Nigeria: Corruption As A Consequence Of Greed

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

Again, please read this News Item:” Assets of former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu have been frozen by the EFCC following a court order. Kalu is facing graft charges. Assets frozen include Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of Daily Sun, Saturday Sun and Sunday Sun, Slok Air Nigeria Ltd, which was grounded four years ago by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Firmbase Inter Ltd, Slok Marine Vessels, Reality Organisation Nig. Ltd, International Insurance Com-pany Ltd, Tanji Resort, Gambia, Banque International in Gambia and Sierra Leone and many companies allegedly registered in the name of his wife and children. The EFCC said the assets will be handed over to Abia State government if Kalu is unable to substantiate sources of funds for the companies”

The Editorial of The Guardian, Wednesday 25th July 2007 has this to say, “Hiding behind the fortress proffered by the immunity clause, so many of such officials, only a handful of whom have now been arrested and are being tried, allegedly perpetrated barefaced thefts and acts of money laundering. At the end of the day, so many of them became multi-billionaires, with great financial and fixed asset investments in and outside this country. In the event, most of the ex-governors reportedly left empty treasuries for their successors, with scant traces of accomplished developmental projects to show for their huge spending.

For many elected public officers, May 29, 2007, marked the end of the potency of the immunity clause, which screened them against the law. All of those against whom a prima facie evidence has been found may now be prosecuted, either at once or in batches. The EFCC has plumbed for the latter approach. We have no quarrel with its choice, provided that all the 30 governors already caught in the web of corruption are eventually prosecuted.

Not a few Nigerians are happy about the turn of events, manifesting in the fulfilment of the EFCC’s pledge to bring all of thieving officials to book upon the lapse of their constitutional immunity from punishment for malfeasance and executive brigandage. Very few citizens of this country, if any, have doubted the usefulness and effectiveness of the EFCC. Those who criticised its operations during the last administration did so by reason of what amounted to selective treatment of offenders by the Commission. In its present crusade against corruption in the country, the EFCC should give a wide berth to selectivity in its arrest and prosecution of economic and financial criminals”.

The Guardian editorial continues, “The EFCC must appreciate the many rivers to cross: the empty or near-empty treasuries bequeathed by ex-governors to their successors; the literal denudation of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF); the illegal and unconstitutional withdrawals from the Excess Crude and Federation Accounts; the over N1 trillion allegedly spent on road construction and rehabilitation; the whopping sums of money reportedly spent on the repairs of the oil refineries in Port Harcourt and Kaduna, etc.

All of these, including the billions of Naira allegedly spent on the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), must be carefully investigated, and the culprits, whatever their stations in life, must be exposed to the severest penalties imaginable. That is the only way to cleanse the stables. The additional point must, however, be made that the success of the EFCC in its renewed war against corruption would depend on two crucial factors: effective investigations and an independent Judiciary. The EFCC must diligently and conscientiously undertake investigations into the activities of all the accused elected and unelected public officers before their arraignment and trial, and the Judiciary must put its best leg foremost to dispense justice without fear or favour. That is the quickest way to restore and sustain the citizens’ confidence”.

A greedy man will necessarily be corrupt. Ironically, all our leaders, past and present, have been brought up with strict moral and religious beliefs. They go to church and mosques. They went to schools and even did courses that teach good governance. Most of them know exactly what to do to alleviate the problems and sufferings of their people, but instead, turn their backs on doing these things for self-gratification, selfishness, greediness and utter lack of sympathy for their people. How I wish Jerry Rawlings was a Nigerian?

Greed is selfish, excessive or uncontrolled desire for or pursuit of money, wealth, food, or other possessions, especially when this denies the same goods to others. It is generally considered a vice, and is one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism. (People who do not view unconstrained acquisitiveness as a vice will generally use a word other than greed, which has strong negative connotations.)

Greed is a selfish desire for more than one needs or deserves. Greed can make honest men murderers. It has made countries with rich valuable resources into the poorest countries in the world. We are taught it is bad and not to practice it, but what do we have in Nigeria? People revel in it. People worship it. People praise it and it has been elevated to a form of art.

