James Emejo in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Monday warmed that the country may end up â€œpunishing corruption but not fighting corruptionâ€ if institutions were not strengthened to deal with the menace.
Speaking in Abuja at the launch of a book â€˜Antidotes for Corruptionâ€™ – written by Senator Dino Melaye, he argued that only strong institutions could fight corruption in the country.
He said: â€œAs a country, we ran into a situation where corruption was becoming the norm; there was this moral cult that we had created that celebrated corruption.
â€œThe motivation was always there for corruption, but now what is important is not just fighting the old corrupt system. Really, if we must make progress, our focus should be to replace the old order that was corrupt with a new order that makes corruption near impossible to take place.â€
Dogara said for the war against corruption to succeed, there must be institutional reforms that would help put in place measures which would make it near impossible for people to engage in corrupt acts.
According to him, corruption as a disease must be treated from its roots and not just the symptoms, and he argued that it is the moral responsibility of all men and women of good will to fight corruption because every individual pays the price of corruption in the society.
Commenting on the author of the book, the Speaker said he wouldnâ€™t be surprised by the avalanche of criticism that may follow this because â€œDino himself is a combination of so many things. He is highly opinionated, often pugnatious, and sometimes traudulent. So, obviously, he will be a magnet for opinionated and traudulent criticism as well; he will not escape that.â€
He said: â€œCorruption, for those who are farmers, is like a tree that grows vigorously. If you end up pruning the trees and not attacking the roots, there is no way you will deal with that thing.
â€œSo, when those who celebrate the successes of the fight against corruption in terms of the high profile investigation, high profile prosecution and even detention, they are missing the point because that is dealing with the symptoms of corruption. That is punishing corruption. But how are we developing remedies that we can apply to ensure that the tree dies? â€œRecently, in the labour community, we went for May Day and some of us were nearly held hostage.
You canâ€™t blame the workers. While they were agitating for their rights, and minimum wage, some of us were talking about living wage. You see, the workers control, perhaps, about 96 per cent of the budget. In the National Assembly, we have about 92 per cent, judiciary and the rest. So, if you donâ€™t make the environment conducive for those who administer this money not to be corrupt, you will end up jailing people.â€