By Kingsely Ohajunwa| Corruption has been a clog in the wheel of progress in Nigeria; there are too many corrupt individuals in Nigeria; the level of corruption in the civil service is gargantuan and mind-blowing; political office holders embezzle funds meant for projects, progammes and welfare of the people; Nigeria has continually been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world; the level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has continually dwindled as a result of the level of corruption in the country; unwholesome and dubious activities seem to be practiced directly or indirectly by a lot of people; external influences may in some way be fuelling the continuous and booming rate of corruption in the Nigerian state. These are just a few of the expressions related and often spoken to acknowledge the level of corruption in Nigeria. But for how long will the focus be on the problem? The larger part of the focus should be on providing means of solving the problem.
Although the current government was ushered into power based on its assurance to bring change which in some sort means bringing an end to corruption, questions readily come to mind. One, how many corrupt individuals can possibly be apprehended? Two, for how long will the focus be on corruption? It should be understood that corruption as dominant as it may have seemed is only one of the many issues which any meaningful government should look into with a view to proving solutions that stand the test of time. Corruption seems to even have been misunderstood as only being huge amounts embezzled by government officials; it is indeed every and any act or intention carried out by an individual or organization which does not seem to conform with the expected modus-operandi of that particular system. In the light of this therefore how many individuals can be exonerated from this clampdown which has in no small regard taken the focus of this government? It will be wise if the government can understand how seemingly abstract the concept of corruption means, how involved everyone is in one way or the other, how widespread the effect has been both within and outside the country and finally how very desirous the people are of change.
The average Nigerian understands the gravity of harm done to the economy by the activities of corrupt government officials who have seemed to recycle themselves in government to appear relevant; it therefore won’t be necessary reminding the people of the presence of this menace. What is uppermost in the mind of Nigerians is how the basic and essential requirements which aid meaningful living are put in place. What is the direct effect of putting a corrupt minister behind bars? Why should so much media hype be given to the government’s intention to nail such individuals? Which is of greater priority to Nigerians, to nail corrupt officials or to put in place structures and policies which directly improve the lifestyle of the people? Of course the latter will most rationally be chosen. This choice should be greatly considered by the government as being more relevant to the people.
In all that have been written above, the salient point should not be missed or misunderstood. Of course corrupt individuals in every sector of the economy should be prosecuted while efforts to wipe out corruption should be put in place and effectively monitored. However, the fight against corruption may mean nothing if the government perceives of it as a battle meant for the government. The battle against corruption is a never-ending one because at every point in time humans will continue to do things that continually bring them in contact with money/cash flow in every sector of the economy, hence the need to focus on other issues which affect the people. Having understood from this piece that corruption may not only refer to embezzlement of funds especially done by public officials, it will be wise to get the people engaged in it by providing amenities which satisfy their basic needs as a way to now elicit their collective support to fight the enemy within. In an atmosphere of lack, especially of what is basic, there will be the need to go all out by the people to fulfill those basics, thereby most likely getting involved in corruption. To this end the fight against corruption in itself may be counter-productive if it forms the central focus of the government as little or no progress can be achieved in a society of lack which in turn continually prompts the people to turn to desperate means of attaining ends- corruption.