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Babatope Falade: The political economy of corruption in Nigeria


Babatope Falade: The political economy of corruption in Nigeria

by Babatope Falade

Corruption needs no introduction to any Nigerian. It is an institution every Nigerian participates in at the micro and macro level. If you bribe to get your driver’s license, international passport, pension benefits etc you have fostered the regime of corruption in Nigeria.

Many discuss corruption at the macro level; because that is the most recurrent theme – government officials have stolen money. The media is the progenitor of this current state of mind of people focusing basically on federal theft and not on the corruptible nature of not protesting when bribes and process catalyst are demanded from government officials.

Let me attempt to identify actors and influencers in the corruption regime as well as how to shape the corruption dialectics and debate.

The most important aspect would be to understand that rent seeking and lobbying is practised everywhere in the world that democracy exists.

The actors in the corruption regime are  the executive arm of government, the judiciary, the legislative arm, the citizens  of Nigeria, the state governors, the heads of ministries, departments and agencies; particularly the permanent secretaries.

The executive arm of government of course is much lobbied and rent seekers consistently hover around for contracts, oil licenses and other forms of licenses that are obtained without much merit.

The legislative arm also gets lobbyists knocking on their chambers and a lot of Ghana must go bags haunt them. The reality is that the national assembly, if it was a manufacturing company would be the highest manufacturer of Ghana must go bags. The recent Faroukgate scandal is an adequate depiction of how things work around there.

I wonder how PIB has not been passed, why freedom of Information bill took many years and why MTN sponsors them every now and then to major sporting events and there is no single action against the refusal of these blue chip multinational countries to get listed on our stock exchange and actions against huge repatriation of the earnings to their home countries.

The judiciary has received its fair share of attacks in recent times with different subversions in different gubernatorial appeal cases, especially the Sokoto case during the Katsina- Alu regime. We cannot also forget the Justice Ayo Salami saga. The romance of different notable lawyers with corrupt individuals, pleading their cases despite criticizing people of such natures previously. This tells us something, if you are a lawyer you carry the license to engage in intellectual masturbation by acting as an activity sometimes and other times defending individuals accused of corruption.. The business model for lawyers in Nigeria is to make a lot of noise to get noticed, they then get high profile clientele and a stature good enough to stand before the lordships and good money to run the propaganda machinery of the legal brand of the lawyer-activist complex. This is a complex that I hope the DNA complex discoverers – Watson and Crick could unravel for us.

The citizens of Nigeria are the most interesting part, as Fela sang in his life time, Nigerians “Suffering and Smiling”. The grassroots according to my fundamental argument in their ignorance, poverty or inactive citizenship elect leaders of questionable character, they don’t ask questions- the educated elite are also guilty of this and they don’t even know some of their local leaders, like the senators representing them, their honourables, even their councillors. Who would they then hold accountable? They even collect bribe to vote and vote based on tribal and ethnic sentiments.

The permanent secretaries are the most powerful in my opinion, they and other principal officers like directors. They know the files, rules and do’s and don’ts. In previous republics, they used to be called Super-Perm Secretaries because of their influence.

It should also be noted that the greatest scams originate from governors, executive members and MDA chiefs.The recent being John Yusuf Yakubu.

Corruption requires collaboration from every Nigerian. Those in power that control the resources and those who refuse to probe and who have neglected their civic responsiblities.

EFCC can make efforts to curb corruption, the effective line comes from the active citizenship of the average Nigerian and seriousness of the civil service. Lately both potential saviours have been inactive or not informed enough and  short term oriented. Opposition parties are not different from the ruling party. The onus lies on the average Nigerian and sincere activists/civil society actors to lift Nigeria out of the corruption quagmire and its attendant consequences of poverty,  deaths and potential civil unrest.

Babatope Folade is a critical theorist and could pass as a post-structuralist. He is a graduate of Pan African University, Victoria Island, Lagos. He has a passion for global and local policy analysis. His greatest influences are Emerson, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Marx,Joseph Schumpeter, Engels, Obafemi Awolowo, and Professor Robin Mansell. Folade currently works as a Business Analyst consultant to small businesses and a Research Associate with the Knowledge Economy Group at the Pan African University, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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