The Role of the Churches in Combating Corruption Among Political Leaders in Anambra State, Nigeria
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 For the secondary sources the study relied on academic books, journal articles, newspapers, magazines, unpublished project works and periodicals, including internet materials.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.
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 self government 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: 30).
Similarly, bad leadership also plagued the military coups and counter coups; although their successors did not fair better. Consequently, development programme was slowed down, and political instability continued to parade the polity, as focus was shifted to combat the looming force of insecurity and internal regime instability (Omololu, 2007: 30). Oyedepo who rarely speaks on politics condemned the attitude of the current corrupt Nigerian leaders at all levels, saying that a country with many of her 36 state governors adjudged corrupt cannot be regarded as being governed well. According to him, the Church should come out of its political docility to mobilize its members for active participation in the political process (Ribadu, 2007: 23). Agha (1988: 106) posited that: “Any society is moralized by ideas, and ideas must work through the brains and arms of good and faithful men and women”. Obviously, the Church as a segment of the civil society should be concerned about arming their brains for good governance in the country. She has to speak out with any articulate voice on moral failures within the Church as to reflect positively on the country’s political process to appreciable extent (Ojo, 2004: 1). As such, the Church has to carry out its missionary and prophetic mandate to the society. Against this background, this study examines the role of the Church in combating corruption among Political leaders in Anambra State.
Statement of Research Problem
Corruption is ubiquitous phenomenon, as old as human existence and has adversely affected the society since time immemorial. In the pursuit of the specific purpose of this research, the assumption that are verified in this scholarly exercise are formulated and stated that it is believed that there is no positive relationship between Church and political leaders in Anambra State; and corruption has eaten deep and replicated itself in Anambra State since its creation. While the Church with its strength and spiritual authority has not ben able to wage offensive war against corruption in Anambra State. It is the expectation of the researcher that the work will help Anambra State Government and Church to reflect on the best strategy for fighting against corruption and redeeming her society from the apparent socio-economic and political decay.
The Church with its institutional strength and moral sanity should be able to pose frontal attack against corruption in Anambra State. Its voice has to be strong enough to fight against the spate of corruption, which has been looming large in the society.The Church which is the moral light of the society should be able to light up the dark clouds of corruption that has closed Anambra State. It is the expectation of the researcher that the work will help Anambra State Government and the Church to reflect on the best strategy for fighting against corruption and redeeming the society from the apparent socio-economic and political decay.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the role of the Church in combating corruption among Political leaders in Anambra State.
- To determine the nature of relationship between the Church and political leaders in Anambra State;
- To ascertain the extent the corruption has eaten deep and replicated itself in Anambra State.
- To examine how the Church with its institutional strength and spiritual authority could wage war against corruption in Anambra and redeemed the State from socio-economic and political decay.
- To make policy recommendations in the study
Significance of the Study
The significance and choice of the Anambra State crisis for this evaluation
of Nigeria’s democratic experiment is that it provided a platform for the assessment of the performance of the existing democratic institution in Nigeria.
It is no exaggeration that that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. This is highly perpetrated by all and sundry but with high profile among the people in the governance both at Federal and State levels. This
research is therefore poised to present to the general public at the alarming rate corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Again it is expected that the readers would find in this work the contemporary causes of corruption as regards the experiences of governance. Consequent upon this, measures that would make this cankerworm be reduced would also be made known in this work.
This study on the role of the Church in combating corruption in Anambra State is of enormous practical and theoretical or academic importance. Indeed, this research is greatly significant because it is not only contemporaneous, but also apposite particularly at this historic juncture when Nigeria is conscientious in fighting against corruption, therefore it will serve as a source of information to the members of the public. Evidently, this study is a practical one in the sense that it will provide a systematic, coherent and holistic view on the nature of relationship that exists between the Church and political leaders in Anambra State, as well as the place of the Church in fighting against corruption in Anambra State and therefore will be a data for future researchers. This study also provides the Nigerian policy makers enough insight and an in-depth knowledge on the reality of the attendant evils of corruption in the phase of Nigeria’s development prospects. The study will also be an addition to the numerous literatures in the library on the related topic.
Scope of the Study
This research is about corruption in the leadership of Politicians in Anambra State. Even though the research centres on the corruption among Political leaders in Anambra State and the role of the Church in combating the evil of corruption, practical examples would be drawn from deferent parts of the country, in other to present a countrywide implication of corruption in Nigeria.
This is a qualitative research. Therefore, the method used is both analytical and historical. This is the process of gathering information on the contemporary politicians and government officials through primary sources of data. A primary source means the process of collecting data through oral interview from the knowledgable politicians, government officials and Church officials who have the knowledge of the subject or the topic. For the secondary sources, the study made use of books, unpublished project works and periodicals, journals, newspapers, magazines and internet materials.
Definition of Terms
Religion: Religion as feelings, acts in the experiences of individuals in their solitude, and stands in relation to whatever that is considered divine. Durkheim (1947: 5) defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that are things set apart and forbidden, beliefs and practices which unite into a single moral community who adhere to them.” The twin elements of beliefs and practices appear to be very central because religion normally involves certain ideas or beliefs on the one hand and on the other hand, certain observances. These observances may be positive or negative. Acquinas quoted by Okwueze (2003: 3) defines religion as the virtue, which prompts man to render to God the worship and reverence due to him as God.
