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The Ubiquity Of Corruption And The Blame Game In Nigeria

Prof. Adekunle Akinyemi

“Corruption comes from low self-esteem, poor self-concept, low self-worth, fear of scarcity, and high manifestation of insecurity”. – Myles Monroe
“Blame is like the lightening; it hits the highest”. – Baltasar Gracian

“The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame it on”. – Jones’s Law

“Corruption is a result of a poor poverty mentality”. – Myles Monroe

“He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven”. – Saying (Hindu)

The above quotations are more than enough to convince Nigerians that the Looters and Kleptomaniacs in our societies should no more be celebrated. They also should not only be named and shamed but also be publicly disgraced. The truth is that their disease has resulted from their warped ego (low self-esteem, poor self-concept, high manifestation of insecurity and poor poverty mentality) which propel them into corruption, stealing, and looting, to boost their ego, ultimately resulting in the impoverishment of the masses. In the end, when caught they blame it on others, not only because it is convenient to do so but because, in the words of Mark Twain,” there are many scapegoats for our blunders, but the most popular one is Providence”.

The title of this article has been coined to underscore the omnipresence of the evil of corruption in every nation, tribe, workplace, religious, social and political gatherings. Nigeria is not an exception to the rule. In fact, the very art of corruption had been with us from the beginning of time. Our culture as Nigerians, came with some attributes which have today been abused and distorted. For example, it is part of our culture to show ‘appreciation’ to those who have done us some good or favours. In some cultures of Africa, many people offer ‘gifts’, ‘encouragers’ and ‘inducers’ to influence and encourage others to do their works and hasten performing their jobs and responsibilities. On certain assignments and even on delivery of services, people give what the Westerners call ‘Tips’. In Yorubaland, august visitors are entertained lavishly and given ‘Kola nuts’ and ‘Bitter Kola’.

Until the last half a century or so, these gestures of ‘giving and receiving gifts’ (grg) of reasonable sizes and dimensions were acceptable. Today, these culture and gestures of grg have been seriously abused and grossly distorted. Rather than being offered as voluntary gestures, they are now being openly demanded. Instead of types and kinds of gifts being left to the discretion of the giver, gifts are now being negotiated. Instead of gifts being delivered as convenient for the giver, the receiver now dictates the time and place of delivery. To worsen it all, these are now done upfront!

These new dimensions to the former acts of simple gestures of giving and receiving, are what we now know as corruption. Small and Large sums of money of different currencies (denominations) are being demanded or stolen from public and private coffers without qualms. Properties of different types and sizes are being demanded or offered as compensations, kickbacks and paybacks for services completed (in some cases abandoned), located in different parts of the world. These are the corruption dimensions today that are making the simple art of appreciation, to attain a different status from mere kind gestures to Grand CORRUPTION!

Nigeria’s type of corruption, has graduated to the level that a former British Prime Minister, David Cameron said, “…. Nigeria is a fantastically corrupt nation………..If UK were to have been that badly looted, UK would not have been able to survive it ……….!” It is unfortunate that Nigeria’s ugly stories of corruption are told and bemoaned almost everywhere. The Global anti- corruption watchdog, Transparency International ranks Nigeria low in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) with the latest ranking having Nigeria in the 148th position out of 180 with her score of 28 out 100. This is a figure lower than the average, in the Sub-Sharan region. This world corruption index rating, reveals the seriousness of the problem of corruption in Nigeria with her lowest rating along with other developing countries.

In reality, it is not possible to find any nation state in the world which can be certified corruption free. Not even Britain or the United States of America can boast of being corruption free to date. There must exist some type of history to this effect, no matter how short lived or trivial in severity. There would have been such history or report of previous occurrences of corruption. However, over the years many countries have successfully created institutions and devised effective measures to contain and minimize the scope and levels of corruption.

I have tried to extend my research on the subject of corruption to almost everywhere and found out that nowhere is spared or can be exonerated from corruption in one shade or form or another. Let us take a look at the definition for example, in its simplistic form, it starts from ‘stealing’. A former Nigerian President, Dr. Ebele Jonathan was embroiled in a serious argument trying to say that stealing was not corruption. He could not sustain the argument as stealing or pilfering in whatever form or in whatever place, home, office, of what belongs to others, constitutes corruption. Going by this argument, it is clear and convincing that most human beings have taken, stolen or pilfered before, even if only food items, such as meat from mother’s pot or toys belonging to playmates or writing materials during their youth or childhood days!

I came across another presentation very recently where Myles Monroe shed a different light on leadership and corruption. I have decided to produce that presentation so that our corrupt Nigerians may desist after these excellent revelations about leadership and the awful revelations about corruption thereof.

