Corruption in Nigeria: “To those that have, more shall be given. From those that do not have, shall be taken even the little they have.” – F.S. Okotie-Eboh

April 15, 2016

Nigeria

F.S. Okotie-Eboh, a 1st Republic Minister, was one of the earliest politicians to be accused of corruption. He even gets a mention in Singapore’s Late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s autobiography in which the late great man marvelled at Okotie-Eboh’s idea of service to his country which FSO expressed in off-hand remarks to LKY in Lagos. – TOLA.

Nigerians had a “sunny and tolerant mentality” towards corruption.  – The Economist

In the words of a colonial government report of 1947, “The African’s background and outlook on public morality is very different from the present day Briton.

“The African in the public service seeks to further his own financial interest.”

The colonial report concluded that only public opinion could deal with corruption. The problem was that there was no responsible public opinion to check corruption in Nigeria.

From as early as 1947, commissions of inquiry were held to investigate cases of corruption. The purpose of the inquiries was to expose wrong-doing and to punish the culprits.

Today, we hear much of the rampant corruption at the local government level. As early as 1955, just seventeen months after the inception of Igbo-Etiti District Council in May 1954, the colonial government held an inquiry into the affairs of the Council.

The inquiry judged that the “conduct of the Council’s affairs had become a public scandal.” The colonial officer who conducted the inquiry, FP Cobb, noted, “public indignation was widespread and strong.”

The public was outraged at the corrupt behaviour of their representatives.

The report on Igbo-Etiti District Council revealed that there was ‘systematic corruption” in the appointment and promotion of staff and in the awarding of contracts.

Bribes of £80 to £100 were demanded for unnecessary appointments. The brother of the Secretary to the District Council was hired above a more qualified applicant.

In one case, a man paid a £400 bribe to secure a post and was never refunded his money when he did not get the job.

Contractors routinely paid ten percent of the value of the contract as bribe. The contracts were not awarded to the lowest bidder or to the most experienced or competent persons.

At the end of its first seventeen months of existence, the Igbo-Etiti District Council was £6000 in debt. There was great wasting of public money due to “gross dishonesty in handling council affairs.”

The local government councils have continued to be notorious for corruption. Why do such grassroots organizations attract such widespread graft?

The people are often not prepared to undertake public office. They have no training in the procedures and ethics of public service. They have minimal education.

There is poor supervision of the affairs of the Local Government Councils. The history of corruption in local government councils can show no change for the better.

In 1956, the Foster-Sutton Tribunal investigated the Premier of the Eastern Region, Nnamdi Azikiwe for his involvement in the affairs of African Continental Bank (ACB).

Under the code of conduct for ministers, a government officer was required to relinquish his holdings in private business when he assumed public office.

The Foster-Sutton Tribunal felt that Zik did not sever his connections to the bank when he became a Minister.

The Tribunal believed that Zik continued to use his influence to further the interests of ACB.

Zik, his family, and the Zik Group of Companies were the principal shareholders of the African Continental Bank.

ACB loaned over £163,000 to the Zik Group of Companies at low interest. The Zik group did not have to repay the loans until 1971.

ACB was a distressed bank. The new registrar of banks in 1952 refused to grant ACB a license. Attempts to find partners for the bank in Britain failed because of the insolvency of the bank.

In the words of a colonial government official, “Were a UK minister to be involved in a series of transactions the result of which public funds were used to support an otherwise shaky institution in which he was directly interested, he would be forced to leave public life.”

Why didn’t the colonial government prosecute Zik for his failure to observe the code of conduct for government officers?

The colonial correspondence revealed that the government supported the NCNC as the only party to embrace national unity.

Without Zik, the NCNC would collapse. The national interest of the country demanded that Zik continue as leader of the party.

The Governor of the Eastern Region Sir Clement Pleass further observed, “The exercise of public power for private profit is established in the East.”

“The aim of the colonial government was not to establish a standard of honesty in public life. Only time and education can do that.”

“A number of sensible people realized that Zik had done harm in the East in the last two years, but the mass of the people, ignorant and uneducated, voted him back to power.”

When Zik called for a general election in 1957, as an alternative to resigning in the face of the findings of the Foster-Sutton Tribunal, the people gave him their support.

The Economist observed that Nigerians had a “sunny and tolerant mentality” towards corruption.The colonial officer hoped that “Eventually sufficiently honest and enlightened people will be thrown up to rebuild the prosperity and good government of the region.”

Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of the Western Region, was found guilty of corruption by the Coker Commission in 1962.

In 1954, the Western Region Marketing Board had £6.2 million. By May 1962, it had to exist on overdrafts amounting to over £2.5 million.

A loan of £6.7 million was made to the National Investment and Properties Co., Ltd. for building projects out of which only £500,000 was ever re-paid.

The Western Region Finance Corporation and the West Nigeria Development Corporation also received loans of millions of pounds, which were never re-paid.

The Coker Commission found Awolowo responsible for the all the ills of the Western Region Marketing Board, and Awolowo “without a doubt has failed to adhere to the standards of conduct which are required for persons holding such a post.”

The First Republic, with Zik as the President, was marked by widespread corruption. Government officials looted public funds with impunity.

Federal Representative and Minister of Aviation, KO Mbadiwe, flaunted his wealth by building a palace in his hometown. When asked where he had gotten the money to build such a mansion, KO replied, ”From sources known and unknown.”

Minister of Finance Chief FS Okotie-Eboh responded to charges of accumulation of wealth by government officers by quoting from the Bible, “To those that have, more shall be given. From those that do not have, shall be taken even the little they have.”

