BasseyUbong

Corruption

Corruption. The Encarta dictionary published in 2008 sees this over-flogged word as dishonesty for personal gain. The Rotarian Magazine once ran a lead article on it, beginning with a question to readers – have you ever taken a corporate pen home to use for writing things that are personal? That sounded over the top but on closer look, it is corruption. The word is more applicable in the case of persons in positions of responsibility from family to religious organizations to business organizations to government departments. When ‘immorality’ is introduced, a wider spectrum is covered.
Donald Trump, the current occupant of the White House in USA is so excited about the word corruption, now adding filth and rats and rodents particularly when it involves African countries. But as our elders say, one can deploy the same hand used to catch a housefly to catch a bee, He described the American city of Baltimore as infested with rats and rodents. The people are up in arms and now the world knows that Jerry Krushner, son-in-law to Donald Trump owns several apartment blocks in the city of which authorities had invited him to repair and drive away rats and rodents.
The Bible told us to remove the block in our eyes so we can see the speck in the eyes of our neighbour. The man looks like he desperately needs a psychiatrist. Corruption? Who has defrauded businesses and government like DTrump? Why is he fighting to keep his tax returns away from Congress?
Back to Nigeria. The basic problem about corruption is that the government only focuses on healing a wound, sadly in a half-hearted manner. The only effective approach to healing an open and festering wound is to confront it head-on where the healer knows what to do and is not encumbered with disabilities that can be distractive. What this means is that a doctor should be in an absolute position to heal.
Once upon a time, I went to see a doctor friend, a highly seasoned medical practitioner. I drew his attention to what may be considered a needling ailment which is regarded as minor (because it is not life-threatening). Athletes foot (a euphemism for footrot) is a fungal infection that is extremely difficult to cure more so the fungus can be contacted in bathroom floors, swimming pools, and is very prevalent in rain season. The affable doctor simply swivelled his chair and showed me his seriously coated feet and laughed. Our discussion ended.
In essence, the surest way to cure corruption is a situation in which those entrusted with the fight are 100% above reproach. In our system, that is very improbable. How does a boss reprimand a Cleaner who appears for work by 8 am when the boss will likely be in the office by 10 am if at all? What would a boss say to a driver who submits a fake bill when the boss uses official vehicles for private purposes? How does the boss of an apex regulatory agency control the regulated agencies when the boss is neck-deep in corruption the colours of the rainbow?
The Holy Bible appears to be so complete almost nothing is indeed new under the sun. Jesus told an irate crowd bent on stoning a woman caught in the act of adultery: let him that sinneth not, be the first to cast a stone. Of course, the crowd dispersed in shame. Which staff of the so-called numerous anti-graft agencies can stand up and claim that he or she is corruption-free? Can that person tell us that he or she has never taken a corporate pen home to use for private purpose? Can any of them tell us they have never put in a claim or submitted a receipt that is not genuine? What about using office space and equipment and staff and time to do something personal? If you used your position to secure admission or job for your child or relation without due process, is that amoral?
A contractor who does a shoddy job and the person who awarded or passed a shoddy job for payment because there is gain, are all corrupt. Denying people their rights is dishonesty particular when the person doing so stands to gain something. Withholding someone’s salary and investing it for personal gain is corruption. Impoverishing oil-producing communities, for instance, is corruption. Remember the definition in line one above corruption is dishonesty for personal gain.
Probably corruption, like cancer, is best cured via prevention. Therefore, governments should go the extra mile to provide the basics for citizens and see if they are pathologically corrupt. Many early post-independence Nigerians are still alive. Did they ever dream that the odious composite term ‘examination malpractice’ could ever become a norm in Nigeria? Why should a Nigerian child be in class and ‘burn the midnight oil’ when for every paper now at the senior secondary school certificate examination every candidate must register or ‘drop something’ for the examination agency appointed and paid invigilator? How then will a child trained up in the way s/he should not go not believe in corruption as a way of life at higher levels?
Why would the Federal Government take 7.5% of a staff’s salary all through working life in the service and then tell the staff on retirement to wait for twelve to thirty-six months without pay before pension reluctantly arrives? Why can’t the governments play with their assumed 7.5% they contribute till they are ready to pay? For a staff that has access to public funds, why would s/he not take ‘a little thing’ and keep for the proverbial rainy day?
Nigeria prepares and positions citizens for corruption, simple. For a staff that is used to a car, how do you leave the office and use motorcycle or Keke? In advanced countries, very comfortable public transportation system is a datum. Why would someone therefore steal to buy a car? Why would a worker worry about the generator and how to run it if there were even twelve hours of electricity a day? Private schools should be a matter of choice, not a desideratum; parents prefer them because of the vast quality gap between public and private schools. If youths leave school and get jobs the way we did in the seventies, why would girls sell their souls to get jobs or people in positions that employ desperate youths be traumatized by persons in high positions if their wards are not employed?
The advocacy: prevent corruption; don’t look forward to fighting corruption. Just like fighting advanced stages of cancer, cure never works. Make provisions for minimum comfort for citizens then see if they will steal.

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