By Babatunde Jose

Behold, We have made thee a [prophet and, thus, Our] vicegerent on earth: judge, then, between men with justice, and do not follow vain desire, lest it lead thee astray from the path of God: verily, for those who go astray from the path of God there is suffering severe in store for having forgotten the Day of Reckoning!” – Quran 38: 26.

“The richest people in Africa could easily be former and current presidents and rulers of African countries. But don’t expect to find them on our FORBES rich list. And that is very true because “Forbes has long separated rulers and dictators from our annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires, distinguishing between personal, entrepreneurial wealth and wealth derived largely from positions of power, where lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual.” Forbes Magazine.

Our parents and grandparents of old were people of integrity and held accountability in all walks of life very seriously. Any infraction of this principle was seriously dealt with. It starts with the abhorrence of lying and petty pilfering such as stealing meat from the pot of soup. These are infractions which if not curbed will metastasise into full blown corruption; which simply translates into stealing.

This is the bane of our society today. The absence of accountability knows no gender, tribe or tongue; neither does it respect colour or nationality.  The more reason why a foreigner coming to do business in Nigeria, has corruption etched into his subconscious before embarking on his voyage.

The saddest part of the matter is the attitude of society to this malaise. Rather than condemned and ostracized, we eulogize and award them chieftaincies; celebrate and idolize them. We have therefore, promoted thievery into an art form.

The slow pace of our judicial system is one of the most frustrating aspects of our fight against corruption and accountability and it often gives the impression of acceptability. This is one of the causes of impunity on the part of the corrupt.

There is no doubt the vast majority of Nigerians are honest, hardworking people that just want the government to provide basic services, and then get out of their way so that they can take care of themselves. “These people deserve strong institutions that can protect them from corruption.”

Unfortunately, these institutions are weakened and compromised by the corrupt operators in the form of civil servants, military and the political masters; all working in tandem.

According to former Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, “Years of development experience have shown. . . that regardless of the instruments, such as incentives and disincentives, that are available to reformers, corruption cannot be fought successfully from the outside or by outsiders. It must be by ‘insiders and from the inside’.” But when the ‘insiders’ are corrupt, aid and abet corruption, there will be no end to the cancerous growth.

A new report released by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), disclosed that “55 politicians, high-level public officials and leaders allegedly stole N1,354trn between 2006 and 2013 from Nigeria’s treasury.” “Evidence abound that judges, judicial officers, lawyers and military officers are participants in the frenzy of despoliation of national wealth.”

This is what has become our lot in this country. Monies which could have been utilized for uplifting the welfare of our people is being channelled into the private pockets of officials: All because the principle of accountability has been jettisoned.

But, there is bound to be a Day of Reckoning. And on that day, there will be no escape.

And be conscious of the Day on which you shall be brought back unto God, whereupon every human being shall be repaid in full for what he has earned, and none shall be wronged. (Quran 2:281)

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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