Corruption versus Resources Management in Nigeria:

What hopes for the 21st Century

 

By

 

Peter Ayodele Fayose

 

 

Being a paper delivered by Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti State Governor at the 2005 personnel psychology lecture series of the Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan on Friday February 11, 2005.

 

 

INTRODUCTION


IT offers me immense pleasure to be here to present this paper on one of the greatest scourges besetting our country. I have chosen to speak on "corruption versus resources management in Nigeria" for two reasons. One is the composition of the immediate target audience which is made up of adults who are Masters degree students in Personnel Psychology. The academic community remain the intellectual policy base of any society and thus a suitable environment for exchange of idea and concepts.

 

Secondly, corruption, as it is, has become a major problem that stares us in the face in this country today and thus required to be tackled frontally in the spirit of the present government's anti corruption war. I am one of those who strongly believe that all available fora should be explored to combat the cankerworm which corruption had become in our national life.

 

Definition of concepts


I had earlier stated that this is an academic environment, Ipso facto is it germane that we should have conceptual frameworks for proper elucidation, comprehension and direction of the topic of discourse. I consider two concepts as key in the given topic. I shall attempt to define and explain them in the following order Resource Management and Corruption.

 

What is resource management?


Kiragu (20002:68) identified six key objectives of effective resources management as follows:
 


This description pre supposes that resources management entails availability of resources, mobilisation of resources and expenditure of resource. It is pertinent to state that resources is not synonymous neither could it be narrowed down to fiscal conflagration alone. Resources could be human or personnel, it could be fixed such as land, it could be collateral such as securities, stocks and bonds and so on and forth. However, my emphasis in this paper shall centre around fiscal resource management.

 

From the above therefore, I want to define resources management as a conscious aggregation, mobilisation and deployment of materials for the accomplishment of set objective(s).

 

Section 162(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 states that:
"The Federation shall maintain special account to be called "The Federation Account" into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except..."
One of the certain Federal Bodies established for the Federation by Section 153(1) therefore is the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The basic power of the commission is to, among the others, monitor the accuals and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account.

 

In essence, it is being said that the mobilisation and deployment of resources in Nigeria is crucial and as such the fiscal aspect is significantly regulated by statute. This assertion could be reinforced by the several agitations over resource control, sharing of the national cake and the hues and cries about marginalisation all of which had found their ways into our lexicon of daily usage.

 

What is corruption?


It is therefore opposite to put the concept of corruption into conceptual perspective from the on-set in order to facilitate an objective grasp of the subject matter of this discourse from multi-dimensionary perspectives.

 

The Longman dictionary of contemporary English define corruption as:
"Dishonest, illegal or immoral behaviour especially from someone with power".

 

Otite (1982:12) in the book Nigeria: Corruption in development posits that corruption takes place;
"When at least two parties have interacted to change the structure of processes by the society or the behaviour of functionaries in order to produce dishonest, unfaithful or defiled situations".

 

Also Seidman (1974:2002) defines corruption as: "The invocation of private viewing considerations in public decision making".

 

Seidman further explained that corruption like law, truth, beauty etc has no agreed definition.

According to Gboyega (1965:50) in Corruption and Democratisation in Nigeria, Corruption "involves the giving or taking of a bribe, or illegal acquisition of wealth using the resources of a public office, including the exercise of discretion. In this regard, it is those who have business to do with government who are compelled somehow to provide inducement to public officials to make them favours".

Furthermore, the British Department for International Development in its Nigeria; Country Strategy Paper (CSP") for the year 2000 stated that:
"Poverty persists in Nigeria because of the mismanagement of resources and corruption, found particularly but not exclusively in the public sector".

Against the background of these multi-dimensional perspectives which have established the pervasive extent of corruption in Nigeria, further efforts have been made to categorise acts or practices that could be described as corruption, at least in Nigeria's context.

 

Onimode 2000 in Overview of Corruption and organised Crime in Africa has been able to categorise the phenomenon into six concrete types:
"One is looting of funds and wealth kept secretly aboard, which he describes as 'Capital flight'. Two is misappropriation of public funds. Three, money launderings i.e. acquired through fraudulent means (as stipulated in section 419 of the criminal code) drug trafficking, illegal arms deals etc. Four is gratification which involves monetary, pecuniary, material or physical favour as a condition or 'reward' for performing official duty. Five, abuse of office in which an official violates an oath of office and or debases official procedure for personal gains. Six is nepotism which confers underserved favours and advantages to one's kinsmen.

 

Against the background of these expositions, Ayua (2001:8-15) has illustrated the phenomenon of corruption in Nigeria by compartmentalising it into the various sectors of the nation state as follows:


Corruption in the private sector


Corruption in the private sector involves the following: Bribery by multinational companies, serious fraud in the financial institutions where sometimes criminals completely take over the banks, widespread evasion of taxes by incorporated liability companies; insider trading-illegal use of confidential information to make profits in the stock market; private operators who engage in insider trading are actually stealing on other private investors; payment of bribe in order to get contract for public works; exemption form regulation and so forth. This Ayua (ibid) deduced that the deviant motivation for private sector corruption is often undue financial advantage and or control of monopolisation of economic opportunities.