Monroe reveals that “Nothing is worse than allowing a poor person to enter a place of power because they use the power to empower and enrich themselves (corruption). True leaders do not use their power to empower themselves; they use the power to serve others……., stamp out corruption, try to destroy the spirit of selfishness, and want to see the service of the people as a priority …….… Leadership is not measured by how many people serve you, it is measured by how many people you serve. Service is the greatest act of leadership. Serving the people is why you exist……Any time a leader wants to be served, that is not a leader, that is a parasite……

Corruption is a result of a poor poverty mentality. King Solomon said, woe to the land (country) when a slave becomes the king, meaning a country will be destroyed if the person in power thinks like a slave…… A slave is someone who is being stripped of everything, the spirit of scarcity and lack is in their minds so they want everything for themselves….…… That is why poverty remains in many countries – because the person in charge (leader) is a slave, mentoring others or has a slave mentality. ……… Corruption to me, is like cancer that comes from low self-esteem, poor self-concept, low self-worth, fear of scarcity and highest manifestation of insecurity”. – Myles Monroe

The future of Africa is going to be in the hands and hearts of young and old people who appreciate the fact that greatness in leadership is in empowering other people and not in pursuing power, in serving other people and not in being served. It is in being transparent and accountable. It is all about integrity. These remain our only way out of the quagmire in which we have found ourselves in Nigeria today. Corruption has to be understood in this light, as an ego deflating act for people to start embracing transparency and integrity.

History is replete with information on the prevalence of corruption especially Nigeria. It is fashionable for many highly placed individuals to distance themselves from bad stories of graft and corruption with the passage of time.

For example, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) has been cautioned to desist from saying and behaving like his era, as Nigeria’s Head of State (1966-1975), was indeed corruption-free.

The Guardian of May 27th 2018 titled Gowon Desecrated History, reports that “……… Nigerian rulers have had to manipulate the history of their record in office to suit their whim. History ought to be sacred as the ultimate guide of a people…… the history of a nation is subjected to deliberate distortions……. This has been Nigeria’s lot. …. General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) did what amounted to a desecration of history when he said ‘During our time, we did not know anything like corruption’. He went a great length to buttress his assertion……he could become Saint Yakubu Gowon! What Gowon told his audience was far from the truth. The government he led from the hurly-burly of 1966 to the sedate ambience of 1975 was one of massive corruption. Those who toppled his government in 1975 did so for two reasons namely; graft and his reneging on the promise to return Nigeria. …….. What followed Gowon’s ouster was a massive war against corruption, which culminated in the sack of over ten thousand workers. Gowon’s ministers and governors were highly corrupt. The corruption story involving Joseph Tarka, one of Gowon’s Ministers, became a metaphor for corruption. Of the twelve governors under him, only two were cleared of corruption charges!” (The Guardian, 27th May, 2018).

Further, Late General Murtala Mohammed, the one who took over from the ousted Gowon’s regime, realised that many of them in governance (Military and Political Office holders) at that time had more properties beyond the limits of their legitimate salaries and means. He forced them to shed some properties as they moved on with governance of the nation at that time.

Can we now attempt to redefine corruption and/or try to ‘plug the loop holes’ and ‘avenues of corruption’ as often said and advocated by the current Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, if Nigeria wants to move on. If all the corrupt Nigerians will have to be jailed, Nigeria may have to convert a whole State into a gigantic Prison yard, in terms of space required. If they have to be killed, the grave yard may extend from Lagos to Ghana and there will be no peace in the graveyard anymore! Our best option therefore is to plug the corruption holes, checkmate the Kleptomaniacs and move on as a nation. Like Late General Murtala Mohammed did – let the corrupt return their loots, seize whatever can be seized, and jail those who deserve to be jailed, to serve as deterrents to others.

The Nasarawa Mirror reported General Yakubu Gowon’s advice to Buhari as quoted below with respect to excuses and the bad use of the blame game:

“There was corruption in Nigeria when Awolowo built Cocoa House, TV Station, and the first University in Africa.

There was corruption in Nigeria when IBB built Third Mainland Bridge, built Aso Rock, National Assembly Complex, turned Abuja into our Federal Capital Territory.

There was corruption in Nigeria when Obasanjo brought GSM, Banking Reform, Police Reform, Civil Defense etc.

There was corruption when Jonathan introduced BVN and PVC, built 12 new Federal Universities, revamped railway lines, made our economy fastest growing in Africa and third in the world.

