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THE ROLE OF THE CHURCHES IN COMBATTING CORRUPTION AMONG POLITICAL LEADERS
The rate at which corruption spread among political leaders in Anambra state has frayed nerves and subjected the people to fear and trepidation. Avarice, greed and the get-rich quick syndrome have been identified as major causative factors. Hence the topic, “The role of the Churches in combating Corruption among Political leaders in Anambra State, Nigeria. The methods of data collection for the study include both primary and secondary sources. Primary data were obtained through oral interview. For the secondary sources the study relied on academic books, journal articles, newspapers, magazines, unpublished project works and periodicals, including internet materials. The historical and descriptive analytical approach was adopted in the analyzing of the data because it entails the interpretative understanding of the substance of various forms of communication, whether written, oral or symbolic. In the result, the work revealed that there are overt causes of corruption among political leaders in Anambra state arising from avarice and greed. This has affected the well-being of individuals and retarded progress in the state. The study also established that embezzlement of public fund, rigging of elections, kidnapping of political opponents, thuggery and politically motivated killings formed the core of activities of some of the political leaders. It was also discovered that the church has used preaching, prayer, social action, exemplary lifestyle and sacrifice as strategies against corruption. In conclusion, there is a fundamental and innate relationship between the Church and the State. The Church is playing her expected role, thereby challenging political leaders to engage in the activities that are for the interest of social progress in Anambra state.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In Nigeria, bribery and corruption are hydra-headed twins that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Starting from the colonial era of Nigeria, bribery and corruption have made steady and seemingly unstoppable progress up to the present. Whether during the colonial era, or when Nigeria gained her independence in 1960 or for the long years of military rule, bribery and corruption have become a recurring decimal (Achunike, 2006: 162). Chuta (2004: 17, 39) traced the problem of corruption from the pre-colonial to the colonial and selfgovernment era. He further traced corruption to the First Republic (1960-1966) down to the different stages of military era, even to the second and third republics. In all these cases, Chuta stood on the assertion that majority of Nigerian’s have been corrupt. Ugwu (2002: 16) traced corruption to colonial period when he posited that:It has been argued that the major roots of corruption were sown during the colonial period when a lot of structures were created for the purpose of administration. The pro-colonial society knew little or nothing about corruption but soon after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and shortly afterwards in 1963 after Nigeria had become a republic, there grew in galloping proportions corruption in every sphere of human life.
Kalu (2007: 2) posited that the under privileged are the victims of corruption while the ruling class hypocritically engaged in the condemnation of acts that benefit its fold. Over the years, the vast majority of Nigerians have
learned and experimented on bribery and corruption. Corruption therefore, seemed to have become part of the daily life of Nigerians. This is so because the situation most Nigerians find themselves today makes corruption easy and it is only when good and responsible governance prevails that corruption will recede. Not many Nigerians think that hard work pays. Equally not many think that honesty is worth trying (Achunike, 2006: 163). Madu (2003: 1) opined that hardwork has been scarified at the altar of easy ways of making money like 419, ritual murders and corruption in its different ramifications. That materialism has gone deep into the psyche of people that spiritual values are de-emphasized, as even, one can discern from the prosperity sermons of many of the anointed men of God and their materialistic life-styles. Meanwhile, twenty-two years ago Achebe (1983:1) observed that: The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land and climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problems are the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise up to the responsibility, or the challenge of personal example, which are hallmarks of true leadership.
From the observation of Achebe, it is understood that the common man
looks up to the rulling elite to learn and be directed to avoid corruption. But such expectation from the leadership in Nigeria has failed. Democracy which supposed to be the government of the people, has failed in Nigeria. When the first generation rulers in Nigeria became corrupt, Major Chukwuma Nzogwu and his military colleagues struck. Nzogwu in his broadcast pointed out that they have come to save Nigerians from the hands of inept and corrupt leadership. Nzeogwu cited by Uju in (Ugwu, 2002: 3) opined that “Our enemies are the political profiteers, the
swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that have corrupted our society and put the country back by their words and deeds”.The above statement was contained in the national broadcast of Chukwuma Nzogwu on 15th January 1960.The aim therefore was to give good governance to the vast majority of Nigerians. However, the military consistently failed to salvage the masses in their political governance.Corruption and abuse of power has long been features in Nigeria. Joseph, R. S and Taylor, A. A. (1996: 9) has described Nigeria as an “unfinished state and as a truculent African state tragedy”. (Ayittey, 2006: 2) posited that in the midst of abundant human and material resources, efforts at building a democratic polity further entrapped it at the “political crossroads”. Yet, with enormous wealth from oil resources, economic endowment, social and political strength, Nigeria has not qualified to be called the giant of Africa. Kew (2006: 12) has noted that: The giant was brought to its Knees by 20 years brutal and corrupt military rule, which left a legacy of executive dominance and a political corruption in the hands of Nigeria’s so- called “godfathers” powerful political bosses sitting a top vast patronage networks who view the government primarily through the lens of the own personal enrichment.
As a result of the instability, the focus of the leadership became parochial
with the overriding consideration for personal survival rather than national development. Attempts at promoting “democratic consolidation” were hampered by the personality cult of the emerging political gladiators who exploited the instrument of state power to promote their personal agenda.
Nigeria’s political elite, as Skiar (2006: 3) observed
Vie for power and control over the vast spoils of office”. The centralized political and economic structures “made the military and civilian individuals who controlled key state posts fabulously wealthy, while 70% of Nigerians fell into abject poverty.
Poor leadership has led to stagnation, and alienation of the citizenry, causing
a low level of sense of belonging and none identifying with the political system (Mayer, 1996: 10). According to Kew (2006:21): The Nigerian government remains distant from serving the interest of its people. The powerful mandarin who built vast patronage networks during the military days and their personal fortunes dominates politics at the federal state, and local levels of the Nigerian federation. Moreover, many of those so-called “godfathers” have been cultivating personal militias to secure their positions, promoting a local arm race in some regions. even though several governors one under indictment for money laundering abroad and others are being investigated at home. The bonanza continues at public coffers for these power holders, while basic infrastructure in many parts of the country remains as dilapidated as it was under military rule.
It is the situation that Ake (1995: 2-5) indicated as the product of the pattern of state affairs in the developing world. According to him, the high premium on political power, and the attendant intense struggle for it, further hinders national development for the promotion of the personal interests of the political leaders. Eke further observed that:
Besieged by a multitude of hostility forces, most of the leaders in Africa are political insecure. They are as completely engrossed in the struggle for survival that they are hardly able to address the problem of development.
Skiar (2006: 3-4) noted that the leadership problem in the Nigerian polity
was a manifestation of the dysfunctional pattern of the years of military interregnum. The leadership pattern in Nigeria lacks the necessary focus capable of instilling national development and promotes political stability. Rather,
Nigerian leaders are preoccupied with their desires for the appropriation and privatization of the Nigerian state. The fall of the second Republic, for instance, was precipitated by the pervasive corruption and, the attendant political violence that greeted electoral manipulations, in a bid to stick to power (Ayeni, 1988
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