Nigeria: Corruption As A Consequence Of Greed

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

“To Serve and Protect with Integrity”

The above is the motto of the Nigeria Police Force, emblazoned vividly on most Police vehicles and other police properties that you see in the country today. The motto is laughable at worst and risible at best. I could not help but laugh everytime I see this motto on the rickety patrol cars, parked on side roads, while the men who say they protect and serve the Nigerian public with integrity are busy waylaying, intimidating and harassing not-so-innocent commercial drivers and collecting twenty naira. They are more like highwaymen than highway patrol. I even understand the twenty naira reaches way up in the hierarchy. Then they harass innocent private motorists, especially if you are driving a nice car, saying they are carrying out random stop and search duties. The fact and reality is that the Nigeria Police Force do not “serve”, they do not “protect”, and they do not have any “integrity”. In fact they do not have anything at all. They are ill-trained, ill-educated, ill-oriented, ill-equipped, ill-prepared and ill-paid. They are even ill-uniformed. It is therefore not surprising that the Nigeria Police Force represents the notorious and most visible face of corruption in Nigeria. You cannot beat them in this nefarious game. I have always wondered that if they could change the name to “Nigeria Police Service”, maybe this will change their general outlook and performance, or maybe the name change will rub off on them a little bit.

In a way, I could not help but have some sympathy for the men and women of the Nigeria Police Force. They work very long hours; in fact they do not seem to have any laid down working hours or pattern. They are very poorly and irregularly paid and their pay is not commensurate with the risks they are supposed to take in a country beset by sophisticatedly equipped armed robbers and militants, while their bosses are carting away billions of Naira, and strutting around and making merry in the Police Officers Mess. Talk to Tafa Balogun, he will bear me out. Or ask former Oyo State Police Commissioner, a Mr Jonathan Johnson, who was rumoured to have received 40 million Naira (and they said this money went way up to the then Inspector General of Police in Abuja) to ensure that Adedibu’s thugs in Ibadan have a free hand in making Oyo State unliveable for those opposed to Adedibu, or his god-son, the now Governor of the state, Chief Otunba Dr Adebayo Alao-Akala, himself a sacked policeman.

However, this article is not really about the Nigerian police and their corruption. I deign to vilify only the Nigerian police when it comes to corruption, the reason being that since the Nigerian police is a product of the society that they live in, it is safe to postulate that because the society that harbours them is corrupt, then they will necessarily be corrupt. Afterall, it is not only the Nigerian police that is corrupt. Enter the politicians, the civil servants, the Customs and Excise (The Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise is currently being investigated by the EFCC and ICPC for a fraud to the tune of 28 billion Naira that occurred in his service), the Immigration Service, the Road Safety Corps, the Prison Service, and in fact just about everybody or organisation in Nigeria, even the business and financial communities. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is riddled with fraud, and it is controlled by the very people saying the Niger Delta is neglected. Nobody is exempt, from the look of things.

My recent travel to Nigeria confirmed my worst nightmare. Corruption is alive and well in Nigeria, despite the efforts of the anti-corruption crusade of Obasanjo’s Presidency. The moment I landed at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, I knew. The Customs and Excise Officers were lying in wait for the passengers. Their first question to you is “Oga, wetin you bring come for us?” My simple answer when I was asked this seemingly innocuous and friendly question was, “Nothing, bicos I no know say you go dey here waiting for me”.

On my way out of the country, several officers, whose organisations I could not even identify – too many people in different uniforms – asked me, “Oga, wetin you chop remain for us?” Again, my simple answer was “Who tell you say I don chop?”

These might seem to be petty demands for some gratification, but woe betides you if there is something wrong with your travel documents or you are carrying very heavy and many suitcases.

Nigerians can be forgiven if they are suffering from corruption fatigue. Almost daily, they seem to be bombarded with yet another official scandal. The problem is that, nowadays in Nigeria, people or leaders who are accused of corruption do not even feel ashamed, nor do they exhibit or express any remorse for the pain and suffering they have inflicted on millions of Nigerians through their corrupt actions. We all seem to accept both corruption and being exposed as part of our normal life.

In order for political culture to change like it did in such countries as South Korea and Poland, Nigerian people must rise and take to the street and demand change on the kinds of leadership Nigerian people want. If Nigerian people fail to protest on the streets of Nigeria, things will continue to be the same way and we will continue to have criminals as leaders. For example, the President of Senate David Mark who stole hundreds of millions during Babangida’s administration and has foreign Bank accounts, which is against Nigerian laws and constitution and refused to declare his wealth/worth still remains the President of Senate

Such is the corrupt life in Nigeria. And we see what is now panning out as far as former State Governors are concerned. They have been looting their states treasury for some eight years and stealing us blind. Of course, Nigerians have always known this; we just stand by helplessly and watch. It is only those who are profiting from the looting of these politicians who will not blink and who continue to sing their praises to heaven. It is not so much the act of the thievery that is shocking, it is the sheer amount that they have stolen that boggles the mind. It all boils down to greed; greed of the highest order. Monumental greed beyond belief. Please, tell me, what does one man and his family want to do with 172 properties including houses, schools and even a university? Why didn’t he just steal the whole state? How on earth was he allowed to do that over eight years unchecked? Immunity? How can one man be so greedy as to transfer 17 Billion Naira belonging to his state into his private account in one day? How can a man be so greedy? It boggles the mind. I have never seen a million Naira in cash before, not to talk of a billion.

