CORRUPTION REMAINS A CHALLENGE TO THE TRANSFORMATION AGENDA
I always use my experience in a typical day at work as a yardstick of measuring the indices of certain societal ills like corruption; this is a problem that has eaten so deep into every facet of our collective national existence. It is so common in our daily experience that we are dangerously consciously and in a few cases, unconsciously accepting it as indigenous to Nigeria, I often read with dismay, some jokes either as text messages, blackberry broadcasts or cartoons in our dailies alluding humor where we depict ourselves as overly corrupt in a comparative scenario, rather than laugh, I think it is something to cry about. For the purpose of this topic, I would recount my day Friday the 12th of this month as a case study.
As usual, I woke up at 4.30am, took my cup of tea, prayed and by 6.30 I was fresh and ready to face the day, as I drove to the office, I listened to the news on radio and top on the news was the new revelations of greed, corruption and abuse of office being unraveled by the ongoing senate committee hearing on the bureau of public enterprise, what a news to start a day with. I reached the office after which I left for the immigration office with a friend whose passport had issues and needed replacement, reaching the immigration headquarters we had to go through a rigorous security checks before we were admitted, we drove straight to the office of an assistant comptroller general but found out he wasn’t in the office yet so we had to meet him at home, when I saw the buildings in which he lives I could not hide my disbelieve to my friend who was equally shocked at the poor quality of work done by whoever it was that built it! I had to ask him, and the revelation I got from him on the corruption that trailed the projects broke my heart completely and is in itself a topic for another day, again I had to ask him why my friend only found out that the chip in his passport was bad at the point of departure at the airport? Well that is also because the contract for the electronic passport handled by an Indian company also included the provision of hand held readers for the immigration officers but where never delivered! Not just that, the electronic fixed gate readers installed at the international airports some 9 years ago stopped working shortly after being commissioned too.
We got back to the office just in time for me to rush off to the mosque for the Friday prayers where the imam preached fervently about the importance of charity and I couldn’t help but ponder on how guilty we all are in that department. At the break of the congregation, I noticed a man give a bundle of 100 naira notes to a group of beggars lead by a woman, I couldn’t help but notice her quickly stuff away half of the money in her under skirt and was sharing the remaining to her unsuspecting colleagues, Nigeria! Even beggars in their indigence, were capable of corruption! I thought that was the height of it.
Back in the office I met some people waiting for me and I quickly got down to attending to them at the end of which the whole equation amounted to naira and kobo. Just as I discharged them my phone rang and I answered only to be greeted by a con man on the other end claiming to know me years back, he claimed to be a staff of NNPC and he has only recently been transferred to Warri where he claims to be in charge of mending leaking oil pipelines, he spoke fluent hausa , he wanted me to help him in a deal he claims will fetch us 180 million but he is willing to share the booty 60-40 with me….for the sake of my precious time and my battery power I told him to look elsewhere for a greedy victim and hung up. I left the office at about 6pm in preparation to break my fast.
That is just a day in the life of one Nigerian. It is amazing how our every day is gridlocked with various forms of corruption starring us straight in the eyes; the youths have become engrossed with an insatiable thirst for quick money as evident in the rampant cases of cyber fraud, kidnap cases and other societal vices plaguing our society today. I have followed many discussions on the social media of late and the passion with which the youth are now talking leaves one to wonder why then is Nigeria the way it is? But the truth is, just pick one of such persons and saddle him with some responsibility with a small budget to run and you will be appalled at the irresponsibility he or she will display.
Much has been said about transforming Nigeria today, but I believe that the real transformation must start from within each and every one of us; we must purge our collective psyche of this repugnant affinity to corruption and indiscipline. We must begin to care about our nation by doing the right thing always; we must abhor sharp practices and confront them where ever we see them. We must not see the obvious wrong and look the other way; we must work to earn whatever we are being paid and strive to create value for ourselves.
Many have often associated our problems to bad leadership in Nigeria but I beg to differ on that, as much as good leadership has been a challenge, the followership also share a chunk of this blame. Today we have a leadership that is open to constructive criticism. We must now begin to hold people accountable to their prescribed responsibilities without fear or prejudice. Unless and until we confront the devil within each of us, we cannot defeat the monster called corruption that is threatening to mollify our development as a nation. No matter how beautiful the plans are made by the best of minds Nigeria has to offer today, the journey towards transformation will run aground if corruption is not given final and decisive check.
Written by Mohammed Danjuma, Leader Northern zone, The Jonathan project.