It is a well-known fact that corruption has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, which leads to violation of human rights, erodes the quality of life and allows organised crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. Therefore, in coming together to tackle the problem of corruption, the gathering of world leaders identified information as a crucial instrument in the execution of the anti-corruption crusade.
It is be to be noted that Article 13 of the convention is focused on measures that should be taken by nations-states to raise public awareness concerning the existence, causes and magnitude of the danger posed by corruption. Also contained in Article 13 is the need for countries to mobilize non-governmental and community-based organisations to join in the prevention and war against corruption.
It is evident that the growth and development level of the nation have continuously failed to correlate with the quantum of resources allegedly expended over time. Contradictions of abundance of oil money and widespread poverty as well as an affluent few and the majority poor stare us at every turn on the landscape. Nigeria is a country endowed with much potential or rather wasting potential but rated among the poorest countries in the world irrespective of all the hype about her abundant natural resources. More disturbing is that Nigeria is not rated a poor country but one of increasing poverty, in which much resources are allocated to the process of development but misused with diminutive results which can be attributed to corruption.
In the past, efforts have been made to avert corruption like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) initiated by the defunct military regime headed by General Muhammadu Buhari as head of state in 1984; General Babangida’s MAMSER, General Abacha’s War Against Indiscipline and Corruption (WAI-C); President Obasanjo’s multi-pronged war on corruption, among others. Currently, President Buhari is fighting corruption fiercely and championing the “Change begins with me” campaign.
Despite all these, corruption is still widespread; it is vertically and horizontally prevalent and runs from the bottom to the top. In the words of Professor Umaru Pate, “corruption is visible at our homes, schools, roads, offices, markets, business practices, political arena; mention any sector of our national life and you can easily point out aspects of corruption common to it. Corruption breeds immorality, impatience, deception, shamelessness, criminal tendencies, cutting corners and institutionalization of mediocrity, degradation of values and bastardization of credibility, integrity and quality in personal and official affairs.”
As the great English intellectual, Charles Caleb, puts it, “corruption is like a ball of snow, once it’s set for rolling, it must increase to its very best.” Apparently, it may interest you to know that media are very important pillars in the democratic system. Specifically, they play critical roles in anti-corruption by acting as the watchdogs who maintain surveillance on all sections of the society for collective good and safety. Incidentally, Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria assigns to the media the responsibility of holding government accountable to the people.
Therefore, in order to fight corruption to the end, we must imbibe the words of Umaru Pate which echo on character training of children and the youths, and this is probably the most difficult and most effective approach. Parents should not only ensure that children receive adequate character training, they must be very firm against their children engaging in dubious and negative acts. Another requirement is to ease those pressures that increase the temptation to engage in negative acts of corruption.
Serious and transparent governance together with adequate attention will increase the confidence of the people and reduce the tendency to cheat in order to make it. Conclusively, eradication of vote buying, rigging of election, multiple voting and snatching of ballot boxes can be a lasting solution to the forthcoming 2019 general election.
►Aondover Eric Msughter, an author, wrote from the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.