THERE are different ways in which journalism serves as an hindrance to corruption. Let’s consider how the media can be strengthened to enhance their role in curbing corruption. Corruption remains a sign of a poorly operating state as witnessed in most developing countries such as Nigeria. Indeed people who give and take bribes can dispose a nation wealth, leaving little for its poorest citizens. Highly corrupt countries often face particular challenges even when controlled by reform-minded rulers. Reforming public institutions and government policies is necessary but poverty limits available options. Policymakers, however can arrive at plausible solution only after understanding corruption’s effect on the efficiency and equity of an economic system.
Corruption in public life in Nigeria began in the 1950’s when the first panel of inquiry was set up to look into African Continental Bank (ACB). The accusation was that the highly received politician abused his office by allowing public funds to be invested in bank in which he had interest.
Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon which has been with societies through history. In both developed and developing countries, corruption is a serious problem which confronts the people and the government. Corruption differ in terms of intensity from one country to another due to socio-political specifics.
The spread of corruption in almost all the aspects of life in modern society is to say the least devastating. Corruption generally, is associated with misuses of entrusted power for private gains. Corruption can also be define as intentional omission, the unwarranted exercise of power with the motive of gain for selfish reasons. This is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties is done under color of law or involves trading in influence.
Forms of corruption varies, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, though it is not restricted to these activities. Misuse of government power for other purpose, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, some political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or ill-defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy literally meaning “rule by thieves”.
Some forms of corruption now called institutional corruption are distinguished from bribery and other kinds of obvious personal gain. Campaign contributions are the prime example. Even when they are legal, and do not constitute a quid pro quo, they have a tendency to bias the process in favour of special interests and undermine public confidence in the political institution. They corrupt the institution without individual members being corrupt themselves. A similar problem corrupt arise in any institution by the people in a special position of trust. The term is commonly applied to self benefiting conduct by public officials and others dedicated to public service. This negative practice includes embezzlement favoritism, abuses linking public and private sector officials in bribery, extortion, influence peddling and money laundering.
The history of corruption in Nigeria is rooted in the over 30 years of military rule, out of 48 years of her statehood since 1960.
Successful military regimes subdued the rule of law facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated public institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. The result was total insecurity, poor economic management, abuse of human rights, ethnic conflicts and capital flight.
This negative phenomenon called corruption has been identified as the greatest bane affecting the rate of socio-economic growth in Nigeria which would have led to better standard of living for the citizenry. Efforts in the past to destroy or prevent corruption and bring about proved macro-economic stability, better public expenditure management and increase. Consider its destructive ability an socio-economic development endeavours however, continuous effort at struggling corruption need to be exerted.
The causes of corruption in Nigeria are multi-faceted and diverse, these includes, low salary of public officials, job insecurity, problem of extended family, lack of transparency and accountable political process, lack of effective incentive mechanism for public officials, lack of effective reporting system cultural aspects and lack of independent and effective media. Nigeria’s reward system is perhaps the poorest in the world. The salary paid to public officials is so low that the basic needs of officials cannot be met. The influence of extended family system and pressure to meet family obligations are more in Nigeria than in any other country. This however coupled with the cost of transportation, housing, feeding and education for the children makes it difficult for a public official to make a living thereby seeking corrupt means to meet his needs.
The longing for riches among public officials is due to uncertainty and anxiety of the individual about his general welfare after retirement from active service. In Nigeria there is no constitutional provision for the basic socio-economic needs of the individual, besides the poorly managed pension scheme. In other countries like Britain and United States of America, where adequate provisions are made for the citizenry in terms of cheap and easy access to basic necessities of life. The individual become afraid and easily induced into corruption practices.
