Josephine Agwu is a cleaner who works at the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos. At sighting a cash of $12,000 within the airport, all that comes to her mind was, “this is not mine, I must return it to the authority.” She did exactly what her mind told her and what followed her action was absurd and appalling.
“Was she destined to be poor in life?”. “If she doesn’t need it, can’t she give it to a relative who is in need?”. “Eeyah! Had it been I was the one who saw the money, alele!”.
These are echoes from some Nigerians following Josephine’s decision to return such a huge amount of money. That was sometimes ago and things are not as hard as it is now in the country.
The economy is bitten harder day by day but that doesn’t stop another person who shares a similar thought with Josephine to take the path of honour. That person was Mohammed Ogbanago. Ogbanago works with a popular commercial bank in Lagos as a security guard attached to the bank’s entrance and recently the sum of $10,000 got lost from a customer in the bank but on sighting the money, he returned it to the authority. Again, there was a cacophony of condemnation from those who saw his action as continuous sanction of poverty by the man.
In a recent interview he granted a Nigerian newspaper which I read online, Ogbanago said he did the action to convince many Nigerians and the world over that not every Nigerian is “fantastically corrupt” as erroneously opined by former British PM, David Cameron.
Indeed Nigerians are specially made people who are hardworking and the most happiest people on earth. We are people who turns every situation to anything you can think of, be it joke or satire. In fact, the late music icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti captured it well when he described Nigerians as people who enjoys suffering and smiling.
Before now, Nigerians hardly take other person’s property because their own is ever enough for them to savour. The fear of God was there and people’s conscience were still intact and working perfectly. Then you can display your wares outside without having to stay there while buyers only take their needs and drop their moneys as well. There was a high level of trust. Everything was working in Nigeria including the “powerful” power sector.
Things later changed with corruption becoming the norm in the society. Kidnapping, cultism and ritual killings then followed while rape, adultery, fornication and lack of respect for the elderly coupled with a new generation of Nigerians who believe in cutting corners to reach the El Dorado.
The internet age further dealt a big blow to our morality with the emergence of “yahoo boys” and “e-dating” which has led to many becoming victim of rape and assault in the hands of their predators. It also cemented the activities of advanced free fraudsters also known as 419.
So in the Nigeria of today, for you to be morally upright and tries to preach it while also practicing it, then you must be ready to bear the brunt from every Tom, Dick and Harry. You will be chastised and call all sort of names. Hence being upright in Nigeria most especially if you want to come up with an anti corruption toga, your skin has to be thick.
The case of Nigeria is closely related to the people of Prophet Lot who was described in the Bible as well as the Quran as a pious leader. His people were so corrupt that they were obsessed with anyone who tries to preach morality and a corrupt free society. They were the foremost of mankind who practiced homosexuality. They even tried to rape the guests of the prophet hence indicating the height of their moral decadence.
The people of Lot were so obsessed with anything good that they vowed to drive away anyone who tries to uphold justice, equity and fairness among them. Their end was disastrous and the rest is history till today.
For Nigerians we have surpassed the feat achieved by the people of Lot as we are totally obsessed with every form of policy or reform that will bring about sanity into our ever decayed system. Or how do we explain the scenario whereby someone found a missing money or valuables and decided to return it since his or her conscience will prick him or her but our response to such person(s) will be to rain curses on them, saying they can never make it again in life.
We have lost our morality and it is even difficult to be just and fair or even speak the truth knowing fully well that doing such may lead to the end of the road. The girls have no shame again. The boys are ready made rogues while their parents have no moral justification to even tailor their lives to live a life full of dedication to humanity through handwork and above all the fear of God.
Most parents even buy certificates for their children and also steal public funds in their name – even the unborn children have existing accounts dedicated to them. Corruption is now part of our life and that’s why it is now a burden to many Nigerians since the start of the Buhari government. The government have been blocking their illegal routes and also seizing their properties which were gotten from fraudulent means.
For the first time in Nigeria’s history, a sitting Governor’s account is frozen having been found liable to have gotten the money in the account from fraudulent means. The number three citizen in the country is also on trial while revelations are already unfolding about the number four citizen following allegations that he “padded” the country’s 2016 budget.
One thing that baffles me about some Nigerians on the ongoing battle against corruption is the fact that some of them are saying that the government should “bring back corruption” stating that the present state of the economy is as a result of the president’s fight against corruption. They had posited that when he did not start the anti graft war, the economy was better for it. And just like the people of Lot, those Nigerians want the status quo to remain so that they can reap from where they have not sow.
In salvaging situations like these, the basis will have to come to the rescue. The basis here implies the home, educational and religious institutions. These three institutions have crucial roles to play in reshaping Nigeria. It is a nexus of solution that must be explored for us to return to the tabula rasa.
Hakeem-Adebumiti wrote this piece from Ondo State. Contact on Twitter via @hakeemadebumiti