In the words of David Hume, corruption of the best things gives birth to the worst things. Nigeria as a country started well, with available human and natural resources. Its potentials, its seemingly predictable greatness on the African continent plummeted on account of interconnected strings of impunity, ferried across governments to breed monumental corruption. It therefore didn’t take long before Nigeria became one of the worst examples of how not to plan or govern a country.
Nigeria has a history of leaders who are self-serving and in constant thirst for selfish and personal goals at the expense of broader national interests. Sadly, emphasis has been on personal aggrandisement and self-glorification with the result that corruption has become an euphemism for explaining political leadership in Nigeria in relation to the management of national wealth. It is a fact that Nigeria is the world’s 8th largest exporter of crude oil, and endowed with many natural resources, still has more than 70 percent of its population living below the poverty line as a result of corruption and economic mismanagement.
It is established that corruption is evil and like all evils it destroys, hence the quotation of Albert Einstein that “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything” must be seen from its general and specific meaning. Nigerians has generally condemned corruption but its specific and most personal rejection of corruption is what many have failed to even see as the worst corruption. Based on the foregoing therefore, corruption must never be limited to politicians alone but must be seen as a cankerworm eating almost everybody. Like the nuisance that it is, it must be killed before it kills – a cure must be sought for everybody regardless of age, culture and religion.
As the celebration of the President Muhammadu Buhari propagated change mantra is gaining speed, the words of Robert Greene (1833-1866) remain indelible as he maintained that “There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence. The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced”. Nigerians must indeed look beyond the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ‘locust’ years (1999-2015), look beyond the hopeful ‘bountiful years’ of Buhari administration (2015-2019). They must look inwards – a time for soul search is upon us.
It is time for Nigerians to avoid allowing themselves see corruption and impunity from other peoples point of view. Nigerians must learn to first critic themselves before judging others. It is indeed important to work out the Buhari – led corruption crusade across party platforms, across ethnic underpinning, across religious cleavages. Once Nigerians can wholeheartedly condemn corruption regardless of afore mentioned understanding, the fight will be holistic and indeed impactful and corruption will not and cannot fight back.
It is therefore instructive to intimate that until the philosophy of all Nigerians comes clean of ethnic, religious sentiments, until that day Nigerians will first imbibe the sprit of football support for the Super Eagles on the premise of one Nigeria, no successive Nigerian president will ever have a national acceptance.
Interestingly, Jonathan has been owned by a section of the country as “our golden” son who is the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria. Buhari is seen as a “Hausa” dictator who is almost worshipped by a section of the country. Hence the divide which has a coinage the “wailing wailers” and the “Buhari worshippers” or the “wailing wailers and the Hailing Hailers”. To state it clearly, those holding these parochial sentiments are morally, socially and indeed pathologically corrupt. It is therefore based on this devious, asinine fragmentation that Nigeria has been bugged down by impunity – moving a step forward and many steps in backward direction.
It is indeed instructive to intimate that it is not all Nigerians that are truly queuing behind the change mantra. Some are indeed angered by what the projected good will do for the country since their interests are aligned towards keeping people under the leash of poverty, which satisfies their business and power game. Others see it as their chance to grab power, hold on to it because they are “the best” group to manage Nigeria’s collective prebend. Once again, the fight against corruption, just like managing terrorism needs education. The prisons for convicted corrupt leaders are all interim measures. The most effective is the aspect of moralisation imparted through knowledge, which must be ingrained.
What differentiates a government driver from a private organisation’s driver is the mentality, motivation and availability of punitive measures. Government drivers, especially the police scrap their vehicles because no one will call for accountability, no incentives and no punishment, their submission always – “na government vehicle”. Until Nigerians learn to own everything, until Nigerians learn to stop urinating or dumping fecal matter in public places, until government starts providing conveniences, articulated waste disposal technique, until Nigerians learn to be independent of stipends from politicians, until politics is no longer a profit venture, impunity will remain domiciled in us. We must let the pains of the past be the gain of tomorrow. Let the ‘wailers’ and the ‘hailers’ understand the actual meaning of change so they can change the meaning of their splinter positions for the unity, strength and development of Nigeria.
—Ebije wrote in from Abuja