Culture is a way of life of a people but it is often used as a mechanism to promote corruption. The disagreement of formal custom and attitudes with new demands of government often give rise to corruption. Customary gifts that were given and received by traditional rulers may be seen in this perspectives, these gifts in the new context are termed corruption if it is accepted by public officials, public official in Nigeria comes from extended families. The join activities of Western countries bank with corruption officials is inhibiting the fight against corruption. In a bit to hide corruptly looted funds away from Nigerians and consequential recovery efforts, such fund are deposited in Western Banks. Looted fund from Nigeria are now being deposited in Bank in Dubai a growing financial capital in the middle east. The bank involved do not support or cooperate with Nigeria investigative efforts, on corruption this is because these bank also are using the looted fund for their banking activities which is of great benefit to their countries. Further more the banks fear that such stolen money would cease to be deposited with them in future, if the cooperate with investigating officials corruption in Nigeria has led to near crisis situation in almost all sectors of the economy. In spite of the nation’s enormous natural resources, over 95 million Nigerians constituting about 69 percent of the nation population live below poverty line. This situation could have been averted if these enormous resources looted are channeled for national development. Corruption must thus be stopped before it destroys Nigeria.
The EFCC and ICPC will need to be strengthened financially and legally in their efforts at fighting corruption. The agencies need independent funding that would free it from the charm unethical control of the federal executive. Further more the immunity clause in the 1999 constitution that weakens the anti corruption agencies’ ability to investigate and prosecute the heads of federal and state executive would need to be amended.
The due process procedures established by the previous administration would need to be strengthened in an effort to fight corruption. Freedom of the press and electronic media will ensure free flow of information investigation journalism and safeguarding of the fundamental rights of free speech and opinion thus where there is freedom of the media, it is soon or later bound to be discovered and blown open. Corruption officials hate where there is free media as they resent their practices to be disclosed. It is in this light that the National Assembly could be encouraged to maintain its stand of rejecting the Media Reform Bill (MRB) 2006.
The cause of corruption have been traced to many factors, these includes low salary of public officials job, insecurity and accountable political process. Others are the problems of extend family system and the absence of an independent media. These factors delays development in two ways. First it draw resources away from provision of social amenities into the pockets of private individuals. It also deprive government of honest criticism which is required to improve on its performance. The federal government could collect detail of how to handle the welfare needs of retirees from advance countries in order to curb out corrupt practices by public officials the CRC should remove the immunity clause from the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the federal government strengthened due process procedures depends on financial support from people who have interests that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution.
The money laundering scheme is too simple for it not to have been exploited by corrupt Nigerian diplomats.
The Nigeria embassies house used the various access of diplomatic protection and immunities to cover up money laundering.
The role of the media is strongly in effort against corruption. As a result there must be careful structuring of the relationship between anti-corruption officials and in many cases there must also be effort to develop and enhance the capabilities of the media to ensure that they can work effectively as recipients of information about corruption, appraise such information in a dependent manner, use it meaningfully as the basis of further communications and disseminate the information to the entire public.
Curbing corruption, the autonomy of the media is essential to enable them access government information seriously and objectively and to ensure its reports are credible to the people at large. Thus, government contacts with media must be transparent and they must not compromise the essential autonomy of the media either in practice or in public perception. Strongly to autonomy and objectivity is the separation of media ownership from government or political fuctions or if this is impossible ensuring that there is a diverse to represent a full range of political opinion.
The staffing of individual media should be multi-partisan if possible. For the media to access anti-corruption efforts strongly and freely they must possess sufficient technical legal economic and other expertise. Training, awareness raising and technical briefing at media personel in anti-corruption efforts may also be useful.
Passage of freedom and information bill by the National Assembly will guarantee the right to seek for information without inhibition and to publish or broadcast news safely and effectively.
The media should be encouraged to develop, enforce adequate standards of conduct regarding their professional competence and other objectivity.
The media should try as must as possible to reach much of the masses where that involves use of the people resources. For example to enable coverage of remote areas the should be controls in place that government cannot stop such resources to exert influence on the media. Furthermore journalist should be taught how to evaluate and monitor government activities and be informed about the achievements and standards of anti-corruption work in the region and at the international level. It possible representatives of those institutions should be peak to inform journalists about their work both the success and the failures.
