Sunday, 20 August 2017

Preventing ‘Domino Effect’ of corruption in Nigeria through integrity-based public appointments

Preventing ‘Domino Effect’ of corruption in Nigeria through integrity-based public appointments

The dominoes are compromising! The dominoes are falling! Where is that happening? It’s on the field of play in the course of a game between the Nigerian government – represented by public officials – and corruption. And the stakes are very high. In the meantime, the dominoes are compromising, and they are falling under the weight of selfish interest, greed, narrow-mindedness, peer pressure, and primitive accumulation of wealth. Yes, more and more dominoes are compromising and falling in turns. They are indeed “corrupt dominoes” of our society. And the cumulative effect of such chain reactions of the dominoes is what one can borrow a term to refer to as the ‘Domino Effect’ of corruption in the Nigerian public space. What we are saying, in other words, is that corruption has risen to a contagious dimension.

Who are the corrupt dominoes in this circumstance? They are the paradoxical heroes of their poor and/or illiterate followers, the shameful “brides” and warlords of their communities, ethnic and religious groups, the sticky-fingered public officials, and the negative role models of backward-thinking members of the middle class. They are largely the players who constitute the government team on the field of play in a critical must-win game against corruption. They come from different places, play different parts, and operate in different ways at different frequencies. They occupy positions here and there in a strategic row of corruption in such a way that enables free flow and passage of the cankerworms and loot of corruption from one domino to the other, falling over one another, and creating a negative Domino Effect, while neutralizing, checkmating and frustrating the efforts of the non-corrupt ones who are playing to win the game. Although corrupt dominoes play on the side of government and are supposed to key into the government’s game plan against corruption, they fall easily to pressure from corruption. And as EFCC, ICPC and allied anti-corruption agencies run after the fallen dominoes, the dominoes somehow get off the hook, get dusted, and re-positioned back in the game to create the next round of Domino Effect, and the vicious cycle of corruption continues.

But, has government been quiet and lackadaisical about this scenario? No! Government has indeed established structures such as ICPC and EFCC to beam searchlights on corruption and wage war against it. Needless to say that relevant laws have been enacted by the National Assembly towards sustaining Transparency, Accountability and Anti-corruption  Government has also established, as a constitutional duty, the Code of Conduct Bureau [See Section 153 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria]. Moreover, Government has put in place a number of systems including e-payment, Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA), Bank Verification Number (BVN), Whistleblower Policy, and Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC).

However, Government needs to do more in terms of strengthening and autonomization of existing anti-corruption agencies such as EFCC. In view of the economic, financial, political, social, moral, developmental, and other dimensions of corruption beyond the legal dimension, the influence of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on the EFCC and any other anti-corruption body should be curtailed particularly to the extent that any such influence conflicts with the anti-corruption war and dispensation of justice.

In addition, Government needs to begin to rely on other structures, systems or strategies apart from EFCC and ICPC which mainly fight the anti-corruption war as a reactive post-mortem investigation and control. Government will gain more mileage by introducing new strategic and preventive measures to minimize corruption and reduce the burden on ICPC and EFCC. One of these measures is to ensure that people that are appointed into public posts are people of high integrity in addition to merit. We need to do away with the unproductive system of allowing individuals with serial records of corruption to get rewarded with another public post sometimes even at a higher and more sensitive level. We possibly always think that such people have changed or will change, but leopards do not change their skins. Before anybody is appointed into a public post, it would be more beneficial if we can beam light on his/her official pedigree and conduct due diligence, candidate profiling, and 360 degree performance appraisal involving his/her current and previous supervisors, superiors, subordinates, peers, trade unions, and other stakeholders. We can give this all-important responsibility to an existing agency or, at the risk of adding to the multitude of government agencies already in existence, establish a brand new Integrity Commission to be manned by people of proven integrity.

The demonstrated integrity and anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari and those of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo constitute enormous strengths and opportunities which must be latched on to in practical terms. In order to succeed in the anti-corruption war, beyond the great efforts of the EFCC, the President and the Vice-President will need to ‘clone’ themselves down the ladder of governance by ensuring that all public appointments they make are not only merit-based but also integrity-based. Integrity should form part of the critical yardsticks in future appointments of Ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executives of Parastatals, Chairmen and Members of Governing Boards, and other public posts. By the time this is done, progressive state governors will also lay good examples in their states and ensure that integrity is given its pride of place and elevated as the new public order not only in public appointments but also in everything we do. The issue of integrity is a shared core value that a nation with a vision of development must not joke with. Fortunately, integrity is one of the core values of the Nigerian civil service and is also one of the seven (7) national ethics stipulated under Section 23 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria   

At this auspicious moment of the arrival of Mr. President from medical vacation, about which we are excited and grateful to God Almighty, we expect that Mr. President will change the gear, raise the bar, and begin to inject fresh blood into Government.

