Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) Academy, Corruption And Conservatives' Notion

By Reuben Hopo
Late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande
Late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande

In governance, rare breeds like the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (of blessed memory), a phenomenal Governor of Lagos State, the first to be elected in 1979 are not common in the nation's polity. His leadership virtues were awesome and reference points by which he impacted millions of poor citizens and residents. He was a social reformer of a just and egalitarian state when he took over. Money did not influence him in any way, and till date, no one discovered his dirty linen that could be watched in public. Before his death, there was no story that he induced himself or anyone with graft. As the founding father of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, he remained an impeccable character, a great nationalist, hero and achiever of many first in the history of Nigeria.

Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu's Administration discovered the best legacy that the late sage bequeathed and felt the state government should raise a solid foundation to understudy his virtuous life as immaculate and rationale to properly immortalize him. In this light, the state government establishes and dedicates an academy, The Lateef Kayode Jakande Leadership Academy to train and inspire youths and civil servants who wish to take responsibility as future leaders. The academy truly serves the worth of the enigma called "LKJ" to raise people-oriented and ideological leaders that can impact humanity positively. This approach speaks the truth about the need for society to raise devout defenders that will be society's standard bearers, not celebrities. All things being equal, the academy can nurture global leaders that would be the talk of the twenty-first century. A nation's great men and women that would not submit themselves to the worship of the "golden calf."

With gross abuse of public offices in the political system, recently, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission "(ICPC) convened a sensitization dialogue for traditional rulers, religious leaders and community-based civil society groups in fifteen states to positive behavioural change with the topic: National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIT) to equip them as stakeholders on constituency-executive projects tracking initiatives. The aim is to bring together, concerted efforts to discourage corruption from being a national mindset.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, endemic corruption pervading our national lives has led the federal government to establish two critical agencies to eradicate corruption from our polity. These agencies are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission (ICPC). Through these agencies, Nigerians gained more consciousness of perilous, endemic corruption eating deeply into the fibres of our nationhood than when corruption was generalized during the reigns of the military juntas in the past years.

The EFCC and ICPC have been fighting the ugly incidences of corruption in their efforts to eradicate the savagery from the nation's polity, by trailing and reporting unimaginable financial crimes involving individuals in cyberspace and official corruption in high places. Typical examples are the Hushpuppi scandals, Maina-gates, Abba Kyari syndicates, Ahmed Idris-Sagas, and many other high profiled abuse across the arms of government.

The precedent being laid by those at the top is severely impacting society men and women, and has descended to the lower rung of society. Almost everyone now feels addicted to the evils of corruption and is ever ready to justify corruption when challenged. In society where corruption thrives, it is a cankerworm against national development and national integrity. It signals the eventual collapse of national values and the nation's economy.

With these antecedents, it becomes a welcome development for agencies like the ICPC to deepen their constitutional duties to save the nation from the inglorious mess with a total cleansing of the rot in the system. For instance, interacting with traditional rulers across the country as custodians of society would reinforce advocacy against the impulse of corruption. The ICPC should be bold to demystify the heinous act in public places as the highest crime against humanity and sin against one's country.

The sensitization was indeed germane to getting the best solution to tame corruption in our system. The country is being plunged into the abyss of corruption despite the fight. It is imperative to revitalise, re-orientate and motivate every individual with core national values for the right decision-making in the larger interest of the public when occasions demand. The goal of that sensitization was to develop national ethics that could guide the conduct of all citizens and public officials to stand as devout defenders of the common good in whatever situation that comes up. Taking this into account, the time is over overdue to evolve national ethics that can raise the Nigeria's brand of conservatives to save the nation from indiscriminate bleeding of invaluable natural and financial resources.