Some desire to increase one’s wealth is nearly universal and acceptable in any culture, but this simple want is not considered greed. Greed is the extreme form of this desire, especially where one desires things simply for the sake of owning them. Greed may entail acquiring material possessions at the expense of another person’s welfare (for example, a political leader embezzling state funds rather than fix the problems of the people he was elected to serve) or otherwise reflect flawed priorities.

Greed is also defined as a fear of failure, a fear of need. There are at least three forms of greed:
1) an obsessive desire for ever more material goods and the attendant power.
2) a fearful need to store up surplus goods for a vaguely defined time of want.
3) a desire for more earthly goods for their own sake

So do I hate rich people? Definitely not. So do I hate corrupt leaders? Definitely yes. But I do hate to see people; especially those entrusted with other people’s welfare, greedily stealing millions and billions of Naira from their people. I hate to see Governors, civil servants, local government chiefs, etc committing crimes to make extra cash that they don’t even need. I hate to see people who wield power and are in government giving their cronies and family government largesse, while abandoning the lower classes, the people who truly need the most help. The former administration claimed to have spent trillions on improving electricity over his eight year tenure, yet we know the reality. There is still no light in most parts of Nigeria, and in fact it has got worse. Anenih (dubbed “the most dangerous politician in Nigeria”) and Ogunlewe claimed to have spent trillions in improving our roads, but look at the Sagamu-Benin and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressways as well as many Federal roads in the South eastern part of the country. They are not even worthy of being called roads, not to talk of expressways. Ojo Maduekwe, despite his failure as a Transport Minister and his duplicity during both Abacha’s and Obasanjo’s administrations, is now, again, our Foreign Minister in Yar’Adua’s government. Obviously, some people are born to forever be in governments, one hundred and fifty million available people notwithstanding.

A common saying is that money is the root of all evil. I believe that for the most part, this is true. Money has the ability to change people, especially when it is equated with power. For much of this corrupt political class, it becomes a game—more money equals more power and respect. They ignore laws and morals and proceed to cheat, lie, and steal to make sure they stay ahead of the game. This is exactly where my problem arises. While they’re “playing” this murderous and genocidal game, millions of Nigerians are living in poverty and dying by the thousands – on the roads, in ill-equipped hospitals, in cities and rural areas, etc. Many Nigerians even live on the streets, trying to survive until their next meal.

I, and I am sure, millions of well-meaning Nigerians, would like for this selfish, greedy and deadly “game” to finally end. Will it happen anytime soon? I know that it won’t. But I do have the power to control my own actions. I have set high goals for myself with my career and in my life. Coming from such modest background and moral upbringing that I have, I know that I will better appreciate whatever wealth and/or position I attain or find myself. Whether or not I make it to be a very rich Nigerian, I am certain that I will never forget the struggles that millions of Nigerians endure on a daily basis for the past 47 years. Our future and that of our children depend on this single factor. The spectre of corruption hangs over us in our every day life, and it won’t go away until more drastic steps are taken to tackle it.

We can at least take some consolation in that apart from the five ex-governors who have been arrested and arraigned, ex-Governoor Alamieyisegha has bagged 2 years in jail. Others should, and indeed, must follow, including all the Federal Ministers, State Commissioners and Local Government Chairmen. Even Senators and Representatives and House of Assembly members must have EFCC and ICPC torchlight turned on them. Then after the eight years of Daniels, Oyinlola, Agagu and probably 4 years of Alao-Akala, those ones should follow too.

But will the current Governors and other politicians learn from the plight of their predecessors? I doubt it. You see, greed makes you think you are smart, whereas it really makes you careless. The looting spree will continue. Watch this space in four years time, God sparing our lives.

God bless Nigeria.

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1 comment

julius August 2, 2007 - 11:39 am

Well, few years ago I looked critically at the situation in Nigeria, and I came to a very terrifying conclusion. That conclusion practically necessitated my leaving the country (for good). I think nobody in position of leadership in Nigeria can change, it is better Nigerians take their destiny in their hands. People must be willing to force a change, I thing it is imperative that some of these looters pay with their lives. Until we institute a law such that if you are convicted of looting you will be sentenced to death, these people will not change. We need to put people to death or else things will remain the same.

God help Nigeria.


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