THERE are different ways in which journalism serves as an hindrance to corruption. Let’s consider how the media can be strengthened to enhance their role in curbing corruption. Corruption remains a sign of a poorly operating state as witnessed in most developing countries such as Nigeria. Indeed people who give and take bribes can dispose a nation wealth, leaving little for its poorest citizens. Highly corrupt countries often face particular challenges even when controlled by reform-minded rulers. Reforming public institutions and government policies is necessary but poverty limits available options. Policymakers, however can arrive at plausible solution only after understanding corruption’s effect on the efficiency and equity of an economic system.
Corruption in public life in Nigeria began in the 1950’s when the first panel of inquiry was set up to look into African Continental Bank (ACB). The accusation was that the highly received politician abused his office by allowing public funds to be invested in bank in which he had interest.
Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon which has been with societies through history. In both developed and developing countries, corruption is a serious problem which confronts the people and the government. Corruption differ in terms of intensity from one country to another due to socio-political specifics.
The spread of corruption in almost all the aspects of life in modern society is to say the least devastating. Corruption generally, is associated with misuses of entrusted power for private gains. Corruption can also be define as intentional omission, the unwarranted exercise of power with the motive of gain for selfish reasons. This is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties is done under color of law or involves trading in influence.
Forms of corruption varies, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, though it is not restricted to these activities. Misuse of government power for other purpose, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, some political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or ill-defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy literally meaning “rule by thieves”.
Some forms of corruption now called institutional corruption are distinguished from bribery and other kinds of obvious personal gain. Campaign contributions are the prime example. Even when they are legal, and do not constitute a quid pro quo, they have a tendency to bias the process in favour of special interests and undermine public confidence in the political institution. They corrupt the institution without individual members being corrupt themselves. A similar problem corrupt arise in any institution by the people in a special position of trust. The term is commonly applied to self benefiting conduct by public officials and others dedicated to public service. This negative practice includes embezzlement favoritism, abuses linking public and private sector officials in bribery, extortion, influence peddling and money laundering.
The history of corruption in Nigeria is rooted in the over 30 years of military rule, out of 48 years of her statehood since 1960.
Successful military regimes subdued the rule of law facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated public institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. The result was total insecurity, poor economic management, abuse of human rights, ethnic conflicts and capital flight.
This negative phenomenon called corruption has been identified as the greatest bane affecting the rate of socio-economic growth in Nigeria which would have led to better standard of living for the citizenry. Efforts in the past to destroy or prevent corruption and bring about proved macro-economic stability, better public expenditure management and increase. Consider its destructive ability an socio-economic development endeavours however, continuous effort at struggling corruption need to be exerted.
The causes of corruption in Nigeria are multi-faceted and diverse, these includes, low salary of public officials, job insecurity, problem of extended family, lack of transparency and accountable political process, lack of effective incentive mechanism for public officials, lack of effective reporting system cultural aspects and lack of independent and effective media. Nigeria’s reward system is perhaps the poorest in the world. The salary paid to public officials is so low that the basic needs of officials cannot be met. The influence of extended family system and pressure to meet family obligations are more in Nigeria than in any other country. This however coupled with the cost of transportation, housing, feeding and education for the children makes it difficult for a public official to make a living thereby seeking corrupt means to meet his needs.
The longing for riches among public officials is due to uncertainty and anxiety of the individual about his general welfare after retirement from active service. In Nigeria there is no constitutional provision for the basic socio-economic needs of the individual, besides the poorly managed pension scheme. In other countries like Britain and United States of America, where adequate provisions are made for the citizenry in terms of cheap and easy access to basic necessities of life. The individual become afraid and easily induced into corruption practices.
Culture is a way of life of a people but it is often used as a mechanism to promote corruption. The disagreement of formal custom and attitudes with new demands of government often give rise to corruption. Customary gifts that were given and received by traditional rulers may be seen in this perspectives, these gifts in the new context are termed corruption if it is accepted by public officials, public official in Nigeria comes from extended families. The join activities of Western countries bank with corruption officials is inhibiting the fight against corruption. In a bit to hide corruptly looted funds away from Nigerians and consequential recovery efforts, such fund are deposited in Western Banks. Looted fund from Nigeria are now being deposited in Bank in Dubai a growing financial capital in the middle east. The bank involved do not support or cooperate with Nigeria investigative efforts, on corruption this is because these bank also are using the looted fund for their banking activities which is of great benefit to their countries. Further more the banks fear that such stolen money would cease to be deposited with them in future, if the cooperate with investigating officials corruption in Nigeria has led to near crisis situation in almost all sectors of the economy. In spite of the nation’s enormous natural resources, over 95 million Nigerians constituting about 69 percent of the nation population live below poverty line. This situation could have been averted if these enormous resources looted are channeled for national development. Corruption must thus be stopped before it destroys Nigeria.
The EFCC and ICPC will need to be strengthened financially and legally in their efforts at fighting corruption. The agencies need independent funding that would free it from the charm unethical control of the federal executive. Further more the immunity clause in the 1999 constitution that weakens the anti corruption agencies’ ability to investigate and prosecute the heads of federal and state executive would need to be amended.
