The attempt last week by the chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, to make a separation between stealing and corruption was as detestable as it was demeaning.
Nta had told a visiting delegation from the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, who were said to have come to try to forge inter-agency partnership against corruption, “Stealing is erroneously reported as corruption. We must go back to what we were taught at school to show that there are educated people in Nigeria. We must address issues as we were taught in school to do.”
The ICPC chairman was, perhaps, taking a leaf from President Goodluck Jonathan who had during his seventh Presidential Media Chat on May 4 said, “Over 70 per cent of what are called corruption, even by EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies is not corruption, but common stealing. Corruption is perception, not reality.”
The attempt to make a separation between stealing and corruption is unnecessary. It gives the erroneous impression that one is milder than the other. Corruption is universally understood to mean a wide concept that incorporates stealing and other vices.
Transparency International says, “Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.” What will profit the country is a sincere effort to tackle all traces of corruption, not the attempt to make a meal of the definition.