Anti-corruption lessons from Kenya | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Anti-corruption lessons from Kenya

Posted: Apr 5, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

As Nigerian leaders grapple with the hydra-headed monster called corruption without success, Uhuru Kenyata, the President of Kenya, provides us with excellent model of how to fight and win the war against corruption.  Recently he was reported to have directed five ministers in his cabinet who have been alleged by Kenya’s anti-graft agency, Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission, to be corrupt in the discharge of their duties to step down temporarily to avoid interference with the on-going investigation process. The ministers reportedly involved include: Charity Ngilu, Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Felix Koskel, Agriculture, Michael Kamau, Transport and Infrastructure, Davis Chirchir, Energy and Petroleum, and Samuel Kazungu, Kambu, Labour ministry.

What moral lessons can Nigeria learn from this, given the fact that Kenya and Nigeria share some common culture tendencies?   Like Kenya, Nigeria faces the challenge of national development as many of its people, especially leaders are corrupt. Only at a forum in 2012, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria stated in unequivocal terms that many Nigerian politicians are corrupt 

Recall that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was Nigerian military head of state and two terms civilian president of the countryHe was also the chairman of Board of Trustees of People’s Democratic Party.  Having occupied such highly exalted political offices in Nigeria, he might be speaking from his personal experience of the character of some Nigerian politicians, having  had the opportunity of being at vantage positions in the Nigerian political firmament to have observed the behaviour of Nigerian political class and senior public servants.Certainly, his view on corruption cannot be taken with a pinch of salt. 

Indeed, it is a sad commentary that Nigerian political elites only pay lip- service to the fight against corruption. Even, the institutional structures to fight corruption are weak and charges of corruption against the high and mighty are prosecuted with levity. We have heard cases of attempts by the Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate and prosecute highly placed government officers who have been reported to have corruptly enriched themselves, frustrated by such officers quickly seeking protection from the law court to avoid prosecution, by getting the court to stop further investigations of their offences. 

So, you find a situation where people steal and get away with it. Our anti-graft agencies are poorly funded with weak legal backing to discharge their duties without let or hindrance, no matter who is involved. A legal dictum says ‘he who must go to equity must go with clean hands. This is not always the case with out leaders. Some of our leaders who should be shining examples of probity, integrity, transparency, accountability and responsibility, who even set up anti-graft agencies to tackle the malaise of corruption, are themselves the perpetrators of fraud and fraudulent activities.  

If we must fight corruption, our leaders must leave above board. They must also make sure that, like Uhuru Kenyata, government functionaries face the full wrath of the law for any act of impropriety. In this way, they would send strong signals to all that they are not ready to brook any form of official misconduct. When such happens, the larger society will take them seriously.