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What about corruption?

Onno Ruhl's picture

Recently, I was asked whether I thought Nigeria’s problems would be solved if only we managed to fight corruption effectively. I responded that this alone would not be enough. That while important for sure, other problems needed to be tackled as well. The next day a headline in one of the papers read “World Bank says corruption not Nigeria’s Bane.” After I had looked up what "bane" meant, I realized my response had been misunderstood.

Bane, also the name of one of Batman’s nemeses, means 'spoiler' in English." Since corruption essentially entails those who have power stealing from those who don’t, I think it is reasonable to expect that Batman would fight the corrupt. Consequently, corruption must be Nigeria’s Bane. The fact that Nigeria and Batman have other enemies as well does not diminish the importance of fighting this terrible spoiler.

In my previous blog posts (found here and here), I have tried to examine how Nigeria’s revenue structure conditions the country for poor service delivery and, also, how the structural changes in Nigeria today have started bringing some improvement. My analysis in both respects was based on one perspective only: accountability, i.e. people holding their leaders to account for the results they achieve. Accountability cuts across all aspects of governance: it forces leaders to articulate a vision, puts a premium on sound planning, strengthens implementation, and holds those who steal to account. Accountability can be achieved in many ways: through effective elections, tax payers demanding services for their money, greater transparency about results planned for and achieved, citizens monitoring results and reporting on them, and… ending impunity for those who steal. All of these together would start making a system that works; a system that can transform a country like Nigeria.

So if Batman also has to fight the Joker, does that make Bane less of an enemy? Clearly not. In fact, those who are familiar with Batman lore know well that Bane was resposible for breaking Batman’s back. The powerful who steal from the powerless are indeed a terrible adversary; Nigeria, like others, must fight them vigilantly to succeed. At the World Bank, we certainly try to do our part, both in our own programs where we have a policy of zero tolerance for corruption, as well as by working extensively with partners, including Nigeria, to support their fight against this brutal nemesis.
 

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on
teach a man to fish and you stop corruption give him fish and you help breed corruption , all aid should be targeted at education otherwise it just helps breed corruption . in batman parlance education is the beam of light that summons help , if you want to help ,turn on the light .

Submitted by Samwel- E- mollel on
Though corruption has become an issue,the only thing to do is to give out what we always do and not otherwise eg a person might advise others to stop corruption while he/herself is corrupt,with this we can not reach anywhere.let us be committed and dedicated to fight agaist corruption since its a great enemy towards development.stand up Africa

Submitted by Bonaventure Fandohan on
I am really impressed by your determination and I have no doubt you will do your part. However, I think I know what problem you‘re dealing with and I wish some Nigerian politicians support your ideal. Unfortunately, it should be a fight for Nigerians and by Nigerians. I hope God help you find some volunteers ready to stay on your side. Another question is how serious World Bank is about corruption. In the written policy? Yes, the Bank is doing great job. However, I would like this institution to go beyond this phase and help Africa build a better human capacity for the future. Good governance, accountability and sustainable development pass by serious and long term commitment to better education. Bonaventure Fandohan

I totally agree with you on the need for issues of Nigeria to be more transparent. If only our leaders gave (truthful) account of every action, every spending, every transactions Nigeria will be a better place. Regarding the above comment, I really don't think the problem with Nigeria is education. Education in what regard? Aren't those who make the country worse educated? All good and fine, the mindset of the people have to change. But I don't think it's through education. Many countries were more backward than Nigeria. What took them forward was the determination of citizens, those who are being exploited through corruption. They stood up. They fought for their right. Many here have just resorted to only look and wait for miracles.

Submitted by Onno on
Happy to read your comments, it is good to talk about these things. I agree that invseting in people is important! That said, there is so much more that can help improve governance. The key is accountability. My previous blogpost gives some ideas on changes that can be observed in Nigeria that move the country to reater accountability. Change is already happen, the question is how fast it will accelerate.

Submitted by Anonymous on
We have had democracy for 12 years now in that time we could have trained a generation of people with skills to enable them live independently of government , with skills to raise them out of poverty , with skills to be able to stand up for their rights and uphold the dignity of mankind resisting corruption. People with skills to teach, to feed, to build , instead all we have are uneducated chattels been moved up and down like cattle, vote for a for food, vote for b for work, vote for c for power ,its all useless Go check the level of literacy and the quality of education in the bric nations . No one is going to help you do anything, you have to do it all by your self so therefore educate your children so they can build the Nation they need, otherwise you will get the Nation you deserve . Its pointless spending money on anything else apart from the youth , we are all on this earth for to short a time to waste it on any thing apart from the children . If you want to help, help the children they are helpless. As for the rest its to late .

Submitted by adeniran adewale on
IF YOUR LEADER IS NOT LEANING ON THE RIGHT WALL ,EVERY STEP YOU MAKE TAKES YOU FASTER TO THE GROUND.

Submitted by adeniran adewale on
EXPERIENCE EVERYWHERE HIGHLIGHTS THE FRAGILITY OF DEMOCRACY.I DO NOT BELIEVE THERE IS DEMOCRACY SO STRONG THAT IT SI INVULNERABLE TO THE GREED AND AMBITIONS OF MEN.TO NURTURE AND SUSTAIN DEMOCRACY, ITS BENEFICIARIES MUST ALSO SERVE AS ITS GUARDIANS:THE COMMON PEOPLE MUST BE EVER VIGILANT AND WISE FOR MOST OF HUMANITY,HISTORY HAS NOT ENDED.THE STRUGGLE FOR AND AGAINST DEMOCRACY WILL CONTINUE FAR INTO NIGHT"

Submitted by temi on
Viewing corruption as basically a government problem is also part of the problem. We should examine those aspects of our culture that encourage corruption because those are more subtle, and as a consequence more dangerous.

Submitted by Anyeh Chibikom on
If only Swiss and related foreign banks would be quick to blow the whistle and cry foul when Africa's corrupt despots turn up to swell their bank accounts with loans/development aid money...only then will economic development be sustainable and truly meaningful to Africa...

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