: A Case for Strong Institutions

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y Dakuku Peterside

All men of goodwill who look forward to a progressive and equitable world appreciate the tremendous good Transparency International, TI does its periodic verdict on nations and institutions across the globe. Sometimes I just wonder what world would look like without watchdogs like Transparency International that continually reminds us about the way we are.

Recently, TI released the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, GCB and rated political parties and the Nigeria Police as the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria. TI’s 2013 GCB is a product of interviews a total number of 114,000 respondents across 107 countries between September 2012 and March 2013. The Berlin-based organisation said the primary aim of the 2013 GCB was to explore respondents’ personal experiences of paying bribes for government services on one hand and on the other, to gauge perception of the integrity of major public institutions. There is also TI’s desire towards a better understanding of the willingness and disposition of citizens in countries under review to fight corruption.

From TI’s , Nigeria is among the 88 countries where anti-corruption effort is ineffectual. This verdict is ominous. Yet has not provided leads or talking points in media. This important issue was merely reported and left alone. I am sure I did not see follow-ups.  So are we not paying the needed attention to this uncomplimentary which has the capacity of stalling investment drive and growth efforts?

If corruption is any abuse of a position of trust, either by an individual or an institution to gain an unfair advantage, then this by TI is incontrovertible. I know corruption has many layers but this reminds me again of some of nation’s recent experiences that are not only irritating but reprehensible and regrettable.

Two institutions that characterise the existence and flourishing of democracy in any country are the party system and the institution of parliament. If one of the institutions, political parties carry the moral burden of being the den of corruption, then is right to conclude that our democracy is sick. The other institution that shapes the growth of democracy is the police which helps primarily in the maintenance of law and order in a purely democratic setting. This institution has been described in the TI report as the bastion of corruption no ray of hope.

If these two institutions (political parties and the Police) that I consider most critical to the growth and survival of democracy and our country Nigeria has been described in such very uncomplimentary terms by TI GCB report, then where lies our hope?

Have our political parties derailed from its lofty objective of seeking to influence or entirely control government course of action, usually by putting forward candidates with aligned political views? Your guess is as good as mine. But I hate to think like a few of our compatriots who are of the opinion that Nigeria is in reverse gear. Of late, I just noticed that some us are becoming romantic about our past republics, particularly the Second . Despite the shortcomings of that era, still remains one of the most colourful and vibrant republics, that is if the focus is on political parties.

Many still remember principal characters of that era like Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye, national chairman of National Party of Nigeria, NPN and how he and his colleagues at the commanding height of NPN leadership held sway on every party issue. At the , Alhaji Shehu Shagari was a of NPN and of Nigeria, yet he submitted himself to party rules and regulations. All that changed with the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and as they say, the rest is history.

Today, political parties are extensions of individuals’ or group’s personal estates. There is complete absence of principles, discipline, solidarity, group interest and camaraderie. A party could be sanctioned at the flimsiest of excuses. While some have been suspended for perceived popularity, have suffered similar fates either for fraternizing with members of other parties or for holding a different view. At the bottom of the scramble we see in our parties is the desire to highjack party machinery for personal and selfish gains, and corruption is always the destination.