Corruption has become such a huge joke in Nigeria and fighting it has become a bigger joke; a melodrama of some sort. Every government that comes to power accuses the government it has replaced or rigged out of power of corruption. Fighting corruption has become the greatest and cheapest propaganda tool not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Former British Prime Minister John Major was kicked out of office by Tony Blair because, among other accusations, his Parliamentarians were allegedly selling favours in parliament to corporations. The huge difference between fighting corruption in Nigeria and other countries of the world is instant dispensation of justice once you are found guilty of corruption by a competent court of law. In Nigeria ‘big men’ swim in corruption and the best swimmers are applauded not only by judges but also by the idiotic spectators who have been robbed silly of their patrimony.
What is really worrisome is the fact that Nigerians hardly know what constitutes corruption. Corruption is wrongly perceived and limited to stealing whereas corruption has many feathers, many fathers, many mothers, many husbands and wives, many children and grandchildren, many players and grandmasters, and of course hundreds of thousands of cousins. Corruption is a puppet as well as a puppeteer. If you have one million Nigerians assembled in a hall, every one of them would be condemning corruption and blaming every Nigerian of being corrupt, which literally translates to an admission that all the 180, 193, 198 [nobody is sure of the actual count] million Nigerians are corrupt!
Those who mouth the word corruption are probably not aware that telling lies is one fat leg of corruption. Fraud is also a fat arm of corruption. Extortion of any kind is another leg of hydra-headed corruption. Taking advantage of or exploitation of another person is a cruel form of corruption. Forcing your employees or students or those who are not in position to refuse your bullying to submit their bodies in exchange for favours is another cancerous form of corruption. But the father and mother of corruption is NEPOTISM. Nepotism is a grand design to appropriate what belongs to all to a few in your clannish nest. And when nepotism is paraded as a national creed it breeds all sorts of acrimony, ill-feeling, disaffection, greed, impunity, mediocrity, arrogance, stealing, and backwardness.
There are many; varied and various causes of corruption depending on the society, the country, the religious inclination and indoctrination, the political system, the moral and social ethos, and the history and antecedents of the community or communities involved. In the particular and peculiar case of Nigeria, adjudged wrongly and unfortunately as the most corrupt country on earth, the root and underlying cause of the various facets of corruption is ethno-religious/geopolitical cum built-in ‘master-servant’ ideology. This has led to over centralization of the command structure of the political terrain leading to brazen thievery of the commonwealth. All the ills and negativities of corruption shall remain with Nigeria and continue to bedevil her for as long as this ‘over centralization of the command structure’ remains.
In a lecture I gave at Mayflower School Ikenne in 1976 to mark the end- of- year and graduating ceremonies of the college I opined that ‘corruption is a product of shortage culture’. I illustrated further that if in a Girls School of 1000 students there were only 200 buckets of water available for their daily use, whoever was in charge of the distribution of the scarce water would per force be corrupt or corrupted. Women badly need water for their daily hygiene and would go any length to procure that necessity. Water to women is an ‘essential commodity’! But if there were 5000 buckets of water available to the1000 students, none of the girls would bother about where the water came from, except the greedy ones who would want to corner more than their normal share!
With the over flowing availability of modern telephony nobody goes cap-in-hand wooing the P&T staffers as it was in the days of yore. And with the Pay-as-you-go metering system the incident of offering bribes to NEPA people has drastically reduced. The obvious explanation is the death of shortage culture in regards to telephoning and the ‘pay-as-you-go metering has reduced the roguish intrusion of NEPA bribe extortionists.
In my generation, once you possessed the right qualifying grades you were automatically guaranteed University admission. Even though the Universities were few and those seeking admission were also few, there were no politically and mischievously built in regulations designed to shackle the educational growth of a section of the country while promoting mediocrity in the other. There was no JAMBAFORITI which has ruined the lives of thousands of brilliant young men and women whose only crime is that they were born in communities that valued Western education. The same JAMBAFORITI has brought about students who were abs initio not qualified to enter University but who must now offer their bodies for marks in order to continue in class or ‘graduate’. In my time, University authorities DETRMINED and DECIDED who to admit, as it is done in liberal democracies all over the world.
It is therefore no longer amusing or fashionable for any power seeker to come round telling us he is going to fight corruption when he or she is corruption- infested and does not really understand what they are talking about. How can you fight corruption in a country where parliamentary seats are skewed up deliberately and insidiously to perpetually put a section of the country in advantage over others? How do you fight corruption in a country where cows and goats are counted as human beings in population census? How do you fight corruption in a country where all those who decide who is corrupt are from just one village? How do you fight corruption in a country where all the Security apparatus of the state are chosen from one tiny corner of the country? How do you fight corruption in a country where mediocrity is the national Anthem?
President Muhammadu Aleko Buhari must find a new song to sing to convince Nigerians that he is credible and fit to rule over them for another 4 years. His old song of ‘I will fight corruption, create jobs and fight insecurity’ has become a jerked record. Buhari was certainly not telling the truth when he submitted that for 12 or so years his 150 heads of cattle did not increase by if only one! He must have realized by now that his government would rank among the most corrupt in recent history. Most of the so-called ‘leaders’ in his political party and government are sure candidates for jail, were they to live in a country seriously bothered about corruption.
Our President must also admit that he was not telling the truth when he proclaimed that he belonged to nobody but belonged to all. He knows and we all know where he rightly and decidedly belongs and who his allies are. It is President Buhari alone who knows his mind, but even as closed as his mind may appear to be, Nigerians have read his mind through his actions and inactions. The farce and melodramatic theatricalities of fighting corruption must stop. We are no longer amused. Nobody is clapping. Nobody is applauding. Our cherished values as human beings have been brutishly stamped upon. Our lands and farms have been plundered. Our husbands and sons have been massacred. Our wives and daughters have been raped and slaughtered. And our able bodied highly skilled young men and women have been driven to desperation and hopelessness. Corruption has become pandemic.
President Buhari must therefore find a new song, and with the song retire to Daura and tend his cows that have refused to multiply.