If anyone tells you the reason Buhari is not working is that he inherited corruption, tell them great leaders don’t blame people and events for their failures…… They simply accept responsibility and move on. Ask them, what has Buhari after all the fake promise of fixing power in 6 wks, reducing pump price to #45 naira, making N1 equal to a $1, stopping Boko Haram etc. It is a shame.

The inferno truth is, corruption started from heaven when Satan violated a privilege given him. That never stopped God’s works. He waited for God to create man and brought his lawlessness and corruption into the garden of Eden. God wasn’t moved. He introduced a redemption plan. The Savior was born, sadly Judas Iscariot was there. Not discouraged yet, He gave us God the Holy Spirit.

If anyone tells you the reason Buhari is not working is that he inherited corruption, tell them corruption is rooted in the DNA of homo sapiens (Latin-wise man) because we are just mere mortal infected with a virus of good and evil. Yet great leaders don’t blame people and events for their failures. They simply accept responsibility and move on……..” Nasarawa Mirror, April 14, 2018

The above revelations and facts underscore the ubiquity and the never- ending disease known as corruption (even as this Nasarawa quote is unedited or empirically proven). However, many countries have succeeded in finding lasting solutions to control/contain corruption problems over a period of time. An article on this forum titled Panacea to Nigeria’s survival: Enduring Institutions, written by this author describes the efficacy of Institutions in keeping citizens under check, where such Institutions are strictly enforced and justice is no respecter of individuals. The best solution and cure, remain the establishment and entrenchment of such mechanisms and Institutions, which can plug the holes, whenever and wherever they surface in the Nigerian environments. It is a truism that if one sets out to eliminate the Kleptomaniacs, one will almost wipe out the entire population of Nigerians! It is hard to find many honest, incorruptible Nigerians these days. The only realistic thing we can do is to draw the line from now on when it will no longer be fashionable to be corrupt and live under false pretenses. Corruption should henceforth be branded a taboo in our society.

The peculiarity in Nigeria’s brand of corruption has been attributed to and blamed on the faulty structure of the nation. This is why the clamour for restructuring has become the popular song on the lips of many tribes and groups of Nigerians. We must, as a matter of urgency, determine to put an end to corruption and indiscipline of all sorts in the nation for proper development and growth. Restructuring of our faulty structure and foundation may be able to win the battle for us in Nigeria. Corruption and indiscipline affect all sectors in the life of any nation. Our value system needs to be re-configured and this must start from self to homes, schools, communities, states, and the nation at large. The national orientation or reorientation pursuit should be a conscious effort of the governments at all levels, not only to repair our value system but also to promote the spirit of patriotism and nationalism. All Compatriots should arise to save Nigeria.

The law enforcement and judiciary segments are pivotal in our struggle to rid our society of corruption. All citizens must be equal before the law. We need to stop making a mockery of the laws and the agencies that enforce our laws. The people with vested interests, nepotism, tribalism should be removed if our laws will start to have meanings. Our Police Force will need to be reformed and revamped with good trainings, salaries and benefits to avoid and jettison the prevalent wave of bribery and corruption in the society. The Judiciary must equally be given back the respect and honour previously accorded them with salaries and benefits to make it unnecessary for them to be bribable or bribed. The Federal Government should be serious and conscious about the review of salaries, remunerations, benefit and welfare packages of our law enforcement and judicial sectors. Their welfare packages must be revised and improved to be at par with the rest of the world, more so as our Law Makers (Senators and Representatives) earn more than their counterparts in the UK or USA! Nigeria also needs to encourage her Police Force and the Judiciary to make them contribute genuinely in the dispensation of justice and fight against corruption in the society.

Successive governments in Nigeria had thrived on the easy application and use of the blame game. It had been conveniently used as easy excuses for their gross inability to perform. In the light of the recent developments in Nigeria, this will no longer be tenable. Anyone or group which aspires to the leadership position at any level in Nigeria, must be ready and willing to face whatever ordeal it encounters in such positions. Whatever corruption and shortcomings get revealed must be arrested, corrected and fixed without wasting time playing the blame game. We must shed the cloak of corruption.

Today, in preparing to occupy political or other positions, aspirants must anticipate untold hardships and problems and be prepared to solve them and move on. Time for story telling is over in Nigeria. Those in governance must remember the wise saying that “Success and excuses do not talk together, if you want excuses, forget about success. If you want success, do not give excuses!” Our new breed of leaders, young or old, analogue or digital, must be ready for proper governance otherwise be ready to face the wrath of the impatient Nigerians. Who can blame them? They have had more than enough share of the shenanigans from their past leaders. Welcome to the new Nigeria of our dream! Long live Nigeria.

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