“Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have attributed the nation’s poor development to reckless looting of the nation’s treasury by public office holders. The bishops described the level of pilfering of the nation‘s wealth as disturbing and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission and relevant bodies on the need to ensure credible, free and fair elections in 2011. The bishops, who gathered in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State , for the Second
Plenary session of Catholic Bishops‘ Conference of Nigeria, warned that if the looting of the nation’s resources was not checked, the development might force Nigerians to react as “a dog driven to a corner will bark and bite its owner”.” PUNCH, By James Azania, Benin ; Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010.
Corruption in the nation can only be stopped or reduced by the team efforts of the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. However, EFCC (one of the law enforcement agency in the nation) is noted for hot words and non-performance, the agency is looked upon as toothless bulldog that can only bark but can’t bite, and the agency’s threats are always viewed as mere ranting. NDII believes that Nigerians would like to see action rather than excuses offered by the current chairman of the agency. As a matter of fact, the corruption in the nation has reached a level that requires urgent attention and radical approach to resolve. Therefore, NDII suggests that Mr. President shop for a competent and tougher individual to head the agency and other failed law enforcement agencies in the nation.
Corruption creates poverty while poverty creates social vices, which had engulfed the nation. As noted, the high poverty level in the nation is exacerbated by poor and corrupt leadership from banking sector, the judiciary, the law enforcement agencies, the Local Governments, the States Government and to the Federal Government.
NDII has called upon the Government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to show more commitment towards fighting corruption and fraud through the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. NDII has suggested through Open Letters to Mr. President to either dissolve EFCC or restructure the agency; including other non-functional agencies, such as Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). For now, EFCC is a child’s play and a joke, so also is Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). This is true because there are many scapegoats and many sacred cows in the nation, the agencies are not fair and they are bias. We can’t win the war on corruption if the trend continues and presently, the entire nation is soaked in corruption. This problem can be resolved by promoting the Rule of Law in the nation. Corruption is now a national malaise and has eaten deep into the fabric of the society. Nigeria would develop only when the issue of corruption has been seriously tackled, and this required effective judiciary system and effective law enforcement agencies.
As of today, our judiciary system is non-functional, like the EFCC, our judiciary system is a joke and a mockery to the nation. Also, NDII suggests to Mr. President to initiate a National Legal Reform Programs to revitalization the judiciary system in the nation. The National Legal Reform Programs is aimed at promoting the Rule of Law. It should be noted that our judiciary system is as corrupt as the political system. As observed, most of the judicial officers in the country are unfit to remain on the bench for reasons ranging from ineptitude, low productivity, incompetence to involvement in monumental corruption. What a shame. NDII believes that the promotion of the rule of law is the most effective long-term antidote to the most pressing problems facing Nigeria today, including poverty, Niger Delta crisis, ethnic and religious violence, endemic corruption and disregard for human rights.
Furthermore, NDII highly suggests that the Federal Government seek external assistance from Britain and the United States of America in training and restructuring the judiciary, the police department, the road safety department, the customs, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The retraining of the law enforcement agencies at the least will reduce police brutality and jungle justice on defenseless citizens as seen in the religious crisis in Maiduguri. The revitalization of the Rule of Law is required to address the abuse of power by high ranking government officials including the Governors, the ministers, the commissioners, local government chairmen, etc. and reduce excessive corruption, which is now a culture/the way of life in the nation.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has a critical role to play in fighting corruption, especially, making sure that the States Party Chairmen are not hand-picked by the current Governors, and that the best candidates are nominated for election. This is a litmus test and a challenge to INEC. If the agency is successful in conducting a fair and free polls come 2011, it will effect the election of credible individuals to leadership positions and prevents the incompetent individuals and mediocres from achieving their selfish goals. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
In addition, NDII suggests that Mr. President devoid himself of sycophants. NDII encourages PDP and other parties to strive in nominating and supporting the best candidates in the party from the Local Government to Federal Government in the forthcoming general election. NDII notes that Mr. President is the best bet for PDP as the party’s flag bearer as he has a better vision for the nation. NDII believes that all President Goodluck Jonathan has to do is to be more aggressive, vibrant and act fast because public opinion polls by NDII point to the President’s non-aggressiveness towards his administrative activities including fight against corruption. The solution to Nigerians social and economic problems requires aggressive and a radical approach.
In conclusion, it is true that at this point in time, Nigerians need transformational leaders with the capacity, commitment and courage to drive the essential reforms required to place Nigeria on the path of sustainable social and economic developments.
Dr. Chukwuma O. Nwaonicha, Director NDII