That corruption is endemic in Nigeria is not news. That it plagues all strata of society is not news. That successive governments since the first military coup d’état in Nigeria in 1966 has pledged to fight it is not news. What should be news is the extent to which the ‘fight against corruption’ has benefited the generality of Nigerians and the nation over the past 52 years when it started.
The use of the concept in Nigeria to refer to only monetary theft is the greatest disservice to the psyche of Nigerians. The implication is that to the average Nigerian including academics, corruption implies the illegal accumulation and stashing away of cash. Corruption implies more than that I thought. Acts of nepotism (employing blood relations without due process into public offices) are corrupt acts. Ethnic consideration and preference in the choice of those to engage into public service sectors is corruption. Use of public funds without due process is corruption. Sex for marks scandal in tertiary institutions is corruption. Taking advantage of jobless females before employment is corruption. Filling job vacancies with cronies while the under privileged sweat it out through a process that is only make-believe is corruption. Human trafficking is corruption. Importation of substandard drugs and goods for sale to the public as ‘original’ is corruption. A person who uses public utilities and cuts corners without paying for the services of the utilities is corruption. The list is endless but what politicians mean when they mouth ‘corruption’ is theft of public funds.
In Nigeria now, any crook who wishes to hide from the claws of the federal anti-corruption agency from investigation has to join the ruling party. Directly, such persons register and pick up membership cards of the ruling party, they become ‘anointed’ and ‘clean’. That is what happened between 2015 and 2018 when the present administration has been in place. Those who refused to join the ruling party and are lucky to stay out of the claws of the agency, must ‘remain silent and never seek elective office nor be active in the camp of the opposition party; if they do, they run the risk of being taken in by the anti-graft agency for “corruption”. This is the sad reality in Nigeria. Sadly the international community is being taken for a ride on the swan song of “war against corruption” in Nigeria.
It is most uncharitable to regard any Nigerian politician outside the ruling political party who seeks elective office as “corrupt”. Unknown to the government, most Nigerians are now showing that they cannot be taken for a ride by any government. In 2015 when Nigerians were disenchanted with the previous government, they voted in the current ruling party. In 2019, there is the likelihood that Nigerians will still exercise their franchise in electing those to take them out of the current hardship being experienced by all. Nigeria is now 152 out of 157 countries on the global poverty index. The country has never had it so bad.