BY Prof. Taofiq Abdul Azeez, Department of English University of Abuja
A Presentation on behalf of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to the National Dialogue on Corruption Organized by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2017 at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa Abuja
Preamble : I speak for the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. My perspective is, therefore, clear. As Muslims, we believe in only two Parties : the Party of Allaah and the Party of Shaitan. Certain expediences, however, impose participation in other orientations that we may not necessarily believe in and which may contradict our faith and ideology fundamentally. Some of these are Democracy, Political Parties, Civil Service Rules and Regulations and certain Un-islamic practices in form of corrupt and, therefore, zero Service delivery. I will briefly juxtapose the fundamental principles of Truth and Justice ,Rules and Rights. I will then advance some social, but not strictly Islamic solutions to consequent, if not concomitant ,problems of corruption that seem to be our major socialized concern.
Political Parties are groups of people with the same social, economic and political orientations. They are social, economic and political elites whose common religion is Democracy and overt ideology is materialism. Their ultimate goal is to attain positions of POWER which give and gives them unrestricted access to the common wealth.
The Civil Service and it’s Rules and Regulations are mere PAWNS on the political chessboard of the parties. Similarly, individual intellectual endowments, integrity, religion and ethnic or tribal affiliations are mere commodities to be purchased by the parties and to be used for further trading negotiations. Whatever anyone posseses that may facilitate the electoral victory for the party is a highly valued commodity to be possessed by all means. That is why they hardly have any ideology, principles or integrity. If being faithful, honest and righteous will impede the chance of the party to win an election, all of these are abandoned as risk factors. It is therefore clear why obviously corrupt politicians from one party is admitted with cheers and ovation into another party even if they are the most violent and despicable people in their environment. The important question is whether they are electoral assets or liabilities.
The parties work hard to win elections by all means including lies, deceit, betrayal, debauchery, occultism, bloodletting and other acts of terrorism. Immediately after inauguration, they commence preparation for the next one.
How do these affect the Civil Service and breed Corruption?
The parties claim to have brought the government to power through hard work. They MUST, therefore, determine who gets what in the government. If the member of the assembly, Senator, Member of the House of Representative,Governor ,or the President did not partly finance the election, it is winner takes all for the party financiers. If he is a little financially strong or has some strong will or integrity, it is battle to finish. The operators of the government -Ministers, Commissioners, and other political appointees do not have to be competent. They do not have to be honest. They only have to be able to ‘deliver’. This means they must be able to bring back the dividends of the party’s investment in the electoral victory of the chief executive. They must ,also, be able to bring enough money by all means including and especially stealing for the next election.
How does the Civil Service come in? This is the engine room of government. They are as good and as bad as the chief executive of any MDG. The civil service rules and regulations are good enough to prevent corruption, but with the professional dexterity of the devious Civil servant, there is no limit to circumvention, and other acts of impunity as long as the chief executive is ready to protect and defend ‘their’ actions. Whistle blowing in this case is a mirage because it would not benefit the blower as much as cooperation will.
The bone of contention is CONTRACT. this is because contract is the neatest means of looting the treasury. The chief executive uses the civil servants to recommend the agent of the party for any contract from a particular MDG. He does not feel any remorse for any misdeamanour because he is only being loyal. The Judiciary is also handicapped due to the same loyalty plea and ,so, impunity goes unpunished.
Conflict arises only where a party member decides to fight this system of ensuring dividends of democracy and guarantee for success in the next election as ‘corruption’. Questions that will beg for answers will then include: whether this fight does not amount to disloyalty to the party and or sabotage. Whether it is JUST to fight a system that produced the Party member in power and or office . Whether the money spent by the parties belonged to the party or was stolen from government. Whether the one fighting now was not fully aware of the facts and the truth when he subscribed to the system and benefited from the evil?
The whole system and the practices are directly antithetical to Islam which insists on Truth and Justice at all time. Both the operators and the beneficiaries are criminals. Bribery and other forms of corruption are abhorred and all participants in the acts are liable in the Islamic law. It is also corruption to bend rules and participate in any act of impunity. But party men and top Civil servants,Muslim or not, MUST not only subscribe to all these evils but must also actively participate for survival.
In view of the multiple conflicts, contradictions and crises of conscience, what are the feasible ways out of corruption?
Solutions: It is fundamentally impossible to fight corruption within the framework of democracy. The contradictions will overwhelm the fight and the fighters. The surest way is demolition of the system that is built on corruption and also sustains and protects it.
More feasible ways out include but not limited to the following:
1) Strengthening of the Bureau of Public Procurement to become the official whistle blower with adequate staffing, remuneration and security
2 )Amendment to the relevant laws to protect Civil servants who opt out of corruption
3) Improved remuneration for Civil servant to cater for their housing and transportation on owner user basis.
4) Provision of Independent Candidacy to circumvent party influence
5) Bonding of political appointees to their religious and traditional leaders as referees and guarantors to be held responsible for the corruption of their members
6) Abolition of the CONTRACT system and reversion to DIRECT LABOUR to enhance the professional competence of our people,guarantee empowerment and eradicate unemployment.
7) Massive public enlightenment on the various manifestations and evil effects of corruption and mobilization of the public into the army to wage the war to success.
I have no conclusion other than to thank you for listening.