Imo N330m Pension Scam & Reformed Yahoo Yahoo Syndicates: Good Riding To Bad Rubbish
A famous American freedom fighter, Martin Luther King, (Jnr) once said, “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”
It was his struggle against corruption that influenced the rule that made Nelson Mandela stand up and speak up against oppression, injustice and neglect of the poor.
With the passing of giants like Luther and Mandela among others, we cannot help but reflect upon who we are as a society and be inspired to improve our world.
Having lost the men who embodied the best of human nature, we need to muster the perseverance to take on one of the greatest challenges in our lifetime: corruption.
Over three million Imo people are stuck in poverty or are on the verge of falling into poverty. At present, 10% of the world’s population owns 85% of the wealth. Inequality, joblessness and climate change are major threats to society, aided and abetted by corruption.
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Resource rich countries plagued by corruption are squandering their best opportunity to lift their people out of poverty. Roughly, half of low income countries are fragile or conflict affected, and 2.5 billion people still do not have access to formal financial services.
While net private capital flows are about $1 trillion per year, unfortunately, so are the estimated overall costs of corruption.
We may be at a tipping point. We see governments come to power on the wave of promises to eradicate corruption. Some actually lose power when public indignation rises over a failure to deal with corruption and plunder.
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Financial institutions, many situated in the United States, have paid roughly $92 billion in settlements over the last four years to redress their misconduct. Tax, trade and transparency are becoming the next frontier, as the international community seeks to assert regulation and order.
As the president of the World Bank announced recently at a panel in Washington DC, “Corruption is public enemy number one”, which can only be overcome by the momentum of an inclusive and coordinated movement.
At the same event, Huguette Labelle from Transparency International appealed to a global conscience, reminding them of the sober picture her organization describes in its corruption perception index released.
Esteemed opinion makers argue that there is a deficit of, and therefore a need to restore public order and trust in government and institutions.
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A great thinker, Paul Volcker had said that a weak rule of law is closely related to stunted economic growth, an inability to escape poverty and an absence of human rights.
If Nigeria does not kill corruption, surely, corruption will kill Nigeria. This is evidence in the exposure recently made by the Imo State government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma that eight people are stealing N330 million annually from pension funds. The revelation is indeed a good riding to bad rubbish.
While this exposure has sent mouth to wag, pensioners on their own are not resting in their oars to recover what that belongs to them. But who is listening to them?
Presumably, corruption has taken a new dimension, today, we have corporate robbery and digitalized “yahoo yahoo syndicates” in areas that were once regarded as sacred and holy.
Public funds have become a “no man’s land”, where the privileged ones kick, bust and romances with public wealths. Confidence on those entrusted with collective “patrimony” of the public is no longer save. What more shall we say!
Retrospectively, the World Bank had posited that the global economy may be at a turning point, whilst the International Monetary Fund warned against deflation.
In this context of changing global dynamics, we need to reexamine the pace and scope of anti corruption. The time is opportune for integrity to hold prominent sway in economic, political and social decision making, as we define the next decade.
At the moment, almost all states and countries face a global health crisis with the rapid spread of the corona virus pandemic.
Unfortunately, also during times of social and economic stress and low public trust like these, is when opportunities for corruption arise and when corruption manifests itself the most.
These uncertain times provide the environment from which corrupt actors can benefit. But in this N330 million pension scam, the perpetrators have been enjoying the loot for many years without trace, though, previous administrations had claimed that pension looters and ghost workers were imminent in the civil service.
In most sectors of the economy, more and more stories and news of fraudulent activities of entities and real persons in the private sector come to light every day. There is need for both government and private sector to work in synergy towards proffering solution to this ignoble ignominy.
Defaults or perpetrators arrested should be made to face the music and recover all that was stolen before prosecution is effected.
For this reason, identifying and having open discussions about these risks in advance can contribute to our response to this crisis and provide succour to those who need it most, as the fight against corruption is closely connected to fight against corona virus.
In this regard, both governments and the private sector have a great part in combatting the potential risks and possible corrupt acts in order to respond to this crisis and prevent major losses best as they can.
They must work towards preventing unethical profiteering, and the private sector should act more prudently in its business activities rather than putting profit before public health.
To begin with, governments should act with great transparency to avoid giving way to corrupt acts during the procurement of supplies, payment of salaries, pensions, promote open and transparent contracting, prevent price gouging of government supplies, and share information about all relevant processes.
In order to achieve this transparency, the funds provided by the government should be monitored and tracked closely, and clinical study results could be disclosed or published more often.
In parallel with the level of transparency the governments are required to possess, misinformation and false news can also result in corrupt actors to benefit from panic and fear, in addition to rendering the precautions taken against the pandemic ineffective.
In this regards, for government to protect itself against these opportunistic third parties, it should closely monitor and assess any updates, orders and regulations issued and act accordingly, by double checking their sources.
By keeping the relevant plans and policies updated and continuous communication, individuals could significantly lower the amount of potential risks that could arise in connection with corrupt acts.
In consequence, both the public sector and private sector must do their share in their fight against corruption, for many reasons all of which result in a significant amount of contribution in the fight against public stealing. By so doing, we shall be expecting Imo of our collective dreams.
Ikenna ONUOHA, is a Journalist and Public Relations Consultant. He is the State Publicity Secretary, Imo Concerned Citizens (ICC) and National Publicity Secretary, Igbo Peace Ambassadors (I.P.A) respectively