Reassuringly sirs, our leaders at the national and sub-national levels, Nigeria is a country of good people and, unlike the falling dominoes who have been managing our public affairs over the years, there are many qualified and credible Nigerians who believe in transparency and accountability, abhor corruption, and are willing and ready to enlist their services behind you to achieve good governance and socio-economic development. May God help us!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Celebrating and advising Nigerian youths on International Youth Day

On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly – in its Resolution 54/120 – endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that 12 August should be declared “International Youth Day”.

International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. We want to quickly seize the opportunity here to celebrate the youths for their participation and their invaluable efforts in the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the North East.  

Based on dictionary definition, youth refers to the period between childhood and adult age. It also refers to a young person who falls within that time period. According to the United Nations, “youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence.” The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines as youth those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 without prejudice to other definitions by Member States.

It should be noted that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of youth especially in terms of age classification. While The Commonwealth sees youth as young people aged 15-29, African Union, through the African Youth Charter (2006) defines youth as any individual between 15-35 years of age.

Recognizing that youth, as a concept varies from culture to culture and from society to society, the ECOWAS Youth Policy (2009) considers youth as comprising all young males and females aged from 15 to 35 years. In defining youth, Nigeria's National Youth Policy 2009 states that, “in line with the conditions and realities on ground especially historical and contemporary socio-economic and political conditions, and for the purpose of execution of the current National Youth Policy, the youth shall comprise of all males and females aged 18 – 35 years, who are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” According to the Report of the 2012 National Baseline Youth Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, Nigeria has 52,183,686 population of youths aged 18 – 35 years.

Faced with a number of challenges including unemployment / under-employment, ethnic / religious fanaticism, political manipulation of youths and youth organizations, poor education, cultism, as well as sex and substance abuse, Nigerian youths remain a vulnerable group.

We need to do more to address the un-met needs and aspirations of youths, mainstream youth-related issues into our development agenda, expand the democratic space to bring more youths into governance, and tap into their youthful vibrancy, drive for innovation, and their other comparative advantages. It is pleasing to note the recent success recorded by youths who are the main proponents of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. It actually makes sense that if someone is not too young to vote, he/she should equally not be too young to run for elective posts.

We need to sound a note of caution that, even though all of us as stakeholders can – and must – contribute towards ensuring good leadership and good governance, only a few will be in positions of power and authority at a given point in time. The teeming youths should therefore have it at the back of their minds that, while consolidating their #nottooyoungtorun campaign, they should also be “Not too young to run a business”, “Not too young to be an entrepreneur”, “Not too young to get skills”, “Not too young to excel”, “Not too young to shun corruption and immoral behaviour”, and “Not too young to resist ethnic, religious, gender, national, racial and other discriminations”. For those who have decided to pursue the “Not too young to run” initiative, we advise that they should also be “Not too young to read public documents to acquire knowledge of public affairs”  Knowledge is power, and my people – including the youths – must not perish for lack of knowledge. Go for some knowledge here: Nigerian Documents | Document Categories

Happy International Youth Day! Enjoy!

Monday, 7 August 2017




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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Fourth Amendment of the 1999 Constitution | Nigeria

Recently, the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, consisting of the upper chamber (Senate) and the lower chamber (House of Representatives) voted to amend some sections of the 1999 Constitution.
It is noteworthy that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had earlier undergone three amendments and that the current exercise is the fourth amendment.

The media, in particular The Punch of July 27, 2017 did a good job by giving a synopsis of the over 30 proposed amendments to the Constitution. 

The next step is for the 36 State Houses of Assembly to consider the proposed amendments. For an amendment to sail through for final approval, it must achieve simple majority endorsement in at least two-thirds of the 36 State Houses of Assembly, which is 24.

We believe that each and everyone of us - as patriotic Nigerians - should familiarize ourselves not only with the proposed amendments but with the 1999 Constitution and the three previous alterations to the document which constitute the bedrock of the current exercise. It is by so doing that we will be better informed and empowered to contribute meaningfully to public affairs that have constitutional implications.

Here you go: 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria