Nigeria’s desperate struggle against corruption that has been on for the most part of its post-independence years bears eloquent testimony to just how much of a problem it has been to the country for such a long time now.
Nigeria’s amalgamation happened in 1914 but there was no independence for the Giant of Africa from devious colonial masters until 1960.
In 1956,four years before independence,oil was discovered in the sleepy fields of Oloibiri,Bayelsa State.It meant that even before Nigeria became an independent country,the foundations of its staggering wealth were laid,as were those of staggering Unfortunately
Nigeria’s independence did not come a bit too soon. If anything, it was long overdue. However, once Nigeria’s affairs and newly discovered oil resources were firmly in the hands of Nigerians, the twin monsters of corruption and mismanagement took only very little to bare their ugly teeth.
The cankerworm of corruption in Nigeria was helped by the fact that jus six years into Nigeria’s independence, coup by avaricious and undisciplined military men followed coup to plunge the country into a cataclysmic civil war that raged from 1967-70, which left the country drained of almost every ounce of strength and hope.
The military was to return to power from time to time since the war ended and it was under military administrations which were supposed to be disciplined in all ramifications that corruption truly took roots in Nigeria.
In deed, it was under Babangida and Abacha who both oversaw successive military administrations that corruption became corruption truly thrived in Nigeria.
Abacha’s case is particularly alarming. More than twenty years after he joined his ancestors in mysterious circumstances, humongous amounts he stole and stashed away in foreign countries continue to be returned to Nigeria.
A false dawn
One of the things that endeared President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigerians at the beginning of a love story that has since turned sour was what seemed at the time his unflinching commitment to the fight against corruption.Under his administration which is poised to enter its eight and final year soon, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies have huffed and puffed, claiming some high-profile scalps in the process.However, too many Nigerians remain skeptical of the commitment to a war that has become a favourite campaign tool for those who seek the votes of Nigerians.
Much has been made of the war against corruption.Recently,Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami disclosed that Nigeria had recovered over one billion dollars in looted funds in the last seven and half years.
According to Mr. Malami,the recovered funds had been sunk into various sectors of the economy including poverty alleviation.
Mr. Malami’s revelations may go some way to soothe all those who have been asking the current administration to account for every amount recovered so far. However,the figure in itself pokes fun at Nigeria when the subject of corruption is brought up.
Why has the problem persisted for so long and who are those who have benefited and continue to benefit from the fact that staggering amounts of public funds disappear in Nigeria routinely and often without any trace.
Until Nigeria gets to the day when it is no longer possible for anyone to steal public funds, it will continue to stare into the abyss of underdevelopment.