ARIMP: 1. Arrest the Situation 2. Restore Service Standards 3. Initiate New Transactions 4. Migrate Legacy Transactions 5. Protect Service Standards
First point to note is that corruption can only happen in the context of an office or a service provided by that office. Corruption is abuse of office or the deviation from a standard to facilitate illegitimate personal gain. Just as there can be no photocopy without an original, corruption cannot exist without a legitimate service. So, if you fix the service, you remove the corruption or reduce it significantly.
Two major headaches reformers face in tackling endemic corruption are:
1. How to clean up the service without causing more suffering for customers or stakeholders.
2. How to manage beneficiaries of the corrupt status quo without allowing them truncate your reforms.
There are a range of strategies that can be deployed to handle these concerns and they are captured in 5 broad headlines represented by the acronym ARIMP© and listed below:
1. Arrest the Situation
2. Restore Service Standards
3. Initiate New Transactions
4. Migrate Legacy Transactions
5. Protect Service Standards
I will explain them briefly and then use an example to illustrate how they work.
1. Arrest the Situation: This describes the steps a reformer can take to temporarily suspend a service in order to buy time or prevent things from getting worse.
2. Restore Service Standards: This encapsulates the activities involved in (re)defining the standards and expectations around the service, publicizing it and demanding accountability.
3. Initiate New Transactions: This is the stage where the service is operationalized in line with the redefined standards and involves managing the teething problems that can arise.
4. Migrate Legacy Transactions: This crucial stage manages the conversion of inherited commitments and stakeholders to make them align with the new way.
5. Protect Service Standards: This stage continues throughout the lifecycle of that service in order to ensure the service not only works as planned, but also continues to deliver the expected benefits.
There is a lot packed into each of these stages and they are better explained in my book, “The Survival Mindset: A Systematic Approach to Combating Corruption” but let me illustrate with an example.
During the tenure of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, one of his major and widely-acknowledged achievements was the restoration of the Abuja Master Plan. He met a tough situation at the onset and this is recounted in his book, “The Accidental Public Servant” as follows:
“Many buildings, structures and shanties in the city were built on water pipelines, sewer trunk lines, under high-tension electric lines and on green areas. Violations of land use regulations were rampant, with plots designated for schools or religious institutions developed as residential or commercial facilities and so on. Most of these were overlooked in the past due to the immense cost of removal and the compensation payable by the government as many of the structures had approved Building Plans and Certificates of Occupancy.”
And this is how he responded.
1. Arrest the Situation: He temporarily suspended further allocation of property.
2. Restore Service Standards: He implemented a Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to standardize land allocation and introduced standard tariffs. He publicized these initiatives and monitored to ensure service levels were maintained.
3. Initiate New Transactions: He kicked off new allocations in line with the GIS, employed new staff to complement the old, trained them all and motivated them to perform professionally.
4. Migrate Legacy Transactions: He converted old staff who were adaptable and demobilized those who were not. He employed a range of strategies to honor or straighten out previous allocations such as outright cancellation of some, compensation or reallocation of others. For example, for some developed but illegal structures where cost of demolition would have been prohibitive, the Ministry billed the owners the appropriate fees and formalized their titles. The strategy employed depended on the level of infringement and the practicality of implementation.
5. Protect Service Standards: He obtained informal feedback from residents on the effectiveness of the services.
ARIMP© outlines the steps reformers intuitively employ but by explicitly working through it, people can improve their plans so that they approach reforms with more confidence in the expected outcomes. For instance, in working through Step 4, a reformer will review the strengths and weaknesses of beneficiaries of the corrupt status quo and therefore decide upfront how to manage them.
It is worth noting that not every corruption situation will require elaborate planning. In some cases you just need the will to whip erring people into line. In other cases, the line may be missing or blurred so you have to redraw it first. Whatever the case, you can improve your chance of successful reforms by reviewing elements of the ARIMP framework.
In the next installment, I will discuss how the Governance Triad© keeps our society in the corruption loop and point to the key steps we need to take to break out of it.
Arnold is a business analyst and author of ‘The Survival Mindset: A Systematic Approach to Combating Corruption in Nigeria’ He can be reached via www.arnoldobomanu.com