Wednesday, 10 June 2015

AFTER MAY 29: HOW TO TACKLE CORRUPTION BY TOR, SHIEKUMA FELIX

Nigeria’s democracy expedition has not been even and smooth, since we graduated from unfriendly military rule in 1999. Our democracy is more of a curse than the projected blessing; and it’s still largely on print medium.



Government is not closer to the masses except the few well-heeled persons who are privileged to be steering our state machineries. As a result of this, development and growth are crawled to a standstill level for quite a protracted time. Passionate researchers, analysts; reporters, and writers attribute innumerable rationales behind this unbearable sticky wicket. To this end, Nigerians left with no single choice than to wait for an emancipator. 

 Since after Gen. Buhari team’s limpid victory in the last concluded general election, that held two months ago; well meaning Nigerians acknowledged  him as a “Messiah” that would liberate his  people from their chains of poverty and rejuvenate our deteriorated economy. They therefore continued waiting eagerly to witness him take oath of office of president. This actually transpired on May 29, which was on democracy day. 

Now that May, 29 is obviously over, dying-to-know Nigerians hang around to stare and feel   how Buhari-led administration will put into effect his widely acclaimed manifesto; how his rulership would wind up socio-economic punctures. Notwithstanding, his predecessors also presented glamouring roadmaps that were supposed to guide them in building Nigeria but all we saw at the end of the day was simply a flip side of their blueprint. Well pronounced reason among other reasons that led to their failure was Mr. Corruption.

Corruption is a pro tempore conundrum that paralyzed our development ambitions; it is a plague that staved off Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s antecedents from implementing their bewitching development master plans. Since corruption is condoned as a way of life (culture), Nigerians’ past experience is propelling them to have ill-feelings that corruption might also halt the implementation of current administration’s change agenda. However, Buhari-led administration should among other ways, consider these three critical ways of tackling corruption.

Enforcement of Freedom of Information Act, 2011 (FOIA)
On 28th day of May, 2011, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Johnathan, assent to Freedom of Information Act. This act guarantees the right of access to information held by public institutions, irrespective of the form in which it is kept and is applicable to private institutions where they utilize public funds, perform public functions or provide public services, though some information might be withheld to protect various interests which are allowed for by the law. Such information demanded by an applicant through due process should be granted access within 3-7days after the application is received by the institution.  

Freedom of information specifically access to information held by public authorities is a fundamental element of the right to freedom of expression and vital to the proper functioning of the democracy. In a democratic world, the public is expected to have access to information not how they are governed only but also on anything that is of interest to them. However, this Act is still largely on paper, it lacks the desired enforcement. The Attorney- General of the federation who is required to oversee the implementation of the Act and report annually is not appreciated in this regard. The result of this is that people are denied access to information that is critical for accurate reporting, and unraveling the web of corruption. It is also more so because Nigerians have vital tools to uncover facts, fight corruption and hold officials accountable. So, for Buhari-led administration to tackle corruption this Act must be properly enforced even at state level and defaulters should be punished accordingly. This will aid in checking excesses and irregularities.

Removal of Immunity clause  
In order to deal with corruption, our common enemy; constitution should be amended and the provisions of section 308 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution which provides for immunity for certain elected officers should be removed. Immunity encourages corruption and therefore gives room for bad leadership.
Late Nigerian president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, upon his emergence as president in 2007 said that “nobody in Nigeria deserves the right to be protected by law when looting public funds”. He went further to argue that the immunity granted public office holders breeds corruption. Alhaji Ibrahim Shakarau, the former governor of Kano state also had thrown his weight behind the abrogation of the immunity. Buhari administration should take after professional foot marks of his antecedent, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and shove corruption to the grave.
Declaration of Asset  
All efforts should be invested to ensure that political office holders declare their assets on the assumption and vacation of office in accordance with paragraph II of the 5th schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria as amended. Failure by any Public office holders to accord respect to this provision should face the wrath of law. This is a good means of checkmating unnecessary acquisition of personal luxurious assets with public funds that is supposed to utilize for the benefit of the citizens. Therefore, for Buhari-led administration to be effective, he must not compromise his position on this sensitive issue.
Conclusively, to fight corruption in Nigeria, we must stay above politics in whatever shades. Politics has beclouded our quest for fighting corruption. It shouldn’t be matter of belonging to the ruling class and get off the hook of ant-graft agencies.

talk2felixo@gmail.com





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