Corrupt Public Institutions As Bane of Nigeria’s Growth, By Sola Olatunji.  

It’s almost impossible for any society to achieve greatness if the society is swimming in the  cobweb of criminality anchored and driven by workers of iniquities in public institutions.

While great nations around the world can boast of their greatness through efficient and effective management of public institutions by dedicated and honest public workers, contrastingly our story in Nigeria is a  direct  opposite.

By implication, this unwholesome trend has  continued to be the greatest albatross of Nigeria’s   development over the years despite the huge resources available at the disposal of successive governments at the national and sub-national levels

What we are familiar with is the continued deployment of resources available for public goods into private pockets, while the remaining portion goes into white elephant projects at the expense of public goods.

In Nigeria, civil servants who are the most poorly paid workers have continued to be the richest people in the country.  These workers of iniquities  draw salaries and allowances from the government accounts and also doubled as the government contractors, manifesting their pecuniary interests in every government business against the inherent laws. They appropriate and reprobate! That’s  why  heaps of abandoned projects are dotting the social landscape of our country. I doubt if there is any public institution in Nigeria that is not involved in this cobweb of criminality.

The recent explosion in the heart of Ibadan, Oyo State,  can explain the debt of institutional failure in this country.  As it stands today, many lives have been lost and over 100 others sustained various degrees of injuries.  In addition, properties running into billions of Naira have been lost also. Why converting residential areas into industrial purposes in the first instance?

This must have been possible because of corruption by workers of iniquities in public institutions. It’s high time the president was assertive about unwarranted loss of lives and properties in our society, which points to institutional failure. The upsurge of insecurity in Abuja and other parts of the country from late 2023 till now deserves the urgent attention of the president

It has also been widely reported that some of our security agencies have their fingers in this  kidnapping-for-ransom show, which has become a lucrative business in Nigeria. This deceptive structure of making a governor as the chief security officer of his state when in reality it is untrue should be reviewed. Why should the Federal government be authorising mining in a state and the governor, the local government authority are not involved? This concept is deceptive in its entirety and should be jettisoned.

I watched with disdain recently when some of our elected officials who are called and addressed as honourable members of the National Asembly were struggling to defend themselves over the purchase of SUV cars running into billions in the name of oversight functions.

I could not help but laughed at their weak defence on why  such  expensive cars are needed to perform  oversight functions in the parliamentarian in view of our current economic reality.

In our political history since independence, there have always been oversight functions by public workers, even during the military era. In the 70s and 80s, despite the prosperity we experienced during this period, 504 Peugeot cars were the official vehicles for public workers. Why the need for luxury cars when we are virtually living on borrowing? Why can’t we function in line with our economic reality today ?

Why is it now that Nigerians go to bed with empty stomachs and we keep borrowing from the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral organisations that we are acting like the prodigal son in the Bible? As honourable members, are we not expected to sacrifice and be modest in line with the economic outlook of our country and even invoke austerity measure policy?

I watched a video recently where a public official in Sweden equivalent to a minister in Nigeria sat at a train station in Sweden after office hour, waiting for a train to catch without scores of aides and caravan of pilot cars.  Sweden is the 7th largest economy in Europe. If despite the huge resources available in Sweden, a minister can catch train after office hours. Why can’t we do the same in Nigeria? If our public servants can use 504 Peugeot cars in the first and second republics, what has changed that we now prefer highbred cars for public use as against what our present economy can support?

We know our president as a symbol of democracy and the rule of law in this country and beyond. We are therefore expecting him  to continue to exhibit this hallmark in his daily activities so that in not too long a time, we might have a true democracy in our country.

Nigerians also expect that public policies of his government should be  organically generated to guarantee inclusion so that we can achieve lasting peace in our country.

It will be more productive for the president to make people the backbone of his policy formulation to be able to build grassroots chemistry between the citizens and this administration.

