Corruption is without doubt Nigeria’s biggest problem. In fact, the many societal, political and of course economic ills and vices that bedevil us today have their roots in corruption.
In 2012, Transparency International (TI) conducted a survey on corrupt countries in the world and on the report, Nigeria was ranked 139 out of the 176 countries surveyed. Several other surveys conducted both internationally and locally have all put Nigeria on the wrong end of the list which evidently confirms the current state of the country.
Corruption by the way is defined by the Business dictionary as “wrongdoing on the part of an authority or powerful party through means that are illegitimate, immoral and incompatible with ethical standards.”
This definition, as apt as it is however slightly skewed as it regards people in “authority” and “power” as the only possible perpetrators of corruption, but really, corruption is common to both the leaders and the led, the government and the governed, even the haves and have-nots. From a holistic view point therefore, corruption comprises (but is not limited to) embezzlement of public funds, unwholesome administrative practices, violation of civil laws, falsification of information, doctoring of business/official documents, bribery, exam/electoral malpractices, fraudulent business proposals, and internet scamming.
In Nigeria today, just about everyone is guilty of corruption; it has seeped into the very heart and soul of the nation and sadly, leaders who would have salvaged the situation in leading by example have failed to do so, hence they own the greater part of the blame.
Because of the failure of our leaders to lead by example, not a few Nigerians have become chronically cynical and distrusting with regards to politics and politicians, present company included, but after I heard about this guy, I could once again sniff a tiny whiff of hope for our own Naija.
This guy makes his happy home with his wife and dogs in a modest house on a dirt road at a very rural area outside Montevideo, Uruguay. He chooses to have a simple lifestyle, he says, so he has “time to live how he wants to live”. His regular salary is a ‘whooping’ $12,000 (N1920000M) per month but he prefers to donate 90% of that sum to charity, leaving him with only $800 (N480000) a month.
Mind you, he is not a secretary in a government office neither is he a police sergeant on the street. He is the distinguished president of Uruguay!!! His name is Jose Mujica and he is said to be the world’s poorest president.
Elected in 2009, Mujica shunned the opulent presidential palace and its numerous staff, choosing rather to live in a farm which is even owned by his wife. He also refused to be chauffeured around in a convoy of flashy cars but drives an old Volkswagen beetle.
As a Nigerian, this has to be nothing but sheer madness and foolishness, a wasted opportunity indeed. In my country, politicians make ‘good’ use of their opportunities (and even that of others) while in office. Anything otherwise and you’re a ‘Mumu’.
With $12,000 a month Mujica would still be considered very poor, even poorer than local government chairmen in Nigeria, but he chose to donate 90% of that ‘meagre’ sum to fight poverty and to assist entrepreneurs in his country, thereby unburdening himself of the destructive pressures and temptations associated with people in position of authority. In taking that decision also, Mujica helps his country save millions of dollars that would have gone into servicing his opulent lifestyle, that of his wife, their aides, pets and other appendages. What this means is that Mujica receives no wardrobe allowances, no newspaper allowances, no fuel bonuses, no security votes, not even furniture allowances. Now, juxtapose that with the Nigerian president and you will be dazed at the needless luxury that exists within the Nigerian political corridor, the president and his Vice’s feeding allowance for a month alone (N83M) is 3 ½ times more than the Uruguayan President’s yearly salary!!!
Our President is perhaps the world’s richest president and our Senators/Reps are richer than many Presidents (including the President of the United States of America). On top of these, the President has refused to declare his assets and as if that wasn’t enough, he recently granted pardon to the notorious former Governor of Bayelsa state, DSP Alameseigha who looted the state dry. It may also interest you to know that despite the President’s claim of his commitment to ‘fight corruption to the barest minimum”, not one corrupt government official has been successfully tried and convicted so far during his term as president.
Our leaders are entrapped in so much luxury and affluence presented to them by the laws of the land, and with a system as porous as ours, it is easy to extend their appetite to public funds. With the kind of unfettered powers and immunity (both constitutionally and socially) granted them, deadly financial crimes are committed daily with impunity and without recourse to the helpless and harmless laws of our land.
I recommend that salaries of public offices be made unattractive; I recommend also that the government cuts down on the numerous expenses that only feed the ostentatious lifestyle of our leaders. I demand that positions such as the unofficial ‘office’ of the 1st lady be abolished and made less glamorous than it currently is. Even though billions are spent on the first lady and her aides on a daily basis, these huge funds aren’t provided for in the budget and as such are stolen monies whose source cannot be accounted for. I recommend that penalty for corruption be made stiffer than it is and that prosecution of offenders be expedited, devoid of the usual judicial bottlenecks. I recommend that jobs of prosecutors such as heads of anti graft agencies, chief judges and even heads of electoral bodies etc. be occupied by deserving persons who are strictly not appointed by the Presidents.
As for the led and the governed, the followers, we must work to get rid of traces of corruption in our active and passive human interactions. Something as simple as obeying traffic rules, refusal to falsify information and to give bribe etc. can go a long way.
Corruption is irreconcilably contradictory to our accepted values, hence it has become necessary to stem its tide and save our country from its claws. This young generation of ours bears the onus of making the ‘NIGERIAN DREAM’ happen.