Etymologically, corruption is derived from a Latin word “corruptus” which means to break or destroy. Literally, corruption means to break away or depart from morality, ethics and civic virtues. Further explanation of each of these words will give us better understanding and insight, 1. Morality implies: morals, principles, values, goodness, decency, probity, honesty, integrity etc. 2. Ethics means: moral code, belief, tradition practices, habits, conventions, customs, laws rules, regulations, commandments, decrees. 3. Civic virtues: public opinion of merit and quality. Going by the above definition corruption is a break away from what is good and right. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary on the other hand defines corruption as Dishonesty (which in other words is deceitfulness, fraudulence, lying, untruthfulness, treachery, duplicity).
The Word Bank defines corruption as “the abuse of public office for private gains. Public office is abused for private gain when an official accepts, solicits or extorts a bribe. It is also abused when private agents actively offer bribes to circumvent public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. Public offices can also be abused for personal benefit even if no bribery occurs through patronage and nepotism, the theft of state asserts or the diversion of state revenue.”
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia defines it as “wrongdoing by those in a special position of trust. The term is commonly applied to self – benefiting conduct by public officials and others dedicated to public services”
Section 2 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act 2000 defines corruption to include “bribery, fraud and other related offences”. The most common type of corruption by this definition is bribery – which refers to the giving or taking of money or any kind of favour in return or exchange for undue advantage over other people. Other types include: abuse of power in any form or degree, extortion, embezzlement, inflation of contracts, kickbacks, diversion of funds, falsification or suppression of record, perversion of justice, electoral malpractices, examination malpractices, drug trafficking, money laundering, abuse of selection processes, nepotism, sexual exploitation, gratification and so on.
CAUSES OF CORRUPTION
Corruption is caused generally by greed, lack of positive values, porous system, weak enforcement and oversight mechanisms, excessive materialism, societal pressure, lack of virile welfare structures, insecurity of employment tenure, indiscipline, Inordinate desire for wealth accumulation (get-rich-quick-syndrome), poverty of the mind, nepotism (partiality, favoritism, preferential treatment, bias, discrimination etc), and lack of genuine fear of God. These and many more will be discussed in subsequent editions in detail.
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION
Effects of corruption to the nation in general, to the port system in particular and to us as a people is colossal; for example:
- It undermines the national image- a corruption ridden country stinks in the comity of nations and meaningful investments cannot be attracted nor developmental cooperation can be established because every Nigerian is viewed as corrupt and dubious outside. For instance, Nigeria has been consistently ranked among the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.
- It threatens the very survival of a nation as it prevents the provision of basic social amenities for the citizenry. The money meant for development is often pocketed by a few thereby making good governance impossible. It has affected our health sectors not to talk of our educational institutions. As at today, not even one of the Universities in Nigeria is rated among the first 200 in the world and none is rated among the best in Africa. Corruption generally erodes standards to abysmal levels. Quality of goods and services cannot be guaranteed in a corrupt society.
- Corruption aggravate unemployment and under development.
- It engenders mass poverty and thwart efforts to overcome it.
- Most infrastructural decay and unsatisfactory provision of amenities can be traced directly or indirectly to corruption. There is a total collapse of power and road net work in the country today due to corrupt attitude of past leaders.
- It erodes the ethical base of society: -as due diligence, excellence, honesty, merit and integrity are discouraged.
- It breeds all kinds of crimes and vandalism – arm robbery, kidnapping, youth agitation etc.
- It lead to massive brain drain – a great number of Nigeria best brains have been driven to other part of the world where they now spearhead developmental and scientific exploits.
Corruption in Nigeria
Corruption is the bane of Nigerian socio-economic development, which threatens the existence of Nigeria as a political entity. It is therefore imperative that all and sundry should engage in anti-corruption struggle. This paper examines the state of the country‟s media from the perspective of media practitioners. Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon and there is hardly any society without one form of corruption or the other. Corrupt practices did not begin today; history is as old as the human race. The menace called corruption is a big problem in Nigeria.
