THE ROLE OF CHURCHES IN COMBATING CORRUPTION AMONG POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS IN ANAMBRA, NIGERIA

THE ROLE OF CHURCHES IN COMBATING CORRUPTION AMONG POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS IN ANAMBRA, NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE


INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

In Nigeria, bribery and corruption are hydra-headed twins that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Starting from the colonial era of Nigeria, bribery and corruption have made steady and seemingly unstoppable progress up to the present. Whether during the colonial era, or when Nigeria gained her independence in 1960 or for the long years of military rule, bribery and corruption have become a recurring decimal (Achunike, 2006: 162). Chuta (2004: 17, 39) traced the problem of corruption from the pre-colonial to the colonial and self­government era. He further traced corruption to the First Republic (1960-1966) down to the different stages of military era, even to the second and third republics. In all these cases, Chuta stood on the assertion that majority of Nigerian’s have been corrupt. Ugwu (2002: 16) traced corruption to colonial period when he posited that:It has been argued that the major roots of corruption were sown during the colonial period when a lot of structures were created for the purpose of administration. The pro-colonial society knew little or nothing about corruption but soon after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and shortly afterwards in 1963 after Nigeria had become a republic, there grew in galloping proportions corruption in every sphere of human life.

Kalu (2007: 2) posited that the under privileged are the victims of corruption while the ruling class hypocritically engaged in the condemnation of acts that benefit its fold. Over the years, the vast majority of Nigerians have

learned and experimented on bribery and corruption. Corruption therefore, seemed to have become part of the daily life of Nigerians. This is so because the situation most Nigerians find themselves today makes corruption easy and it is only when good and responsible governance prevails that corruption will recede. Not many Nigerians think that hard work pays. Equally not many think that honesty is worth trying (Achunike, 2006: 163). Madu (2003: 1) opined that hardwork has been scarified at the altar of easy ways of making money like 419, ritual murders and corruption in its different ramifications. That materialism has gone deep into the psyche of people that spiritual values are de-emphasized, as even, one can discern from the prosperity sermons of many of the anointed men of God and their materialistic life-styles. Meanwhile, twenty-two years ago Achebe (1983:1) observed that: The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land and climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problems are the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise up to the responsibility, or the challenge of personal example, which are hallmarks of true leadership.

From the observation of Achebe, it is understood that the common man

looks up to the rulling elite to learn and be directed to avoid corruption. But such expectation from the leadership in Nigeria has failed. Democracy which supposed to be the government of the people, has failed in Nigeria. When the first generation rulers in Nigeria became corrupt, Major Chukwuma Nzogwu and his military colleagues struck. Nzogwu in his broadcast pointed out that they have come to save Nigerians from the hands of inept and corrupt leadership. Nzeogwu cited by Uju in (Ugwu, 2002: 3) opined that “Our enemies are the political profiteers, the

swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that have corrupted our society and put the country back by their words and deeds”.The above statement was contained in the national broadcast of Chukwuma Nzogwu on 15th January 1960.The aim therefore was to give good governance to the vast majority of Nigerians. However, the military consistently failed to salvage the masses in their political governance.Corruption and abuse of power has long been features in Nigeria. Joseph, R. S and Taylor, A. A. (1996: 9) has described Nigeria as an “unfinished state and as a truculent African state tragedy”. (Ayittey, 2006: 2) posited that in the midst of abundant human and material resources, efforts at building a democratic polity further entrapped it at the “political cross­roads”. Yet, with enormous wealth from oil resources, economic endowment, social and political strength, Nigeria has not qualified to be called the giant of Africa. Kew (2006: 12) has noted that: The giant was brought to its Knees by 20 years brutal and corrupt military rule, which left a legacy of executive dominance and a political corruption in the hands of Nigeria’s so- called “godfathers” powerful political bosses sitting a top vast patronage networks who view the government primarily through the lens of the own personal enrichment.

As a result of the instability, the focus of the leadership became parochial

with the overriding consideration for personal survival rather than national development. Attempts at promoting “democratic consolidation” were hampered by the personality cult of the emerging political gladiators who exploited the instrument of state power to promote their personal agenda.

Nigeria’s political elite, as Skiar (2006: 3) observed

Vie for power and control over the vast spoils of office”. The centralized political and economic structures “made the military and civilian individuals who controlled key state posts fabulously wealthy, while 70% of Nigerians fell into abject poverty.

Poor leadership has led to stagnation, and alienation of the citizenry, causing

a low level of sense of belonging and none identifying with the political system (Mayer,  1996: 10). According to Kew (2006:21): The Nigerian government remains distant from serving the interest of its people. The powerful mandarin who built vast patronage networks during the military days and their personal fortunes dominates politics at the federal state, and local levels of the Nigerian federation. Moreover, many of those so-called “godfathers” have been cultivating personal militias to secure their positions, promoting a local arm race in some regions. even though several governors one under indictment for money laundering abroad and others are being investigated at home. The bonanza continues at public coffers for these power holders, while basic infrastructure in many parts of the country remains as dilapidated as it was under military rule.

It is the situation that Ake (1995: 2-5) indicated as the product of the pattern of state affairs in the developing world. According to him, the high premium on political power, and the attendant intense struggle for it, further hinders national development for the promotion of the personal interests of the political leaders. Eke further observed that:

Besieged by a multitude of hostility forces, most of the leaders in Africa are political insecure. They are as completely engrossed in the struggle for survival that they are hardly able to address the problem of development.

