On October 14, 2011, at a two-day retreat organised by his administration to forge a common front between the private sector and government for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that will unlock capital in the private sector for public development, contrary to the well-known vote that corruption was a greater problem than any other variable troubling the country, President Jonathan said it was critical infrastructure.

Jonathan should know that you can build a brand new and a better Nigeria with all the funds that have been lost to corruption. Officially, it is said that, since independence, Nigeria has lost over $500 billion and one can only imagine how much unofficially!

As analyst, Sabella Abidde explains in his October 19, 2011 write-up entitled President Jonathan and the fight against corruption, “The cost of corruption can be seen in other aspects of our national life. We know, for instance, that these negative practices increase transaction cost; discourage foreign direct investment; reduce overall growth of the formal economy; help to weaken our public and private institutions; encourage the informality of the political and economic system; and help to personalise the rule of law. We know, too, that corruption and corrupt practices negatively impact the cultural and social space, and encourage indolence, nepotism and an uneven playing field. One of the saddest aspects of the Nigerian reality is that less than one per cent of the truly corrupt are ever brought to justice. And in cases where they have been prosecuted, the penalties are usually mere slap on the wrist: less than one per cent of those prosecuted will ever be jailed. The fact is that high-end criminals rarely ever go to jail in Nigeria.”

In addition, the very fact of the huge salaries paid Nigerian legislators in particular and the overall extreme high cost of sustaining the bureaucracy comprises corruption itself given the country’s dire need for capital investments.

It appears Jonathan doesn’t know what he is saying because you need funds to build infrastructure. He has said his main interest in wanting the fuel subsidy to go is because of the need to free capital spent on it for public investment. He has also said one major reason for his proposed single tenure is to cut down on how much Nigeria spends conducting elections and again to free such funds for development.

Sadly, Jonathan has however fallen short of admitting that Nigeria loses more funds to corruption than to all these perceived waste valves of his. There is therefore no gainsaying why Jonathan cannot make any headway against corruption. It stems from his naive perspective on that mother of all vices in Nigeria!

For a president who promised to fight corruption and not to tolerate “any sacred cows”, this mistaken view is akin to denying the fight against corruption the substance and pre-eminence it deserves. Nigerians will have to wait for another day and most certainly for another president for this scourge to go!


Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

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