The menace called corruption is a big problem in Nigeria. M.Watts (2008:47) affirms that “effects of corruption in the Nigerian society can not be overemphasized”. Corruption is indeed a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society. It is a monster that all and sundry blame for the economic woes facing the country. This is because corruption is seen as one of the major impediments to the economic development of the nation. It is perhaps, the only reason why nothing seems to be working. In fact, corruption European Scientific Journal is threatening the existence of Nigeria as an entity. Nearly every sphere of human endeavor is affected by corruption. And no profession is spared either.
Interestingly, successive governments pursued policies against corruption and it was the main reason why the military made incursions into politics. Despite various policies adopted by governments, corruption is ever increasing in the country. Nigeria is said to have generated huger revenue during this current political dispensation than at other times of her history. This is so because of the rising price of crude oil in the international market since 1999.
I wish to state categorically that the Nigerian government will show it is prepared to fight corruption, when it starts the fight from the justice administration system. Until judges are stopped from being corrupt they will not have the moral capital to be just! By the structure and composition of the Judicial System, the professionals there have more to lose when scandals break out and trials commence. If there is nothing to gain, the judiciary can be relied on to deliver justice. Right now the professionals in the judiciary are relying on the cooperation of their cohorts in the executive and legislative arms to hide them. If the search light is turned on the judiciary, it will easily turn a new leaf. The same applies to the police, SSS and the ministries of justice. Consider this statement common to the police: "no one is a saint"; it is just an apologia for their own corruption.
Nigeria today is a nation at crossroads, struggling against all forms of vices. The country‟s media practitioners had at one time struggled for the political emancipation of the country, at another time, the media fought for the unity of the nation during a devastating 30-month civil war. One of the major issues that should engage the attention of the media today is the anti-corruption war. There is therefore no gain saying the fact that all hands need to be on deck so that the anti-corruption war could be won.
How much Nigeria would succeed in the current battle depends largely on how effective the media would be. The media profession is expected to be above board so that journalists could confidently champion the anti-corruption campaign. Though some media outfits realized this demand and some efforts have been channeled towards this in recent times, it is pertinent to know how the corruption issue is being handled in most media organizations in Nigeria.
1. To check corruption which has assumed epidemic proportions in the public services of this country, it is imperative for the National Assembly to amend the CCB Act to provide that:
a. All political appointees should declare their assets annually by making annual asset returns every January, (ala tax returns) because the extant provision that requires assets declaration every four years have several loop holes that are being exploited by public servants.
b. The CCB should create a unit within it for the continuous tracking of assets returns of politicians holding public office, senior civil and public servants, etc, similar to what the CBN does to check money laundering through the banks;
2. Reform the Justice Delivery system by replacing the status quo with a jury verdict system, through the ongoing constitution amendment process. You can trust the people to do justice to those who are corrupt, as members of a jury!
3. Make it mandatory for the police to release everyone arrested without warrant within 12 hours. Remove their discretion to detain anyone beyond 12 hours except for crimes such as treasonable felonies and murders. This is vital because abuse of human rights and "sale of bail" is a lucrative practice in ALL divisions and units of the police. What obtains now is that the report of a crime in any neighborhood is an invitation for the police to line their pockets through indiscriminate arrest of everyone in that neighborhood for "bail rent".
4. Routinely and quarterly, the Attorney-General/DPP/Justice departments should vet all occupants of police detention cells, custody rooms and those in prisons awaiting-trial to deliver innocent Nigerians from the corruption and inhumanity of the police.
It is time to fight for the soul of Nigeria. And it must, of necessity, start from its primary custodians: the justice administration system stakeholders. This is necessary in order to invest our justice delivery system operatives with the moral capital required to effectively do their jobs.
In conclusion, it is important to emphasize that the fight against corruption in Nigeria needs real patriots, men and women who are committed to the Nigerian project, not immoral personalities who want to serve their own or narrow group interests. It takes high moral rectitude to exercise the moral strength required to be an anti-corruption crusader in this country. That is why we say that given the high level of corruption in the Nigerian police, the Immigration Service, the Customs Service, the Prisons Service, the SSS, the Courts, etc, they cannot effectively fight corruption and other crimes.