Anticorruption in Nigeria Should Be About Better Social Organisation

This article starts and concludes with the following sentence. “Governance and corruption are essentially about social organisation on a scale that ranges from very good governance to very bad governance.” Very good governance regarding government and organisations does not necessarily suggest the absence of corruption but very bad governance is typically characterised by serious corruption. It is important to focus on the definitions, approaches, perspectives and logics of corruption as long as they are appropriate. However, it is unfortunate when the purpose of managing corruption with anticorruption is often forgotten; the improvement of social organisation or maintaining high standards of enforcement. Social organisation at its root is the ‘collective action’ of two or more people. As the numbers of people organised increase so do the complexity of its management.

My article Is Nigeria More Corrupt Than Nigeria? (See was a response to a phenomenon sparked by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron’s, recent remark that Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt”, President Muhammadu Buhari’s riposte to Cameron and how Nigerians took it. Receiving stolen wealth, the return of stolen wealth, and vast sums of money became the focus of the anti-corruption debate but missed the central importance. Finding material that focused of the very bad governance that led to the opportunities and confidence by which federal and state treasuries in Nigeria were looted rapaciously and carted off via capital flight to “safe haven” nations was rare, if at all. If Nigerian society was properly organised, the big thieves in society would not have big bounties they stole stashed away overseas or anywhere else.

The term “safe haven” nation regardless of the colouring it receives, indicates that such a nation has superior social organisation found in their relatively stable economies, stable currencies, stable and increasing assets values, stable political climates etc. which is not found in the home of the thieving politicians e.g. Nigeria. If Nigeria had the social organisation which safe haven nations have achieved, Nigerian banks will be swollen with foreign cash, the Nigerian tourism industry will be booming, getting a Nigerian passport would be a life ambition for countless non-Nigerians and so on. Would every Nigerian not like such a feat for their nation?

Proper social organisation and the good it produces for society is a topic, citizens of developing nations usually avoid needlessly. Reason: it leads to comparisons with nations that are properly organised which is not favourable to their sense of dignity. The only time comparisons are allowed by citizens of developing nations with social organisation in developed nations is when it has to do with some incidence of social dysfunction.

Comparisons of technological advancements, economic successes, efficiently delivered public services, sporting excellence, cultural elegance are not welcome. What is welcome are comparisons of corruption, homelessness, police killing people, legislators’ expenses, lying politicians and system failures. Comparing what goes into the mouth is not allowed but doing so for that which comes out of the anus is. Nigeria has failed its citizens badly; its citizens have acquired 1st World expectations but live with 3rd World realities. If you want to casually hurt a Nigerian, compare his or her nation to an advanced nation in some superlative issue.

We have political, economic and social approaches to social organisation as is evident in all societies. The difference between advanced and developing nations is mainly due to differing levels of social organisation. The instruments of social organisation are institutions which are constituted of a myriad of rule and regulations. It is a truism that societies in which institutions are best enforced are those that do best politically, socially and economically. The only reason Nigeria is still a developing nation is that the nation has never excelled for any consistent period of in the arena of social organisation. As Confucius once said “Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order”, the aim and process are never-ending. Good today bad tomorrow is not good enough. Nigeria has excelled in the arena of perpetrating corruption, though.

So far, the current wave of anti-corruption in Nigeria is firmly focused on the refund of stolen wealth by Nigerian politicians and the return of stolen wealth from safe haven nations like Britain. The refund and return of stolen wealth and demanding infrastructures to realise such are fine. Nevertheless, what is rationally and concretely being done to ensure that a Nigerian president will not even have to ask politicians or foreign governments for stolen wealth in the present time and the future? What is being done at the Nigerian end? There are many big thieving politicians in government and impunity is generously enjoyed by them. Will that change anytime soon?

The institutions, the rules and regulations, and the laws that will effectively prevent corruption in Nigeria are not being updated i.e. the social organisation to prevent current and future corruption appears not to be happening. While President Muhammadu Buhari was demanding stolen wealth from David Cameron his Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, was embroiled in a corruption scandal and fuel subsidy removals which Buhari openly characterised as “fraud” by previous Nigerian governments have now become a centrepiece of his fuel policy. Many are exceedingly keen to see how the first budget of the Buhari-led government will be implemented. Social organisation back home in Nigeria is not yet anywhere near impressive.

And I conclude, “Governance and corruption are essentially about social organisation on a scale that ranges from very good governance to very bad governance.” Nigeria is not yet ready for that

Grimot Nane

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