Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said he disagrees with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government which claims corruption is root cause of Nigeria’s under-development.
According to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), every capitalist society like Nigeria is built on corruption, fraud and exploitation, and that is why developed countries of the Europe and America are much more corrupt than African countries.
He said that it is out of sheer hypocrisy that leaders and the media in western countries say that Nigerians are corrupt and Buhari government swallows that statement hook, line and sinker.
Recall that former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, described Nigeria as a ‘fantastically corrupt’ country ahead of an anti-corruption summit in London in 2016.
However, Falana told Punch newspaper: “With respect, I totally disagree with such reductionist conclusion that say corruption is the root cause of the nation’s under-development.
“To the best of my knowledge, every capitalist society is built on corruption, fraud and exploitation. Western countries are much more corrupt than African countries. Hence, all the funds looted from the treasuries of other nations are kept in the vaults of the banks in the West.
“But out of sheer hypocrisy, the leaders and the media in western countries say that we are corrupt and our rulers swallow (that) hook, line and sinker. For two and half years, President
“Buhari has been begging the West to repatriate our stolen wealth. In spite of promises (made by the West), not a single dime has been recovered and repatriated.
“Chapter 2 of the constitution on socioeconomic rights did not have a capitalist society in mind. Hence, a duty has been imposed on the government to abolish corrupt practices and control the means of production and exchange. If social services are funded by the government and the people are empowered to manage their own affairs there will be little or nothing left to steal. That is why a socialist system is less corrupt as the entire wealth of the nation goes for servicing the people.
“But if you go around saying that government cannot fund education, build hospitals, tar roads, construct railways, etc., you are inviting the plutocrats in government to engage in the criminal diversion of public funds.
“No doubt, President Buhari is committed to the anti-corruption crusade than his predecessors. Through the introduction of the TSA (Single Treasury Account) the Federal Government has saved huge funds.
“Through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, trillions of naira have been recovered. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences and the Code of Conduct Bureau are being re-organised even though rather belatedly.
“Owing to the failure of the National Assembly to pass the bill for the establishment of a special court to determine corruption cases, the Chief Justice, the Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, has directed all heads of courts to create special courts to hear corruption cases. This will go a long way to ensure that pending corruption cases are speedily determined.
“Although these initiatives are coming rather late in the day, they are going to assist the administration to deliver on the promise to expose and indict a number of corrupt elements in the society.
“But mind you, no government can successfully fight corruption without involving the people who are the victims of corruption.
“To that extent, the celebration of criminality by the media has to stop. Religious, traditional and educational institutions have to stop honouring men and women of questionable pedigree.
“The staff and student unions in the campuses have to monitor funds allocated for the development of our institutions. The labour unions have to monitor the federal, state and local governments with a view to blocking leakages and exposing corrupt officials.”
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