igeria was the envy of all nations half a century ago as its economy was growing in leaps and bounds due to its high concentration of vast mineral resources, patriotic and intelligent human resources, who in their knowledge and dedication, worked tirelessly together as one for the greater good of the nation by neglecting religious, ethnicity, social background and what have you. The result of that was a robust economy, a valuable currency (a Naira exchanged for one British pound while against the US Dollar, it was half the Naira), a high living standard. Life was good! Other nations queue at various Nigerian embassies located in their country just so they could travel down here for the ‘good life’. A tearing apart started with the 1966 coup which was perceived as a sectional coup due to the fact that those that staged the coup hailed from the same region. It opened up Nigeria to a new kind of threat –sectionalism/regionalism, which to date, is one of the banes in our society. People are elected based on where they come from and not on what they are capable of. And as such, if such a person gets into power, he or she would want to do mostly the bidding of his people which birth the world of corruption and other ills in public service.
Corruption in Nigeria is frequently misconstrued and thought to be limited to merely financial embezzlement, but it involves much more. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron characterized Nigeria, along with Afghanistan, as “fantastically corrupt.” For numerous years, Transparency International listed Nigeria as the world’s second most corrupt country. Because of the extent of the theft, some of the corruption cases were so flagrant that one began to question the culprits’ mental stability.
I am curious as to how a few people might simply pilfer funds that could be used to budget expenditures for an entire fiscal year without even realizing it. According to a recent pilot study conducted by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), around 9.5 billion in bribes were sought, offered, and paid in Nigeria between 2018 and 2020.
Many individuals are beginning to doubt the anti-corruption crusade’s genuineness as a result of this. Some people believe that the anti-corruption agency is little more than a toothless bulldog and that it is more of a tool for witch-hunting and subduing political opponents. However, some of the fundamental reasons why Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts have remained a fiction include, but are not limited to:
Political corruption and infidelity among the elite; It is no exaggeration to say that the underlying cause of corruption in Nigeria is the readiness of many members of the elite to go to any length to please their lovers’ insatiable pecuniary ambitions. These ladies exploited their so-called “bottom power” to persuade the mighty to act irrationally. As the adage goes, “behind every armed robber, there is a lover”. Many men whose official status is insufficient to support their lovers’ extravagant requirements are forced to turn to white-collar crime, such as embezzlement, fraud, and other methods of obtaining money from others.
Another reason Nigeria is currently fighting to remove the corruption emblem from its forehead is due to social duties and official corruption. Many public officials have dipped their hands into the public treasury as a result of the tradition of required gift and counter-present giving. A government official in Nigeria is required to provide work for job-seeking relatives, pay school tuition for impoverished relatives, provide gifts to kinsfolk when visiting their home area, and arrange sumptuous feasts during celebrations. This creates a slew of financial commitments that go much beyond what can be defrayed from genuine earnings, particularly for people in junior and intermediate positions in the bureaucracy. This puts the officeholders in Nigeria under so much pressure since so much is expected of him from his family, kindred, the local government of origin he hails from, friends, well-wishers, and supporters too; that is, in terms of ‘helping’ them personally by dishing out money and gift to them on a regular basis and/or when they cross path because they believe he is now ‘swimming in money’ as a public servant. Those related to any public servant see their representative as an avenue to favour them personally by using the public’s fund at their disposal for them and their ally. Such is the mindset of the followers towards their leaders that encourages them to tow the path of public theft, fraud, and embezzlement.
Another factor that keeps corruption alive in Nigeria is a lack of accountability and openness in government. The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, as amended, states that the country’s leaders must be accountable to the people they govern. In practice, however, sustaining this ideal is a severe difficulty that the Nigerian political system faces on a regular basis. Even elections, which are supposed to develop accountability, have devolved into a farcical way of conferring false legitimacy and approval on the insatiable ambition and self-perpetuation of beautiful tyrants and autocrats in power. It is unfortunate that the current administration’s transparency in its performance has been a total failure, as people’s representatives at the Federal, State, and Municipal levels have resorted to unprecedented theft of the public money. Corruption is not only widespread but it is also carried out with impunity.
These so-called elites have become demigods that are now worshipped by their followers looking to get a political favour from them, and since they control (having their people implanted in Law Enforcement Agency and the Judiciary) all arms of government, they have also become untouchable, and their actions and deeds in the past up until the present, with all indubitability, have gone with the wind.
Another factor for corruption’s continued flourishing and deepening into the nation’s fabric is the rising lack of patriotism among residents. In comparison to our surrounding African countries, Nigerians’ level of patriotism is really low. That is not a good omen for whatever reason, as it foreshadows a significant threat to nation-building and security. A typical Nigerian’s allegiance is to their region and ethnic groups rather than to the country. Rather than being called Nigerians, some want to be addressed by their ethnic groupings and areas. In place of the Nigerian flag, they drive about with flags of their political parties and other First World Nations (they admire and wish to live and work). How many Nigerians, as a mark of patriotism, fly their country’s flag in their homes? The younger generation is observing and learning about everything that is going on, and they will grow up believing that there is nothing worth fighting for in this country. This country’s future is grim unless something is done about it. And, for a start, it begins with an overhaul of the mind – the way we see, view, perceive the nation and all other entities within the states. It begins with you! Yes, you!
Lastly, prebendalism should be included in the number because it has also contributed to the strengthening of corruption in Nigeria. Prebendalism is a leadership style defined by the plundering and expropriation of public goods for private and personal gain, with disastrous consequences for Nigeria and Nigerians. As a result of these factors, electrification projects have been abandoned, half-baked graduates have been produced, and pipe-borne water has been unavailable. The people are further impoverished as a result of this scenario, and they will continue to sink deeper and deeper into abject poverty.
Nigerians must therefore wake up (renewed mindset) before it is too late. Only by waking up one day will we be able to send a strong statement that our country can no longer be poorly managed. By renewing of the mind towards public service, politics, electioneering, and governance in general and also taking up a participatory role would go a long way in bringing about the much-needed clamour for a positive change. We should begin voting for men and women who want the best for us. We will never see peace unless corruption is treated as a crime against humanity, with severe penalties imposed accordingly. This would only be achieved if the Nigerian people recognize that corruption is a bad thing, which will mark the beginning of the country’s anti-corruption campaign.
I strongly propose that the President, considered as the father of the nation, should start by dedicating a live 10 minute ‘Goodwill Message’ to the citizen every morning by 7 AM prompt every day of the week. And, this should be broadcast on all terrestrial media in the land without fail. Contained in this broadcast would be a reminder of the need to be upright, diligent, dedicated, having the fear for God and respect for fellow citizens, respecting other citizen’s right, law-abiding, and so on. By so doing, this would start registering in the minds of the people and subliminally, they will start behaving in like minds. Word works wonder and its power cannot be underestimated and the Book of all books also attested to this in many instances thus:
“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
“Gentle words bring life and health.”
“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
“Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”
And lastly, “faith cometh by hearing…”, in other words, “good action and deeds come by constantly hearing good words”, especially when the word is coming from a father, a leader who also demonstrates the importance of such words by putting it into action (that is, doing like manners).