“I am one of those Nigerians who cannot be easily moved by political slogans. I love the music of “change” as rendered by the APC, but talk is cheap. What we need to know now is the content of this “change”.”
Simon Kolawole – Founder, the Cable Online Newspaper, Nigeria.
Weird as the title of this weeks’ note is, one shouldn’t be shocked to discover that very few Nigerians can give the simplest answer to that question. While some may claim “it’s in them”, others will simply say “free money dey sweet”. In as much as I detest the entire concept of bribe, I have learnt to ignore situations where bribes are solicited before services are rendered except where such incidences are directly related to me or anyone known to me. Where it involves me in Lagos, I would usually call the Lagos State Police Commissioner to report the incidence and the officer, when outside Lagos, the hotline of the Force Headquarters comes handy.
My reactions notwithstanding, the main reason why this menace have not ceased can be broadly classified into two – Most Nigerians are in the habit of offering bribes and the welfare of Nigerian Police Officers is not well catered for. While the former is a societal challenge that will require the effort of Nigerians to correct, the later can be corrected and is currently being addressed by the present administration.
At a stage of this administration, His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan once implied that for corruption to be checked in our systems, structures must be built which will discourage Nigerians from indulging in acts of corruption. Once this was determined, the Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission swung into action. The Ministry identified and rehabilitated several police office and residential facilities across the federation. As this went on, the Police Service Commission emerged from one of its sessions in March 2014 and announced the promotion of 24,118 men and officers of the Force. In November 2014, another 233 senior officers of the force were also promoted. I am also aware that salaries of serving officers and men of the force have been increased while incentives and a robust reward system have been put in place to encourage exceptional performance and the families of men and officers who die in active service. This by my estimation is one sound way to discourage corruption in the Nigeria Police Force.
With all this in place for the Nigeria Police Force, it becomes clear that the reason why our Policemen and women still seek and collect bribes is not because the Federal Government is no longer insensitive to their plights as previous administrations were but because we (Nigerians) would subtly persuade and in some cases physically beg them to accept it. Like His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan believes, if you create a system of robust remuneration and reward for public servant, tendencies that they will compromise their service oaths will reduce significantly. If this has worked in the Nigeria Police Force, it will work elsewhere across all levels of government.
Lately, the change mantra of the All Progressives Congress has been on the front burner to my utmost irritation. I am irritated not at the word but at the people that peddle it and seek to deceive less intelligent Nigerians that they have a magic wand that will change the country. The basis on which this change will function is a question I am yet to get answers to. The platform that will drive the change is yet known while the systems and procedures that will sustain it remain to be heard. Like Simon Kolawole has said of their change song, “…..talk is cheap” and I think the APC have made it cheaper.
This is a simple message to Nigerians who may have been swayed by this funeral dirge of the APC. When next the change incantation is rendered, please ask of them the structures that will cause the change and the systems they plan to build which will sustain the change. As I drove to the Lagos Victoria Islands this morning, I passed a comatose long blue bus maintained by the Bus Franchise Scheme; owners of the BRT buses bearing an APC advert “We Will Not Tolerate Corruption”. This is hypocritical as the National Chairman of that party had earlier declared that they had no intentions of probing past incidences of corruption.
Now my question is thus; as the APC have pledged not tolerate corruption if they win the forth coming elections, what process will they put in place to discourage Nigerians, especially deeply corrupt public officials in the civil service and elsewhere from indulging in acts of corruption?
Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is the South West Zonal Director for Communication, Research & Strategy at the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier. He can be reached via @NonsoEzeani1