of regulations will abet in blocking loopholes promoting corruption.
Ultimately, the role of technology shouldn’t be underestimated in the process of strengthening our weak institutions. Massive investment should be made on Information Technology (IT). The internet should be used to curtail cases of frequent and direct contact between government officials and citizens since such contacts opens way for illicit transactions. Above all, the aforementioned recommendations will not provide desired results unless initiatives such as SERVICOM are revamped for effective service delivery. Erring government officials should easily be reported and punished for extortion, harassment, and poor attitude to work. After all, most government officials in Nigeria act as though discharging services they are paid for is a favour to citizens.
Yahya Idris, Kaduna.