By Chris Steven, Abuja
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that the massive corrupt tendencies of the nation’s educated leaders gave birth to the dreaded terrorist organisation, Boko Haram.
“One of the reasons that members of the extremist group – Boko Haram, gave for their insurrection is that they became disillusioned when they saw how corrupt that Western-educated leaders were,” said Obasanjo while delivering a lecture to mark the 14th anniversary of the Dorcas Oke Hope Alive Initiative at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo state.
He spoke on “Corruption and the Challenges of the African Child.”
“According to them, if those who occupied government offices by their Western education would corruptly enrich themselves and deprive others of the basic things of life, then that education is ‘haram’ which means forbidden.
“I am told that when Mohammed Yusuf, the original leader of Boko Haram and his early followers first started, they all gathered and tore their certificates because they said a certificate, which could not fetch them a source of livelihood is useless to them. Similarly, they saw Western education as corrupting the individuals.
“We may not agree with their position, but the disappointment and disillusionment of citizens over the inadequacy or poor performance of their leaders is real. Adding rising corruption to other inadequacies in leadership and we will see the instability and insecurity which we have witnessed in the North East in recent years.”
Although Obasanjo admitted that Africa’s most populous country is still confronted with challenges ranging from massive unemployment, agitations, crime among others being carried out by the youthful population, he, however, maintained that such would continue unless the issue of corruption was seriously dealt with.
He added, “There is, therefore, a direct correlation between corruption and youth; youth healthy development, growth and progress. The manifestation of corruption in various forms, such as instability, unemployment and our mentality will continue to plague our nation unless urgent steps are taken to fight corruption.
“No society in the world can claim to have completely eradicated corruption, but many countries have successfully reduced corruption to its barest minimum. Many countries have not made corruption a way of life. There are some examples of countries from Asia and Africa, we can emulate if we are serious about the fight against corruption as we should be.”
This was as he also lamented the alleged politicisation of the anti-graft bodies: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
“But once we left office, they (EFCC and ICPC) became very politicised and weakened to the point that they were unable to discharge their duties. In fact, one of the governors, who had been labelled and gone to jail for corruption, was to look for replacement for Nuhu Ribadu (the pioneering chairman of EFCC), and you know the type of replacement he would get.
“There is need to support and strengthen these institutions, especially in the area of prosecution. The law enforcement agencies or the government alone cannot fight corruption. They must be supported by a judiciary that is upright and transparent.
“It is very demoralising to law enforcement officers when they painstakingly investigate a case and the culprit finds his way around the judiciary to escape. We cannot continue to celebrate criminals, who enrich themselves from our commonwealth, and think that corruption will disappear.”
“When I was elected President in 1999, my administration took the issue of corruption very seriously and we established Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission as well as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, among other anti-corruption initiatives. These institutions were provided the political support needed to fight corruption and they did their best.