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Effective Reward System- a panacea to indiscipline and corruption; being the title of a text presented by the President of Benin National Congress at the 5th Benin National Merit Award, 28th December, 2009.

By Edo Benin

With profound humility, I greet the Chairman of this august occasion; I salute the Comrade Governor of Edo State and special guest of honor of this ceremony- Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole mni; other distinguished guests here present, traditional leaders, gentlemen of the press, ladies and gentlemen. I bring you greetings in the name of God almighty. I say Iselogbe! Oba gha t' okpere, ise.

When I was a pupil, I pondered over the trends of indiscipline amongst adults and parents alike; I asked those that were relatively closed to me “why are people hungry of indiscipline and social vices” the responses were not very encouraging. I was nonetheless discouraged from probing into the causal-factor of the hydra-headed monster that has continually plagued our dear nation from achieving her destined height in the comity of developing nations of the world. As time went on, I came across people who were very eager to give their best for the good of Nigeria or their respective states of origin. A deeper study revealed that the main reason for the disposition was because at certain memorable moments, they were rewarded for some little or great exemplary feats they portrayed by their communities; social clubs; employers, traditional and religious institutions and the government itself. This set of people will invest a greater part of their goodwill in seeking to replicate the atmosphere that greeted the day they were honored by concerned communities or agencies.

The alarming degree of corruption in public and private sector in Nigeria is a sad commentary to say the least; this is daily captured by our electronic and print media. As a social scientist of the radical Political Science bloc, I am passionate or concerned with what should be done to curb the ugly scenario in view of the fundamental damage that has been done to the image of Nigeria and Nigerians in the international arena. Rather than join the bandwagon of lamentation-choirs. I have pondered on what ought to be done so much that I have conducted research exercises with a view to x-raying the feelings of vast sections of randomly selected Nigerians. It is interesting to note that most people think that a vast or reasonable increase in the monthly income of the men of Nigerian Police alone will curb the incessant cases of bribery within the Police especially along our high ways. I wish to say without any equivocations that although that will help, but it will not effectively eradicate bribery tendencies. In fact, some people will still be absent from work without leave of absence for months and yet earn salaries; while others will sustain their diligent and dedicated disposition to duty most times without any recompense of rewards for their commitments. This is the dimension that I feel we have not made any significant progress both in the civil service and community relations in Nigeria. I stand to be corrected that unless we design effective mechanisms to reward excellent service in all sections of human existence and relations, we will continue in the quagmire of pondering over what can be done to fight corruption. In the good old days, our communal societies flourished essentially because of effective reward systems, which were epitomized by the award of chieftaincy titles and community leadership services on people whom have exemplified tremendous patriotic traits or sincere commitments to the general good of the community. Owing to civilization and urbanization, these values of communal relations witnessed steady decline with its attendant negative effects, chief of which is the slogans of “you are on your own, the end justifies the means, and money answereth all things”.

In the public or political settings, one of the greatest challenges is the celebration of mediocrity or “eye service” at the altar of political expediency; and in the process, meritocracy is sacrificed at the detriment of people or job seekers or workers who don't have hypocritical tendencies or styles. In the long run, public interest is mortgaged. To check factors that could breed corruption in our society; we must evolve modus for dispassionate rewards for those who merit them. A civil servant or a private sector employee, who has invested time for purposeful causes, should be carefully monitored and motivated for rewards. This reward can be in the form of promotion, I don't mean the type of promotion that will violate due process like the one President Olusegun has been widely accused of influencing for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, which elicited all forms of debates anyway. Other employees will feel encouraged to do more; at the same time, the system as a “double-headed sword” should cut short all those who thrive in cutting corners for selfish ends in private and public sectors.

This modus must be built into our orientation as a people through cultural assimilation and with enabling laws to succeed. It should not be built around an individual such that at the transfer or exit of the chairman, the agency will withstand the storm. This was the context that Senator Hillary Clinton perceived Nigeria as a nation that have many strong men and women; yet lacked strong institutions or agencies. We must strengthen institution-building mechanisms for the good of all Nigerians. At this juncture, I wish to appeal to the National and State Assemblies to check the rising tendencies of abandoned projects by emerging administrations. If we take a stock of government projects and policies that have been abandoned in Nigeria, one will rationalize that whereas we had good concepts and drives at a particular time, suddenly, parochial interests erode our ultimate good and this has made us a laughing stock in the comity of developing nations. To this end, I move (not by way of a motion) but by way of resolve that President Yar Adua should set up a Public Funds Recovery Commission, in my view, it should be concerned mainly with the recovery of Public funds after a suspected public officer has been convicted of corrupt enrichments. For instance, at the conviction of Chief Olabode George, the judgment was silent on the public funds that were traced to him; the Public Funds Recovery Commission will fight the other angle of recovering public monies in his custody to its logical conclusion, after the E.F.C.C has completed its own side.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that the recipients of today's award have been carefully selected using all instruments of opinion-poll at our disposal to arrive at their Award designations. We hope that in the years ahead, Nigerians will take active part in this selfless exercise of enhancing our reward system by making recommendations to the Benin National Congress through our contact agencies for scrutiny and honor. We have done our bit; we live the rest to history. I thank you for attending this program and listening to my humble presentation. Merry Christmas in arrears and Happy New Year in advance.

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com