The due process procedures established by the previous administration would need to be strengthened in an effort to fight corruption. Freedom of the press and electronic media will ensure free flow of information investigation journalism and safeguarding of the fundamental rights of free speech and opinion thus where there is freedom of the media, it is soon or later bound to be discovered and blown open. Corruption officials hate where there is free media as they resent their practices to be disclosed. It is in this light that the National Assembly could be encouraged to maintain its stand of rejecting the Media Reform Bill (MRB) 2006.
The cause of corruption have been traced to many factors, these includes low salary of public officials job, insecurity and accountable political process. Others are the problems of extend family system and the absence of an independent media. These factors delays development in two ways. First it draw resources away from provision of social amenities into the pockets of private individuals. It also deprive government of honest criticism which is required to improve on its performance. The federal government could collect detail of how to handle the welfare needs of retirees from advance countries in order to curb out corrupt practices by public officials the CRC should remove the immunity clause from the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the federal government strengthened due process procedures depends on financial support from people who have interests that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution.
The money laundering scheme is too simple for it not to have been exploited by corrupt Nigerian diplomats.
The Nigeria embassies house used the various access of diplomatic protection and immunities to cover up money laundering.
The role of the media is strongly in effort against corruption. As a result there must be careful structuring of the relationship between anti-corruption officials and in many cases there must also be effort to develop and enhance the capabilities of the media to ensure that they can work effectively as recipients of information about corruption, appraise such information in a dependent manner, use it meaningfully as the basis of further communications and disseminate the information to the entire public.
Curbing corruption, the autonomy of the media is essential to enable them access government information seriously and objectively and to ensure its reports are credible to the people at large. Thus, government contacts with media must be transparent and they must not compromise the essential autonomy of the media either in practice or in public perception. Strongly to autonomy and objectivity is the separation of media ownership from government or political fuctions or if this is impossible ensuring that there is a diverse to represent a full range of political opinion.
The staffing of individual media should be multi-partisan if possible. For the media to access anti-corruption efforts strongly and freely they must possess sufficient technical legal economic and other expertise. Training, awareness raising and technical briefing at media personel in anti-corruption efforts may also be useful.
Passage of freedom and information bill by the National Assembly will guarantee the right to seek for information without inhibition and to publish or broadcast news safely and effectively.
The media should be encouraged to develop, enforce adequate standards of conduct regarding their professional competence and other objectivity.
The media should try as must as possible to reach much of the masses where that involves use of the people resources. For example to enable coverage of remote areas the should be controls in place that government cannot stop such resources to exert influence on the media. Furthermore journalist should be taught how to evaluate and monitor government activities and be informed about the achievements and standards of anti-corruption work in the region and at the international level. It possible representatives of those institutions should be peak to inform journalists about their work both the success and the failures.
It has become a norm for people in all aspects of the Nigerian society to constantly engage in obtaining power, influence and other personal gains through illegitimate means.
More surprising is the fact that no punitive measures are place to curb this.
In most processes you are often presented with the normal and slow way or the faster and palm greasing alternative.
Corruption has eaten so deep that when you find someone who is not corrupt it becomes surprising.
What then is the cause of corruption you might ask?
Below are 5 causes of corruption in Nigeria.
Corruption fuelled by poverty often occurs when the basic need of the common man has not been met. The poor often becomes desperate and engages in corrupt practices.
When there is poor remuneration and compensation in the system, it breeds unsatisfied workers. These works become easily swayed and engage in illegal acquisition of compensation. This can be curbed if the entire labour remuneration system is overhauled to fit the high standard of living in society today.
2. Acceptance of Corruption by the Populace
This is often the case where we see individuals who have been convicted of corruption with public titles and awards. This sends an underlying message and in the eyes of the public there is the feeling that “if Mr.
A was corrupt and still got an award or title, then there is nothing wrong in engaging in corruption”. Public perception plays a large role in shaping the future of corruption in Nigeria today. If the public says “NO” to corruption then individuals will think twice before engaging in it.
3. Weak Government Institutions
When there is a weak political and legal institution in the society, corruption is given the opportunity to thrive.
Also, when the bureaucracy causes delays in passing of budgets and things such as supplies including salaries are delayed, worker tend to start thinking of other ways to substitute their income and this paves way for corruption.
The situation is further worsened if the legal arm fails to catch up with corrupt public officers and this practice finds its way into the private sector and eventually the entire society.
When the desire for accumulation of wealth becomes widespread then corruption is eminent. Political positions are often tagged as been associated with power and wealth due to the huge amounts of funds allocated to political office holders.
Therefore, a greedy individual perceives the attainment of a political post as a means to more wealth. The desire to continue holding the political office is high and they would often result to do anything possible to maintain that position. This includes engaging in corrupt practices.
5. Poor Education and Illiteracy
When the number of educated persons in a society is high they will be gainfully employed and will have a good understanding of the consequence of corruption. They will also be able to hold their public officer to account and demand transparency in the rule of law.
Corruption fuels ignorance and the class of people that are poverty stricken is the poorly educated and illiterate. They are often desperate to get out of their status quo and are easily influenced by way of bribes. This has become the norm as it is often said that you need to “settle” to get things done.
A sincere Government and legal system will go a long way in curbing corruption. Public officers who engage in corruption should be brought to book and this will serve as deterrent to others.
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