Corruption, national security and Nigeria
NO one can accurately quantify the level of corruption in Nigeria but what is undeniable is the unforgivable damage it has done to the social and economic development of Nigeria.
Few empirical reports on corruption in Nigeria are available, but the fact that over USD 350 billion in oil revenues has disappeared into private pockets or mismanaged in the last 25 years reveals how deep we have dug ourselves into a hole.
Right from 1975 when General Murtala Mohammed’s administration set up the Code of Conduct Bureau for Public Officers to the more recent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Act 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, we can conclude that all the laws and regulations instituted to prevent corruption have all failed.
This is because corruption has become institutionalised with a sufficiently strong following and foundation to withstand the challenges of other institutions of state. Corruption has been an unwritten state policy finding collaboration and enablement by other equally compromised institutions of state run by corruption addicted public servants.
All the variants of corruption worldwide find fertile ground and blossom in Nigeria; contract inflation, kick-backs, payoffs, embezzlement, bribery, ‘ghost worker’, fraud, abuse of trust, manipulation of state policies for profit of vested interests, election malpractices, etc. Not one administration in Nigeria has been corruption-free.
The destabilising impact of corruption on our economic growth has resulted in a country with vast crude oil reserves and other natural resources condemning its people to a life of hunger, poverty, misery, hopelessness and insecurity.
The correlation between the economic crime that is corruption and our current national security situation:
Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram and indeed also his crazed successor Abubakar Shekau have railed against corruption in Nigeria. They have used corruption by public officials as one of the points to justify/validate their struggle. A massive Defence and Security industry has been borne out of Nigeria’s anti-Boko Haram campaigns. An insurgency that was partly caused by corruption has provided an irresistible banquet of opportunities for public officials to engage in a looting bonanza like never experienced before.
The Defense and Security sector by necessity must operate with a certain degree of secrecy. Investments and expenditure by Governments in Defence and Security follow prescribed due processes not open to the public. Who knows the exact amount spent? Who were these contracts awarded to? Who vetted the procurements? What oversight and checks were undertaken? Did Nigeria get value for money?
Nowhere in the world is the link between corruption and insecurity greater than in Nigeria today. We have stolen ourselves into insecurity! Soldiers are angry, disillusioned but yet asked to make the supreme sacrifice. Morale is obviously low, soldiers are reluctant to fight and the result is what we now have; a complicated and seemingly intractable conflict.
There must be an audit of all expenditure on security by the previous administration. We must not move forward without having stolen funds retrieved and paid back into public coffers. The whole essence of law and order is founded on principle of ‘deterrence’. You cannot ‘deter’ people from crime if there is no consequence for crime.
Secondly, the procurement process must be more transparent and the reliance on ‘brokers’ or middlemen must be avoided where possible. Else, there cannot be any meaningful improvement in output of our military.
All public officials must be reoriented and deterred from engaging in corruption. Corruption is a matter of national security because it is affecting our national security and endangering the lives of you and I.
• Akinniranye is a lawyer and businessman based in Lagos State.