In one of my opinion piece in this paper, I argued that instead of the present administration to concentrate on trying to convict corrupt government officials in legal battles that seem endless, it would have been better for it to concentrate on strengthening its weak institutions. Strengthening the fabrics of governance is a sure way to reduce corruption to its minimum. At the end of the article, I suggested that a better salary for civil servants will go a long way in reducing corrupt practices.
In as much as we have a country were civil servants live from hand to mouth, with salaries that can barely take care of their most basic of needs, we shouldn’t think of losing sight of corruption in the nearest future. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) has helped in blocking leakages and embezzlement of government money. But unfortunately, leakages and embezzlement aren’t the only form of corruption eating this country.
Extortion by government officials before rendering services they are paid for is something very rampant in Ministries and Departments. Corruption between government officials and contractors in inflating contract sums in return fo kick-backs is something still thriving. In every level of government from local, state and federal, civil servants seem to justify corrupt practices by pointing at poor salaries and allowances as alibi.
The worst area were corruption has dealt a heavy blow in this country is security. A part of government as sensitive as security is allowed to rot courtesy of rampant corruption. Our police force has become synonymous to the name corruption. With a mere N50 note, criminals can get away with crime. Even the military that was known for discipline now extort people at check points. As a result, highway robbery, kidnapping, et cetera have become the order of the day. The corruption in Customs and Immigrations has resulted in dangerous weapons gaining access to the country. Oil bunkering takes place in open day light and dangerous people from neighbouring countries gaining access into the country unhindered.
With all the complaints of poor pay packages by government officials, still the government can afford to pay politicians huge amount of money in just four years – monies that the sum of the salaries of most civil servants for 30 years cannot come close to. And these same politicians will sit down shouting ayes and nays, driving around town in large convoys, travelling out in private jets, all with the tax payer’s money. And still, they will selfishly slash any increment to minimum wage and add to their already huge budgets. All this leaves one wondering if it was deliberate that the word ‘servants’ found it way into the name ‘civil servants’. And unless politicians are willing to pay civil servants well, corruption will continue to blossom in Nigeria.
Yahaya Idris, Agaie, Niger State
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