April 2021
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Can Corruption Become a Way of Life?

This is not the sort of question to ask, just when the nation is warming up to intensify the anti-graft war. Mrs. Farida Waziri, boss of the most formidable anti-graft agency in Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has been making strident calls, at home and abroad, for the setting up of specially designated courts solely for the prosecution of corrupt individuals who have misappropriated, embezzled or stolen public money in their custody. The call is gathering momentum since the volume of financial crimes in the recent past has practically overwhelmed the regular courts, whose reputation for painfully slowing down the process of adjudication, has not been particularly impressive, anyway. Now, with the magnitude and pervasive nature of corrupt practices perpetrated by persons in authority and the obvious difficulty in bringing offenders to justice in the regular courts of the land, one is constrained to join in the call for the authorities to expedite matters in putting the special courts in place to deal squarely with the embarrassing and rampaging spirals of graft reported on a daily basis in the country. The occurrence of crime in society is inevitable since humans are not perfect, but the refusal or delay to visit crime with the full weight of the law may be more damaging than crime itself.
It is indeed the delay in disposing of the numerous reported cases of financial fraud and the impunity with which more of such crimes are committed that prompted the question whether corruption can somehow be made a culture of the people or a way of life. For, if many in the top echelon of society, especially those entrusted with public money as well as the individuals charged with oversight functions to police the national treasury, including the office of the Auditor – General of the Federation, and even those empowered by law to apprehend and prosecute the culprits and bring them to justice, are expressing their handicaps and inadequacies, what more is there to do than to join in the bizarre frolic and macabre dance of corruption?
My students, impressionable and sensitive young people, have been prompting me for an answer in the affirmative. Unfortunately, I have not been quite forthcoming, because I do not think that one can deal with the problem of corruption by the social reproduction of corruption, even though the political and business elites of the country are making it bold and clear that that is the way to go, by their conduct and utterances.
Without mincing words, here is the point to be made: The Federal Government needs to sufficiently empower the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the EFCC to be on top of the situation, to deal expeditiously with all cases of corrupt persons rightly accused of direct involvement in financial crimes and all those who aid and abet corrupt practices. In some countries of the world, financial crimes relating to the looting of public funds by unscrupulous custodians are serious offences which attract death penalty or long jail term of upward of twenty-five years.
Students and young people generally learn more from the hidden curriculum than from the official curriculum. The hidden curriculum comprises all that goes on in the total environment in which the child learns, beyond the school syllabi transmitted in classroom instructions. Thus, when our students read in the newspapers or watch the news to learn that graft is severely sanctioned by constituted authorities, as in other climes, it occasions a change in behavior that financial crime is a very risky business. Then the question whether it is possible to legitimize corruption or make it a way of life becomes gratuitous and otiose.
Indeed, anyone who contemplates involvement in corruption invariably contemplates the dissolution of society because it (corruption) is destructive of the social fabric. Corruption weakens the resolve of the authorities to instill discipline in persons of sub-ordinate rank at any level of society. Corrupt practices make it impossible to build institutions and enduring legacies in society. The pillaging and looting of public treasury is the reason for the acute infrastructural

  • Anonymous

    The on-going House of Rep committee probe into Nigeria’s fuel subsidy saga has already validated prof’s conviction that “Corrupt practices make it impossible to build institutions and enduring legacies in society”. But how can we get out of this messy water?

  • Anonymous

    Prof. Jim’s expression on Corruption and Dictionary of Problems highlighted deeply how our society is engulfed in low moral standards. People nowadays embezzle public funds entrusted on them without fear of what will happen both spiritually and constitutionally. Our so called constitution is too weak to commit offenders to long or perpetual sufferings. The anti graft agencies especially the EFCC is toothless bull dog to arrest the situation. I am one of those who are professing the enforcement of using of traditional oath taking for public officers during their swearing in into offices. such practice would religiously inculcate ontological fear and obedience to the rule of law. when such public officers swear to their various traditional jujus, ifas, nmo, agbara and so on the fear for instant penalty will save us the cost and time at courts, police and Efcc. God bless Africa thought and practice.

    Godson Amadikwa

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