“On this International Day, I urge people everywhere to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption and to ensure that precious resources serve the peoples of the world”, with these words the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Gutteres charged the world to confront the scourge of corruption. On the 9th of December every year the UN marks the International Anti-Corruption Day, and the ongoing multiyear theme “United Against Corruption”, accurately and aptly captures the position that Nigeria as a country, and Nigerians as a people, must take if we must remove the stigma of corruption and criminality that has come to be associated with the country.
Corruption has grown over the years in Nigeria, due to artificial divisions around ethnicity and religion, which have been manipulated by the corrupt to buy public sympathy while they have robbed the nation dry. According to estimates, Nigeria has lost about 500billion dollars to theft, a sum larger than the size of the Nigerian economy.
The challenge before Nigeria today is to ensure that there is unity against corruption, such that corrupt persons do not find safe havens within the divisions they have created among the people. The “Giant of Africa” must get to a place where citizens no longer create room for corruption to fester and thrive, and this will only happen when the country becomes “United Against Corruption”.
The effects of bad governance, though to varying degrees, are clearly evident in all regions of the country, in the form of failing or nonexistent infrastructure, violent crime and pervasive poverty. The government of the day, in the spirit of tis anti-corruption fight needs to prioritize creating an atmosphere where corruption is not given excuses it needs to fester. The urgency of the fight against corruption demands that the citizens take ownership of the fight and give the agencies of government the necessary push to prevent and combat corruption.
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