These people are not stealing millions; they are stealing billions, for crying out loud. One of them, a South-South Governor, before the PDP primaries in November 2006, was rumoured to have returned 23 billion Naira to the EFCC, and his Presidential ambition permanently grounded. It is still rumoured that he may be asked to return more that 100 billion Naira. This is money that he was elected to spend for the benefit and development of his oil-rich state. Lord have mercy. How greedy can you be? How can they sleep at night, with no conscience whatsoever, while thousands are dying around them for lack of water, food, good medical care, good roads, good education, etc? They should be hanged in public.

A jolly “Man of God”, who calls himself a “Reverend”, our very own ex-Governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, has now admitted looting his treasury, and willing to return some of the loot. Very nice of him, isn’t he? A little belatedly.

A friend of mine, now in the Senate, once told me that from the position of Local Government Chairman upwards, our leaders do not need to steal. Apart from their untouched high salaries, these people, our so-called leaders, are living virtually free of charge. They don’t pay rent, don’t buy food or water, don’t buy petrol, don’t pay for electricity or water rates, and don’t buy clothes from their salaries. They have free use of vehicles, etc. All these are on government expenses. A very expensive democracy, ours. For State Governors, you might as well be living free in the world. Apart from all these perks and trappings of power, contractors are always giving them gratifications and usually more than 10 percent. Then, they each have 65 million per month to spend as Security Vote (whatever that means) which they do not have to account for. In all cases, said my friend, it is impossible to spend half of the Security Vote in one month. So what is left is theirs to put in their banks. But greed will also let them dip their hands into the Statutory Allocations, Excess Crude Accounts and Local Government Allocations which they get from the Federal Government every month. You see, it is not enough to put 35 million away every month from the Security Vote; our leaders have to steal billions. Assuming you take 15 million of the Security Vote every month and you put it in your personal account, this is N180 million per year. If you are a governor for 8 years, this translates to N1.4 billion. Isn’t this enough? And you are not even touching your salary. And other gratifications and perks are still coming in. And we are vilifying the policeman who collects 20 naira on our roads?

Allow me to quote this from a patriot who sent this to me: “Politicians in Nigeria steal public funds and most especially on how the Governors from the Niger-Delta states don’t have anything to show for the $28.8 Billion Dollars allocated to them from 1999 to 2007. The amount of money N644 Billion ($5 Billion Dollars) (N522 Billion from the Federal govt & N120 Billion) that has gone into Delta State since 1999 is enough to turn Delta State to something close to Dubai. But the money have gone into private pockets, the sad thing is that we the people from Delta State know the people who have been pocketing the money since 1999. That is why the current Governor Dr. Emma Uduaghan who was not worth N 5 Million in 1999 before he was appointed as Commissioner for Health by James Ibori (his first Cousin) in 1999 and of course was reappointed again in 2003 as Secretary to the State Government can today boldly declare N 9 Billion as his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau, and nobody is asking him where he got this money from. That is why James Ibori could write a cheque of $150 Million (N20 Billion) in one day to buy Wilbros International in Port Harcourt that was divesting from Nigeria in October 2006 while still Governor of Delta State”.

Another frustrated Nigerian wrote “Another problem we have in Nigeria is lack of credible opposition parties. What you call opposition parties are not opposition parties rather, a group of people who are angry that they are not in a position to steal more money than their rivals in power are currently doing. In the United States, it is the job of opposition parties to introduce legislations that mirrors popular opinion. The Nigerian public want all these governors to be prosecuted for the crimes they committed while in the office, I do not recall any opposition party ever spoken out against corruption; the only thing they talk about is complain about past rigged election. So long as no politician is speaking out against corruption, it will never end.

On the other hand, Nigerian people are not protesting on the streets against corruption or demanding laws against corruption. The government of United Emirates have one of the toughest laws against corruption and that is why Dubai is one of the world’s richest cities, full of jobs and thriving.

As much as Nigerians supports the current EFCC efforts to bring Ex-Governors to book, until Ex-Govs James Ibori, Peter Odili, Lucky Igbinedion joins the other Ex-Govs behind bars, Nigerians will never accept the selective fight that is going on now. We encourage EFCC to finish the job”.

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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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