Coping with Corruption

By: John Adebisi, Internet Constituency


Police officer collecting N20 note at a roadblock

Everybody talks about corruption. Everybody laments the level of corruption in the country. One way or the other – consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly – everybody fuels corruption. We pretend to fight corruption.

Frankly speaking, one doesn’t have to be a pessimist to realise that we are all in big trouble. Even though corruption hurts the poor disproportionately, the rich are not immune to the pains and sorrows that accompany endemic corruption.

Corruption is a virus eating away at the very fabric of our society. By subterfuge, it destroys institutions and values that contradict its nature. Corruption ruins families and communities. Corruption pollutes religions of love and peace with greed and violence. Corruption turns centres of learning into epicentres of decadence. Corruption converts the judiciary from the temple of justice into a fortress for corruption itself. Corruption substitutes the virtue of honesty with the culture of impunity; jettisons the tradition of meritocracy but embraces the celebration of mediocrity and turns the world upside down, for instance, by associating celebrity with indecency.

I do not intend to highlight the devastating effects of corruption; at least the face of the nation speaks volumes. No, I will not spend time on how to fight corruption. Anybody, even the most corrupt among us, can give award-winning lectures on that. In fact, if a committee is to be set up today to proffer solutions to this malady in our society, I’m pretty sure most Nigerians are qualified to be in that committee.

But who is really fighting the monster that is threatening our existence? Is it the political class that Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka aptly describes as “The very quagmire of corruption, nurtured on corruption, sustained by corruption and dependent on corruption for its very survival”? Or, the public-private partners who occupy strategic positions in the web of corruption? Could it be the impoverished citizens who have common enemies to fight against, but are being held down by ignorance and deeply divided by forces stronger than the bonds of brotherhood? Maybe, the endangered species in our midst whose wisdom and genuine voices are eternally being despised!

Corruption! We have gone abysmally down this perilous way. But why has it become so difficult to halt the country’s slide into destruction? Are we hopeless as a people? Whereas most of our woes are attributable to corruption, bad leadership – corruption’s closest ally – is the main culprit. Bad leadership fuels corruption, and every attempt to confront corruption is neutralised by bad leadership, and vice versa.

At the centre of corruption is the system that breeds bad leaders. This dysfunctional system in the beginning has irreversibly set in motion a self-propagating, self-amplifying and self-sustaining series of crises. That explains why we have been busy all along chasing shadows and hopelessly treating mere symptoms of an ailment whose root is continuously being nourished by a pool of structural defects.

These days, more and more people, even born optimists, are beginning to doubt the possibility of Nigeria ever winning the anti-corruption war. Corruption in Nigeria is like a cancer in its final stage, and as we watch the disease run its course, may God have mercy on our souls

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