(A kind of civil institution: deftly enforcing standards of behaviour like: War Against Corruption (WAC)


by Dr Baba j Adamu

I Contact  I

Sept 1, 2015

Corruption in Nigeria

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa with over 170million people and huge oil reserves is still marred with poverty, bad governance and issue of Credibility due to widespread corruption. Nigerians have come to believe that their government not only condones corruption, but facilitates it. But the most appalling part of widespread corruption in Nigeria is the fact that it is no longer limited to politicians or the public servants; it has become very common amongst almost every section of the society at every level both in public and private sectors. It is not only prevalent amongst the rich but also prevalent amongst the poor. The fact is that large numbers of Nigerians are now involved in corrupt practices in one way or the other, either due to greed, dishonesty, indiscipline or due to the so called get-rich-quick syndrome.

Corruption can be classified as:

1.     Grand Corruption – Where policy makers and public officers in high positions, in the process of making decisions of significant economic value, routinely demand bribes or kickbacks for ensuring that tenders or contracts are awarded to specific contractors. These occur at financial, political and administrative centres of power, like total lack of transparency in the handling of Nigeria’s oil resources or exactly how much oil income flows into the national coffers. This is the most dangerous and covert type of corruption.

2.     Political Corruption – Like the grand corruption, the use of powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain in contract awards or allocation. This form of corruption is also associated with the electoral process to perpetuate voting irregularities, nepotism and cronyism, rule of a few, influence  peddling,  graft, and embezzlement; paying journalists for favourable coverage of candidates and parties, influencing voters by the distribution of money, food or coercion through kidnapping, murder, violence, etc.

3.     Administrative Corruption – Bribing of persons of higher authorities, immigration or custom officers, police officers, Judges, clerks, nurses, etc. For example: give money and a blind person can get a driving license fast and easy. A bribe demanded by a police officer, bribes in hospital, courts for a favourable ruling from a Judge and other Government offices everywhere for any kind of facilitation.

4.     Business Corruption - As a means to accelerate business processes. In essence, bureaucracy is bypassed in a collusion, in which both parties co-operate willingly to enter into a transaction, for example, transactions involving award of contracts, deal fixing, fiscal concessions, bribery, tax evasion and accounting irregularities, insider trading, money laundering, rulings in favour of a party either at the expense of someone else or by depriving the agency of revenues from penalties imposed on transgressions, etc.

5.     Professional Corruption Duplicating medicines, adulteration of spices and lifesaving medicines including food-stuff such as milk, duplicating import and hygienic items, fixing of matches (games). Service corruption like providing internet bandwidth of 500Meg instead of 1G or insurance fraud etc.

6.     Petty Corruption - Practiced on a smaller scale where a public office is used for private benefit in the course of delivering a service. Usually involves relatively small amounts of money, including bribery (grease money or speed payments). The public servant abuses his/her position by accepting a benefit for what is a routine transaction or approval. The direct victim of this abuse of power is the citizen.

7.     Common Trader Corruption – Selling of adulterated milk, kerosene and petrol, fake or expired medicine, putting rotten and smaller tomatoes, potatoes etc., in the bottom basket while big and nice ones on top to sell to unsuspecting customers, etc.

8.     Institutional Corruption - A similar problem of corruption arises in any institution that depends on financial support from people who have interests that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution. Forced extractions in the form of bribes for rendering certain services or granting permissions, even of a routine nature, taking advantage of the plight in which the supplicant finds himself.

9.     Chaotic Corruption – A system where there is no clarity regarding whom to bribe and how much payment should be offered. Or where someone will come and tell you about a sick mother and demand some money, a kind of organized fraud to make someone pay money for whatever reason, etc. There are bribes or gifts as a product of the tradition under which people have been brought to keep in good humour with the authority with the mandate to grant a permission; at times the purpose may not be to obtain a favour but to simply remain in the good books of the person carrying the authority to take a decision.  

Manifestations of Corruption in Nigeria

As can be deducted from above, corruption, which can be defined as the abuse of entrusted-power for private-gain, has manifested itself in every sphere of human activity in Nigeria such that in every endeavour:  economic, social, political, etc., corruption has become even the determining factor in the relationship between the people involved; and thus made Nigeria a corrupt nation.

