By Aaron Ossai
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that unless and until strong institutions are built and strengthened, Nigeria may end up punishing corruption but not fighting corruption.
He spoke on Monday at the launch of a book “Antidotes for Corruption” – written by Senator Dino Melaye – in Abuja, where he opined that only strong institutions can fight corruption in the country.
He said for the war against corruption to succeed, there must be institutional reforms that will help put in place measures which will make it near impossible for people to engage in corrupt acts.
To him, corruption as a disease must be treated from its roots and not just the symptoms, and he argued that it is the moral responsibility of all men and women of good will to fight corruption because every individual pays the price of corruption in the society.
“As a country, we ran into a situation where corruption was becoming the norm, there was this moral cult that we had created that celebrated corruption,” the speaker stated.
According to him, “the motivation was always there for corruption, but now what is important is not just fighting the old corrupt system. Really, if we must make progress, our focus should be to replace the old order that was corrupt with a new order that makes corruption near impossible to take place.”
Talking about Senator Melaye, Dogara said he won’t be surprised by the avalanche of criticism that may follow this because “Dino himself is a combination of so many things. He is highly opinionated, often paginations, and sometimes fraudulent. So, obviously, he will be a magnet for opinionated and fraudulent criticism as well, he will not escape that.”
To drive home his point, the Speaker said: “Corruption, for those who are farmers, is like a tree that grows vigorously. If you end up pruning the trees and not attacking the roots, there is no way you will deal with that thing.”
“So, when those who celebrate the successes of the fight against corruption in terms of the high profile investigation, high profile prosecution and even detention, they are missing the point because that is dealing with the symptoms of corruption. That is punishing corruption. But how are we developing remedies that we can apply to ensure that the tree dies?”
“Recently, in the labour community, we went for May Day and some of us were nearly held hostage. You can’t blame the workers. While they were agitating for their rights, agitating for minimum wage, some of us are talking about living wage. You see, the workers control, perhaps, about 96 percent of the budget. In the National Assembly, we have about 92 percent, judiciary and the rest. So, if you don’t make the environment conducive for those who administer this money not to want to be corrupt, you will end up jailing people”, he added.