Nigerians are extremely disturbed that more than a decade after the privatisation of electricity, we are still faced with this obnoxious estimated billing system, asking customers to buy meters, cables and transformers and the regulatory agency and the ministry of power that  are both expected to ensure regulatory compliance and  protection of Nigerians from these private entities allowed them to be  fleecing Nigerians of their hard earned resources on the guises of providing services which is not inefficient in the first place

I expected the minister to have effectively solved these problems within his  100 days in office but more than seven months after, this illegality of estimated billing system is still thriving in Nigeria This clearly shows a  glaring inefficiency on the  part of the minister and the regulatory agency.

Nigerians are now demanding immediate arrest and prosecution of service providers running this scam called estimated billing system in Nigeria. You can’t punish Nigerians for your inability to provide infrastructure, including electricity meters, to achieve efficiency in your business more than a decade after electricity privatisation. This is another racketeering in the power sector like it used to be in t immigration.

I have keenly followed what is happening at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, popularly called Bettagate. I also received several calls about the action of Dr Olubunmi Tunji Ojo about how a company he founded and  later resigned collected contracts from the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disasters Management Agency.

I am actually not holding brief for any of them but I want to say without mincing words that the fact that we have a new Sheriff in town might be the basic reasons for this current changes ,otherwise, there is nothing Betta Edu and Dr Tunji Ojo did that has not been the trend for decades in our public institutions. If we carry out a full audit test across our public institutions, such strategic institutions like the CBN ,NNPCL, and others will fail woefully.

They have been awarding public contracts to themselves or their proxies and have also been paying public funds into private accounts.. This is the magnitude level of decay we have in our public office across all levels.

I stumbled on a video recently where a German ambassador rejected a gift that was voluntary and offered him an account of compromising the public laws.  I also read a story where the late Mallam Aminu Kano, in an attempt to corrupt him by his colleagues ministers, gave him some money as proceeds of bribery and quickly went behind his back to report him to Gen Gowon that he too collected bribes.

This man of integrity actually collected the money but quickly paid this money into the public treasury to show his impeccable integrity. I remember how IGen Ibrahim Babangida probed Prof Tam David West for accepting a wristwatch gift offered him.

This law of public morality is in every society, and Nigeria is no exception, except that Nigerian public office holders are generally law breakers with reckless abandon.

If you check from former President Olusegun Obasanjo since the 4th Republic, public office holders privatised public assets for themselves and their cronies without consequences.

Obasanjo himself, as a sitting president, raised funds for his private library in Abeokuta, with most of the funds coming from agencies and  parastatals while he was busy masquerading with anti corruption agencies like EFCC and ICPC.

It’s also on record that some of those who superintended the privatisation scheme became beneficiaries of the scheme. Where are these industries today?

A few days ago, I watched with rapt attention  when Deji Adeyanji ,a moral crusader, explained how  CBN ,NNPCL, and other public institutions have variously compromised ethics by awarding public contracts to themselves and also paid public funds into private accounts. I also watched the video of Dr. Lamido Sanusi Lamido, the former CBN governor that almost tore the Internet into pieces.

According to Dr Lamido Sanusi, he asked where the dollar proceeds of the crude  exported out of this country on a daily basis? NNPCL lacks transparency and accountability in all its operations as recently attested to by the World Bank.

Otunba Sola Olatunji
Otunba Sola Olatunji

I saw their gimmick recently that over two trillions profit was made by the corporation in 2022. Great, but they should also be courageous enough to tell Nigerians how much funds they collected from marketers in the last one  year and yet haven’t been able to supply product?

There have been hues and cries over our constitution. While a section is demanding for a total overhaul of our constitution another school of thought (which I belong) is saying it’s always better to continue to review our constitution in line with our growth and experiences. It is also true that those nations we often called developed economies are yet to deliver any perfect constitution for their countries. If nations without written constitution can survive  for centuries, I want to submit that our constitution is not our problems but Nigerians are the problems of our constitution.

.Otunba Sola Olatunji, Chairman, Ikale Heritage Development Association, IHDA, writes from Lagos.



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