Corruption Cannot Kill Nigeria


In a weekend of scandals, the NDDC and EFCC have been wrestling each other to grab the headlines in sordid details of corruption. It all started with Mr. Ibrahim Magu being picked up and whisked to the Presidential Villa. While Mr. Magu was busy asking for a bail, the Presidency in the characteristic media lynching, kept releasing one damning report after the other. Not wanting the EFCC to take its shine, the NDDC entered the fray claiming that it spent a whopping N1.3 billion on Covid-19 palliatives. From that frying pan, top officials of the agency have since taken to the mud to settle their corruption quarrel.

The immediate past Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Gbene Nunieh grabbed the microphone and rolled out some mind-shutting sleaze against the Minister of Niger-Delta. The short-list of dirty details ranges from a N40b fraud, to oath taking, and an alleged bombing of oil pipelines. Without contest, the wickedness and avarice in the heart of the Nigerian political class and their cronies in public governance, is certain to be a study in political science classes for years to come. But wait a minute, even as you are permitted to be stone-shocked about this level of degeneracy, there is a weightier matter.

Since May 29, 1999 Nigeria has been trapped in three chokehold presidencies – an arrogant rulership, a timid presidency, and aloof generalissimo. All three men possessed the state as their private fiefdom, affected the country by their personal deficiencies, while deducting from the frugal gains that had been made in previous years of unmethodical governance. In continued episodes of a tiring, and perhaps, emotionally draining sequence of rulers, Nigerians have over the last 20 years watched of how things kept changing, but stunningly remained the same.

Is there any perfect leadership anywhere? No! Are there empathy-driven, energy-powered, and purpose-guided leaders? Exceedingly and Abundantly! The expression ‘the buck stops on leadership’ is not a module in an Engineering Physics class nor is it rocket science. It is simple – vision, intelligence, drive, and taking responsibility.

In the fight against corruption, a leader does not have to be a professor of criminal intelligence, he only needs to be ideas-driven enough to recruit the best hands that would develop a first-class legal, administrative, policy, and social framework, that he himself will pursue vigorously. Such a leader does not delegate his job of leading to so-called longstanding close associates and recuse himself into a bland enclave, rather, he understands that outstanding governance in this age comes by the ability of a leader to overcome the evil called ‘nepotism’ and attract the best brains to drive innovation in government. Such leadership was not practiced in the early centuries, it cannot be an achievement in 21st century Nigeria.

How can this level of earth-shaking corruption have gone on in the country’s leading anti-corruption agency, without the President’s knowledge? But is this question in fact necessary – if you school a man in illegality by stubbornly making him acting chairman for five years, what do you expect but ‘absolute power corrupting absolutely’?

As we journey towards 2023, we must know one thing – the quality of mind that engineered this damage, cannot be useful in mending it. The people must really be tired of the status quo and determined that come the next election cycle, to lift the lockdown on smart thinking and intelligent leadership that has been carefully programmed by the current political class.

Corruption is not a man of war, it simply possesses the agility to incubate, remain silent, and borrow human legs to move around. It is not about corruption killing Nigeria, it is about leadership deficit being the assassin.

––Olusola Babatunde Adegbite, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife