Corruption is a problem, which has spread all over the world defying solutions by government at all levels. Nwakaego Ohaegbulam in this report, harps on the need to form a united front to fight corruption to a halt before it grows into a monster and becomes hard to defeat
Corruption has gradually become a global phenomenon that virtually every country is struggling with. It is a pervasive problem afflicting both the developed and underdeveloped countries and has over the years, gained much interest due to a string of high level corruption cases in western countries leading to an increased awareness of the cost of corruption worldwide.
2010 Corruption Perceptions Index, CPI released by Transparency International, identified Africa as the most corrupt region in the world despite efforts by governments in Africa to commit large sums of money to address its myriad of problems, corruption continues to pose a threat in the realization of the much needed development. Countries are scored based on assessments of the prevalence of bribery of public officials, embezzlement of public funds, kickbacks in public procurement, and questions about the effectiveness of public anti-corruption efforts. According to the report, conduct within most African countries in these areas leaves much to be desired. United Nations Southern Africa Representative on Drugs and Crime, Jonathan Lucas labeled corruption as “a crime against development, democracy, education, prosperity, public health and justice-what many would consider the pillars of social well being.”
Corruption Perceptions Index defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain in public and private sectors.
Spreading faster than an epidemic, corruption and its sister money laundering have serious consequences for national economies, democratic institutions, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. This is further made worse by poverty and greed the two factors which have led many political office holders and government officials to loot the national treasury at the slightest opportunity this in turn forces the governed who are at the grassroots, to take to crime as their last resort.
Kolawole Olaniyan, a Legal Adviser at the Amnesty International said “ it ‘takes two to tango’, high-level official corruption depends on collusion between corrupt leaders, their families, friends, and other politically exposed persons, PEPs.
William Gumede, an Associate Professor, Public and Develop ment Management, in an article ‘Why fighting corruption in Africa fails’ while tracing the origin of corruption in Africa, pointed out that “Very few African countries at independence had a significant private sector: those that had, more often than not saw it nationalised by the liberation or independence movement, turned government. Where significant private sectors remain, they often existed under the threat of possible nationalisation or not securing trading licenses if they failed to toe the line. Given this, such companies were unlikely to employ anyone out of favour with the ruling elite. Partially for these reasons, post-independence, the private sector in many African countries was usually docile and unlikely to demand accountability from national governments.”
“The private sector was often under constant threat of having their businesses nationalised or ‘indigenised’ from the new rulers. In some instances liberation movement governments embarked on a policy of creating a ‘capitalist class’ or new ‘indigenous’ business owners, black economic empowerment or indigenisation programs. In many such instances, political capital forms the basis of these attempts at creating indigenous capitalists. Political leaders either get stakes in newly privatized public companies, get state tenders to supply services for government, or get slices of private companies owned by former colonials, minority ethnic groups or foreign companies” Gumede emphasized.
Continuing, Gumede said “By the 1980s, under pressure from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Western powers through ‘structural adjustment reforms’, the privatisation of stateowned companies saw African independence/ liberation movement governments sell off state assets to individuals that were close allies of the dominant political faction, ethnic or regional group of the independence/liberation movement government. Those who benefitted from black economic empowerment, indigenisation or privatisation programs were the most ‘jingoist’ and were not going to hold African governments to account.”
It is unfortunate that many have accepted corrupt living as a pattern of life saying that corruption does not kill any one but the truth remains that corruption one way or the other does have an effect on all citizens in the affected country. This is because Corruption undermines the delivery of public services including public housing, healthcare, access to water and adequate sanitation, and access to reliable electricity supply. While substantial amounts of money meant for development with respect to job creation and poverty alleviation are diverted, the country’s capacity to deliver effective services are weakened thus making the citizens lose their trust in the government.
In Nigeria, the opinion of the average man is that Nigeria is the most corrupt nation in the world but judging from the precedence already established, it may be surprising to know that it is not even among the top 10 most corrupt nations in Africa. There is no gainsaying the fact that corruption has found its way into the country but it calls for a collective effort by all and sundry to solve the problem. According to Thinkafricapress. com, “the level of corruption and its dynamics within the country have become an integral part of our national orientation, to the extent that some people find in the nation’s endemic corruption justification to extract money from the government by creating ghost workers.”
The 2014 report ranks 10 African nations among the most corrupt countries out of the 173 surveyed. These are Sudan, Chad, Burundi, Angola , and Equatorial Guinea . Others are Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Libya, and Guinea with Somalia topping the list as the most corrupt nation of all those surveyed. Transparency International scores countries on a 10-point scale with zero being the most corrupt. Forty- four of the 47 African nations surveyed scored less than five on the index an indication that there were serious levels of corruption going on there.
Transparency International said that corruption is endemic in African societies where institutions such as the judiciary and legislature are weak; the rule of law is not strictly enforced, political patronage is the norm; the independence and professionalism of the public and private sectors have eroded; and civil society lacks the means to hold perpetrators to account.
It therefore suggests a reduction in bribery and kickbacks as one of the ways to curb the hydra headed monster ‘corruption’. This is because the effects of bribery and kickbacks in the education, water and health care sectors represent the implicit costs of corruption which transforms into a ‘regressive tax’ on services that the poor cannot afford making basic services unattainable. TI also called on government to encourage private sector involvement in the implementation of anti-corruption strategies.
On his part, Prof. Gumede suggests “The duplicity of international politics and Western companies should stop. Whether it is Western countries protecting their allies by turning a blind-eye to official corruption by ruling parties and leaders in the name of the socalled ‘war on terror’, or it is overlooked in order to secure mineral or oil rights as well as lucrative contracts.”
A lot has been said about corruption with solutions proffered on how to reduce it to the barest minimum. It is high time Governments at all levels across the world stand united and speak with one voice against this canker worm which is gradually destroying the foundations of the world.