If you ask many Nigerians, they would readily agree that corruption has become second nature to the citizenry. Everywhere you turn, corruption stares one in the face. Yet since 1999, the country has made some bold effort to arrest the menace in its tracks. One example of that effort is the setting up of two anti-corruption agencies: the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The two commissions have made some progress. The star of the duo is the EFCC. However, at the height of its glory, the federal government intervened in its affairs because of the influence of some sacred cows. Since then the wind has been taken out of its sails. This intervention is one example many cite as government’s lack of political will to decisively deal with the hydra-headed monster. Many cases of corruption are shoddily prosecuted, thus giving the accused a large window of opportunity to escape conviction. Furthermore, several judges handling corruption cases readily turn the wheel of justice upside down. The allegation is that some of them have been compromised. Today, many former governors have been charged to court for corruption, but the case files have simply gathered dust. And many of these accused are gallivanting all over the place. In fact, several of them have taken on new national assignments. But for the 45 British judiciary, James Onanefe Ibori, former governor of Delta State, would still be strolling in and out of Aso Rock. He is in jail in Britain, awaiting his sentence after being convicted of money laundering. The Editorial Board decided to delve into the issue of corruption once again but this time to look at why the corrupt seem to be getting more involved. The cover story, WHY THE CORRUPT ARE WINNING, by Adejuwon Soyinka, tries to answer the question.
Somewhere in this edition you will run into FLASHBACK. It will be a sort of occasional retrieval rom TELL archives to showcase a past story, interview or opinion that is of contemporary relevance. To kick off the column, we bring an interview with Rashidi Yekini, ace footballer, who died May 4. The interview was done shortly after he returned from his professional sojourn in Spain. Although he returned home, he was not through with professional football. Thus he joined the local league to continue with his career. In the interview, the “gangling striker” frowned at young Nigerian footballers wasting away in Europe. Yekini made a statement which would now look like an irony: “Money is not everything. We need happiness and no place is like home. I am enjoying my stay at home.” When the famous footballer died two weeks ago, he was an unhappy man, penniless and almost homeless. He literally lived on the streets. That vintage interview is reproduced in this edition for its relevance to the prevailing circumstance of his death and the ensuing controversy.