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Corruption: Before the prosecutions start

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President Muhammadu BuhariThe general feeling among Nigerians is that the current administration will be different in its fight against corruption.  In fact, the anti-corruption posture of the president was what endeared him to Nigerians during

the elections.

Their expectations are therefore are very high. What then can the administration do to sustain and maintain the goodwill it currently enjoys?

In order to maintain and sustain the confidence of Nigerians, the fight against corruption should be whole. In fact, it must start from the president himself. The president should first prosecute all those around him who have eaten our yams. There are just too many of them around him. 

Anything short of this will ridicule the fight against corruption and will indeed be a sad reminder of the previous feeble and pretentious fight against the cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of our nation by past administrations.

In prosecuting corrupt individuals, the searchlight must go beyond the immediate past administration. From May 29th 1999 to May 29th 2015, there has been monumental embezzlement and the circulation of our collective patrimony by and among a selfish and greedy few.

From 1960 to 1999, Nigeria reportedly lost $400 billion to corruption. Although there is no accurate figure, the county must have lost about $300 billion or more within the last sixteen years.

The prosecution of corrupt individuals should also not be limited to political office holders alone. Let it be total and wholesome. The system is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Everywhere one turns to in the country, corruption stares at him in the face. 

Serving and former politicians, contractors, public servants, civil servants and anybody who has illegally eaten our yams must return them. Every institution of government should be cleansed of this cancer called corruption.

We will be merely scratching the surface if we are focused on fighting corruption by prosecuting corrupt individuals alone without tackling the root causes. There are multiple reasons why corruption thrives in Nigeria. 

These are (but not limited to): poverty, poor remuneration, nepotism, lack of openness and transparency in government, the mentality of Nigerians that an opportunity to serve is an opportunity to grab their share of the national cake; weak institutions for fight corruption is a prominent reason. 

Lack of a speedy determination of corrupt cases is another reason why corruption continues to grow in Nigeria. These reasons must be tackled simultaneously with the trial and prosecution of people who have unjustly enriched themselves with the resources of Nigeria. Failure to do this, will ridicule the anti-corruption stance of the government. To curb corruption, we must cut it from its roots. 

Let me hasten to add that the prosecution must not be selective or skewed to favour some people. Anybody found to be, or suspected to be corrupt should be made to face the law. Even those who have embarked on night pilgrimages to the State House should not be spared if their hands are not clean. God bless Nigeria.

Frank Ijege is a Human and Civil Rights Activist; frankijege@yahoo.com, Foijege on twitter

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