Why do we have to search for conservatives? Corruption in the system cannot be won successfully unless we identify every societal morals that can sustain the country and their suitabilities by which every child should grow along with his or her studies to inculcate the "good of society and nationhood" in the individuals. Doing so is the only way to berth a sane clime where people pride good character above lust and graft. The antidote is total cleansing and should commence in society, schools and religious gatherings to tame the scourge in politics and public offices. Perhaps, overwhelming Nigerians due to ambivalence of cultures have always abhorred "conservative elements" because they are cautious, prudent and mindful. They are the best brass that can save the nation from indiscriminate fraud in Nigeria's polity.

The unwholesome effects of unbridled corruption in the high places from the military era to the present democratic dispensation have made manholes of the economy to an insatiable level of a country blessed with crude oil and limitless natural resources for over sixty years of independence. Yet, the nation's leaders cannot revive a single refinery out of three or four moribunds, to support domestic and foreign consumption of refined oil products to the nation's advantage. Twenty-two years of the fourth republic, the federal government grieved about the payment of oil subsidies than accepting to fix refineries gradually, as the bottom line to eliminate oil subsidies, boost home production capacity and gain more foreign exchange from exports.

Also, the impact of cultures has made people to view every politician canvassing for votes or elective office as "deceptive" based on their belief that those seeking public office are doing so for self-aggrandisement. This is the mirror of a country we called our own and as such, it is urgent to recreate a nation where men and women are brought up with high pedigree of morals for public service with integrity. It is the national ethics and integrity policy that will lead the creation of ideologies that can help the nation's leaders to facilitate the path of a stable progress for the country. The dearth of ideologies in Nigeria from independence by which people could nurture their conscience in all honesty is obvious in the country's many woes.

With 2023 barely six months ahead, every politician is viewed to have one spirit; the spirit of amassing billions instead of the spirit of particular ideologies because none has grown up to see and assimilate the culture of ideology as an integrity policy to earn public credibility to serve the country. With fantastic corruption, it is hard to absolve most religious leaders from the nation's plagues, many of these also adore the nation's wealth than exhorting the faith of their followers.

It is time to breed the conservatives from various homes. Conservatives are a distinct class of people of high repute as a result of special upbringing and values orientation, they are more qualified as the pride of public service; people with worthy credentials and most fitted to defend the "common good." These are people that will not be influenced by the love of money or pervert the course of justice against their country. Nigeria inevitably deserves true public servants that would not dole out money as national cake, but instead fight scarcity to reduce widespread poverty.

Ethics is concerned about the choice humans make in their decision on one hand, and the evaluation of the act (or conduct) as right or wrong on the other hand. In every society there are ethics and relativity at the national level may be a great tool to bolster national integration. Therefore, the ICPC needs to go around all the ethnic nationalities across the country with good researchers as a pressing development matter to harmonize the ethics of different cultures to evolve national ethics that can change the individual's negative mindset and attitudes that could ruin a prosperous nation. A good effort would save people from resorting to threat because the federal government gives a pipeline contract to one of them. This is shameful and selfish!

One other area that must not be left out in the struggle to whittle down corrupt tendencies is to have a sustained media and advocacy outfit in the ICPC that can beam vigorous value re-orientation frequently across the country, and such unit in the ICPC must have the right calibre of people who understand their calling, and they must be motivated to serve the nation to the best of their abilities.

Another area but not least is that, the ICPC should dispatch a special delegation to the council of traditional rulers in every local government area to inquire from the council, if it has invited the public- office holder(s) to a town-hall meeting. ICPC calling for a meeting as this would propel different stakeholders to do a credibility check collectively on the public figure(s) to promote good and accountable governance, restore integrity to the polity and save the name of such society from being dragged in the mud. The emphasis is to shift attention from the individual to the "good" of the larger society. Society should be seen as bigger than anyone to dutifully pursue its common good.

The role that ICPC is playing to restore sanity to the system is remarkable. We need to face reality, seeing that the more we fight corruption, the more corruption is fighting back. Corruption has much to do with leadership, and to clear the stench on the nation's tables, the ICPC and EFCC must be resilient in the fight against corruption, by cascading vigorous campaigns at the grassroots.

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