Nigerians are very good at talking about how bad the Nigerian economy is due to corruption, the issue of insecurity and terror activities; the down of Naira etc., without tangible solutions. But as long as we do not transform our words into action, nothing will change. We often blame government, politicians and other people but hardly take any responsibility to improve ourselves. We talk about the corruption, unethical behaviours, crimes, etc., but hardly take any action to promote honesty, integrity, and ethics or to eliminate corruption. Obviously, good and effective leadership is indispensable to any anti-corruption crusade. Leadership encompasses various dimensions, including, political, organizational, professional and administrative. But the right kind of Leadership is in place, the next step is for every citizen to do his or her part. Each and every person has a duty and responsibility to towards addressing the menace. Therefore, knowing the process is crucial to addressing it.

Political corruption in particular starts with siphoning away huge amount of money from the country’s treasury by public officials, at all levels of government to various foreign accounts as a result of their selfish interest. This is partly done through contracts awards and inflating the cost of the contracts with the consent of both contractors and public officials of various offices. Little or no regards were given on the viability of such projects and little or no effort is being made to monitor and supervise its completion. In some cases some government officials like governors have become so crude in corruption that government funds are deposited in personal Saving Accounts which accrue interests not to the government but to the person.


The first factor is initial willingness of the Government to accept the method of change. Corruption is not easy to mitigate or better still, eradicate. But it can be done. Obviously the logical effort to tackle corruption in Nigeria must start with sanitizing the oil industry, because of its all-pervading effects on other sectors of the national economy. Bribes paid either to extract favours or to ensure a level playing field, in keeping with the traditions of the department involved are relatively difficult to detect but relatively easy to address by enlisting sizeable support for reform. It would be relatively easier to garner support against corruption involving award of contracts, deal fixing, fiscal concessions, rulings in favour or forced payments. While other forms of correction can also be systematically eliminated through War Against Corruption (WAC) initiative. This meaningless cancer could be uprooted systematically through the proposed solutions below.

The three standard methods to tackling corruption as follows:

1)    Credible Officers - Since corruption emanates from the top, it can be checked by putting honest people in position of authority. This statement, however, begs the obvious question where Nigerians of integrity can be found. Through merit based recruitment and reducing the opportunities for indulging in corrupt practices; by reducing the incentives for public office, through deregulation and decentralisation of the economy. All political appointments should be based on merit and significantly leaner, putting professionally-competent and well-paid bureaucracy (technocrats) in strategic places and made to disclose their wealth. Substantial salary revisions should be able to attract the more educated and enterprising young men and women into the public sector. However, their entry into the public domain is more likely to improve productivity and efficiency, a commodity also in desperately short supply in the public sector, though its impact on the level of corruption is likely to be marginal, without strong accountability mechanism. This call for introduction of transparency, the practice of exercising discretionary powers frequently and with impunity, without fear of accountability, will be automatically curtailed. A beginning in this direction will have to be made by first reforming the economy just like in China, and at the same time reforming the political process. This is to identify areas where control of corruption will be relatively easiest and the gains will be higher, especially in economic and political terms. Some of the obvious proposals in this regard would be the following:  Detection, Sanctions and Restitutions.

2)    War Against Corruption (WAC) – WAC strategic method of implementation can, in its most basic outline be summarized as three basic methods: Detection, Sanctions and Restitutions.

                    i.            Detection – First, identification, selection; training, education and mobilization of a new group of just 360 WAC Specialists (10 person from each of the 36 States and must represent the whole tribes of the country). They should be trained and educated on a variety of anti-corruption initiatives (disclosure, monitoring, reporting), detection and prevention necessary for all aspects of anti-corruption initiatives. Even though they are the only group, they will be told that there are groups like them all over the country being trained at the same time. Even media will be such informed. They will have single channel of communication and reporting taking advantage of ICT, and will swear to secrecy. Some of them may already be working in MDAs while some could come from the general public. They would be trained such that all they have to do is to report any corrupt activity they see. They would told that a co-worker, a contractor even a friend may have been planted to watch their action, so their response/action will be monitored on an ongoing bases. They should focus on one of the government institution one after the other on a block basis.

