We make the constant mistake of thinking and concluding that corruption only affects those of us in public office. This is incorrect.
Corruption in Nigeria permeates the entire nation. Almost everyone expects additional gain in order to perform duties that we are otherwise legally bound to perform. Our military and our police mount road blocks that we cannot cross without payment to them, the secretaries in our offices will not let one enter a properly scheduled meeting, unless one came with a gift, the manager pockets our holiday pay because their spouse needs medical treatment abroad, our civil servants will not progress your job until you agree their own settlement – you may even have to prepay.
We underpay our workforce because we know they cannot walk away or sue us for paying less than the minimum wage; we join investment schemes we know are sure to end with somebody losing their savings; we will not vote a worthy candidate who is unable to pay for our mandate. In fact, even our very young children today refuse to run simple errands, unless there is some immediate financial gratification to them. These are all very serious corrupt practices, even though we are not responsible for national wealth.
To the rest of the world, the word corruption is synonymous to the word Nigeria. And the truth is, they are not incorrect. Offensive as we find it when they say Nigeria is fantastically corrupt, we need to accept it is unfortunate, but true and then move to do something about it.
Accepting therefore that corruption has eaten into our core as a people; my government will use educational programmes and tools, the print media, television and radio stations, physical and online outreach programmes to reorient our people. We will concentrate on the younger generations because we all find it hard to let go of values we’ve learned in our formative years.
Finally, I will relentlessly follow and trace national wealth into every personal, corporate or national account they landed in the six decades of our independence.
This will enable us do well for our country and her people, it will serve to severely punish our past leaders and their beneficiaries for misappropriating our national wealth, and serve as a true deterrent from corrupt practices by those we put in office in the future. There is no punishment more painful than becoming rich after stealing national wealth, only to have it all taken back after you have gotten comfortable spending way above your means.
When we know that anything we steal from Nigeria today will be paid back either by us and our beneficiaries in our lifetime, or paid back by our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and/or any surviving beneficiaries long after we are gone, we will pause to thoroughly think about it, before we make the decision to steal from Nigeria.
Civil Tracing of our National Wealth
The process of following and tracing national wealth will involve a thorough breakdown of the earnings of our country from independence to date. This calls for a review of every kobo previous and current administrations spent out of our national purse and the reasons given for such spending.
Where funds allocated to specified projects appear ridiculously high at first instance, the tracing entities will simply follow such funds to see how each kobo was indeed spent. Where such funds end up serving purposes for which they were not assigned, or where such funds end up in private accounts, or in acquiring assets for the benefit of individuals or organisations for which those funds were not, and should not have been allocated, such assets will be seized and returned to our national coffers.
Clearly, this will lead to many of us getting called upon to return funds and assets we received innocently, having no previous knowledge that they were the proceeds of the criminal conduct of our family members, friends, and colleagues.
This should however not deter us because sacrificing in this way for the betterment of our country will be a worthy sacrifice. Indeed, we will finally build a Nigeria where all men are finally equal, where we can all relax knowing that those we entrusted our national wealth to, know better than to steal from us.
Criminal Prosecution in Cases of Overwhelming Evidence
Prosecuting criminal trials costs the country a lot of resources. I am aware that to get a conviction, a case must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. As a result, my government will concentrate its efforts on following, tracing, and recovering Nigeria’s misappropriated national wealth, thus pay less attention to pursuing criminal cases against offenders.
However, for cases where there is overwhelming evidence, enough to obtain a conviction for any individual or organisation, we will stop at nothing to obtain such convictions.
Encourage the Study of Law of Equity and Trusts
To help pursue the equitable remedies of following and tracing, graduates who specialised in the law of equity and trusts, forensic accounting, criminology and forensic evidence will be employed in torrents to join or even man the anti-graft agencies, whose jobs it will be to follow and recover these funds for our country.
Independent Anti-Graft Agencies
Our anti-graft agencies have been a sham over the entire years of their existence. This is no wonder, as they are constituted by the same men and women responsible for all the misery caused by financial crimes in Nigeria.
My government will constitute independent anti-graft agencies, and ensure it is the best qualified of us who are selected to man their affairs.