Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



It is a fact that corruption is a big social problem militating against the development of the economy and the welfare of the citizens. According to a World Bank estimate, over $400billion have been looted by capitalist politicians and their contractor allies from the nation’s wealth in the past 4 decades. There is no doubt that if these looted resources are made available and judiciously used, the economy and the living standard of the people will not be as deplorable as they are at the moment. It is therefore imperative for every right thinking and change seeking Nigerian to vote for a total and merciless war against corruption in all ramifications. In this regard, the deceptive removal of Nuhu Ribadu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) by the Yar’Adua government constitutes a pointed signal that this regime is not prepared to continue with the limited anti-corruption activities which the EFCC under Ribadu has championed in the past few years.

Ribadu’s removal by the Yar’Adua government should however be well situated. A government and party that are exclusively dominated by corrupt contractors and treasury looters cannot sincerely be expected to encourage any form of struggle against corruption. In this regard, all genuine change seeking elements and anti-corruption advocates have to face the reality that Nuhu Ribadu as an anti-corruption crusader was at best a ‘happy accident’. He got appointed to his post because the World Bank and IMF, demanded the government to form an anti-corruption body. So, right from the beginning, his capacity to prosecute corrupt public officers had always been subject to the limitations imposed by the circumstances of his appointment. At a stage, the EFCC acquired a notoriety of an institution meant to harass and arm-twist those in opposition to the powers that be at central level.

Against the background of pervasive corruption, which pervades every sector of governance, it was easy for the EFCC to find grounds to investigate and charge elements that had opposed, or fallen out with, the Obasanjo administration. This is one of the reasons why the EFCC has only been able to successfully prosecute an infinitesimal proportion of elements that have for all practical purposes and intent subverted the essence of governance through corruption. These facts are not meant to derogate, underplay or rubbish in any sense whatsoever, the courageous and stunning exposure and prosecutions of certain highly placed public officials which hitherto would have been considered “untouchable” by Ribadu as EFCC chairman. Despite the institutional and operative constraints faced by the EFCC, the Yar’Adua government still was uncomfortable with Ribadu’s leadership. This only goes to show the gross limitations of placing the task of a successful struggle against corruption in the hands of individuals, particularly individuals, who accidentally got appointed by the corrupt ruling elite.

Therefore, an effective fight against corruption in contemporary Nigeria will first and foremost require a fundamental change in attitude towards policy in general. This, among other things will involve a pointed rejection of the prevailing privatisation and liberalisation principle. Privatisation and liberalisation principle for instance, directly accelerates the rate at which politicians steal because currently, due to high oil prices, the government now has more money with little or no social commitments. It provides easy avenues through which publicly looted resources are invested. It is also responsible for the existence of an unprecedented hike in the gap between the haves and the have-nots. And overall, this has created an atmosphere where leaders have become so corruptly rich that they don’t have to bother to address the needs of the people while in office because they know that they can always use their ill-gotten wealth to perpetrate themselves and their surrogates in power at all times.

Therefore, all genuine change-seeking elements must prioritise the creation of a political platform that opposes any special privileges for leaders and controls its representatives. Such a platform could then fight for public ownership and working peoples democratic control and management of all societal resources with a view to meet the needs of all.

It should however be noted that public ownership of the means of production and resources on its own is not an automatic solution to the prevailing mass misery in the midst of an inexhaustible abundance. The collapse of the economies of the former deformed socialist countries like USSR, Eastern Europe, and others plus the mindless corruption which destroyed most public enterprises and ventures hitherto run by the successive capitalist governments in Nigeria only goes to underline the fact that nationalisation and public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy if not built on rigorous democratic control of the working people themselves, would ultimately mean one step forward, two steps back. Nationalisation and public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy is an imperative step to take before society can ever seriously begin to talk of meeting the needs of all and not just of a few as glorified by capitalism. However, it is important to underline the fact that the immeasurable advantage of this system can only be actualised only if the working people and the entire democratic forces and institutions from time to time maintain a scrupulous democratic control and management of the entire economy and polity. Without this, those entrusted with the running of public enterprises and polity will inevitably ruin them through outright corruption and sheer mismanagement.

An effective and sustainable war against corruption will require, at the least, a government truly elected by the ordinary Nigerians themselves. Yes, we support the demand that every detected treasury looter and corrupt public officials be fully prosecuted by the EFCC and all other related agencies. We should support the demand for more serious punishments for all convicted corrupt elements. But we do not want to see one corrupt crew simply being replaced by a new gang of looters, something that has unfortunately occurred in other African countries like Zambia and Kenya. However, the only way this would ever happen on a sustained basis, is for all change seeking elements and ordinary people themselves to build a movement that can put in place an independent working peoples government that is based primarily on the interests and aspiration of the masses. Unless this approach is embraced, the war against corruption will remain, essentially, a cosmetic exercise that depends on accidental occurrences.