By Taiye Olaniyi
Nigeria is one country whose image is so besmeared in the comity of nations to such an extent that the mere mentioning of the name “Nigeria”, what readily comes to the mind of average global citizens is, “Corruption personified.”
To many people in the world, institutions, and humans that make up the geographic space called Nigeria are corrupt and rotten and should not be treated with respect. Geographers world over anchor their pride in the dictum that, “Everything in space is a geographical phenomenon” and upon this, we promise a slight analysis of symbiosis that obtains between locations and corruption in the Nigerian perspective.
During our childhood days in Offa, the word “corruption” was accusations against a few boys and girls who might be dating or befriending more than one person or the other especially if a new friend was more beautiful or handsome than the previous one or without tribal marks which average Lagosians call, “Owala”. We used to be tagged flirts even though one could deny such accusations before cock crowed three times. Guilty or not guilty? Not guilty with lots of explanations.
Early politicians such as our indefatigable Josiah Sunday Olawoyin of the opposition party led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Afolayan of Ipee or Igosun and Lawyer Abdul Razaq of Ilorin, and member of Northern People’s Congress, NPC were very popular politicians from the then Ilorin Province. We used to know them in terms of being politicians of note but not of notoriety in corruption as average political stalwarts are in Nigeria today.
Chief Josiah Olawoyin
The geography of corruption could be looked at both in quantitative and descriptive perspectives taking cognizance of demographic characteristics of Nigerians both home and abroad relating to gender, age, education, religion, and social categorizations of us all Nigerians. In all the coordinates that point at latitudinal and longitudinal locations, our behavioral postures depict us as ever wanting to wack or eat where we work or don’t even work with the attendant gluttony.
Nigerians in various locations of human endeavors even in the houses of worship, in the military, public service, private sector, health institutions, the police, and other para-military formations, in trade and business enterprises, and to one’s dismay even in the “judiciary” the last hope of the common man, we have imbibed the culture of vices and corruption in all ramifications. Our case now is “rob everything you can find and even rob the blind” as Peter Macintosh once sang thus describing the despicable situation of his time in Jamaica but now badly replicated time and time again in Nigeria.
In the North, corruption thrives, South, it blooms, West, it blossoms and the East, it sprouts with all contamination of indecency. Corruption is a cankerworm amongst the lowly placed and devouring cancer amongst the elites, while it is a burning fire in the hearts and minds of the sojourners, sojourning in a political whirlwind, creating turbulence and hopelessness that corruption seems an uncontrollable vice in Nigeria.
Hmmmmmm who exactly is incorruptible in Nigeria? We all seem corrupt to a certain degree or which one of us can vouch that when alone amid glittering currencies and opportunities, we don’t take advantage of others? Why are the legislators always combating the executives executing favoritism and the judiciary always dispensing justice while their eyes are wide open to who can launder currencies to disburse freedom even when angels and demons condemn such acts?
Son of Man is not indebted nor bothered on any ground about what the so-called Transparency International says or rates Nigeria to be as a corrupt nation but my take is what my “Conscience”, the “Eye of God in the Heart of Man” potrays me and fellow Nigerians as, in the affairs of this nation.
America, Britain, Switzerland, and many of the Arab and Asian countries abet and equally are custodians of the stolen wealth of Nigeria that help boost their national and group economies, they create an enabling environment in their countries for ill-gotten wealth, their mansions as sanctuaries for those they know milk dry the commonwealth of our people yet, condemn what they condone directly or indirectly.
Who will help salvage Nigerians from the debilitating effects of corruption even in our relationship with God? When shall we learn to see the emptiness in lust for money, power, and associated positions we today cling to without recourse to the maker of mankind?
I concur with Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) who advises on the way to lessening corruption in a demented society like ours as he proclaimed, “Blessed is good wealth ( that which is earned honestly) in the hands of a righteous man.” Further to this, he earnestly asked us to, “Seek to have little in this world, Allah will love you, do not seek what others have and people will love you.”
This Hadith is very encompassing asking us all to be content with having the bare necessities and should be satisfied with a sufficient quantity that saves one from having to beg or to ask for people’s help.
What a truism in the evergreen song by Jimmy Cliff, ” Money can’t save you, no, no, no, money can’t save you, no, no, nooooooo.”
If money then is the root of all evil, why drown in its corruption?
Taiye Olaniyi, a retired Postman of the Nigeria Postal Service, is based in Lagos