EKPO Una Owo Nta, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has narratives about corruption that make the issue seem more academic than practical. His experience in the federal public service should serve him well in the second year of his five-year tenure as head of one of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies.
He may be glad that ICPC recovered unspent funds (N5.2 billion, 2011) and (N9 billion, 2012). The uncovering of 45,000 ghost workers in the federal civil service, and the long-compromised admission processes were achievements that Nta count for the work he had done in the past year.
The ICPC Chairman has a lot more work to do about combating corruption if his tenure would not pass with the same anonymity that attended his predecessors’. The progress that he has made do not scratch corruption which has become so embedded in the system that the budget itself, rather than aid the combating of corruption, aids its execution with a smoothness that fools the most inquisitive anti-corruption agencies.
Unfortunately, the Economic Crimes and Financial Commission, EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau are running round the issue. Corruption starts from the budgeting process, it is entrenched, and few discoveries like the ones that are made should not be used to benchmark progress in fighting corruption.
Millions of failed contracts that are scattered all over the country are some of the best pointers to how government officials through projects enrich themselves. As they promote the benefits of the projects, the supposed reasons for initiating them, the benefits are mostly for the civil servants and politicians who inject corruption into the system at all levels.
Nobody is punished. The whole motion of arrests and charging suspects to court have become routine and the limits for fighting corruption. Those who resist the temptations of pulling off billions of Naira that roam the system for their benefit are seen as fools. A system that does not punish serious crimes as corruption actually promotes crimes, as corruption is an intricate crime that does not run alone.
Is it possible that Nigerians engage in competition among themselveswho to be the most corrupt? Civil servants and politicians compete among themselves for the most corrupt ones? The competition shows in the liberty they take to exhibit their loot.
How does the system punish tax evaders who have the effrontery to present fake tax papers when bidding for contracts? The growing impunity accounts for the high number of such cases.
The landscape is filled with sectors that are steeped in corruption. ICPC should dedicate its time to understanding the nature of corruption in Nigeria.
Nobody can fight what he does not understand.