Corruption Can’t Be Nigerian Culture (2)
In the 2017 Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International in 2018, Nigeria relapsed deeper into corruption – moving 12 steps backward from 136 to 148 (Vanguard news 2018).
In 2018 Corruption Perception Index ranked 180 countries and territories, Nigeria was 144 on the table with Comoros, Guatemala, Kenya and Mauritania. Also the score of the country in that year was 27 which was same with that of 2017. Based on the position of 144 on the table, Nigerian was the 36th most corrupt country in the world in 2018. By contrast, in 2013, Denmark and New Zealand scored highest at 91% each, meaning the countries were clean and have higher Confidence Intervals than Nigeria.
Without a doubt, corruption is the biggest among the numerous challenges in Nigeria. When critically examined, there is evidence of corrupt practices in every facet of our national life. Corruption is so entrenched in the country that people factor it into anything they want to do.
Is corruption indigenously or peculiar to Nigeria or is it a colonial legacy? Answers to this can be gotten from two perspectives. These are from colonialism point of and the indigenous point of view.
Proponents of the colonialism school of thought are of the view that prior to the coming of the Europeans, corruption was alien in Nigeria; that it was the Europeans who, out of selfish interest, taught and influenced Nigerians to imbibe corruption.
For promoters the indigenous point of view, of their argument is that corruption has been part and parcel of the Nigerian culture, before colonialism. They opine that corruption cannot be disjointed from egoism, which is the prioritizing of one’s selfish interest over others’. In other words, human beings are moral agents who are wired to maximally promote their personal interest. It can, however, be debated if this human affairs of personal gain is an obligation borne out of psychological compulsion or an option, given environmental and socializing factors.
As much as all human beings are bound to be self-interested, man is liable to be corrupt. However, recurring events in the society can kill or nurture this inclination towards corruption. The environmental socializing factors of egoism were really put to check in the old pre-colonial era than it is in the present day. This is such that, whoever is regarded and confirmed to be corrupt got banished, and various forms of punishments without preferential treatment, lost their Chieftaincy title forfeited assets were regarded as social deviant. The stigma attached to being corrupt necessitates remorse from the corrupt individual that wished to be assimilated back into the community.
The reverse seems to be the case presently as corrupt individuals are often adored, applauded and prompted for higher responsibilities. In my opinion, corruption has become is an adopted culture in Nigeria.
Corruption has become an established in the minds of many Nigerians. Its ugly effects on the society include poor and bad infrastructures, lopsided government policies, upsurge in cybercrimes (“Yahoo-Yahoo”), encouragement of criminal acts, unemployment, feeble health scheme, poorly funded educational system; insecurity and the list is just endless.
Corruption poses a serious developmental challenge. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by subverting formal processes. Corruption in elections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and fair representation, in the judiciary it undermines the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the unequal provision of services.
More generally, corruption erodes the institutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off, and officials are hired or promoted without due regard to performance.
Corruption also undermines economic development by generating considerable distortions and inefficiency. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of business through the pricing and illicit payments, management and cost of negotiating with officials, and the risk of breached agreements or detection. Although some claim corruption reduces costs by cutting red tape, bribe induces officials to contrive new rules and delays. Where corruption inflates the cost of business, it also distorts the playing field, shielding firms with connections from competition and thereby sustaining inefficiency.
Irrespective of how bad the corruption indicator in the country is, the malady can be brought to a minimal level, if we live a communal lifestyle of sharing our wealth with family and friends and not keeping possessions of more than we are actually in need of. We should not allow our comfort be the discomfort of others.
Application of appropriate sanctions on corrupt offenders must not be negotiable. In handling corruption cases, the arcane court processes and rules that lead to delayed justice must be dispensed with. Where persons or groups or corporate bodies have been convicted of corrupt practices, any funds or assets seized by law enforcement agencies should automatically be forfeited to the relevant arm of government that has been the victim of such corruption. In addition, persons convicted of corrupt practices must be disqualified from holding any public office for a specified period.
The president should go beyond having the “body language” in his fight against corruption, and develop a deliberate force to tackle this menace that has eaten deep into all facets of our society.
Corruption cannot be wiped out entirely in any society, but any country that can muster the will can, indeed, reduce corruption to the barest minimum. Let’s look forward to a corruption free Nigeria and the movement to actualize this begins with us as individuals. Corruption should not be our culture.