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Genesis of corruption in Nigeria

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Corruption index in Nigeria. Photo: Nairaland

Sherifat Lawal

Corruption is a part of humanity. Therefore, it is no surprise that it features everywhere so much so that it has eaten deep into the Nigerian system.

Corruption in Nigeria is a social virus, which is a hybrid of traits, derived from and nurtured in the indigenous Nigerian context. Corruption is not an invention of Nigeria as a state, neither is it peculiar to Nigerians, it is a global phenomenon with deep historical roots.

Against this backdrop, a historical perspective of corruption in Nigeria portrays itself at the very beginning of it existence as a state. Nigeria was birthed out of the biggest crime in Africa’s history, its very creation as a product of amalgamation was an act of greed and corruption.

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The amalgamation itself, a sham, which the British government cannot deny as it was for their economic gains, needless to state that the British colonial government had no future plans for their newly acquire colony other than to enrich their pockets and better their economy.

Agricultural produce with the likes of tin, groundnut, Iron-Ore, cocoa, rubber , to mention but a few were exported from Nigeria for over 87 years, product that then commanded premium price at the international market.

However, even after independence, in the words of Chief Olusegun Osoba, “Take‐all factional struggles, political cynicism and violence, while the economy and social institutions have been driven into decay.”

When opportunity present itself for ingenious people to take part actively in the decision making of colonial Nigeria by way of regional councils, this put power strengthen only the rich and made them prominent in which case Tafawa Balewa for the North, Nnamdi Azikwe for the East and Obafemi Awolowo for the West.

This however lunches into lime light the police and the press as partners in crime in corrupt practices. Chinua Achebe maintained that the political thought of both Awolowo and Azikiwe was based on politics for material gain.

From as early as 1947, commissions of inquiry were held to investigate cases of corruption. The purpose of the inquiries was to expose wrongdoing and to punish the culprits.

In 1956, the Foster-Sutton Tribunal investigated the Premier of the Eastern Region, Nnamdi Azikiwe, for his involvement in the affairs of African Continental Bank (ACB).

Under the code of conduct for ministers, a government officer was required to relinquish his holdings in private business when he assumed public office. The Foster-Sutton Tribunal felt that Zik did not severe his connections to the bank when he became a Minister. The Tribunal believed that Zik continued to use his influence to further the interests of ACB.

Where do the evils like corruption arise from? It comes from the never-ending greed. The fight for corruption-free ethical society will have to be fought against this greed and replace it with ‘what can I give’ spirit.

Continues next week

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