The alternative to corruption is national development; remove the ideology of corruption from the vendors of national development, you have a nation robust in real and tangible progress. Allow the mutual coexistence of corruption and development; you have a system in a perpetual struggle as the two fights for dominance or supremacy of existence. In the Nigerian case, corruption tends to be the commanding voice with her stoic roots in every facet of our national life. The impact of corruption is so huge that its manifestations have become a national ethos.
Great nations are not made from the wishes and mere dreams of her people but from deliberate sacrifices. The Nigeria parody is the choice we make when faced with two alternatives; the pendulum of corruption and the cord of integrity. A keen look at the psychology of the Nigerian ethos sees a people more convenient with the choice of cutting corners, going against the norms and tragically upturning values for shambles. It begins with the foundation of family structure cascading through the process of societal values. In this process, almost everyone is involved. A family that spends resources in the facilitation of ‘magic center’ for the child to have the undue advantage in an examination is a family setting the template to deny the system a well trained medical doctor or policymaker because this child will end up providing ineffective or weak services. Of course, the society is left to bear the brunt of the wrong alternative taken by the family of this lad.
This trend is sustained as the system is made to accommodate the influx of ill-prepared minds from defective family structures where values were substituted for mediocrity. A nation built on weak values suffers the consequences of ill decisions, incompetence, weak leadership, diseases, unmitigated poverty, and underdevelopment.
Corruption breeds all the reverse expectations of life, the opportunity cost of corruption is a weak educational system that promotes mediocrity instead of excellence. The collapse of excellence in learning is traced to the bars lowered by teachers when they chose compromise instead of rules. Like garbage in garbage out, the society is thirsted upon with improper output from the educational system. These released human institutions take over a critical sector of our national life and in no time they become the decision and policy makers of our affairs.
The trajectory continues as the nation is made to endure the indolence of a weak family structure aided by a compromised educational setup that failed to mould characters and learning capacity of the population in the system, thus denying the nation the opportunity of sound judgment. A badly prepared character is never a respecter of rules; as such his decisions are not made in sound judgment but on self-whim and caprices. A society gifted with leaders who are not guided by moral compass, sound judgment, and competence is tied down to underdevelopment.
Weak family structure, poor educational institutions, lost of ethical values are the by-product of corruption and the opportunity cost of these are decayed infrastructures, injustice, poverty, weak institutions, conflict and precarious poverty.
The glamorization of ills from corruption is a big burden to the struggle against corruption in Nigeria. Resources meant for building hospitals, schools, industries etc are channeled to the fight against corruption because the looters of national treasury find luxurious solace in the arm of the law. The maxim of being innocent until proven guilty is a stimulating haven for looters as they enjoy the luxuries of legal representations. To catch up with their judicial stunts, the government use monies meant for infrastructures in pursuit of prosecution for looters. In sustained sequence, opportunity meant for development is forgone and lost to the bottomless pit of waste.
This waste continues even in the critical core governance where monies meant for governance are embezzled or misappropriated by government officials.
The legal and illegal stealing of our commonwealth with brazen impunity has put us many years behind the rest of the world as the resources for development have been conveniently siphoned into private pockets. Lamentably, Nigeria is left on the ladder of nothingness as diseases and poverty stare us in mocking jibes. We have lost the opportunity to develop our country and restiveness because money is stolen in Nigeria – legally and illegally – with impunity, we have lost the opportunity to develop our country, and compete with the rest of the world.The money for our development is the same money we have stolen. How foolish we are!!!
Hope is not lost however as the day still shines with begging second chance for a retrace. To halt the trip of perfidy, we must redesign our values, disconnecting from the culture of mediocrity, indolence, and corruption. Those who glorify corrupt people must desist from humming the song of praise to echoing the tune of shame. Every known thief should be shamed, despised and ostracized. The burden of shame becomes a big deterrent to others with the intent of going the corrupt way.
The institutional mechanism of fighting corruption must be strengthened otherwise the opportunity for progress for Nigeria will remain a mirage as weak institution breeds corruption. Legal technicalities that give comforting shelter for corrupt persons must be expunged. The legal profession must be seen to be helping in the fight against corruption. Using legal instruments to embolden crime is akin to a leper in search of lice! The law institution must go far in the building of the character of its lawyers. It is unfortunate that we have more lawyers in defense of looters than lawyers in defense of morals.
Measured regulations and sanctions against those who do not comply to rules must be applied; the application of selective laws for different offenders weakens the drive against corruption as reference is easily made to the theory of deodorant and insecticide. Cases of corruption must carry same sanctions.
Rose-Ackerman’s (1998) recommendations for using the sensible combination of reward and punishment to fight corruption must be adopted. Nigeria’s whistleblowing policy is a veritable reform in this regards and it should be encouraged and sustained.
Reducing the incidence of corruption especially in the civil service can be achieved when remuneration of civil servants become attractive. A motivated workforce is more open to government reforms. Enacting international convention is a near solution to mitigating the menace of corruption. A globalized world is an attraction to corruption with a flourishing network of cross-border dimension. The international legal framework for corruption control is a key element among the options open to governments. This framework has improved significantly over the past decade.
A shift from the conventional approach of fighting corruption can be sought in the arms of technology. Technological innovations now exist to aid the fight against corruption thus eliminating the incidence of corrupting the fighter.
The narrative above captured the trajectory of corruption in Nigeria and how opportunities for development are forgone for this monster. The underlying sense, therefore, is to galvanize advocacy towards family reorientation, institutional strengthening, eliminating the opportunity for corruption by changing incentives, closing off leakages and discouraging practices that encourage corruption.
By Abdullahi O.Haruna