The present administration in Nigeria was voted to power with the promise to fight corruption in the country. Most of us do know that public procurement is the use of public funds for the provision of public goods, works and services, which is an area most vulnerable to abuses that could lead to corruption. Public procurement provides the link between public officials and the private sector in the provision of public goods, works and services. The engineers play very active roles in the provision of these services, the services used here in general term to include works and supply of goods.
The term corruption has been so commonly used and abused that the full import is ‘corrupted’. The word corruption has become so casually used that people are beginning to lose the full meaning and the impact in the society. Corruption is a global word, known and present in all countries. The difference is in the scale and the societal abhorrence of its existence. The World Bank defines corruption as the abuse of public office for personal gain while Wikipedia defines ‘corruption as a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit”.
Corruption is an improbity or decay in the decision-making process in which a decision-maker consents to deviate or demands deviation from the criterion which should rule his or her decision-making, in exchange for a reward or for the promise or expectation of a reward, while these motives influencing his or her decision-making cannot be part of the justification of the decision”. Corruption is like a virus that shuts down any system in which it is tolerated. Since virus by its nature cannot be killed, unlike bacteria, it can only be prevented or managed once infected.
Fighting corruption shouldn’t, therefore, be about talking but it should be about building anti-corruption systems that will make it impossible for corrupt practices to thrive. From the definition of corruption, it will be hard to see any Nigerian who is not corrupt. From the corporate world to professional associations, religious bodies, traditional institutions and to various tiers of government. A system that gives credit to people whether elected or appointed for government projects, undermines the war against corruption.
When elected officials take credit for government projects in their constituencies and adorn Solar Street lights and Transformers with their photographs, or appointed ministers donate buses to each local government area of his state or take credit for Federal Government intervention in their states, they unwittingly are creating doubts in the minds of the people as to the efficiency of the War Against Corruption
Role of the Engineers and other Construction Industry Professionals in Fighting Corruption
Each construction industry professionals has its code of conduct that will usually result in loss of license to practice if violated. Luckily the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers has a Code of Civil Engineering Conduct. For the purpose of this article, I will just quote from a section of the code.
Section (iii) states “It shall be considered unprofessional and inconsistent with honourable and dignified conduct and contrary to the public interest for any member of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers
– To exert undue influence or to offer, request or accept compensation for affecting negotiations for an engineering engagement;
– To use the advantages of a salaried position to compete unfairly with other engineers and
– To accept payment for services rendered other than from his clients or his employer.
The Code of Conduct for engineers prohibits them from acting in any way that is against the public interest in the discharge of their professional duties. Accepting or offering a bribe to secure contract or effect payment for jobs duly certified, accepting gifts of value as a gratuity, kickbacks etc. are all acts not permitted in the Code of Conduct.
Engineers awarding the contract to themselves or to companies they have interest in without declaring their interest to the awarding authority is a common practice which the Code frowns at. Compelling contractors to award subcontracted jobs to them or to companies they have interest in is a sure way engineers’ ability to fight corruption will be called to question.
Corruption as a global phenomenon thrives where institutions and systems are weak. Development and deployment of preventive measures (technology) are the latest strategies being used by developed nations in minimizing corruption. Those who still try to beat the system are easily caught and jailed in record time without a blink of an eye as to their social or political standing in the society because the system does not recognize social or political ranking as everybody is equal before the law. Engineers on their part, due to their critical role in public infrastructure delivery, are exposed to corruption
Culled from the Housing News | Fighting Corruption in Nigeria; The Role of Construction Industry Professionals