Udoidem (1997: 153) defines religion as man’s response to his Supreme Being who is his creator whose response affects his relationship with other creatures. Religious groups are referring to those persons who share in a pattern and social way of the relationship between God and man. They share similar religious values and common religious behavioural patterns (Fitcher, 1957: 115).
Umechukwu (1995: 17) in his own view, sees religion as “a belief in a Supernatural Being” which often derives from the age-long search by human beings to explain their existence, the source of their ills and fortunes and their belief in a spiritual or Supernatural Being who has a ruling power; the creator and controller of the universe. Ballah, quoted in Diyrie (1975: 65), religion is the comprehensive reality of man’s attempt to integrate himself, his consciousness, the world and society in a pre-scientific and meta-scientific system of absolute symbolic”. Vernon (1962: 155) who posited that:
religion is that part of culture composed of shared beliefs and practices, which not only identify their supernatural and the sacred and man’s relationship to them but that which also relate them to the known world in such a way that the group is provided with moral definitions as to what is good and what is bad.
Ulu (2007: 40) sees politics as the totality of the act of governance and difined politics as“Who gets what, when and how?” David cited by Umechukwu (2000: 17) sees politics as “the authoritative allocation of values, which aspires to include phenomena that are fundamentally similar in all societies no matter at what time or in which part of the world they have existed”. However, Nnoli’s definition seems to be comprehensive when he posited that:
Politics is all those activities, which are directly or indirectly associated with the seizure of state power; the consolidation of state power, and the use of state power.” It seizes power and “authoritatively allocates values” and determines and decides, “who get what, when and how, as well as all other political questions. (Nnoli, 1985: 7)
He further said that “the nature and interest of this class becomes the motive force for the reorganisation of the entire socio-economic, political, and cultural relations in society.” Asobie (2007: 10) defined politics as: “Creating a general environment that is conducive for organizing production, increasing productivity, thereby maximizing human and social welfare through an enhancement of quantum of the social product”. According to him, ‘politics is fundamentally about material and human development; and development begins with production and not with distribution or sharing’. Asobie understands politics as” the construction that identifies social and political values, development and implementation of policy with the state action”. According to Okwueze (2003:152) “politics is the mere arrangement of allocation of power, which gives rise to authority.” From the above views, politics can therefore be defined from an ethical point of view as legitimized efforts to use power responsibly to provide goods and services for the people.
Church: Wellington, (1984: 691) stated unequivocally that: The Greek word in the New Testament for our English word “Church” is ekklesia. It is derived from the verb ekkaleo. The compound ek means “out”, and kaleo means “to call or summon”. Thus, the literal meaning is “to call out”. More so, this word church was derived probably from the Greek Kuriakon (i.e. the Lord’s house), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. In the New Testament, it is translated from the Greek ecclesia which is synonymous with the Hebrew Qahal of the Old Testament both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found.
Similarly, Strong, (1890: 26) emphasized that the world Church comes from the Greek term Kuriakon, which means “belongs to the Lord” or “Lords”. Strong also saw Chuch as the millitant body of living Christian believers, regarded as striving to combat corruption on earth. Northville (2008: 3) articulated that the Church or ekklesia is a compound Greek term derived from the verb ekkaleo. According to Northville, the prepositional prefix ek means “out” and kales means “to call”, thus compound word ekklesia (Church) means “called out”. The noun then would then be a “called-out group” or “an assembly”. The Church simply refers to an assembly of called-out people. Northville maintained that many New Testament terms are derived from the Old Testament, and ekklessia is used in the Greek Septuagint to translate the Hebrew term qahal.
Northvilles (2008: 6) says that:
The term qahal frequently used in the Old Testament for an assembly of the people of God. This was where the rule of God was to exist, and where teaching and discipline were carried out… this unfolds the basic relationship and truth underlying both the Old and New Testaments.
Northvilles continued that the Church came into being soon after Jesus
ascension (40 days after Easter) on Pentecost (the seventh Sunday after Easter), when 3,000 Jewish people repented and were baptized (Acts 2). By this explanation, one quickly understand the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church while the church is the body of Christ here on earth established for the purpose of representing Christ and to continue his good works (Ugwu, 2009: 27).
In broad terms, corruption is the abuse or misuse of public or government power for illegitimate private advantage. It is an effort to secure wealth or power through illegal means for private benefit at public expense (Lipset and Lenz, 2000: 112). Sen (1999: 275) opines it involves the violation of established rules for personal gain and profit. It may be for the benefit of one’s party, class, tribe, friend, or family (Tanzi, 1998: 3). Okeke (2003: 255) argues that political corruption can occur through the deliberate and orchestrated manipulation of the unsuspecting public opinion to win or get into political office. Igbo and Anugwom (2002: 109) opine that political corruption refers to fraudulent use of public funds for private gain. Nnoli (2003: 21) asserted that political corruption in Nigeria encompasses the use of official power and government resources for sordid and disrepute private gain.