Wastefulness Not Corruption, Bane of Nigeria’s Devt And Growth, By Bashir Aboaba Mojeed-Sanni
Wastefulness includes, but not limited to, the flagrant deployment of scarce and limited resources on meaningless and unproductive ventures. It is characterised by excessiveness, idleness, flambouyancy, frivolities, trivialities, over-spending, greed, repetition, tautology, fixation, wanton display of wealth, ostensive riches and many other things that implies one is doing more than necessary.
Without attempting to make this write-up an academic one, the simplest way to identify wastefulness in a society is to ask oneself some basic and pertinent questions. Such as, ‘do I really need two cars?’, ‘why do I need a 6 bedroom duplex when I only have a family of four?’, ‘ do I need more than a TV in my house?’, ‘do I need a second phone?’ what benefit do I derive from consumption of expensive champagne?’ and many other self-appraising questions. It’s said that every human being has corrupt tendencies, but only those able to cut wastages in their lifestyles are able to tame their corrupt tendencies.
I have always questioned Nigerians wastage and frivolous lifestyles. The twin problem confronting Nigeria and Nigerians are wastages and corruption. Corruption is corollary of wastages, simple and short. Like the mythical Yoruba twins folklore, corruption is like ‘Kehinde’, Akehinde gbegbon (the one who came last and becomes the head). Wastefulness is ‘Taiwo’, T’o aiye wo (the one who came first to taste the world). After Nigerians experimented with wastefulness, it paved way for, and entrenched, corruption in our society. Suffice to conclude that without wastages in our lifestyles, there would not be corruption in our society.
Many Nigerians resorted to sharp practices, indiscipline, lies, aggressiveness, corrupt practices to fund and fuel our extravagant, frivolous and wasteful lifestyles. No one is spared in this practice. The super rich spend lavishly without regard for the downtrodden; the middle-class spend beyond their means and earnings without recourse to savings and investment to move them up the ladder, albeit, they paid for it with the total collapse of the middle-class in Nigeria; and the poor too became glutinous whenever they have the rare privilege of access to resources and became docile, lazy and insatiable. They now resent what used to be decent, manual and traditional jobs. Fewer and fewer young men and women wants to be farmer, carpenter, bricklayer, mechanic, tiller, plumber etc. So much that we had to be employing this set of workers from neighbouring countries. They forgot that ‘ole lo ba omo je’ (It is stealing that tarnishes a Child’s image).
Rather, our young able bodied men and women want quick and easy money. Everyone want to participate in musical talents shows with instant million naira gratification, not the kind of talent show that requires sacrifice and training. Everybody wants to win Nairabet jackpot. Every young Nigerian wants to contest and win a political position, few are really interested in learning the art of governance through participation in party politics; all they want is a political appointment.
In reality, we can not just continue doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. We need to CHANGE our ways of life, our orientation to money, savings and investments. We all need to collectively press the reset button in our lives and reassess everything we think, say or do. As a reality check, profile a typical Nigerian you know and see if he or she is not in one way or the other living beyond his or her earnings (you can use yourself as an example, if you are objective enough). Start from how much is spent on house rent/maintenance, children school fees, car maintenance, money spent on trivial celebrations etc. You will be confronted with the reality and real cause of corruption in Nigeria. Mind you, corruption is not limited to monetary stealing from public purse alone. I have had cause to confront civil servants who claim not to be corrupt, but habitually come to work late or leave work 4-5 hours before their contracted closing time, to attend to personal matters. I am sorry to say, you are as corrupt as the pension scheme and petrol subsidy cabals. Do yourself a favour, quantify the number of hours you have cheated government’s time in Naira and see how many millions it will be.
In other sane societies, your standard of living and that of your children including schooling is totally dependent on your income, which often times are purely legitimate and as a result of hard work and productive activities. The reverse is the case in Nigeria and has been so for far too long. It is time to pull the plug.
Funny enough, many of the things we tend to waste our resources on tend sadly to show our penchant for being penny wise and pound foolish. We all rush to get a second phone line when the one we use our hard earned money to buy is not giving us value for our money; rather than insist and demand for a better service from our service provider. We pay tax to the government for the provision of basic amenities, but we turn our back at the inefficiency and malpractices in these institutions in a ‘I don’t care’ manner, and sort private provision of these basic amenities with exorbitant prices. It all reek of wastefulness. This institutions are a case on their own, but Yorubas will say ‘mi o le wa ku, o le jo’ye ile baba e’. If you don’t dare, you can’t win.
Many people will rather send their children and ward to private schools than attempt to challenge, support and encourage the government to invest the tax they paid in equipping the public schools with required resources. The problem, really, is not about sending your children to expensive private schools, the problem is that many who can not legitimately afford these private schools fees also send their children there! That, to me is the beginning of corruption.
This difficult time is a time for sober reflection for us all.
Mo’ soyi mo duro na (let me rest my pen for now).
Dr. Bashir Aboaba Mojeed-Sanni, is a lecturer at London Churchill College, UK, wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet at @sannibash