Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said tackling corruption issues will address electoral rigging that has marred Nigeria’s political system.
Soyinka spoke at a Colloquium, yesterday, in honour of the Executive Editor, The News/PM News, Kunle Ajibade, who turned 60 two days ago. The event was held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos with the theme: “A brighter future for Nigeria and how to get there.”
The nobel laureate said he had believed that the top hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force were untouchable.
“Among those that I believe were untouchable before were the police, but, not those that are on the streets harassing and collecting money from people,” he said.
Soyinka added that after the arrest and prosecution of the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, for corruption, having been exposed through an investigative story written by Ajibade, he began to ask other questions as to who corrupted the police.
“I know that of government institutions, the police were often involved in profiling corrupt persons. But, the questions that later baffled me were; who, then, corrupted the police? Who made sure that the agencies enforcing the law were corrupt?
“And, that was why, when I met Ribadu, after Balogun was arrested, I emphasised that the job of fighting corruption doesn’t end with the person holding the money but also, how he got the money or how the money got into his bank account. Does he engage in other businesses aside law enforcement? And, where did the money come from?
“If we can solve issues of corruption, we will also be addressing cases of election rigging. This is because, there is a direct nexus between that level of corruption and the degradation of democratic process that we have witnessed in the country.
“If we had solved the cases properly, it would have helped curb corruption and solve the issue of democratic failure in Nigeria. I will only urge young journalists to emulate Ajibade’s tenacity. The number of journalists that were killed while engaging in investigative journalism were more than those that died on the battlefield.”
Presidential aspirant and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu said three things must be addressed in order to build a future for Nigeria.
One, he said, the nation had been so divided along tribal line by people who were supposed to lay a solid foundation for the people, adding that “we are increasingly poor country, our economy is horrible. When people read democracy address and tell the people what they have achieved, we have missed the mark.”
Moghalu also said the nation’s standing in the comity of world nations has collapsed and described Nigeria as a beggar nation.
“Our standing in the word has collapsed. Nigeria is a beggar nation and when they give us the money, grass cutters eat it. We have a binding duty to know why we are increasingly being marginalised. Poverty is making us like slaves. We must educate our people on the kind of leaders they should elect,” he said.
Speaking on the theme, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, wife of the former governor of Ekiti State, said there was the need to create leaders, not through the ballot box, but right from the home as good leaders were not often found at the ballot box.
She described Ajibade as a role model and called on all to emulate his example.
Also, Ayisha Osori described Nigerian political parties as undemocratic, saying most of the primary elections being conducted were sham as people were mere hand-picked and imposed on others, adding that politics in Nigeria had now become an industry for the old generations.
She called for a change of the system if things must work properly for the future, while calling on people to join politics in a bid to change the system.