                  ii.            Sanctions - Secondly, a second group of 360 WAC Monitoring & Evaluation are to be created and allowed to supplement the efforts of the previous group, and create new support mechanisms, none of which should interfere with the efforts of the first specialists but only check them. As should be clear, two-hungers strategy should be designed as a supplementary strategy (the groups are aware of their existence but unaware of each other). As such, it should enhance (rather than conflict with) most of the plans. In sending out this new force of curtailment of corruption, we prepare them into a life and death battle equipped with government support and into most restrictive government institutions, either giving them an appointment (at all levels) to watch what goes on, appearing as soliciting for contracts, or just as ordinary citizen seeking for some information etc. Clearly, God’s grace is sufficient to pursue the radical reform. But the government also need to be good stewards. To this end it must maximize the effectiveness of the WAC Teams by massive media campaign in spreading even a trivial disclosure of an act of corruption and quickly give appropriate sanctions and systematically relegate or discharge the perpetrators. As with any battle, the outcome will be influenced by a number of factors. We shall eventually reach a stage where even if one is offered a bribe, he may think the one offering is an agent so will decline. Even the one offering will fear to offer as the one being offered may be an agent. Contractors will be scared to even make an offer, and high-placed officers will be afraid to demand bribe or diversion of funds as the contractor may be an agent. Sanity will gradually start coming back to everywhere. Results-based management (RBM) will sustain the strategy too much to present in this write-up. But to help develop an understanding of the overall strategy, there is the need to see it within a broader context of RBM in the following: a philosophy, practice, management strategy, management information system, and the guiding force to planning and implementation. Example, why is it that an American will stop at a road cross-section Red Light in the night when no cars are coming from each end and nobody around? Simple, for fear someone (Police) or something (CCTV Camera) is watching him. Or give and take bribe, because you can go to jail by offering or taking bribe to provide public service.

                iii.            Restitutions - Corruption is an instrument of economic criminality, it interferes with economic growth, generates inequities and erodes government credibility and the efficient functioning of state institutions. Corruption increases the cost of business through the price of illicit payments, it generates economic distortion in the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful and has primarily taken the form of rent extraction with the resulting financial capital moved overseas rather than invested at home. Therefore any form of its prevention by a person or company should be followed by incentives such as compensations.

3.     Legal Instruments - Since certain legal instruments are already in place to enable unfettered corruption detection, arraignment and conviction like the established Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Code of Conduct Bureau and its Tribunal is a laudable start on the war against corruption. The other job of sensitizing the nation on the WAC Strategy should be carried out by all media but most especially by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) as well as the Federal and State Ministries of Information. This could take the form of well tested public enlightenment techniques such as the use of hand bills, public posters, print media adverts and Radio and TV jingles. At the same time, the citizenry must be made aware of the stiff penalties that await those to be found engaged in corrupt practices at all levels. The NOA should expand its “Due the Right” campaign to include War Against Indiscipline (WAI), because lack of discipline is what has led to widespread corruption at all levels. World Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December, marks the UN Convention Against Corruption signed in 2003 - the first global anti-corruption agreement. It is hereby recommended that government should start planning now to launce WAC Initiatives on Dec 9, 2015.

Finally I would like us to remember that, we Nigerians face great challenges. On the surface, there are communities that would prefer to separate, rather than share a country. There is a strong minority that fears marginalization and its distinctive culture overwhelmed. There is unfair struggle for power. There is a rich resource base, and a sense of great potential waiting to be realized, and serious disparities exist among the regions. The once “great Nigeria’ appears to be drifting further apart. Yet, I have not seen a single issue of substance that is insurmountable. Though some will disagree with me, but the fact remains that I have seen NONE whatsoever. I have been privileged to look at the Nigerian public and private life from outside (spent over 22 years abroad) from across Europe up to North America, and having come back home, been into most part of Nigeria where I met, talked and listened to thousands of Nigerians from across the board. Throughout that experience, I have not met one single person who proclaims that there are irreconcilable differences in Nigeria. There are, of course, different views about the appropriate power of the government, or the appropriate role of the government, or this right and those rights, or Senate this and that, President this and that or a thousand other important issues. Even those that advocate for separation eventually say that we have more to benefit from working together under one Nigeria. In my judgement, many of these issues, such as those mentioned above, and the issue of national reconciliation are urgent and cannot simply be ignored. They are real issues, and by God not unsolvable. None of this issue is so fundamental that it should cause a country to fail; particularly a country that, by any objective standard, deserves the best for it has the best. Nor does the sum of those differences warrant breaking up the country that has so much in common, so much to gain from our differences

Successful countries today, were those whose citizens, at one time or the other, under strong leadership, rose above personal, sectional, political or religious differences and worked together to build a viable nation in order to guarantee the welfare of its citizens. It is on this note that I believe with the present spirit of change and young spirited Nigerians at home and from the Diaspora and their commitment to a better Nigeria, and anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, that we shall succeed where others have failed and Nigeria will again rise up to its prominence, the one true Great Nigeria.



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