Between Integrity And Public Service | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Between Integrity And Public Service

Sports administration
Posted: Jul 13, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ayodeji Ajayi

Whenever one recalls some of the good, bad or ugly happenings on Nigeria’s expansive political landscape, especially since the return of democratic dispensation on May 29, 1999, it will not be difficult to conclude that INTEGRITY has always been a scarce commodity among those in public service in the country. It is no longer news that due largely to the steadily alarming rate at which oil thieves, ably supported by their unscrupulous sponsors brazenly damage pipelines in the oil-rich but poverty-ridden Niger Delta Region, nobody can beat his or her chest to provide accurate statistics concerning Nigeria’s daily oil production and oil earnings. In essence, over the years, from administration to administration, especially during the past unbroken 16 years of democracy, millions of Nigerians, irrespective of political, religious, ethnic, cultural or occupational affiliations, have never hesitated to roundly doubt the unrealistic figures officials of the all-powerful Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) make available to the public concerning the actual status of the financial health of the indomitable corporation.

By the way, over the years, NNPC, in conjunction with its army of equally powerful subsidiaries, has never been forthcoming when it comes to willingly and voluntarily releasing to the general public vital information which they deserve to know concerning its operations. To the ordinary Nigerian, the NNPC is not only untouchable but it is also a corporate colossus whose big toes only courageous and exemplary leaders with sterling leadership qualities can step on and even crush if the need arises. It is for this reason that for years, the accounts of NNPC and its subsidiaries were never audited. It is for this reason that for years, the corporation which is the sole manager of the nation’s vast oil resources and custodian of its enormous oil earnings, especially being the world’s sixth largest producer of oil has virtually become the unbeatable undisputable cesspool of inestimable corruption. It is also for this reason that during relatively short periods over the years, the number of Group Managing Directors of NNPC that were sacked for one reason or the other is alarming. Incidentally, same is applicable to many of the past Managing Directors of the corporation’s subsidiaries. Unlike what obtains in civilised climes where official misdemeanors inevitably immediately attract appropriate sanctions to serve as deterrent to others, many top public servants, especially the ones who were sacked for mismanaging the affairs of the corporation are enjoying themselves elsewhere without showing remorse for their alleged wrong doings.

In Nigeria, public servants do not serve the public. Rather, they serve themselves. In Nigeria
that claims to be the Giant of Africa and desperately aspires to rank among the 20 frontline economies in the world by 2020, public service, from all indications, has virtually become a sustainable platform for corrupt enrichment.
Those that lack integrity cannot give what they do not have. They are unpatriotic, dishonest, lazy, corrupt and selfish. They have low self-esteem. They display a good measure of mediocrity but they are the ones being profoundly celebrated, adored and rewarded in Nigeria while achievers that excel in their endeavours are not.
There are many mediocres being celebrated in the public service at various tiers of government across the country. Men and women of integrity are not recognised until some of them die and are hurriedly given posthumous awards. Has anybody wondered why none of those that served especially during the past 16 years as either Chairmen, Managing Directors, Finance Directors or Directors of Administration at Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but were sacked over corruption allegations has since been prosecuted and if found guilty, jailed to serve as a deterrent to others? Is failure of successive administrations to make such people face the full wrath of the law not responsible for why their successors had nothing to learn from the alleged wrong doings of their predecessors? Is this not why in spite of the billions of naira injected into NDDC since inception for development of the region, the area remains largely neglected with the people greatly impoverished?
Public officials that lack integrity are easily corruptible; and rather than being invaluable assets to their respective organisations they end up being disastrous liabilities. This is why after 56 years of independence, Nigeria is still fumbling, wobbling and tottering like a toddler in the wilderness.

It is saddening that apart from the public service institutions, the political class has, during the past 16 years, produced a large army of politicians – elective office holders, as well as political appointees that lack proven integrity. The cardinal reason for the current slow-wheeled administrations, especially at the federal level since May 29, 2015 is the warped political and electoral that threw up most of the self–centered and unpatriotic leaders. It is unfortunate that due to selection by party leaders rather than election by the people, many of those occupying elective positions, especially at the National Assembly, the State Houses of Assembly and the Local Government Councils do not deserve to be there. Same applies to many of the ministers at the federal level, as well as governors at the state level. Many of them lack integrity.

This is why their salaries and allowances which have not taken cognizance of the pathetic state of the country’s economy seem to be the highest in the world. This is why despite failure to pay salaries of their workers, some state governors live ostentatious lifestyles. This is why some past or serving governors, lawmakers, ministers, party officials and presidents have been alleged to have corruptly enriched themselves. This is why National Assembly leaders are demanding immunity and life pension in spite of the outrageous emoluments they are currently enjoying at the detriment of the welfare of the citizenry and the economy of the country. What all these seemingly annoying absurdities boil down to is that if not checked, those public servants that lack integrity dotting our public service landscape do not mean well for the country and the citizenry.