Former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings yesterday in Awka called on African countries especially Nigeria to face headon now the fight against corruption in government or risk a sudden eruption as occurred in Egypt and Tunisia.
Rawlings, who gave a keynote address at the 2nd Zik Lecture Series of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka on the theme; “Eradicating Corruption in Africa”, stated that though it would be a big battle, it was not one that could not be fought, warning that its postponement would spell doom for the country and the continent.
According to him, “corruption arises from a state of deviation from the moral or spiritual norm; it is a deliberate refusal to operate based on set rules, regulations and laws and with a wicked, if not evil desires to circumvent the punitive actions that come with such deliberate action. Corruption manifests itself in many ways.” At the lecture, which was attended by prominent personalities, including the Special Adviser to the President on Inter Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, who was the chairman of the occasion, Senator. Chris Ngige, Gov. Peter Obi, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Chief Akachukwu Nwakpu, former ASUU President, Prof. Asisi Asobie, who was the guest lecturer and traditional rulers, Rawlings said he sees corruption more in terms of moral degradation and a greedy quest to outdo each other in terms of class, distinction and perceived respect in society.
He further said: “It is the willingness to tolerate the intolerable that gives the motivation or momentum for persons or institutions with influence to perpetrate acts of corruption within our society. Corruption at the level of government directly affects the rule of law and debases the moral right of political leadership to serve as a respected regulator of the affairs of the state. “Corruption in our society is most prevalent whenever the private sector meets government over transactions of state – construction of roads, procurement of goods, equipment and services and provision of various forms of services for the state. As desirable as they may be, development projects and especially the huge modernisation projects, lend themselves to this form of corruption.
“It is not uncommon for state institutions and personalities such as ministers and various departments to award contracts not to the lowest bidder or the best-value-for-money bidder but to the one who effectively offers the highest bribe.” The former Ghanaian leader, therefore, said that leadership by example meant that a leader whether at national or local level, must not merely talk about truth, integrity and accountability but must demonstrate those qualities in their daily lives. Further advising the leaders he said: “Leaders must understand that when you take away the power of the people to express moral outrage, you have effectively disempowered your capacity to fight corruption through the people. Let us have faith in our people and respect them. We have statesmen and women of integrity on our continent.”