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Before Nigeria becomes world’s corruption capital

Ladesope Ladelokun
SIR: With Nigeria having the dubious honour of being the poverty capital of the world, it may not be long that it will parade another inglorious trophy of corruption capital of the world if one goes by the stench oozing out of the most populous black country in the world.
The vermin called corruption has always been a barrier on our journey to development. From the power sector to the health sector, energy to works, ear-aching tales of elephantine graft perpetrated by sleazebags stir concerns among Nigerians who are victims of  merciless looting in high places.
But, was it not the partly the reason millions of Nigerians queued behind Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and 2019? With the background of a no-nonsense General and his perceived abhorrence for corruption that earned him the moniker ‘Mr Integrity’, expectations were high that the monster would at last be crushed and buried with its shadows. And, at the mention of the name of the one seen as a squeaky-clean man in a sea of Nigeria’s seedy politicians, corrupt people would develop apoplexy.
No doubt, Buhari was armed with the knowledge of the scale of havoc caused by graft. Little wonder it was top on this three-point agenda that he vociferously trumpeted across the length and breadth of Nigeria, stating why Nigeria must kill corruption.
But, five years after, one must really be a hardcore news junkie to keep pace with the rate corruption stories involving appointees of government are churned out. In fact, the president was sincere enough to admit recently that appointees of government in previous administrations and his had abused trust reposed in them while answering questions on the probes of the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
If the suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, is not accused of living above his means and diversion of loot by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the  AGF is accused of deliberately frustrating the fight against corruption by withdrawing cases of corruption in courts and living above his means by Magu.
Sadly, we cannot quantify the damage the accusations of graft involving Nigeria’s suspended anti-corruption Czar and the nation’s number one law officer has caused to Nigerians and Nigeria. But it is a story those who have lost life-changing business deals and job opportunities because of their Nigerian roots can relate to.
While we may concede that accusations and counter accusations between Malami and Magu are still in the realm of allegations, what shall we say about the revelation by the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof Keme Pondei, that only N1.3bn and not N1.5bn was shared among staff as COVID-19 palliative to take care of themselves despite getting their salaries?
Or the disturbing Senate report that the NDDC paid scholarship grants to the acting managing director and the directors of the commission? And the Senate report that revealed how top management of the NDDC paid themselves N85.6 million to attend a graduation ceremony in the United Kingdom at a time Nigeria was on lockdown and airports were shut?
But the NDDC and the Niger Delta story is the story of Nigeria. A country very rich yet parades the most wretched of the earth. A people surrounded by water yet none to drink. Nothing explains it better than the Niger Delta scholars neglected by their sponsor (NDDC), making them resort to begging on the streets of the United Kingdom at a time they read and hear sordid tales of financial recklessness rocking the NDDC. .
If we must not sink deeper into the abyss of ignominy and corruption, there must be consequences for bad behaviour by lovers of filthy lucre regardless of their relationship with the president – and the president must be seen to lead that charge, else another inglorious trophy may just be in the offing.

Ladesope Ladelokun,


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