Understanding Corruption Beyond Currency Units By Muhammad Sageer
“keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping a goat from eating yam” Professor Chinua Achebe”
The general default of the average Nigerian is indiscipline and corruption and to tackle this menace properly we must define corruption in its larger context of making it all inclusive to accommodate the leaders and larger society in all spheres and scope
There is actually nothing new to say about corruption in Nigeria, the practice of which in the Nigerian context can produce without doubt a handbook on how to raise corrupt leaders and sustain corruption. We must begin as a people to do a practical appraisal of our resolve to collectively tackle this corruption malady by giving attention to the corrupt practices traceable in our immediate domain.
If you properly articulate the level of corruption and its general acceptance or docile reactions in Nigeria, you will agree with me that the first ready attitude of the heart in any attempt to tackle it is to fail initially and then gradually rise to condemnation and finally ask that all should be left to GOD. That GOD wants us out of this self-inflicted poisonous situation cannot be over emphasized, but we need to march our disdain for this menace with actions articulated to produce some long term change in the psyche of the coming generation.
So much is said about corruption in Nigeria and presently, President Buhari is investing a lot of effort towards the reduction of this endemic cancer worm that has eaten deep into the fabric of our culture and is spreading like wildfire all over our future in Nigeria making it an uphill task to eradicate. There is this misconception among Nigerians – they believe corruption stifling Nigeria is top-down. They believe our new president who is an anti-corruption czar will change the corruption attitude of Nigerians. In the famous statement of President Buhari” If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”
One of the curses of Nigeria is Indiscipline and until we change our attitude, no real progress can be made. No matter the fierce fight President Buhari would put up, corruption will continue to grow if we don’t change our attitude.
Nigerians must exclusively understand that Currency units are not the supreme expression and measure of corruption despite the ignorance of bleeding hearts. Now, I need to jog the memory of Nigerians by taking a walk down memory lane to buttress my position.
If late General Sani Abacha’s only sin is that he stole billions of dollars allegedly, then he is a nicer guy than General Gowon and Late Obafemi Awolowo who allegedly didn’t steal a kobo.
Gowon as head of state took some measures to address foreign ownership of Nigerian companies. At the time, 65% of Nigeria’s economy was foreign owned and controlled by the European conglomerates, Lebanese, Syrian and Indian traders. General Gowon announced the indigenization decree and forced foreign owners to sell shares of their businesses to Nigerian elites instead of the Nigerian masses. The shares of foreign companies indigenized found their way into the hands of General Gowon’s friends and associates. It will interests Nigerians to know that the wealth of several well known Nigerian families today can be traced to the indigenization decree of General Gowon.
LATE CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO
The indigenization decree of General Gowon was headed by Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who at that time was the highest ranking civilian in General Gowon’s military government. Obafemi Awolowo as finance minister was responsible for giving back to the Igbo’s all monies they had left in their bank accounts before the Biafra War. He made a dreadful decision as finance minister that all Igbo’s will be given twenty pounds each no matter what amount they had previously saved in the bank pending investigations into the actual amount each person had in the bank. These investigations never took place. With Obafemi Awolowo’s dreadful action, all Igbo’s who saved money in the bank had to start from scratch. The Igbo’s were left out in the indigenization decree of General Gowon.
A CAVEAT; I am an unabashed citizen of the federal republic of Nigeria, using General Gowon & Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo I know will not go down well with my fellow Nigerians from the North-central and South-West. I don’t mean to infuriate anybody. However, the truth has to be told no matter whose ox is gored.
Corruption in Nigeria must be exclusively understood beyond currency units. Not everything that counts can be counted. The average Nigerian citizen has by way of silent contribution, partial, or proper involvement overtly or tactically endorsed the act of corruption. Nigerians are good in raising points of moral decadence while sweeping under the carpet their major nature of inherent corruption. The societal wreck in Nigeria is a tragedy of sorts in that we have to break laws and expect others to keep them. Our present leaders did not fall from sky, they were once followers. We are our own greatest enemies.
The issues of ethnicity, religious bigotry have drowned the essential pursuit in character formation for our citizens, thereby negating the need for the development of a national conscience. Moral institutions as it were have gradually left our schools. It is a paradox that our schools now make us stupid; we have more degrees but less sense and ostentation has replaced the good old life of contentment. We have as a people gradually allowed the culture of corruption both in and outside public service to become an accepted style of living.
The average Nigerian will pay touts for ticket, pay touts for vehicle particulars, pay money to be released from police custody rather than stand up for what is right. We are obviously in too much of a hurry to realize that every act of corruption that we engineer or allow to dictate us destroys a milestone in the future of our collective psyche. We must redirect our compass from mainly concentrating on criticizing and exposing corruption in government institutions to contribution of the followership in the corruption menace. We must tackle the psyche of our people through the foundation of followership. We must face the hard fact that the leaders we have today were once part of the followership and they failed and are still failing because they were not groomed to become the leaders we want. Nothing will ever change until we change ourselves, we must learn to speak the language of Nigeria in patriotism.
Nigeria needs people ready to stand in and stand out by saying “No We Can’t, we love Nigeria, we can’t chicken-out, we want a better society and a future for our children”. Nigeria needs citizens who will understand that the battle against corruption is not the duty of President Muhammadu Buhari alone. The battle against corruption is a battle for our soul and our nation. The citizens of Nigeria must resist and overcome corruption and this will not come by criticism alone. Nigeria needs people who will expose corruption no matter whose ox is gored. Nigeria needs people ready to obey the laws of the land and asking questions when corruption presents itself in the form of noble gratification. Nigeria needs law abiding citizens ready to say no to police extortion. Nigeria needs law abiding citizens in the civil service who will question inappropriate approvals and resist moving files with money. Nigeria needs representatives in the National Assembly who will resist committee allowance outside legally stipulated ones. Nigeria needs lawmakers that will make laws favorable to the masses. Nigeria does not need multi-millionaire lawmakers living in Porsche houses and presidential suites in five star hotels. Nigeria needs an independent judiciary.
A new Nigeria is possible if we change our old ways, we can do it and we must start inward. REVOLUTION STARTS WITH THE INDIVIDUAL. It doesn’t matter whether you are in government, civil service, corporate world, military, police, politics, school or a hawker in the streets of Lagos, Kano, Bauchi, Jos, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Minna etc. What matters is that you are a Nigerian and a glorious and happy Nigeria is what you have to advocate and defend for. Let’s come together as Nigerians to wage war against corruption. We have slumbered enough, we must go in and get involved or we will go down in history as people who came, saw and complained without raising a finger. “If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”
With the above statement from Nigeria’s anti-corruption czar, President Muhammadu Buhari, I rest my case. Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
@muhammadsageer is my twitter handle