Corruption, for most of us, almost immediately evokes images of the third world especially countries like Nigeria, Mexico and India. Whilst we may concede that corruption exists in developed countries it is generally thought to be under control. Despite such widely-held views there is very little hard evidence on the actual extent of corruption in any country.
Corruption is a Nigerian: corruption is a Nigerian way of life, no matter how we want to pretend otherwise. It is endorsed by our masses, supported in the religious circle and above all encouraged by the faulty system, the institutions. Many countries – even the advanced democracies – have more than their own fair share of corruption. It seems like a comfortable zone for us as a nation.
However, what makes the difference is that in those countries, there’s no elite and popular consensus accepting corruption, as a national way of life, as, it is, in Nigeria. And of course, there’s an irreducible minimum of good governance, which includes; infrastructure, not “audio infrastructure” stable electricity, social welfare and basic services that corruption and elite’s greed cannot tamper with.
Therefore, it was with cautious optimism and less excitement, that, I embraced, the idea of “We are fighting corruption” When in reality it is the opposite. At the breaking news of the 80 Billion Naira fraud of Nigeria’s Accountant General, Ahmed Idris. I was not surprised at all and can never be! I have written about Nigeria; severally, that, 99% have cut and sewn their cloth, into different styles, from the same running fabric – no matter the style, the attire will run and fade (underdevelopment in all its ramifications and stagnation) .
The politicians, business men and women, Civil Servants, Academics, religion personalities, teachers, traders, judiciary, etc cannot operate or go in a different direction towards probity and accountability because they are all in the same bus driving in one direction and fueled by impunity. Some are saying they don’t want to go in the said direction but cannot get off the bus, because the driver won’t stop to let them down. Some, the RECALCITRANTS would jump off to go in a different direction. In so doing they would be injured to different extent; some would die from their injuries, some would be maimed and disabled for life, some would heal and continue the journey in the different direction.
This is why I say that there are 3 classes of people in Nigeria – SLAVE (passengers in the bus), ENSLAVERS (bus driver) and RECALCITRANTS (those that jump off the bus, survive their injuries, but continue to nurse residual effect; these are the REFORMERS and real leaders). Unfortunately, the society enabled corruption, that is the greatest problem about it all.
The numbers of “Ahmed Idris” in our system are uncountable. “Idris” may just be the fall-guy. I once wrote about “Rodents in our vault”, this is just tip in the iceberg. Nigerians, seems trapped in vicious cycle of deprivation, corruption and repression. The stories are not a reflection of strange evolutionary behaviour. They highlight the profound corruption problems that exist in Nigeria.
When a team of auditors recently tried to check the accounts of the Nigerian exam board for public universities, ₦36m (naira) (about US$100,000) could not be accounted for. A clerk reported that the money had been stolen from the vault by a “snake”, which swallowed it. Then, in February, a senator, defending a colleague accused of misappropriating funds, suggested that a missing ₦70m (about US$194,600) was carted away by monkeys on the other senator’s farm.
At inception of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) which was inaugurated on 29 September 2000 following the recommendation of then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The creation of the commission was expected to mitigate the effects of the monster called corruption. But, instead, it became nothing, other than a job for the boys or at best an instrument of repression in the hands of the political gladiators. Similarly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – was created to eradicate economic and financial crimes through prevention, enforcement and coordination.
At the fullness of time, a true REVOLUTION of values, will make us to question the past and present malfeasance, which includes; squandering of riches and plundering of resources. Arise ‘o compatriots.
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI