I want to begin by appreciating the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation for its impact on the development of ideas through its annual lecture series. The fact that the themes of the lecture series have focused on critical puzzles bordering on human development lends credence and justification for the sustenance of the lecture series.
It is no doubt that an event like this demands a lot of sacrifice financially and otherwise. Apart from the contribution of the lecture series to human development, it has also unveiled the genius personality of Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe, whose philosophical insight is gradually finding place in the psyche of academics globally, particularly at a time when Africans are determined to rewrite their own history.
The topic of discourse at this session, which is corruption, significantly ties into my vision for our great country, Nigeria, that we must kill corruption before corruption will kill us. My being here to deliver the keynote address at today’s session is instructive on the resolve of this government to interface with initiatives that are fundamentally patriotic and assisting in our path to socio-economic and political recovery.
In the last general elections, in the midst of a number of issues upon which we campaigned as a party, the one that gained higher currency in the psyche of our people was that Nigerians needed leadership that could be relied upon to tackle the orgy of corruption in the country.
While our program of action identified corruption as a very dangerous challenge that must be curtailed if our country could ever generate a future of hope, the issues of collapsing educational system, diversification of our economy, fostering a welfare based agenda for the disadvantaged, infrastructural development, among others, were also very prominent in our campaign focus.
The primary attention that tackling corruption earned in the course of our campaign and in determining the final outcome of the election underpins how seriously Nigerians see corruption as a fundamental factor crippling the progress and development of the country. Nigerians are, indeed, convinced that except we curtail corruption, the country will remain in perennial regression.
It is upon this conviction of our people that corruption poses great danger and should be curtailed that we anchor our hope. It underpins our assurance that the efforts of this government in checking corruption will yield significant successes in the final outcome.
In other words, we note that sheer heroism cannot achieve the elimination of corruption from our social space. What is most required is the conviction of the populace that corruption is an antithesis to social cohesion and development, and must be eliminated. We must get to a point where every Nigerian begins to hate corruption with a passion, and collectively determine to root it out of our body polity.
Any effort to try to deal with corruption without a convinced populace will end as spasmodic, ephemeral exercise, lacking the appropriate social impact. When we are talking about corruption conventionally, it is a manifestation of the human mindset. It is the human beings that manifest corruption.
To win the war on corruption, therefore, begins with the people accepting that there is an error to be corrected in their lives, that there is a need to refocus and re-orientate the values that we cherish and hold dear. It requires change of mindset, change of attitude, and change of conduct.
The decision of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation to choose corruption as the topic of discourse at this session is, therefore, encouraging to this government, pursuant to our vision that winning the war against corruption requires our synergy, a collectivisation of our resolve that corruption must be eliminated in the social psyche of the Nigerian nation.
Even in my earlier years in service to our country, I had personally identified the destructive impact of corruption. Taken from t