Buhari and the 2014 confab report
THE administration of the former President of Goodluck Jonathan, despite its alienation from the public especially in its dying days, enjoyed the support of a cross-section of Nigerians on the final outcome of the 2014 National Conference. A sagacious government would have made the implementation of the Confab report a matter of urgency.
The former President realised rather too late the need to rally more Nigerians behind his dying administration, when he made the implementation of the Confab report one of his campaign promises. The outcome of the election showed that few people had taken him seriously, hence his party’s loss, even in the South West geopolitical zone.
It is, therefore, time for the APC administration to put politics aside and address the burning national issues confronting Nigeria and Nigerians. The urgent issue of security, whether as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency, armed robbery or kidnapping for ransom, all require effective community policing to detect and prevent criminals before they strike. With the current successes of the military operations in the North Eastern region, the insurgents are gradually turning to guerilla warfare of planting IEDs among the civilian populace: we need effective community policing to counter and neutralise them using this strategy.
The insurgents, armed robbers, petty burglars, kidnappers all live among us and are known to some members of the public, who could have exposed them before they strike. But their lack of confidence in our police, as presently constituted, will not make many take that risk. Police are also too far removed from many communities as to distance and by their attitudes, to make such a patriotic effort feasible.
Letting each state and possibly local government have its own police with a better orientation in working with the public will solve that problem. It would also ensure that the state governments, who should be directly responsible for the internal security of their people, take their responsibilities more seriously. The kind of conflict in accepting responsibilities witnessed between the Borno State Government and the Federal Government in the kidnap of Chibok girls, would not have arisen if Borno State Government that had the final decision on where the Chibok girls should write their school certificate examination, was also in control of at least one of the state apparatus to ensure their security: the police.
On Buhari’s anti-corruption war, the APC government cannot succeed without first dealing with the root cause of corruption, which is the society’s permissive attitude to corruption and the celebration of proceeds of corruption. This permissive attitude has its root in the struggle to corner as much of the national wealth as possible to members of one’s ethnic group by fair or foul means. This attitude could best be explained with Donald Cressy’s triad of fraud (or corruption): pressure, opportunity and rationalization.
There is the constant pressure in the Nigerian socio-economic environment for people to engage in corruption, as there’s little or no pride in belonging to the middle class, where the great majority of the population should belong in a functional economy. People are either constantly in need because of abject poverty or are pursuing their greed in the belief that their generations yet unborn would be shielded from poverty. Whichever way, there is constant pressure to amass as much wealth as possible with the active support of friends and family, who are also driven by same motive.
It therefore follows that anyone having the opportunity of making money illegitimately does not have to think twice before engaging in corrupt activities. In fact, his/her kith and kin would see anyone in position to amass wealth in a corrupt way and not taking the advantage as either a fool or an accursed person, who would never be able ‘make it’ again in life. Some would actually see such a fellow as unfit to represent their tribe or ethnic group in the affairs of the federation: a sort of throwing away a ‘God-given opportunity’ to become wealthy.
The system has become so corrupt that political appointees or elected representatives are looked upon as conduits through which certain individuals would be able to appropriate what ‘rightly belong to them’ from the national purse. With little or no effort on the part of the government of the day to fight corruption, so as to serve as deterrent to others, those with propensity to engage in corrupt practices are able to mobilize more disciples.
Then comes the rationalization of corrupt practices. With virtually everyone having the tendency to engage in corruption, there would be a growing perception that everybody is corrupt or corruptible (even if not yet given the opportunity). Anyone having the opportunity to engage in corrupt practices could therefore rationalize that it’s the right thing to do. This is why you hear such people give such excuses that others would steal the money if you (in a better position to misappropriate it) do not.
Or that the people higher than you in authority are also helping themselves: are you more catholic than the Pope? Or that this is the first time or a few occasions, when someone from that community would be having access to the national, state or local government treasury; the occupant should make ‘the best use of it’. The rationalization continues…
With the socio-economic environment described above, the lack of security and the unbridled corruption then takes its toil on the economy, making the poor poorer. The confab report also addresses several burning national questions that would take the present administration enormous time and costs to properly address within the limited time and resources at its disposal. It is in the national interest for the government to implement those recommendations as soon as possible in pursuit of its three-fold agenda: security, anticorruption and improving the economy.
• Gideon Oladepo is a chartered accountant based in Lagos.