The People’s Grassroots Association for Corruption-free Nigeria (PGACN), after a survey of Nigerian history, came to the conclusion that fighting corruption from the top has been a losing struggle for nearly 60 years. That’s how it resolved to attack the menace from the bottom. The logic, of course, is that if the bottom is clean, those who emerged at the top are bound to be clean.
The PGACN is projecting to get the commitment of 50 million Nigerians dedicated to original principles of honesty, hard work, and integrity, men and women who would not give bribes nor take them. That number of Nigerians would form the critical mass to prevent the election of corruption-ridden legislators who currently occupy our States and National Assemblies.
The PGACN, publishers of the book We the People, is appealing to Nigerians to join the association en masse by buying the book and completing the membership form at the back of the book and signing the pledge never to offer or accept bribes. The membership and pledge forms can also be downloaded and completed in the web site of the PGACM, “wethepeoplenigeria.org”. The website is rich with information on why every Nigerian needs to contribute to a national rebirth.
Statistics on corruption was for the first time computed earlier in the year when in August, 2017, the National Bureau of Statistic s (NBS) reported that between June 2015 and May 2016, a total of 82.3 million bribes were offered and taken with the 12-month period. The report was prepared by the NBS in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and it stated that 32.3 per cent of Nigerian adults who had contact with public officials had to pay bribes to government workers. In other words, a third of Nigerians who had anything to do with government establishment were under the necessity to bribe someone. Thus, the issue of corruption is an everyday reality and is not mitigated by the cash finds of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC) or the investigation of assets of public officers by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC). Senator Shehu Sani, the only hero of the Nigeria corruption fight, the only member of the National Assembly who had the courage to publicly declare his assets, last week noted that “Nigeria’s lost wealth is not just in Swiss banks or Dubai’s real estate; it is not just hidden in cesspit holes and in dusty ceilings; it’s in the files of (the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) well protected by the law of secrecy.”
At the book launch of We the People on 29th November 2017, Prof. Aloy Ejiogu offered a most articulate, well received, erudite, review of the book. He observed that “corruption in Nigeria is pervasive, endemic and systemic” and that Nigeria was a society in which money makes everything legitimate and “Nigerians openly ask for bribes with such brazen and arrogant impunity, without any reproof of conscience” He observed that “such problems and how to arrest them constitute the focus of this unique compendium.”
He said the book could be divided into four main blocks: the introduction; the Foundations ‘Once Destroyed’ (Chapters 1 – 4). “This section identifies a complete disregard for the Constitution by the different arms of government as the chief reason for the systematic, systemic and structural breakdown of order; and the subsequent enthronement of lawlessness in the country.” The third and fourth sections “Walking out of the Woods: Chapters 9 – 15; and 17 – 18” focus on the many routes out of the woods for We the People. The authors do not pretend the journey will be a pleasant excursion. Instead “there are obvious references to the need for personal and communal sacrifices by both the leaders and the led before we can arrive at the promised land…and a thick moral fibre to back it all, are identified as among the critical tools needed to emancipate oneself and the country from the stranglehold of corruption championed by a few political elites.”
Of concern to the book “is the inability of the different arms of government to undertake their Constitutional roles of checkmating each other’s excesses and breaches…” According to Nwangwu for example “when a national assembly is woefully corrupt blinded by their insatiable appetite to accumulate wealth, they will do nothing to a president who violates the Constitution and WE THE PEOPLE will continue to suffer deprivation and abuse from government.”
“There are a host of other requirements the authors relentlessly emphasise. These are related to education; justice, equity, and the rule of law; citizenship versus indigeneship rights and privileges; respect for democratic principles and institutions; corporate social responsibility; individual social responsibility; agriculture; and extensive infrastructural development and rehabilitation programmes. Offorma and Ivowi (pp.275 -296) for example, rightly state that quality, inclusive and development-oriented education will ensure a highly equipped human capital development pool to service other sectors of the nation.”
In summing up the book, Prof. Ejiogu stated that “the book propagates an ideology of a grassroots or people’s movement in the mould of that which Martin Luther King, Jr. led in the struggles against racism and discrimination in America; and like the legendary Nelson Mandela championed against apartheid in South Africa. The spirit of this form of people’s revolution can be immortal, indomitable, and perpetually keeps in check, the conscience of both the leader and the led. It calls for accountability in public stewardship. It can be moulded along the lines of the structural economic and political revolution of Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore and the Asia Tiger nations. The spirit can assume or incarnate in a non-violent manner, the values and essences of the history-swinging French Revolution of 1789.”
“WE THE PEOPLE is a grassroots ideology of individual or personal social responsibility, service and accountability. It should be the mental Bible and or Koran of socio-economic justice, ideological and moral revolution which the country so direly needs at this point in its history.”
“WE THE PEOPLE encourages its readers to look beyond the elements and sentiments of religion. The authors come from a variety of religions. Corruption has no religion, tribe, language or colour. Corruption rather than religion or tribe is Nigeria’s Augean stable…corruption is a mind-set and the authors raise a clarion call for this mind-set to be reset to the right frequency in order to achieve national, regional and global greatness…But the book insists rightly that WE THE PEOPLE remain the champions of our own destiny; and we can craft this destiny as we so desire. We can start this by insisting on being led by the right caliber of politicians who genuinely represent not themselves but all of us.”