In Nigeria today, we are faced with a question of whether the current administration of government is fighting against corruption or democracy. There has been a divergence of opinions over the subject matter.
Political corruption is a persistent phenomenon in Nigeria. Corruption is a form of dishonesty or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often with a motive to attract personal benefits. Corruption may include many activities including bribery, embezzlement to mention but few. it is the act of corrupting or making putrid, or state of being corrupt or putrid; decomposition or disorganization, in the process of putrefaction; deterioration.
The product of corruption; putrid matter. Corruption is the destruction of data by manipulation of parts of it, either by deliberate or accidental human action or by imperfections in storage or transmission media. The act of changing, or of being changed, for the worse; departure from what is pure, simple, or correct; as, a corruption of style; corruption in language. Something that is evil but is supposed to be good. President Muhammadu Buhari defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation.
While democracy, on the other hand, is a political system of government of the people, who participate in the affairs of government either directly, or through representatives. A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. The observance of rule of law by all persons and authorities in a country. The existence and application of the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances in the government. President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Some of the attributes of democracy include but not limited to the following:
1. The existence of a Constitution, usually a written constitution.
2. The existence of a party system in the country, usually two party system or a multi – party system.
3. Equality of all persons before the law.
4. Equal right of all eligible persons to vote and be voted for.
5. Respect for the right of minority peoples and other disadvantaged groups.
6. Respect for fundamental human rights as entrenched in the constitution.
7. The existence of a free press and the right to freedom of expression.
8. The limitation of the tenure of office of elected officials.
9. The existence of an independent electoral body.
10. The holding of regular and periodic free and fair elections.
11. A free, independent and impartial judiciary.
Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of funds and resources. The rise of public administration and the discovery of oil and natural gas are two major events seen to have led to the increase in corrupt practices in the country. However, during the last administration of government corrupt practices was at its peak.
Allegations of corruption have begun to emerge since the departure of President Jonathan on May 29, 2015.
1. $2.2 billion illegally withdrawn from Excess Crude Oil Accounts, of which $1 billion supposedly approved by President Jonathan to fund his reelection campaign without the knowledge of the National Economic Council made up of state governors and the president and vice president.
2. NEITI discovered $11.6 billion was missing from Nigeria LNG Company dividend payments.
3. 60 million barrels of oil valued at $13.7 billion was stolen under the watch of the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, from 2009 to 2012.
4. NEITI indicates losses due to crude swaps due to subsidy and domestic crude
allocation from 2005 to 2012 indicated that $11.63 billion had been paid to the NNPC but that “there is no evidence of the money being remitted to the federation account”.
5. Diversion of 60% of $1 billion foreign loans obtained from the Chinese by the Ministry of Finance.
6. Massive scam in weapons and defense procurements, and misuse of 3 trillion naira defense budget since 2011 under the guise of fighting Boko Haram.
7. Diversion of $2.2 million vaccination medicine fund, by Ministry of Health.
8. Diversion of Ebola fight fund up to 1.9bn naira.
9. NIMASA fraud under investigation by EFCC, inclusive of accusation of funding PDP and buying a small piece of land for 13 billion naira.
10. Ministry of Finance led by Okonjo Iweala hurried payment of $2.2 million to health ministry contractor in disputed invoices.
11. NDDC scams and multifarious scams including 2.7 billion naira worth of contracts that does not confirm to the Public Procurement Act.
12. Police Service Commission Scam investigated by ICPC that revealed misappropriation of over 150 million naira related to election-related training. ICPC made refund recommendations, but many analysts indicated prosecution was more appropriate.
These and so many other allegations of corrupt practices under the said government. However, in fighting against corruption the federal government has
1. Breached the provisions of the constitution which are the ground norm: For example in the case of Nnamdi Kanu vs DSS the Court held that kanu should be granted bail. Kanu is still been detained by the DSS even after the ruling of the Court.
2. Disrespect the fundamental rights of individuals which was enshrined in the constitution: Section 35 of the 1999 constitution was breached in the case of Dasuki v the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
3. Disregard the universally acceptable concept of separation of power: Section 4, 5 and 6 as enshrined the concept of separation of powers in our constitution. However, the president in the exercise of his executive duties has acted ultra vires.
4. Disobedience of court orders: the federal government in most cases as disobeyed court orders. See the case of Dasuki v the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
5. The arrest of judicial officers by DSS operatives: this is a breach of the Third schedule of the 1999 constitution which establishes the National Judicial Council and conferred upon it the disciplinary powers of judicial officers.
In conclusion, I agree with the fact that corruption as eaten up Nigeria from the top to the common man on the street, and am also in support of the anti-graft war against corruption in our dear nation. However, my postulation is that the federal government should follow due process in the current war against corruption. For democracy itself can only flourish where there is rule of law, respect for the due process and independent but cooperative operation of all the arms of government.
Oloko Quadri Abiola is a third year Law student of NOUN. A Youth and student activist.