Former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has stated that it is virtually impossible to emerge a billionaire in Nigeria’s socio-economic environment without drawing near to corruption.
Akinyemi made the disclosure at the second inauguration lecture of Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Akinyemi said, “No one can be a billionaire in Nigeria today without being corrupt. If you are a businessman, you would have evaded tax or other levies like import duties with the active connivance of those in charge.
“Your entire income as a political office holder, either elected or appointed, cannot make you a billionaire without indulging in corrupt practices. It is also not possible for you to work and retire as a civil servant in whatever capacity and become a billionaire without being corrupt.
“I know I am stepping on sensitive toes but I can handle that. Unless our leaders tackle the issue of corruption and offer selfless service to the people, our democracy may not produce the desired development we are all expecting.”
He said Nigerians had sacrificed integrity and hardwork on the altar of greed, indiscipline, selfishness and insatiable craze for material wealth.
He said, “There are no more values to hold on to. Parents not only encourage their children to cheat in order to beat the system but also aid and abet them in their nefarious activities. No one believes anymore in the concept of society.
“Nigerians have created their own God in their own image. In my youth, to be accused of theft or any other criminal offence was tantamount to being banished from the society while to be convicted was tantamount to suicide.
“However, today, no one asks for the source of wealth. People in jail, accused of murder run for, and win elections.
“More than a score of members of the Senate have EFCC court cases hanging against them. Only in Nigeria do you steal billions and escape with less than a million naira fine.”
He said military coups were responsible for the rot of the system and that a new crop of leaders “must make a conscious effort to arrive at a consensus that will be outcome of negotiation, give and take and compromises.”