Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index named Singapore as the fifth-least corrupt country in the world. How did Singapore achieve this feat since the country was once known for corruption and poor governance? According to Professor John S. T. Quah (one of the world’s foremost experts on corruption and governance in Asia) Tough laws significantly reduced the level corruption in the Asian country. The country came up with incredibly stringent draconian penal code. For example, jaywalking, littering, and spitting could get citizens arrested. Failing to flush a public toilet or chewing gum in the open could each lead to a fine, and vandalism is punished by canning. Those accused of corruption usually face a 5-year jail term and up to $80000 fine. Quah also suggests that there are four lessons that could be learnt from Singapore’s examples.
- Political will is the key ingredient for success
- The anti-corruption agency must be independent from the police and political control.
- The anti-corruption agency must be incorruptible.
- Minimize corruption by tackling its major sources: low salaries, ample opportunities, and poor policing.
Prof Quah also emphasized that political will is the most crucial factor. According to him “The principal people who can change a culture of corruption if they wish to do are politicians. This is because they make the laws and allocate the funds that enable the laws to be enforced.”
So a good question to ask is: can Nigeria implement Singapore’s model to tackle its endemic corruption? Absolutely. Although it will be impossible to come up with stringent draconian penal code under a democratically elected government, Buhari’s government can however study the four lessons above and implement them in his war against corruption and poor governance. Furthermore, like Singapore ‘s leader determined the causes (low salaries, limited opportunities and poor policing) of corruption in his country, President Buhari needs to determine the fundamental factors motivating corruption so as to come up with sustainable solutions.