By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Growth is a constant phenomenon that comes when enhanced by certain factors which are necessary. In humans, for growth to be rapid or proper, the right food and vitamins must be supplied to the body, to avoid stunted growth; It is the same situation with a country and its people.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a country is “a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory…”. For a nation to be called a country, it needs people and its own government as well as land. The citizens of this country, will seek for a leader who would represent them, make policies that will guide them, as well as relate with the international community on their behalf and their general growth, development and social well-being.
However, just like the body, the country will surely experience stunted growth if its people do not supply it with the necessary ingredients needed not just for its quantitative increase but also to its Socio-economic development. The Country will become totally stagnated and even start to depreciate if its leaders, elected to preside and lead the people, begin to steal from the people by amassing wealth for their immediate family and living opulently at the expense of the tax paying masses. This attitude simply put, is called CORRUPTION!
In 2003, the Nations of the world came together to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) which came into force in 2005 to tackle corruption but since then, there has been little or no change when it comes to corruption in Nations, particularly, African Nations.
Effects of Corruption
Corruption has been the main reason for the underdevelopment in many African Countries, where African leaders because of their greed, develop the sit-tight syndrome and refuse to relinquish power after so many years in office. The menace is borne out of selfishness which tend to rope most politicians in, immediately they take over positions.
Lack of accountability in government and governance is one of the root causes of corruption, as this tend to make political leaders corner government contracts to themselves as well as engage in nepotism by appointing their family members into offices that they are not even qualified for.
Lackadaisical attitude of the citizens tends to fuel corruption. The citizens are supposed to hold whoever they elected into power accountable to checkmate their excesses, bring them back on track, and put them on their toes to function. By doing so, there will be little or no room at all to pilfer and take what belongs to the people. Rather, citizens sing their praises when little gifts have been dropped on their laps and do not care about what happens to their commonwealth. The leaders take them for a ride and deprive them and their children of quality healthcare, good education, good roads and other basic amenities like proper shelter, water, electricity and many more.
It is heart rending that at the slightest illness, the country’s leaders will be on their way abroad to get quality healthcare while they leave their people with nothing. Their children all study abroad, enjoying first class living at the detriment of the citizens and when they cannot continue on the political scene, they bring in their children to take over from them and the cycle continues.
Corruption impoverishes the citizens, making them struggle to provide a meal for their families and three square meal becomes a luxury. Children of school age roam the streets, some begging while others are hawking to help their parents and when another election year approaches, these citizens are contracted by the same politicians that have impoverished them, to serve as tugs and help to rig elections.
The “Corrupt Citizens”.
When corruption is mentioned, everybody including corrupt citizens all point their fingers to the political office holders, whereas most citizens are also guilty of fueling corruption. It is a bitter truth to note that most citizens are more corrupt than the political office holders.
These group of people I call the “corrupt citizens”, are the ones that defraud their fellow citizens of their hard-earned money. They hike transportation fare at the slightest economic shakeup and blame it on the government. They are in the filling stations, tweaking the meters to read below what is put out, and they charge exorbitant prices for fuel even when it is not necessary and blame it on the government.
They are in offices, collecting bribes before allowing clients see their bosses, asking prospective clients bidding for contracts to pay certain amount of money to facilitate their contracts. They are in companies, producing and selling inferior products to citizens for the same price the quality product would go for. They are everywhere plotting on how to steal from their fellow citizens and guess what, they always have someone to blame-government!
Corruption by citizens is when contractors misuse monies given to them to construct roads and at the end, use substandard materials which will see these roads that billions were allocated for, failing and becoming unmotorable in less than a year. It is when a land owner knows he does not have adequate fund to successfully erect a building but goes ahead anyway, thereby using substandard materials, and the house collapsing few years after, killing the occupants who had no hand in his greed. It is when security personnel take bribe from motorists, even the ones that are defaulters…and the list is endless.
Corruption in Nigeria
One cannot trace when corruption started in Nigeria, but it sure has lived long enough to see many of its great grand-children who have mastered and perfected the art of stealing from government coffers, steal more on daily basis. There have been several governments, that had placed the fight against corruption at the top of their agenda during elections, but immediately they take over power, an unusual pendulum swings and return the country to status quo, thereby dashing the hopes of the citizens who elected their supposed “messiah” that cannot take them to the promised land.
A lot of money has been spent in fighting corruption and this has seen to the setting up of several anti-Corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT); but the hydra-headed monster has defied all odds and refused to be defeated.
There is no hope in sight for total eradication of corruption, but the menace can be curbed and reduced drastically if institutions will be headed and manned by individuals with clean and proven track record as well as high ethical standards to control them. These individuals will not have so much power, to avoid being corrupted by the absoluteness of the power embedded in their position.
The citizens must desist from stealing from fellow citizens, government officials must be made to be transparent and accountable, those caught should be severely punished to act as deterrent to others, policies must be put in place to ensure that politicians do not get so much beyond what they need for their various offices.
The citizens have to wake up to their duty which is to hold public office holders accountable, sound the alarm when any is caught stealing from the people, rather than join in to get the so called national-cake, which is only a token to slavery.
Also, the Government must be committed to the fight, regardless of who gets hit or whose house gets burnt. private sectors must be transparent and Civil Society Organisations must be objective in their criticisms to help in the fight against corruption.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s 2019 general election is less than six months away, politicians must desist from vote buying, from inducing the electorates with gifts of all kind just to be voted for. The citizens on the other hand must resist every temptation and vote for the right candidates. They should know that their actions today can make or mar their future and those of their children. They must understand that their vote is their might.
Corruption is constantly robbing nations of tomorrow’s growth and for any nation to grow, corruption must be killed. Everybody must make efforts to “Kill Corruption before it kills the Nations”.
Image credit: Face2Face Africa