 

Corruption in the bureaucracy


Ayua (ibid) contended that bureaucratic corruption has been the main target of most definitions of corruption. It arises when for example under handed deals are made between public authorities and elements in the private sector in order to get special favours (fiscal). This include for instance, the design or selection of uneconomical projects because of opportunities for financial kick-backs; procurement fraud, including payments, kickbacks, collusion, overcharging, misrepresentation, the delivery of substandard goods and services; and illicit payments and or receipts of 'spend money'... Bureaucratic corruption also includes extortion, misappropriation of funds, nepotism and favouritism, personal use of official and government secrets, any improper exercising of power or even time wasting or sleeping on the job.

 

Political corruption


Ayua (ibid) described Political Corruption as basically the use of political power for financial gain or the use of financial power to buy political favours or even to secure political power. The manifestation of political corruption include:
 

 

It is further opined that political corruption is very dangerous because it transforms power into a means not of governing for the common good but of enriching those in power and or spreading all manners of rewards among loyal supporters at taxpayers expense.

 

Trends of corruption in Nigeria


On February 26, 1952, the Emir of Gwandu moved the following motion in the Northern House of Chiefs:
That this House, agreeing that bribery and corruption are widely prevalent in all walks of life recommends that Native Authorities should make every effort to trace and punish offenders with strict impartiality and to educate public opinion against bribery and corruption (Adebayo 1986: 19).

 

And yet 11 years later, writing in 1963 Ronald Wraith and Edgar Simpkins (1963) were able to observe that "in Africa,, corruption flourishes as luxuriantly as the bush and the weeds which it so much resembles, taking the goodness from the soil and suffocating the growth of the plants which have been carefully and expensively bred and tended. The forces ranged against it are negligence".

 

The corruption which Wraith and Simpkins observed about 30 years ago is mere chicken feed compared with corruption now prevalent in Nigeria today. It has grown beyond imagination and to a degree, which boggles the mind. Corruption is a common word and has become part of everyday usage.

 

The consequences of corruption


As the foregoing analysis has clearly demonstrated, corruption is indeed a frightening problem in Nigeria. It pervades every segment of the national atmosphere and has overwhelmed all levels and all branches of government. It undermines the goals of development. Public funds are often arbitrarily handled, used for private purposes or deposited in personal accounts including fattening of foreign bank accounts. Consequently governance and social economic conditions have badly deteriorated.

 

Furthermore, corruption has adversely affected the stability of government. Loyalties are fragmented by consideration of personal gain, national unity is damaged, as corruption becomes an instrument for promoting untoward tendencies in the country and thus undermining relationships and destabilising the institutions of state.

 

Finally, corruption has retarded economic development in Nigeria. According to the World Bank (1995), between 1973 and 1993, approximately US$200 billion was invested in Nigeria with very little return.

 

The Yakubu Gowon era 1966-1975


The eradication of corruption was among the "Nine-point programme of Gowon" without which the 1976 hand-over date would be unrealistic.

 

Indeed, the Public Officer (Investigation of Assets) Decree was promulgated during the Gowon era. There was forefeiture of corruptly acquired assets by culprits in accordance with this legislation. His regime was however overthrown because of its lack of capacity, among other factors, to combat corruption. This reinforces the view that corruption generates political instability.

 

The Murtala/Obasanjo era 1975-1979


The Murtala/Obasanjo administration instituted the legal frame-work for combating corruption under the Corrupt Practices Decree No 38 of 1975.

 

Indeed, the first anti-corruption war was launched by General Muhammed on 16th September, 1975. He set up a three man panel to investigate and examine all the assets of certain former officers to ensure that such officers have not abused their office in the acquisition of such assets. This led to the retirement of very senior public officials and the much talked about mass purge. His regime which initiated the making of the 1979 Constitution provided for a code of conduct for public officers; a Code of Conduct Bureau for the enforcement of the prescribed behaviours, and a Code of Conduct Tribunal.

 

Second Republic (Regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari 1979-1983)


The Shagari administration launched an anti-corruption programme christened "Ethical Revolution" and even appointed a Minister of Cabinet rank for national guidance, following his lamentation about the state of corruption in Nigeria. This was to raise awareness and hopefully change deviant behaviour into a conforming one. Inspite of this, however, one of the key reasons why his government was toppled was because of its weakness in controlling corruption.

 

Buhari-Idiagbon regime (1983-1985)


The regime of Buhari-Idiagbon launched an anti-corruption programme called "War Against Indiscipline". The government exhibited seriousness to fight fraud, corruption, abuse of public office or graft and other similar vices. The regime matched its pronouncements with action by not only promulgating draconian legislation to control and prevent corrupt practices but brought to book people considered to have been fraudulent of corrupt.

 

The Babangida regime (1985-1993)


The Babangida regime initiated definite measures to combat corruption. The regime set up the National Committee on Corruption and other Economic Crimes in Nigeria with the following terms of reference:
 

The committee came up with the Corrupt Practices and Economic Crime Decree 1990.