Azikiwe did not surround himself with men of good character. Chinua Achebe maintained that the political thought of both Awolowo and Azikiwe was based on politics for material gain.

Achebe quoted from the autobiographies of the two men to show that making money and living well were primary goals in life for both our nationalist leaders.

“If we were a more discerning people, we should not have trusted them with our lives even in the fifties and sixties.”

The popular acceptance and even admiration for corruption was highlighted in Chinua Achebe’s novel about the politicians of the First Republic, A Man of the People.

“The people had become even more cynical than their leaders and were apathetic into the bargain. “Let them eat,’ was the people’s opinion . . . It may be your turn to eat tomorrow.”

WHAT TO DO?

Consign the African to primitive moral and material under-devlopment or adopt the only effective cure to taking what doesn’t belong to one: STEALING, imposing the THOU SHALL NOT STEAL by enforcing and ensuring the marriage of crime and punishment by all means necessary, including the forfeiture of life by any guilty party!  It’s the only way.

Go to the beginning of involving the African in modern WENA-type governance and the process of modernization … The African failed, is still failing, will continue failing unless, and until s/he is physically discouraged restrained, and a new African moulded with truly punishing crime …

NOT RETRIEVING LOOT AS GOVERNMENTS IN NIGERIA HAVE BEEN SATISFIED WITH SINCE 1999.

Time to go back to Murtala Muhammed … time for action.

FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016. 8:30 A.M. [GMT]

, ,

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

5 Comments on “Corruption in Nigeria: “To those that have, more shall be given. From those that do not have, shall be taken even the little they have.” – F.S. Okotie-Eboh”

  1. folakemiodoaje Says:

    “The people had become even more cynical than their leaders and were apathetic into the bargain. “Let them eat,’ was the people’s opinion . . . It may be your turn to eat tomorrow.”

    Achebe was right on this, case of defending corrupt officials is worse today. I agree that no end in sight to this war on corruption until there appropriate punishment is apportioned for each looter.

    And thanks for shedding lights on Awolowo/Zik’s unclean hands too.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Latif Opawoye Says:

    Unless the take home of our elected people are drastically reduced, making politcs a part-time position , those who decide to go into it do it purposely for their own gains and not to serve the constituencies they represent.

    See the flamboyant life style of Senator Dino Melaye from Kogi. Can he tell us where the source of his income comes from. Fraudulently he acquired 3 different plots of land using different identities. Dino the personal body guard of Bukola mesujamba Saraki is trying to manipulate the laws of the body trying Saraki.

    I think it is time not unly to revisit Murtala Mohamed’s method but to try Jerry Rawlling’s stlye in dealing with politicians/government officers.
    Lati

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Doctor,

      Thanks for this, and pardon the delayed action which has been due to personal matters at [Ondo State] home front!

      I thnk Nigerians are beginning to realize a very important fact: just about all politicians in Nigerians are in it for themselves, are thieves in the plainest meaning of the word and do deserve the types of treatments given to thieves.

      Saraki’s uninformed and desperate act to have a law retroactively put in pace to cancel his deep trouble is an example of why, THE FIRE NEXT TIME as in the title of Baldwin’s immortal book, may not be good enough for The Looters of Nigeria. THE FIRE RIGHT NOW may be more like the call needed to have Nigerians up in literal arms – massive peaceful protests that will call out General Buhari to do more in letting us know with facts and figures the thieves, looters, disrupt-ers of development who may just happen to be our next-door neighbors, dis-honored “high chiefs” in our communities, dis-honorable ministers …

      Enough is definitely enough with the GO SLOW WHEELS OF JUSTICE THAT see a looter, for example, returning a “measly” billion – or less of billions at banks and perhaps billions more at homes in Nigeria and abroad.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Folakemi,

      Thanks for this. Yes, thanks to Mr. Tao for going way back to show that corruption in no recent phenomenon.

      My response is going to be generic as I will slap here my response to Dr. Opawoye: the gradual realization that the criminals who have brought Nigeria and her citizens to heel cannot be dealt with in any soft way; they have to be made to pay for their crimes. As Blogger AGUNTAṢỌỌLO famously put it when one of Buhari’s ministers floated the idea of getting the thieves off once they return some of their loot, I DID NOT STAND IN LINE TO VOTE … NO IFS, NO BUTS, PEOPLE MUST GO TO JAIL.

      These thieves must be made to lose ALL stolen wealth, and it is not difficult to know what they own as we all Nigerians have them as neighbors, church members, town mates … If they get mere slaps, their offspring and descendants would later still rule Nigeria using stolen wealth to reach the top.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Folakemi,

      Thanks for this. Yes, thanks to Mr. Tao for going way back to show that corruption in no recent phenomenon.

      My response is going to be generic as I will slap here my response to Dr. Opawoye: the gradual realization that the criminals who have brought Nigeria and her citizens to heel cannot be dealt with in any soft way; they have to be made to pay for their crimes. As Blogger AGUNTAṢỌỌLO famously put it when one of Buhari’s ministers floated the idea of getting the thieves off once they return some of their loot, I DID NOT STAND IN LINE TO VOTE … NO IFS, NO BUTS, PEOPLE MUST GO TO JAIL.

      These thieves must be made to lose ALL stolen wealth, and it is not difficult to know what they own as we all Nigerians have them as neighbors, church members, town mates … If they get mere slaps, their offspring and descendants would later still rule Nigeria using stolen wealth to reach the top.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

Leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: