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Is Nigeria fantastically corrupt?

Recently, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron,described Nigeria as one of the most “fantastically corrupt Nations” in the World, sharing honours with Afganistan. Some Nigerians, including the Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu were outraged.
I am wondering why? Are we quarreling with being called one of the most corrupt Nations in the world or is it the ‘fantastic’ that we are unhappy about?
If you ask me, David Cameron was being ‘kind’ to us when it comes to stereotyping Nigeria with corruption. ‘Fantastic’ is ordinarily a very positive word or adjective that confers exceptional ability. One of my late uncles, Mazi SOK used to respond to greetings as follows” Minus dough, I am alright. If you no know me for good, you know me for bad”.
Why are we angry with David Cameron? When the late Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu and the other majors overthrew the civilian government in January, 1966, was corruption not one of the main reasons they struck? When General Muhammadu Buhari and his own gang took over power in Dec 1983, was corruption not the major reason? During that period, Buhari and Idiagbon’s greatest achievement was to jail corrupt politicians, some to 250 years imprisonment, which made the Guinness Book of Records. When General Obasanjo was elected in 1999, his major focus was fighting corruption, leading him to establish the ICPC and the EFCC. When Buhari was elected President in 2015, what did he find? Speaking to Amanpour on CNN, he was “shocked”. In effect, despite his effort in 1984-86 and all the hullabaloo about Obasanjo’s EFCC and ICPC, corruption in Nigeria had gotten progressively worse. How then do you describe such performance, if fantastic is out of place?
Any one who has checked the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the last 25 years, will notice that Nigeria has remained at the top of the corruption league. Any one who reads our newspapers regularly would come to the same conclusion that Nigeria is very corrupt.
That is  why I am relieved that Buhari agreed with Cameron that we are fantastically corrupt. I would have been surprised and sad, if he had demanded for an apology as some people had suggested. Since PMB came to power a year ago, he has used every opportunity to describe Nigeria as being rottenly corrupt, more so at international forums.
My only worry is that this characterisation as fantastically corrupt will remain with us for a very long time. Corruption is everywhere in Nigeria, especially in the public space. Corruption in the Police walks on the streets. Bus drivers can be shot for not parting with N20. Corruption in the military is very entrenched. In the Civil service, corruption leads to the padding of budgets and the award of contracts to the least qualified. Corruption in the Customs causes government efforts to protect local industry to fail; corruption in the Immigration allows illegal aliens to enter the  country to cause mayhem; corruption in NNPC & PPMC causes economic sabotage and disruptions in fuel supply; corruption in the legislative houses cause delay in budget approvals and unproductive oversight of MDAs; corruption in the judiciary keeps cases going for ever and gives justice to the highest bidder; corruption in the states causes security votes to be used to buy private aircrafts and shipping lines, while armed robbers and kidnappers have their way. Corruption in the local governments lead to the death of pregnant mothers who can not have access to maternity services; corruption in our educational system allows parents to ‘ buy’ admission for their wards and parents to ‘pay’ ‘for free education’; Corruption in the private sector leads to bribing of government officials and the production of uncompetitive products. Corruption is even living in our Holy Temples where tithes are accepted from armed robbers and fraudsters and priests embezzle church funds. I do not think it is different in our Mosques where hate speeches radicalise young people. There is no Nigerian who is not daily assaulted by corruptive practices by taxi drivers, plumbers, electricians, security personnel, journalists, petrol station attendants, and even mortuary attendants. Yet, we quarrel with being described as fantastically corrupt.
When Shehu Garba wrote to criticize David Cameron, he expressed frustration that the Prime Minister did not seem to recognize the ANTICORRUPTION efforts of the current federal government. The lesson for him and others, who think that way, is that the current ANTICORRUPTION effort is too limited, one sided, discriminatory and in some cases an attempt at vendetta. Unbiased international observers are asking when Buhari will investigate how the campaign funds for APC was provided? The truth is that Nigeria’s war against corruption may never yield the expected dividend, recognition and appreciation by all, until it begins to touch every segment of the society.

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