Skiar (2006: 3-4) noted that the leadership problem in the Nigerian polity

was a manifestation of the dysfunctional pattern of the years of military interregnum. The leadership pattern in Nigeria lacks the necessary focus capable of instilling national development and promotes political stability. Rather,

Nigerian leaders are preoccupied with their desires for the appropriation and privatization of the Nigerian state. The fall of the second Republic, for instance, was precipitated by the pervasive corruption and, the attendant political violence that greeted electoral manipulations, in a bid to stick to power (Ayeni, 1988: 30).

1.2     Statement of problem

Corruption is anubiquitous phenomenon, as old as human existence and has adversely affected the society since time immemorial. In the pursuit of the specific purpose of this research, the assumption that are verified in this scholarly exercise are formulated and stated that it is believed that there is no positive relationship between Church and political leaders in Anambra; and corruption has eaten deep and replicated itself  in Anambra since its creation.Corruption can take different forms. It can occur in the misappropriation of money or property or in an illicit influence on decisions by bribery, which always involves both active and passive participants. In the following paragraphs, some of the forms that have been observed will be described. 

Misappropriation may consist of private use of the project funds or resources, use for purposes other than designated, unjustified disbursement or stealing of these funds or resources. Funds are used for purposes other than agreed. For example buildings constructed with project funds are used for purposes not agreed in the project contract, or in extreme cases for private purposes, or luxury vehicles are bought. Funds are used for another project to make up for funds lacking there due to earlier mismanagement. Project goods are misappropriated for private use or for sale, and stock lists or recipient lists are forged, or project goods are exchanged for less valuable goods, or medicines are diluted.  Receipts are forged, which is especially easy under the conditions that apply in developing countries. Funds are used for pastoral purposes instead of the agreed development purposes.

Another form in which corruption among political leaders may occur is nepotism. In placing orders and recruiting personnel, persons are preferred who are close to the principal (by religious, ethnic, social or family relations) which leads to recruiting rules and quality standards being neglected. The beneficiaries of this treatment may even take up jobs which are not needed, or may be granted higher salaries or purchase prices. Jobs may also be obtained by bribery, ranging from teaching and nursing jobs in church institutions to bishop posts in Protestant churches. In many Protestant churches the bishop is elected by the synod, sometimes for a limited period, sometimes for life. In certain churches these elections have been distorted by the payment of bribes to the electors. The candidates know that the invested sums can be recovered later, but not through their regular salary.

An office-holder who needs to cover his abuse by forged receipts or other forms of corruption may bribe those who know of it to make them cooperate. In extreme cases, this method may even cripple the work of supervisory bodies which were created to prevent corruption. Threats against whistleblowerswho uncover corruption are not supported, but threatened or punished by repressive treatment. Local and deployed staff may be drawn into conflict situations if south churches demand loyalty to the local employer, while north churches demand a correct use of funds, when both of these together are not possible. Office holders also pay bribes to speed up customs handling, the award of state permits, telephone connections or similar. In many cases this is done because the success of the project would otherwise be at risk.

The Church with its institutional strength and moral sanity should be able to pose frontal attack against corruption in Anambra. Its voice has to be strong enough to fight against the spate of corruption, which has been looming large in the society.The Church which is the moral light of the society should be able to light up the dark clouds of corruption that has closed Anambra. It is the expectation of the researcher that the work will help Anambra Government and the Church to reflect on the best strategy for fighting against corruption and redeeming the society from the apparent socio-economic and political decay.

1.3     Research Questions

The following research questions were drafted by the researcher to help in executing the study.

1.                 What is the nature of relationship between the Church and political office holders in Anambra?

2.                 To what extent has corruption eaten deep and replicated itself in Anambra?

3.                 How can the Church wage war against corruption in Anambra and redeem the State from socio-economic and political decay?

4.                 What are the policy recommendation made in the study?

1.4   Objectives of the Study

Ø  Main objectives

The main purpose of this study is to examine the role of the Church in combating corruption among Political office holders in Anambra.

Ø  Specific objectives

The specific objectives drafted for the sake of this research are given below:

1.                 To determine the nature of relationship between the Church and political office holders in Anambra.

2.                 To ascertain the extent the corruption has eaten deep and replicated itself in Anambra.

3.                 To examine how the Church with its institutional strength and spiritual authority could wage war against corruption in Anambra and redeemed the State from socio-economic and political decay.  

4.                 To make policy recommendations in the study.

1.5     Significance of the Study

This study on the role of the Church in combating corruption in Anambra is of enormous practical and theoretical or academic importance.

Theoretically, this research is greatly significant because it is not only contemporaneous, but also apposite particularly at this historic juncture when Nigeria is conscientious in fighting against corruption, therefore it will serve as a source of information to the members of the public. Evidently, this study is a practical one in the sense that it will provide a systematic, coherent and holistic view on the nature of relationship that exists between the Church and political leaders in Anambra, as well as the place of the Church in fighting against corruption in Anambra and therefore will be a data for future researchers. This study also provides the Nigerian policy makers enough insight and an in-depth knowledge on the reality of the attendant evils of corruption in the phase of Nigeria’s development prospects. The study will also be an addition to the numerous literatures in the library on the related topic.

Practically,this research is therefore poised to present to the general public at the alarming rate corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Again it is expected that the readers would find in this work the contemporary causes of corruption as regards the experiences of governance. Consequent upon this, measures that would make this cankerworm be reduced would also be made known in this work.

1.6     Definition of terms

Christianity:Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, who’s coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Church: The word church is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity.

Clergy:Clergy are some of the main and important formal leaders within certain religions. The roles and functions of clergy vary in different religious traditions but these usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices.

Corruption: Corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries.

Islam:Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Political leader: A Political leader is one who is either appointed or elected to lead and active political party.

Politics:Politics refers to a set of activities associated with the governance of a country, or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.

Religion:Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

The Traditional African Religion:The traditional African religions (or traditional beliefs and practices of African people) are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic religions.


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