Sunday, 11 March 2012

Open Letter: “Declare Emergency On Corruption And Profligacy” Group Again Tells Nigerian President

President Jonathan
Dear President Jonathan,

Resetting The Moral Compass Of Our Imperiled Fatherland:
We, the undersigned, have chosen to write this letter because we believe that you care deeply for Nigeria and are committed to working with other compatriots to bring about the urgently needed transformation of our imperiled fatherland. We share the understandable concern about the grave security situation in our country and would like to extend our deepest condolences to the increasing number of families that are left bereaved and bereft by recent and on-going terrorist acts.

This letter is not directly focused on the current security situation per se, but on a broader fundamental concern highlighted by the recent fuel subsidy protests: a widespread lack of trust among Nigerian people in government and government’s pronouncements, fuelled by widely perceived government wastage and profligacy, pervasive corruption and culture of impunity, and wanton lack of accountability and transparency.

The above factors, we dare say, explain why government’s pronouncements on how the 'fuel subsidy removal' billions would be spent were largely taken with a pinch of salt. Although the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment programme (SURE-P) sounds appealing in many respects, few take it seriously because both our recent history and contemporary reality suggest that significant chunks of government budgeted investments typically disappear into the white smoke of kickbacks, ‘kickfronts’ and similar. The argument is that if government is not getting to grips and dealing with the manifest and pervasive fraud of today, why should Nigerians believe that they would do so tomorrow.

This, Mr. President, is the fundamental challenge we all face: to win the trust of the justifiably skeptical Nigerian people, by addressing the national deadly sins of wastage and profligacy, corruption and impunity, and lack of accountability. Although these are not the only challenges facing Nigeria, they certainly have the odious distinction of festering all others. They degrade the quality of our leadership and stunt our capacity to provide desperately needed infrastructure, public services, and jobs at federal, state and local levels. They diminish our collective moral authority and standing at home and abroad. They erode the faith of citizens in government and lead to heightened levels of resentment, violent crimes, and even terrorism.
The undersigned are well aware that these ‘big beasts’ predate the current government, and we do not underestimate how systemic, entrenched, hydra-headed and terribly complicated they are. Nevertheless, they pose a real and urgent danger to our nation’s existence and demand relentless attention and concerted action from us all. The stake is now so high that doing little, or avoiding stepping on toes or ‘rocking the boat’, will no longer do.

How Do We Proceed?: Mr. President, your recent direction to the EFCC to go after the so-called ‘cabal’, the on-going National Assembly’s probe of recent fuel subsidy bills, the renewed push to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and the reported 25% cut in the basic salaries of members of the Executive, though belated, are welcome moves in the right direction. We appreciate them, just as we commend the recent appointments to the leadership of INEC, EFCC, Finance Ministry, the new Oil Sector Task Force, and a few others. But much more is needed. Here are a few suggestions.

Declare A National Emergency On Corruption And Profligacy: Policy differences and political conflicts, e.g. on deregulation or lack of it, are a common feature of democracies. However, what we face – the national outrage against corruption and profligacy and the rare national consensus for an all-out war against these evils - is entirely different. Your government should give effect to this settled will of the Nigerian people, by declaring a national emergency on, and leading a genuinely resolute and sustained war against, these pernicious scourges at all levels of government - federal, state, local. A key suggested step is the reinvigoration and empowering of all relevant organs, notably the EFCC, ICPC, and the Code of Conduct Bureau, to ensure their enhanced institutional effectiveness and fitness for purpose in prosecuting the war against these deadly national sins. Another is the empowering and emboldening of the Nigerian press and 'whistle blowers' to become effective watchdogs against corruption and profligacy.

Actively Promote A Genuine Cultural Transformation In Nigerian Public Life:
We need to challenge, defeat, and dethrone the disgraceful culture of impunity and perverse shamelessness that typify Nigerian public life. There is no doubt that thousands of Nigerian public officials succumb to corruption because they feel powerless in the face of its undoubted might and pervasive reach. This explains the widespread resonance of the phrase, ‘if you cannot beat them, join them’. These ‘reluctant joiners’ would welcome constructive and unequivocal signals from the top that it is no longer business as usual. Let the message go forth that there is ‘a new sheriff in town’ and that the EFCC is firmly back in business. Let government actions reassure us all that economic crimes against Nigerian people will no longer go unpunished or be ‘rewarded’ with a larger share of the national cake; and that watchdogs and whistle blowers will be fully protected. Vested interests bent on maintaining the status quo must be given the unambiguous message that the spectre of Nigeria as a failed state is increasingly real, and that listening to the Nigerian people and addressing observed sources of national outrage is the only credible path to averting national Armageddon.

Leverage The Coalition-Of-The-Willing: We are well aware that government cannot do this alone, and would like to draw your attention to enthusiastic allies in the civil society, the press, the organized labour, professional bodies, the judiciary, the legislature, the Diaspora and elsewhere. These groups, a putative coalition-of-the-willing, are demonstrably keen to join the war against earlier noted sources of national retrogression. We hereby suggest the immediate convening of a solution-centric action-focused national summit on corruption and profligacy, as an effective way of bringing concerned groups together and getting this potentially transformational national taskforce off the ground.

Conclusion: Mr. President, our country urgently needs to reset our notoriously flawed moral compass. This is one of the surest ways of pulling us back from the brink and giving us all a chance of bequeathing a half decent country to our children. Your government should move decisively to identify with the campaign advocated in this letter. Let us declare a national emergency on corruption and profligacy. Let us work toward a genuine cultural transformation of Nigerian public life. Let us convene an action-centric national summit on these deadly national sins. These steps cannot wait. A widespread national consensus exists on the imperative of so doing. What is more, there is a vibrant coalition-of-the-willing keen to join the good fight, and to, in the words of our National Anthem, serve our country with best possible thoughts, ‘heart and might’.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Professor Kevin Iyk Ibeh, PhD, FCIM (UK)
Convener, Campaign for Breakthrough Nigeria (

Dr. John Igoli, UK;  Professor Ogwo E. Ogwo, Nigeria; Mr. Chimezie Umeh, UK;  Dr. Gozie John Ahukannah, UK; Professor Charles Egbu, UK;  Mr. Maduakonam Achuama, UK; Mr. Chigozie Opara, UK;  Dr. Segun Komolafe, UK; Mr Ibrahim Siraj, UK;  Mr. Marcel Azubuike, UK; Dr Amos Fatokun, UK;  Dr. Abu Terzungwe, Rwanda/UK; Dr. Ifeanyi Ibe, UK; Mr. Kester Osahenye, Nigeria/UK;
Adekwu Emonye Esq., Nigeria;  Mr. Ambrose Agugua, Nigeria; Mr Alexander Ibe, UK;  Mr Uche Maduagwu, UK; Mrs Ngozi Ibeh, UK    Dr Ngozi Igoli, Nigeria/UK; Dr. Babakalli Alkali, UK; Dr. Dare Adetoro, UK; Mr. Busoye Soetan, Canada;  Sir Uche Nwachukwu, UK; Dr. Ifeanyi Ezeonu, Canada;
Dr. Frances Ekwulugo, UK; Dr. Ola Epemolu, UK;  Dr. Ukadike Ugbolue, UK; Dr Jude Ezeh, UK;
Mr Okey Nnoli, UK; Mr Ral Nwanna, UK; Dr Greg Ofili, UK; Mr. Austin Ume Zurike, Nigeria;
Mr Udo Nwokocha, Nigeria; Association of Democrats for Good Governance in Nigeria.

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