“Wherever mammon rules, wherever money is king as in Nigeria, life becomes cheap! To gain back our values, we must dethrone money!” – Ray U. Morphy
I’m sorry, money is not the problem. Money is a basic necessity that modern societies need to function; after all, we are no longer doing trade by barter. The problem with Nigeria is the leadership’s attitude towards money, our national wealth and national service and the extent this bad attitude has permeated the rest of society.
The reason corruption thrives in Nigeria is because it is condoned from the very top by those pretending not to condone it. They have accepted it as a way of life, they have convinced themselves that there is no way you can run a government in Nigeria without being corrupt. Therefore, the fight for positions and succession has become a fight for the control of the levers of the prebendal networks through which the corrupt system thrives. The President controls it at the national level and the National Assembly tries to jostle for its share with the presidency. Both try to reach a compromise about how much leverage they give the judiciary in the matter, so society can have a semblance of order while the stealing goes on undisturbed. This template is replicated at the state levels where it’s a winner takes all for any party in charge. So, national wealth is not wealth held and managed in trust for the benefit of the people. It is wealth distributed amongst a class of people and their supporters who have access to this national wealth by virtue of their positions as elected representatives or appointed state officials or because of their relationships with these officials.
So, in this atmosphere there can be no true national service in the public sector because what prevail are service to self and a class. That is why the civil service is corruptly run without hindrance. The operators know what to give to who when they come calling as part of their oversight responsibilities, no matter which party is in power. The same applies to our nation’s foreign missions. That is why a country so evidently rich is poor in every area. Those we have entrusted with governance from time immemorial have been ‘lawfully’ stealing us blind. To make matters worse, we reward them by accepting their political system and circumscriptions which ensure that whether under military or civil rule, we are always returning their type to leadership.
The solution to all this is simple.The people must take responsibility for their fate not only by using the tools of democracy to demand more accountability and punish corruption appropriately, but also use social measures to make corruption unattractive. They must not leave the fight against corruption in the hands of those who are more corrupt than those they are using such powers to fight selectively to serve political ends. The people must return civic responsibility to society and to governance and they must not slumber when they should be heard talking. Most importantly, the people should not fall for the divide and rule tactics of the ethnic-mongers and religious bigots in government. They always use ethnicity and religion to divide the people because they know once the people remain divided, they cannot achieve the solidarity needed to question bad governance or change it.