Traditional head of Otumara community, High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye has identified absence of qualitative healthcare, education, affordable housing and other basic amenities for Nigerians as the basis of corruption and other vices in the country.
According to him, corruption thrives in civil service because many civil servants after retirement are faced with bleak future and stressful retirement.
In order to have a peaceful retirement, he said, they engaged in all sorts of shady dealings which include corruption, embezzlement and contracts inflation.
However to curb incessant cases of corruption among civil servants, Kalejaiye advocates provision of quality and free education, healthcare and affordable housing for both civil servants and all Nigerians.
He said, “The Federal Government established the EFCC and ICPC to tackle corruption. But beyond this, they need to identify the basis of corruption in our society and among civil servants.
To curb increasing rate of corruption in public service, government need to put in place quality education, affordable healthcare and housing.
Absence of all these are the causes of corruption and embezzlement in government ministries and parastatals. An average civil servant who has worked for 35 years but suddenly discovers that he has nothing to fall back on after retirement.
While in service, they would want to do all it takes to secure a peaceful retirement. And this is why they embezzle and steal from the coffers of the government. Similarly, absence of these things is the reason for corruption and other fraudulent acts by the citizenry.
So, government at all levels need to provide these things for the people. Both the politicians that steal from the country and civil servants that demand for kick-backs from contractors do so to be able to live a better life and send their children to best schools in the world and afford medical care abroad.
But if these are readily available in the country, issue of corruption will be reduced. Many of them would not steal if our public schools are of high standard and the housing are affordable for the citizenry, cases of corruption in public service will be minimal.”
While commenting on the dilapidated structures in public schools across most States in Nigeria couple with the low standard of teaching, Kalejaiye lauds the decision of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai for enrolling his son into the public school in the state.
He however advised other governors to emulate the path of the governor as this would bring about development and standard in public schools.
He said, “Let me once again commend Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State for enrolling his son into the public school in the State. As at the last check, I heard the boy is performing brilliantly well. El-Rufai can afford to take his son to a classy school but he chose to lead by example.
He chose to enrol his son in a public school so that they would be compelled to upgrade the standard of public education in the State.
Many of our leaders are products of free and quality education but I found it difficult to understand why they couldn’t replicate similar education policy. They prefer to fly their children abroad to study while those they rule over suffer.
I want to advise all other governors to emulate Governor El-Rufai and concentrate on improving on the standard of public education in their States.”
Housing is one of the major problems confronting many residents in Lagos State and beyond.
Kalejaiye disclosed that over 3million Lagosians are homeless while many employed residents couldn’t afford to rent a befitting accommodation.
He said in develop countries, local authorities construct and allocate accommodations but here in Nigeria, responsibilities of Local Government councils have been narrowed down to payment of workers’ salaries and minor repairs work on back street roads.
While calling on the Federal Government to grant financial autonomy to local government councils in the country, he said, “Local government administrations are not empowered to embark on capital projects and this I identify as bane on community development.
They should be grant financial autonomy. They should be mandated to construct units of accommodation for their staff.
People that have access to basic needs of life would not steal and embezzle commonwealth. But if they do, then the anti-corruption agencies can take them up.
On housing, at the beginning of year 2000, the campaign was housing for all by the year 2020, but we are in 2020, over 3million Lagosians are homeless.
Many civil servants are homeless just as we have many of them sleeping under bridges across Lagos State. The responsibility of building affordable accommodation should rest on the Local Government because they are the closest to the people but that is not to say States and federal Governments are exempted too.
In the early 80’s, accessing healthcare wasn’t an issue. I recall when I was sick and my mother who was a civil servant took me to a hospital, I was treated without her paying a dime.
The quality of care I received then without paying a dime can’t be gotten now, why is this so? Our leaders need to be responsible to our needs.”