HAVE you visited Nigeria lately? If you’re already in Nigeria, this may be all too familiar. Go to the Market Square and cities to see the scourge of poverty arising from corruption of public officials; corruption protected by the immunity clause in the Nigerian constitution. Go to the hospitals and morgues to be greeted with air of desperation and destruction exuding by corruption. The human toll of corruption in Nigeria is alarming and beyond description. Yet some governors have the audacity to seek for reelection.
Alarming too is the staggering life expectancy of Nigerians. For instance, it was reported that former Minister of State for Health, Olufunke Adedoyin said in 2005 that “Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and life expectancy is 52.2 years.” The country, she lamented, “records 704 deaths per 1,000 live births and said the trend was unacceptable.” Regrettably, the condition is not getting better based on the current data. Sadly too, those in power are sheltered from this agony of human suffering of their people.
Unfortunately, too, as the country’s economic woes persist due to pandemic corruption in all facets of the society, where a few group of people are immersed in enormous wealth acquired through depravity while the masses are engrossed in poverty. Forlornly still, preventable diseases and deaths continue to scourge the country as the politicians and public officials loot the public treasury without having the vision to build quality hospitals.
Some governors and some other government officials in Nigeria often throttle to Europe and United States of America to enjoy what ingenuity and true service have to offer. Perhaps, they wished that the levels of development in these countries were obtainable in their respective towns, states, and particularly country. However, that would continue to be an elusive dream as long as misappropriation and embezzlement of public funds continue unabated. The question in many people’s mind is whether these individuals understand the concept and responsibilities of servant leadership. Do these so-called leaders have an iota of idea of what their roles as leaders and public servants are in providing opportunities for the masses? Better still, do they understand the multiplier effects of money as it relates to development? Do they realize that when money is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, its maximum effects in the society is not achieved? As a result, the economic growth in the economy is hampered. Do they understand that they should abhor corruption in order to achieve the people’s desire?
In the United States, any allegation of impropriety or graft against a public official—elected or appointed—is fully investigated to either exonerate the alleged or find him/her liable/guilty and consequently removed from office in addition to other legal retribution. The process of removing an elected official from office may be a long one. However, the culprit may elect to resign instead of putting the public through the impeachment process.
That was precisely what Mr. John Rowland, 47, a Republican governor of Connecticut, who was easily reelected to a third term in 2002 as governor, did on July 21, 2004. He resigned on that fateful day as governor of Connecticut effective July 1, 2004 instead of facing a rancorous impeachment recommended by the State Committee investigating him. Mr. Rowland’s resignation virtually halted the impeachment proceedings. The crux of Mr. Rowland’s problems—at that time under federal investigation—started in 2003 when it was found that he accepted gifts and favors from friends, state contractors, and state employees and lied about it. Similarly, in March 2012, Rod Blagojevich, the 40th Governor of Illinois, began serving a 14-year sentence after his conviction for graft committed in office. He was impeached and removed from office before his conviction.
Mounting allegations that some governors in Nigeria are squandering or misappropriating local government funds continue to abound. These governors flout the law for their own selfish interests to the detriment of masses. Many of us in the Diaspora feel that the federal government should have the temerity to name those governors that have stifled development in their respective areas by siphoning public funds. The federal government should withhold the funds from those governors until they begin to account for the local government and other public funds belonging to their respective states.
While some public officials may consider corruption allegations as tawdry or baseless, which they are not, nothing would sate the masses until these officials are investigated and tried in full public glare. The nation wants to know! It is therefore imperative for the immunity clause as contained in Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution should be expunged in order to effectively fight corrupt governors and other public officials. Obviously, there are no deterrent measures for the governors to be accountable while in office. Thus, they behave recklessly with public money.
Well, corruption and definitely insecurity are bursting the lee of hope for and aspirations of a great majority of Nigerians, especially those in self-exile in the Diaspora nursing to go home. Worse still, are the unresolved cases of violent acts of unknown people and series of allegation of corruption of some public officials, who use their ill-gotten resources to buy their way.
The same governors may be now nursing an ambition to retire in the Senate after eight years maladministration. After eight years of squandering public funds, the governors want the electorate to reward them with Senate. It is left for the states involved to nullify their ambition for the Senate and those of them seeking reelection. The time for bellicose behavior among those in the Diaspora should be over. Also, treating these corrupt leaders when they come to the United States of America kindly and revering them with genuflect should be a practice of the past. Instead of throwing a red-carpet reception for those that could not account for their stewardship, they should be shamed and shunned.