“No society is immune from corruption but, the commitment to tackling it, to stemming this evil that is anathema to growth and development on the continent must be the main goal of African leaders in the 21st century,” according to US president Barack Obama at the 25th AU summit in Addis-Ababa where he addressed the organization’s Heads of government and general assembly.
Obama’s statement is an admittance of the vulnerability of all societies and countries either in first or third world to the scourge called corruption but, the existence and efficacy of the structure put in place; Basically, Law and enforcement are the major factor that defines or measure the excesses of this menace and the seriousness or tolerance level of any government to confronting it.
And talking about tolerance level and seriousness, two important features that a society and its political leadership must have in considerable dose to fight corruption, the Chinese government sets the tone.
Ever since Mao led a communist revolution in the 50s, China has gradually evolved from a once-fledgling country to an economic powerhouse and a dominant player on the international scene.
How did the Chinese do it? Sheer political willingness and desire to realize a dream and maximize the unearthed potentials abound in its vast landmass. And years after Mao’s exit, Asia’s biggest economy still thrives-thanks to the legacies of Mao and other successive Chinese leaders still holding sway and revered in the Communist Party.
China’s leadership though not flawless, still values the sanity and purification of its society.
Over the years, they have not hidden their disgust for corruption within and outside the government. China’s communist government has interpreted the adage “What is good for the geese, is good for the gander” on few occasions and with reverberating effect. The way and manner they handled Bo Xiliai, a former party chieftain and heavyweight lends credence to this.
Bo, who administered the inland city of Chongqing and also a member of the Communist party’s Politbro-its top 25 officials- prior to his arrest on corruption and embezzlement charges was considered as one of the untouchables and important figures in the party’s inner circle. However, the full fang of the law bore down on him and he was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of corruption and abuse of power.
Fast forward to 2015, and the Chinese zero tolerance for corruption in any form or guise is still on display. Recently, the communist party leadership rolled out new laws though, likely considered to be eccentric and overboard by critics, but it simply shows that Beijing is not ready to take its foot off the gas in the fight against the scourge.
Under the new laws, party members and government officials are forbidden to display any form of lavish lifestyle; Smoking expensive Cigars, consumption of wines, having extra-marital affairs and playing golf-a game considered as elitist-are now a taboo. Instead, they are expected to stay healthy, exercise and live a decent lifestyle. The whole idea is to mirror a leadership that is in tune with the yearnings of ordinary Chinese masses and serve as role models to the younger ones.
Light years ahead of my beloved country’s limp rhetoric and fight against corruption.
It is disheartening to see a country so blessed like Nigeria wallow in abject poverty. Abundant mineral resources most especially Oil has failed to bring the desired effect on millions of Nigerians. Why? Unchecked economic looting and massive theft of billions of naira accruing from oil sales by past military governments and their cronies have stunted the growth of the country thereby, leaving its development and progress in a vegetative state.
And even democratic rule has brought little or no respite.
The impunity that characterized the looting of the nation’s resources under previous Jonathan government and its lethargic approach to it surmises the type of leaders we have in this country. Under grueling and excruciating economic pains Nigerians were subjected to, the previous government acted as if nothing was amiss. Corruption thrived with his consent.
His body language and statement during one of his televised speech to the nation where he said “corruption is not the major problem affecting Nigeria” lends credence to this.
That statement clearly showed the seriousness and tolerance level of a leadership towards a menace that has been considered as the Achilles heel to prosperity and attaining development in the country. Since it was not an issue, former Aviation minister, Stella Oduah could afford to expend 225million Naira on two bullet proof cars, and still walk away.
Since corruption was not an issue for the Jonathan government, Oil minister Alison Maduekwe could afford to run the oil ministry aground and Abba Moro, former interior minister could make billions off unemployed millions of Nigerian youth out there for a job that was just a smokescreen.
Lest I forget, Dasuki could afford to collect billions in defence contract that was needed to equip the military to fight Boko Haram without delivering the weapons to the soldiers in the battle field.
Bet, these crimes wouldn’t have happened if Nigeria were to be a China.
But, we are not Chinese however we could take a cue from them.
With the wind of change that swept across the country ushering in the government of President Muhammad Buhari, it seems the toga of ineptitude, unwillingness and lethargic approach to fighting corruption within the government circle is being shed. The handling of “DASUKI GATE” attests to this.
Ever since investigations opened into the dealings of the former NSA head, revelations and leads have kept cropping up. And it is believed more would be unfolded.
For what it is, after years of lip service to tackling corruption within the government circle by successive governments, the APC led government of PMB has taken a bold step in arresting the situation. Its willingness to do so deserves commendation.
Nigerians have watched looters loot and walk freely to enjoy their loot. But with the ongoing investigation into Dasuki contract scam, optimism seems to be setting in again for the citizens of Africa’s most populous country. And there is renewed belief that if the present regime can pull this off, then other economic crimes that have gone unattended to in other sectors of the economy might eventually get the search light.
“Good behaviours are copied, while the bad ones are discarded,” Nigeria can look towards the Far East and learn one or two things from the Chinese model when it comes to fighting corruption.
Sheer political willingness and determination to effect change will steady the present government on course to cleansing the country of this menace.
It is simply the leadership that matters. We have laws and enforcement structure in place like the Chinese do, but the difference that sets both countries apart is the “Rule of law” and the political will to implement the law irrespective of status, clime or class of the personality involved.
The Chinese have successfully done this while we are yet to do so.
But, under the present regime, guess Nigerians can hope for a change in attitude and approach to this menace that has been the bane of the country’s progress. And the only way that Buhari can assuage the pains of Nigerians is to lay the foundation of a corruption-free government with zero-tolerance for the scourge by opting for the “Made in China” model.