Nigeria has not fared better than a country at war, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN) said yesterday.
He said corruption, with insecurity and backwardness as its side effects, is “the singular most cancerous malaise affecting the body-politic of our nation”.
He spoke while delivering a lecture at a luncheon organised by the Metropolitan Club in Lagos.
According to him, graft has permeated lives and made it impossible for the government to fix anything. “Sometimes, one is forced to wonder how much better we have fared than countries in a state of war,” Ajibola, also a former Judge of the International Court of Justice, said.
He said Nigeria’s brand of corruption transcended stealing of public funds. Threats to national peace, Ajibola said, are fallouts of a festering tradition of greed and “galloping corruption with reckless impunity in high places”. Criticising the judiciary, he said plea bargaining encourages massive public funds pilfering.
He said: “Our pains as a nation are without doubt, self inflicted. “It beats my imagination to think that this is the same country where I served as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for more than six years without taking any salary and even employed two legal practitioners to work for the government in my office as minister and paid them from my pocket.” Ajibola said Nigeria has sadly remained a net importer of petroleum products despite huge deposits of crude oil. “One is sad to see us carrying on as a nation that is bereft of any sense of shame.
Indeed, what we are currently experiencing is corruption in absolute terms, and by that I mean the glaring deficit in enviable national character and general moral rectitude,” he said.
On the way out, Ajibola believes the government should provide for all and be fair to all and ensure that the educational system is made more functional and guided to address national needs and aspirations. He said:“We should be done with impunity and government arrogance. No section of the populace should be made to enjoy undue advantage over the others.”
Among guests were Ambassador Dapo Fafowora, who anchored the event, President of the Metropolitan Club Chief Olu Akinkugbe, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Joseph Sanusi and former Federal Minister of Works Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN).