World Anti-Corruption Day – Time for Nigeria to Get Its Act Together and Save Itself from International Opprobrium

9 December 2012.

By resolution 58/4 of October 31, 2003, the UN General Assembly designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day. This decision aimed to raise people’s awareness of corruption and of the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it. The assembly urged all states and competent regional economic integration organizations to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to ensure its rapid entry into force. UNCAC is the first legally binding, international anti-corruption instrument that provides a chance to mount a global response to corruption.

While Nigeria has since 14 Dec. 2004 ratified the UNCAC, Nigeria continues to perform miserably poor in addressing corruption. Despite the plethora of laws and institutions with anti-corruption mandates (numbering about twenty)[1], Nigeria continues to consistently perform poorly and to feature at the bottom of practically every corruption ratings.

While those in public offices continue to use the position of power entrusted to them for dishonest gain, the vast majority of Nigerians continue to wallow in mass poverty and impoverishment with public infrastructure in a state of collapse. Corruption on a daily basis continues to undermine democracy, creating instability and set the country back economically.

With an estimated sum of 5 trillion naira lost to corruption in the past two years of Goodluck Jonathan presidency according to newspaper reports and over 400 billion US Dollars stolen between 1960 and 1999 according to UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the sum of USD$250 billion stolen within within a three year span after 1999 and an estimated half of Nigeria’s $ 40 billion annual oil revenue stolen or wasted according to Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)- Mutual Evaluation Report Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism 2009, Nigeria it appears is headed for a situation where it may be looted out of existence as a nation!

While public officials continue to live opulently from the proceeds of the unconscionable looting of the nation’s commonwealth, the poor and vulnerable who constitute the vast majority of the citizenry are daily robbed of the education, health care and other essential services desperately needed.

The situation today is such that while in 1965 when Nigeria’s oil revenue per capita was about US$33, per capita GDP was US$245. However, in 2000 when oil revenue grew to US$325 per capita, per capita GDP remained at the 1965 level, implying that oil revenue accumulated over the 35 year period between 1960 and 2000 did not add value to the standard of living of Nigerians[2].

This has led to the exacerbation of mass poverty as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which reported that 69% of Nigerians amounting to about 112.47 million people greater than the combined total population of seven West African countries (Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Republic of Benin, Liberia, the Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire) which adds up to 67.3 million live below the poverty line of less than a dollar a day.

The same National Bureau of Statistics reported that between In 2004 and 2010 inequality (the gap between the stupendously wealthy arising from corruption and looting of the public treasury and the hopelessly poor victims of corruption) increased by 4.1 percent nationally.

All of the above represents the fundamental damage that wanton corruption has wreaked on the vast majority of the Nigerian people who are daily made to lose faith in the entity called Nigeria and its leadership as currently constituted to the point of calling for its dismemberment.

On the occasion of this year’s world anti-corruption day, the ZCC calls on President Goodluck Jonathan to as a matter of national priority and continued survival of Nigeria do the following:

  1. That the President Goodluck Jonathan should take a stand against corruption in its various manifestations and live by example in the fight against corruption.
  2. That government must cut down waste and duplication as contained in the current budget as a measure of addressing corruption risks in governance.
  3. That Attorney General of the Federation should as a matter of national interest ensure that criminal proceedings in a court of law against all those that have so far been indicated of various corrupt practices be vigorously pursued with the aim of getting convictions and by so doing address the culture of impunity that appears to have taken roots in the country and given impetus to corruption
  4. Immediate implementation of the various reports that are related to the fuel subsidy regime: ZCC insists that in spite of the recent developments with respect to allegations of bribery concerning certain members of the Ad-Hoc committee that conducted the investigation and probe of the Fuel Subsidy report, nothing that has been revealed invalidates the core essence of the findings and recommendations of that probe.

  1. Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), the Nigerian Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ministry of Finance, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Public Complaints Commission, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR)
  2. Sala-i-Martin, X. and A. Subramanian, 2003. .Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria. Working Paper Series WP/03/139. IMF, Washington, D.C.