 

This Decree expanded the definition of corruption to encompass the private sector. It also improved and widened the scope of economic crimes. It further provided for the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption that is similar in composition and function to the current Independent Anti-Corruption Commission. It also provided for private investigations and the corrupt practices court.

 

Unfortunately however, in spite of its far reaching provisions, the decree never went beyond the draft stage, thus there was really no strong legal system on ground to effectively control corruption during that era. It was compounded by the fact that people who were hitherto convicted on account of corrupt practices were not only freed but pardoned. Properties confiscated were also returned to such people.

 

General Sani Abacha's regime 1994-1998


- The late General Abacha's regime produced a draft anti-corruption legislation titled Indiscipline, Corrupt Practices and Economic Crime (Prohibition) Draft Decree 1994. The draft Decree was largely and in substance, a replica (except for few changes in nomenclature) of the Babangida's 1990 Draft Decree on corrupt practices and economic crime.

 

The present democratic government 1999 till date


The enthronement of a democratic government after more than two decades of military rule in Nigeria has posed a formidable challenge particularly along the direction of combating corruption which has become the biggest obstacle confronting national development.

 

The Obasanjo administration appeared to have a full awareness of the disturbing nature of the enigma. The first bill proposed to the National Assembly within a few months of its assumption of office was the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Bill 1999 which later was passed and became the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000. It needs be stated that the Act drew significant inspirations and technicalities from the Corrupt Practices and Economic Crime Draft Decree 1990. Although certain statutes such as the criminal and penal codes had been in existence in the Nigerian Legal System before the ICPC Act, it is not contestable that the Anti-Graft Law 2000 demonstrated serious commitment to fight corruption in Nigeria.

The Act comprises of 71 sections. The functions of the ICPC are stated in Section 6 of the Act as follows:


(a) where reasonable grounds exist for suspecting that any person has conspired to commit or has attempted to commit or has committed an offence under this Act or any other prohibiting corruption, to receive and investigate any report of the conspiracy to commit, attempt to commit or the commission of such offence, and in appropriate cases, to prosecute the offenders;
(b) to examine the practices, systems and procedure of public bodies and where in the opinion of the commission, such practices, systems or procedures aid or facilitate fraud or corruption, to direct and supervise a review of them;
(c) to instruct, advise and assist any officer, agency or parastatals on ways by which fraud or corruption may be eliminated or minimised by such officer, agency or parastatal;
(d) to advise heads of public bodies of any changes in practices, systems or procedures compatible with the effective discharge of the duties of the public bodies as the Commission thinks fit to reduce the likelihood incidence of bribery, corruption and related offences;
(e) to educate the public on and against bribery, corruption and related offences; and
(f) to enlist and foster public support in combating corruption. In addition to the ICPC, the present administration also established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which also possesses statutory powers to fight corruption in Nigeria.

 

What hopes for the 21st Century


President Obasanjo, on assumption of office as President in May 1999 made it known that he will prosecute drastic war against corruption. According to him, the 2000 Anti-Graft Law had sufficient provisions and had empowered the ICPC with enough muscle and sharp fangs to combat the menace. For instance, any citizen now has the right to apply to court asking that a corrupt governor or minister or any other public officer be investigated.

 

President Obasanjo had however blamed us all for not coming up with figures and documents to prove that other rulers were corrupt. He said it was not enough for Nigerians to lament, in private and public discussions, without being willing, ready and able to prove suspicions.

 

Another fact that may not be contested is that the 2000 Anti-Graft Law has been able to raise the level of consciousness of Nigerians on the menace of corruption and its debilitating effect upon all sphere of our national life. The menace now occupies the front burner in public and private discourse in Nigeria. No other subject had attracted public attention like that of the evils of corruption in Nigeria in the last five years.

 

Finally, it is observed that corruption will thrive in the face of poverty, adversity and hardship. It is therefore incumbent on government to create an enabling environment for improvement in social welfare system through the payment of appropriate wages and general improvement in the living conditions of the people. The Obasanjo-led government in Nigeria deserve kudos for introducing a minimum living wage on assumption of office and the several poverty reduction and eradication programmes it had instituted. Similarly, the present administration had introduced a Due process Unit in the Presidency to ensure that extant regulations are complied with in the award and execution of government contracts.`


In Ekiti State, a due process unit is firmly in place along the model of the Federal Government. Similarly, my administration has instituted several poverty reduction programmes and strategies to checkmate the menace of corruption in the state. Upon my assumption of office, my administration had ensured the payment of arrears of salaries and allowances that were owed public servants by the previous administration. Further to this, public servants in Ekiti State now receives their wages on the 20th of each month.

 

My administration had also purchased and distributed vehicles and motorcycles for intra and inter state transportation, thereby ensuring the employment of able bodied men and movement of persons and goods. Furthermore, my administration had purchased tractors and other implements for mechanised agriculture in Ekiti State while we have embarked on an integrated poultry scheme which has the capacity of employing about 1,500 workers across the state.

 

Also, we have embarked on several turn around infrastructural development projects in intra and inter-township roads, electricity supply and water distribution newtork with a view to improving upon the standard of living of our people. These are to mention but a few.