• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Tyranny, corruption and bad governance

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In his much publicised speech that was delivered during his recent visit to Ghana, President Barack Obama of the United States literally anchored Africa’s future progress on an end to tyranny and corruption in the continent. The thrust of the speech was that the widespread poverty, pockets of disease and the significant level of bad governance are all traceable to tyranny and corruption in Africa. We could not agree more.

While the speech did not in anyway suggest that the whole of Africa is littered with tyranny and corruption, the message is understood in the context that there still exists a number of African countries, where the leaders have become a clog in the wheel of progress, both economic and political.
Tyranny was much alive during Nigeria’s years as a colony of Britain and of course this is one phenomenon that has been on since the existence of man. History is replete with accounts of high level tyranny displayed by dictators who held the reins of power in kingdoms, fiefdoms, and empires and later day modern states. We had some good measure of it when the military was in power in Nigeria. Indeed, when the political freedom of a people is curtailed, it is usually maintained and characterised by corruption and bad governance.
Many successive African leaders have been involved in corruption, some at very bizarre levels. Indeed, some are involved in political corruption, accumulation or extraction of funds from the private sector, from government revenues, and from the economy at large. In Zimbabwe, the people are using pragmatic means to make progress in their lives as Robert Mugabe refuses to step down.

Read Also: Regional anti-corruption network recommends modalities for corruption training

Here in Nigeria, the characteristics of corruption are exhibited in many bribery occurrences and the exploitation of our economy by many of those in government at the different levels. And when Obama said; “no government wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 per cent off the top or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt’ or you are told ‘no persons wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to rule of brutality and bribery, that is not democracy, that is tyranny even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there”, Nigeria readily comes to mind
However, as much as perception of tyranny has improved, while that of corruption has got worse, the recent elections in Ekiti State demonstrated how far Nigeria still has to travel. Thus, results of elections in sub-Saharan Africa have a trait that runs through many of them. This year Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has already seen national elections in South Africa and Malawi, and presidential polls are still scheduled for Angola, Botswana, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mozambique and Namibia, to name a few.
Continuity is the common trait in them all. Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos, Botswana’s Ian Khama, Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza and Congo-Brazzaville’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso all seem certain of re-election, while leaders of Nigeria ruling PDP have told us their party would rule Nigeria for 60 years. While it is possible in a free and fair election, the perception is that this is still far off.
The bad governance characteristic of Nigeria ‘s ruling elite has not been due to lack of capacity for good governance. Their non-performance and open display of tyranny is not because they are incompetent or ignorant. And the lack of administrative or intellectual expertise to formulate and properly execute growth enhancing policies has not been the key problem. The problem is that the Nigerian political class is self-centred. The Nigerian political class is an epitome of greed and graft. This group act in total disregard of existing rules and laid-down procedures. We will make progress, both economic and political, when predators are made to exit the political process.