Is it possible that Nigeria can ever change and be a nation that will fill its citizens with pride? -By Azuka Onwuka

Filed under: National Issues |

I am reading Achebe’s No Longer at Ease again, and I am saddened by the pervasive bribery and corruption in our country even before Independence. The young and old, men and women, highly educated and poorly educated saw corruption as a way of life in the 1950s and 1960s. In the public service, for anything to be done, someone would have to demand or offer a bribe. Not doing so was abnormal.

I compare that to what is happening today and see that nothing has changed. On the contrary, corruption has become more vicious and brazen. I recall the trending video of Gov Gandollars collecting bundles of dollars and stuffing them in his flowing robe with bottomless pockets.

When you listen to Nigerians, you see a people who are very angry with the effect of decades of corruption on the nation, but when you also take a closer look, you see that virtually everybody expects that a person in public or political service should be dishing out money and gifts to his or her family, friends, community, church, mosque, etc, and also giving preferential treatment to his/her people over others in terms of jobs, projects etc.

 

Azuka Onwuka

Most people believe that once someone gets a political appointment, the person has been blessed, as the person’s life should never remain the same. Everyday people line up in the person’s office or home (or contact the person through phone calls), making demands of money, assistance, jobs, contracts, projects, etc. You wonder how a person earning N500,000 a month can meet all those demands without succumbing to corruption.

It is no longer a matter of some bad eggs in the system demanding or offering bribes. Now without “processing fees”, “facilitation fees”, “PR”, “transport money” (or any fancy word given to a bribe), nothing gets done. Even the churches and mosques give it and expect it. So don’t be surprised when discussing a project with your “pious, spirit-filled religious leader” and he tells you to “give the boys something for bread,” so that they can process the papers fast.

That is why I feel like slapping someone whenever I hear someone talking about Buhari as a man of integrity who is fighting against corruption. On the contrary, there is more brazennesss from those who demand bribes, because they have seen that there is virtually no possibility of being caught. There is no mechanism put in place to catch givers or recipients of bribes. It is only some political top shots that are harassed once in a while, depending on the political circumstances.

When I say this, it is not to exclude myself as a Saint in the land. It is just that corruption problem in Nigeria has become scary and no attempt is being being from the top to address it meaningfully.

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