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CORRUPTION: The Steps Not Taken.

By: Godson Amadikwa
 Published October 25th, 2011

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
- Carl Bard.

One issue that has taken the centre stage of every social, economic, religious and political discussion in Nigeria today; is the issue of ‘Corruption’. It is a social phenomenon of man’s greed for power and authority over mundane grandeurs.

Recently, Nigeria was adjudged the second largest producers and sellers of oil after Saudi Arabia in the world market. Unfortunately and paradoxically, despite this great feat, Nigeria still ranks lowest in the gross national product and per capital income. Practically, this shows that ninety percent of the populations live below poverty level. There is more to it, than what the eyes see. Equally, inspite of the abundance of oil in Nigeria, Nigerians still live the lives in Hobbesian state of nature; there, live was nasty, poor, short and brutish. This sorry situation anchors deeply on corruption among public officers.

Today, Nigeria has become a country where those who embezzle public funds are respected, adored and celebrated as heroes. Public Officers in Nigeria enmass and do away with public funds without being punished. This perhaps is rooted in our poor and offensive socio-economic structure, which empowers Public Officers to acquire wealth and public funds recklessly in the expense of poor majority of the people.

It is saddened to note that few nonentities and cabals whose means of livehood are questionable usually find their way into power, gather public funds, become rich and are celebrated as heroes. These individuals live larger than live itself. They must be invited to every occasion. Otherwise, such occasion can never adjudge to be hot and successful. If they have not arrived at the occasion, such occasion would not begin. Their presence is usually welcomed by a thunderous ovation. They may have nothing mentally to donate or contribute in terms of advice and counseling. The highest donation such corrupt person has, is cash. This shows that the future of our society is in danger, since success is now measured on the parameter of how corrupt one is. According to French Political Thinker Baron Montesquieu “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The implications of these are deep and far reaching. Corruption lies in power acquisition and becomes the disease of power. Corruption is seriously in the minds of many Nigerians, due to the fertile ground provided by the ineptitude of political leaderships.

There are myriads of what could be regarded as the chief causes of corruption in Nigeria. Firstly, there is lack of conscientization of the people. The people are ignorant of the workings of government. The clever and greedy so called politician take the advantage of the trust of the mandate bestowed on them to enrich themselves at the expense of those that voted them into power. Secondly, corruption spread like a bush-fire for any public officer who involved in corrupt practices; as most of them had never had such opportunity to serve the public or be a public office before. Also, it has been observed, that some would be out of public service position for one reasons or the other, when eventually such fellow gets the opportunity to serve; he/she will seriously strive to remove the state of hopelessness bestowed in his household for long absence of no job through quick and massive acquisition of public funds. Thirdly, there are high expectations from the public officer by the society. In order to meet up the high morale and expectations from the public, the public officer is bound to multiply his sources of income through embezzlement. These reasons generally, have called for the great need to make public office less attractive.

Available records show that there are no serious and transparent efforts by the government in fighting corruption. Despite the pretentious crusades and measures against corruption in Nigeria, it has continued to pathologically spread like epidemic diseases. The efforts and structures of the government, private bodies and religious leaders are putting to help combat the menace are not only weak, but ineffective. That is why the public oath taking which expresses “oath of office and oath of allegiance” by public officers during swearing- in, does not guarantee morality in the system..
Also, the mere anti-graft agencies in the country have never had free hand in tackling corruption without interference from the authorities that be. For instance, when a Public officer is being questioned over corrupt practices, “signals” would come from authorities above indicating ‘interest” in the person. Even, when the person is prosecuted, there is no enough punishment melted to the person. He is simply sentenced to few years of imprisonment after which he comes out and continues to enjoy his acquired and looted wealth from where he stopped.

There is need therefore, to introduce and institute a traditional means to checkmate corruption in Nigeria. These traditional means are the steps not taken so far to curb corruption. Corruption should be seen as brand of thievery and robbery. In African traditional society like in Igbo land, the original way to deal with a thief is by exposing and humiliating the thief, ie by “Igba Mbebe”, not just by mere punishment. The person is move around the street and allowing youths and women chant pejorative and abusive songs to put the person into shame. Most times, the person is stripped naked. The stigma will linger so long on the person and brings back his/her moral rectitude. Secondly, as already emphasized, the present oath taking during swearing in for public officers is weak and by no means effective. Traditionally, an advocacy and enforcement of swearing “juju, Mmoo, Agbara, Sango, etc” should be introduced. It may sound fetish but not alien to our culture. It is high time we went back to our tradition and culture. Swearing with “Agbara” and other traditional elements and forces do not matter whether the person believes in it or not. The efficacy of traditional oath taking does not need any body’s approval or belief. If one does not believe in it, it is the more reason why the person should swear to it. The traditional oath taking serves some useful purposes as it gives instant judgment and punishment and institute sanity to situation and morality to the person, especially where there are arguments, doubts and proof for innocence. The person who actively swore by it, will always be conscious of the repercussion and sledged harmer of the invisible and mystic power of the oath. Ontologically, there is fear that the power of the oath is invisibly watching the person and his activities. At times, even, when the person naturally falls sick, his thinking would be that, he must have behaved wrongly against the tenets of the oath. This system will ensure probity, accountability, transparency, faithfulness and judiciousness by inculcating fear and engendering morality in our personal stewardship and general system of governance.

Man should not be dogmatically slave to mentality of evil and immorality. As corruption has engulfed our system and society, all hope is not lost. There is enlightenment in the words of Holderlin that “where danger looms, salvation also abounds”. There are a lot of options that are open for man, if we want to achieve authenticity in life. We must attempt to rehabilitate our attitude in public service. This can be done by returning to pure human transcendence, which will not only rescue our mind from the fear of poverty and pinnacle of selfishness, but sanctifies and improves our self person as a being.

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