If President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to addressing the monster of corruption, the fight must begin from 1999 till date. It is not enough to tell Nigerians that former military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, toppled him to escape probe. Making judges scapegoats and other selective trials trifle with the institutionalisation of probity.
At the risk of being charged with blasphemy, do you know that advance fee fraud (simply known as 419) started in early Christendom long before it domiciled in Nigeria. The case of Esau and Jacob as contained in the Old Testament Book of Genesis, Chapter 27 Verses 18-33, is confirmatory of the commission and fact of corruption in the cloak of 419 as we know it today! This is one of the reasons I disagree with those who say history has no relevance in human existence. If some of these generational things were not documented, how would we get to know of such occurrences? In this currency of our existential journey, worse things are happening even as you are reading this. Places of worship that are supposed to be the Creator’s vineyards have jumped on the bandwagon of magic, rituals, invocation of miracles, sexuality, ethnicity, blackmail, spiritual rivalry, gossip, supremacy battle by the clergy, hatred…ad infinitum. Nobody talks about the fruits of the Spirit as captured in Galatians 5 (Verses 22 and 23) any more. The fad is prosperity amid profuse declaration and justification that the God we worship abhors poverty. Passion and desires of the flesh (vide Galatians 5, from verse 19 to 21) have become celebratory icons in the largely licentious world, not just in Nigeria.
The preceding point perhaps explains why tithe payment is becoming more and more a subject of controversy not just among unbelievers but even among brethren. Some people insist that it does not make sense contributing tithes for the church leadership to be living like sheiks on such congregational resources, flying in private jets, while most of their members live from hand to mouth, in abject poverty, with clerical assurances that they should be prayerfully hopeful! This is the opportune time to challenge this unconvincing religiosity and eschatological indoctrination. We must draw a line between Christianity and religiosity. Otherwise, the Episcopal tomfoolery strengthened by laudatory Biblical references will continue till Armageddon. Whether this submission is an Apocryphal or canonical contribution is beyond the subject of this article as it borders on liturgical intellectualism.
There is need to contextualise corruption. Most people think that corruption arises only when money exchanges hands illegally. No! Corruption is an expansive and phenomenal human activity (or inactivity, as the case may be). Most times, it is intangible (unquantifiable) or invisible and in some circumstances irresistibly invincible! On such occasions, there are compelling forces that bring out the criminality in all of us. To be candid, we all have a human propensity for crime committal, perversion and indulgence in all manner of depravities. What differentiates us is our level of proclivity and disposition to grapple with such issues that cut across gender, age, culture, belief, political ideology and socio-economic considerations. There is also latent corruption that may or may not manifest depending on our inclinations. For instance, a man’s lustful glance at a lady falls into this hue. Even the educational sector with all its foundational expectations has become a baking ground for immediate and future bandits and rapists. Graduates of tertiary institutions who are supposed to be beacons of character and learning are now exponents of all that is wrong in the society. They even commit matricide and fratricide in their desperate pursuit of the good things of life. The morbid quest for ill-gotten wealth has led to value erosion and the passion to make it at all costs is boundless. Corruption takes depth in the confines of citadels long before matriculation with falsifications, mercenary indulgences and elevation of gratification to a scholastic podium in guarantee of convocation.
Our healthcare is not spared of the permissive corruptive tendencies. Fake and adulterated drugs are circulated nationwide without any qualms. Corruption has various colours and disparate shapes. It is not only when fiscal books are cooked or the treasury looted. Even manipulation or destruction of documentary evidence is corruption. Recently, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) said 75 per cent of malarial drugs in circulation in the country were fake products. With COVID-19, a miscellany of corruption has also arisen!
What of the Fourth Estate? In journalism, there is much emphasis in survival of media organisation. These days, it is difficult even for the eagle-eyed journalist emeritus, like the writer, to distinguish between advert and news materials, any more!. No Catholicism in these matters of the heart. All the regulatory talk about corporate governance is balderdash. This equally explains why newspaper users have to pay money for virtually everything that goes into all the publications from pictorials, briefs, features to analyses. The decomposition is catalysed when poorly remunerated reporters are owed backlogs of salaries (sorry, wages) by almost all the media houses despite voluminous pages of adverts they carry daily and copy sales. Cost of production is high quite all right, but it cannot explain the artificial insolvency of most newspaper establishments.
Are you aware that infidelity is a tangential form of corruption, too? Illicit relationships among married people and even unmarried chaps are in vogue. Partners cheat on one another remorselessly! Despite the mushroom-like springing up of churches and mosques, more and more carnal criminalities take place, just as fraud has equally taken over other departments of our existence. Indeed, anyone who is not into these vices is seen as a non-conformist, an unfashionable member of this faddish society.
Elsewhere, in civilised climes, public functionaries and private people resign their appointments and apologise to their country and the world for their acts of perversion or mere suspicion of any untoward behaviour. Here, the morally bankrupt fellow is celebrated and awarded a national honour for thievery or sexual indiscretion! Is it that we suffer from amnesia or that our past does not really matter? The irony of it all is the flourish that accompanies moral decadence in this part of the world. It is now normative to join the perverts. Corruption has become a national ethic. It is now difficult to get a good man in its very loose sense here. All of us seem to have been afflicted with deterioration in our lives. Even the security-men we employ are the ones who these days betray us for filthy lucre, just as house assistants and drivers easily give us out for peanuts. This is existential decomposition. Not even the lower animals live this kind of destructive and worthless life. Of course, all the foregoing manifestations are attributable to corruption.
The way it is now, the best survivalist approach is to subscribe to the Darwinian doctrine which advocates success for only those who have circumstantial capabilities to adapt. In other words, all of us are compelled to be corrupt by our competitively strangulating environment.