Bishop Matthew Kukah and Nigerian Corruption, By Frederick Adetiba

Bishop-Matthew-Kukah

I really do not want to hold brief for this administration. But in terms of governance that Bishop Kukah and his team said has been abandoned in pursuit of a working system that does not breed corruption, what exactly is it that should have been achieved in less than six months? Are we not tired of the rhetoric of seven-point agenda, ten-point and the so-called transformation agenda that only transformed the lives of our leaders and their cronies? It appears some of us want this administration that is still trying to understand the enormity of the rot it inherited to start rolling out promises they will not be able to keep. Who knew the kind of mess we had gotten into until the tail end of the previous administration?

I actually meant to take a long break from Nigerian politics and focus on finishing my graduate research on the challenges of curbing corruption in a democracy. I have quietly been following the slow-paced Buhari government and the agitations for a jet engine-like administration. Amidst the dissatisfaction with the pace of his leadership is also the attack on the anti-corruption stance of the administration from expected and unexpected quarters.

I personally have the utmost regard for Bishop Kukah, who I consider one of the few influential religious voices that speak truth to power. Owing to his principled stance on important national issues, the Nigerian church has not completely lost its relevance in governance. The last administration provided a golden opportunity for our influential pastors to use their influence to help steer the country in the right direction. The result of their involvement in that administration is glaring for all to see.

The recent comments about how the Buhari administration is addressing corruption by the Presidential Peace Committee, which Bishop Kukah re-echoed in his personal interview is certainly not in the interest of the pauperised majority of Nigerians. They appear to be speaking for those who have been stealing the country blind. On this one, I beg to defer with Bishop Kukah. At this point, no Nigerian should be a stranger to the damage corruption has done and is still doing to our country and her people. That corruption is at the heart of the many problems cannot be over-emphasised; from poverty to youth unemployment, to decayed infrastructure. The list goes on.

Bishop Kukah and his team in the Presidential Peace Committee are not happy with the process and the steps this administration is taking to reposition our public service and other state apparatuses that have caused corruption to thrive uncontrollably over the past few years. They appear not to be happy that the previous administration that redefined corruption and made it common place is now at the heart of the current wave to stem the tide of the scourge. They appear not to be happy that those under whose watch monumental corruption had taken place in various agencies and departments of government are being asked to go. Bishop Kukah appears to be advocating for a pat-on-the-back treatment of ‘return part of the looted money, go and sin no more’. On the contrary, this is the time to expose them and ensure they don’t find their way back into government circles to continue their dastardly acts, which have been the norm. That is why some corrupt elements are always lurking around our political space overtly and covertly.

One of the many misdeeds of the last administration, besides corruption, is how low they brought the standard of governance in Nigeria. To some of us who are students of political sociology, it is simply appalling. Less than six months into the life of this administration, we are complaining about how the leadership is going about addressing the greatest monster bedeviling our growth and development. It appears we have to remind Bishop Kukah and his team that atop the list of reasons for which we voted in the present leadership is the urgent need to stem the tide of corruption.

This administration must remain steadfast with its campaign against corruption. That is the first step toward restoration. It cannot be business as usual. While we must continue to engage this administration in terms of fulfilling their campaign promises, we must not discourage its anti-corruption efforts.

It is a no brainer that indiscipline and corruption have over the years served as barricades to the progress and development of our country, and remain at the root of numerous ethno-religious crises we have been experiencing. The current wave of terror that is ravaging parts of the country is not a recent phenomenon. A country where the leaders are comfortable with syphoning the commonwealth of the people cannot avoid breeding the kind of dedicated soldiers Boko Haram currently boasts of. Rather than put these resources into education, employment and other people-centred projects, they use them to fund their lavish lifestyles, while giving the people handouts. I would expect our religious leaders to declare the judgment of God on this and several other forms of injustice that our leaders have been perpetrating against the people over the years. My own Bible tells me how much God hates injustice.

I really do not want to hold brief for this administration. But in terms of governance that Bishop Kukah and his team said has been abandoned in pursuit of a working system that does not breed corruption, what exactly is it that should have been achieved in less than six months? Are we not tired of the rhetoric of seven-point agenda, ten-point and the so-called transformation agenda that only transformed the lives of our leaders and their cronies? It appears some of us want this administration that is still trying to understand the enormity of the rot it inherited to start rolling out promises they will not be able to keep. Who knew the kind of mess we had gotten into until the tail end of the previous administration?

To my mind, any sensible administration would want to as much as possible reduce the mess before attempting to build anything on the same ground. I do not blame the generality of Nigerians who want this administration to move faster. The Nigerian people have suffered enough. And they admitted that when the previous administration was booted out for this one. Irrespective of the challenges on ground, this administration owes it to Nigerians to turn this ship in the right direction at the shortest possible time. They also owe us a road map and regular updates of what they are doing. While we must ensure to keep them on their toes, it can be disturbing when individuals who should know better start making certain statements that suggest that we want to continue on the old path.

Bishop Kukah is faulting the drama that is accompanying the steps that are being taken to reduce opportunities for corruption in the system. Is there anywhere in the world where the fight against corruption does not come with drama? The Obasanjo administration he made reference to was full of it. I am not surprised one bit that some people are beginning to see these moves as a witch-hunt. Corruption will always find a way of fighting back. The trend now is when anyone is picked up for corruption, it is either the fellow is being persecuted because of former President Jonathan or the fellow is not in good standing with the current administration. Individuals and cronies who have benefitted from these corrupts elements will always find a way of coming to their defence. This administration must remain steadfast with its campaign against corruption. That is the first step toward restoration. It cannot be business as usual. While we must continue to engage this administration in terms of fulfilling their campaign promises, we must not discourage its anti-corruption efforts.

I will conclude by asking that we reflect on the three types of societal evaluation of corruption provided by John Girling to see where we currently stand:

1. Where corruption is actively condemned; the need to root out corruption as a social evil is strongly felt.
2. Where corruption is passively resented; corrupt practices are disliked, but people believe that ‘little or nothing can be done about it’.
3. Where corruption is condoned, because ‘everybody does it’; here is a culture of corruption.

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