THE ROLE OF NIGERIAN YOUTH IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Corruption is a crime. The two factors that significantly discourage a crime are the certainty of being caught and the stiff penalty attached to the crime. One of the things that is fuelling corruption is that many people are afraid and discouraged to do what they know to be right as they have been too afraid to avoid doing what they knew to be wrong. In Nigeria today, it is not uncommon to hear of our collective wealth being referred to as yam while corrupt officials are referred to as goat in anticipation that such officials will face the goat treatment when caught. Although the term is still relatively limited to the government circles in Nigeria.
Apart from the fact that the 'Mr somebody's' administration was annoyingly incompetent, one major thing that pissed Nigerians off was that he did not have the balls to call the bluff off corrupt officials. The 'I don't give a damn' attitude allowed corruption to grow beyond measures. Corrupt practises were not limited to only the ousted ruling party, it is now becoming alarmingly clear that some of our change agent proponents are not left out in the show of shame. A former South West Governor has introduced 'the pig dimension' to corruption – a clear and tactical way of being corrupt legally. Rather than offer convincing explanation on why his personal website should be upgraded at the expense of public funds and at an outrageous fee, he is trying to sell the pig story to us. I join CACOL to say 'we don't mind wrestling with the pig as long as it produces the pork'
The question that begs for answer nowadays is what Africans needs to fight corruption to a standstill. Strong institution or strong personality (men)? While it will forever be a subject of debate as to what Africans really need; I will rather choose to belong the new and emerging third school of thought who strongly opined that Nigeria in particular need strong men backed with strong institutions to fight corruption to a standstill. As youths, we have a role to play in fighting corruption.
We can take the lead by Blacklisting. We can set up or partner with reputable organizations committed to fighting corruption like transparency International to report corrupt cases on a wider scale. We should take pragmatic steps of reporting corrupt persons and organizations to the foreign countries with strong reasons against such persons on why they should be denied access to countries committed to fighting corruption. In addition to that, young people should be encouraged to open a corruption black book where people can be blacklisted for their corrupt practices. International organizations should demand for more transparent financial details of the countries seeking for financial aids as a condition for having access to such a facility, this demand will significantly make the needy country to be more prudent financially.
Secondly, we should stop our academic approach to corruption; we need to start with our immediate environment by being the change agent and a good example. Nigerian youth are active over the internet, with a coordinated approach; we should make it our duty to report news and events relating to corruption and laws that have to do with corrupt practises through dedicated blogs and websites. – using the social media to fight corruption. We should stress the point that in Nigeria, going forward; under this new dispensation, stealing is corruption. Through the social media, we can push for a United Nations imposed sanction on countries, institutions and persons known to be corrupt.
Thirdly, we should push for the strengthening of law enforcement agencies, democratic and legal institutions. Law enforcement agents' needs to be strengthened and empowered to tackle the problem of corruption right from its incubation. Also, we should push for the establishment and empowerment of special commissions and courts to speedily try corrupt cases. It should however be stressed that a conducive democratic environment is necessary for the law enforcement agents to carry out their operations with necessary legal backings. Convicted persons on corrupt and fraudulent practises need to serve the maximum sentence and this can only be achieved by a non-partial legal institution committed to fighting corruption to a standstill.
Conclusively, the negative effect of Corruption affects the community in more ways than imagined and a multi-level approach to solving corruption in Nigeria with our peculiar characteristics should be pursued. We need to work collectively to stem the tide of corruption; a collaborative effort from youth is a necessary and sufficient ingredient to stopping corruption from consuming the populace. We need to push for more affirmative action against corruption to have the same status and be approached the same way that weapons of mass destruction and the treat of terrorist is being treated by the world powers in order to significantly reduce corruption.
Written by Oyede Saheed, a.k.a: High Chief.