The overbearing nature of the systemic corruption becomes the burden of the people, the states and the country. Invariably corruption is accepted as a way of life in Nigeria.
Why Are Our Politicians Criminals?
By Adeola Aderounmu
One of my earliest articles in the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper (precisely in 2002) was titled: Why Politicians Steal. Since then I have made references to that article several times.
It is still very shocking that nearly all Nigerian politicians are criminals.
In my opinion, since they are all stunningly rich whilst in office and their lifestyles/wealth accumulation afterwards does not reflect their salaries or allowances, l am going to conclude that they are all guilty until proven innocent.
Why are they all criminals?
There are no easy ways to explain how Nigeria got to this point. It reminds me of the irreversible reactions from my chemistry lessons.
In Nigeria you almost cannot get anything done anywhere in the country unless someone’s palms are laced with bribes, kickbacks or advance fees in form of fraud. Hence the overbearing nature of the systemic corruption becomes the burden of the people, the states and the country.
Invariably corruption is accepted as a way of life in Nigeria. It is the system and the way things work.
In Nigeria government and governance collapsed a long time ago giving way to corruption as a highly organised syndrome in the society.
It must be the organised nature of corruption that makes it possible for a respected former governor like Fashola to be in the news for the wrong reasons in recent weeks, no matter if these are the handiwork of his enemies or detractors.
Someone submitted a quotation to drill 2 boreholes for N139 m and the state approved it. The state (represented by Fashola) and the contractor (representing the people) are both criminals.
This is just one example of the thousands of contracts awarded across Nigeria monthly.
Through contracts, inflated wages and allowances and in many other ways Nigerian politicians remain criminals in their dispositions.
Why are the local government chairperson criminals? Why are the state governors’ criminals? Why are the state and federal lawmakers’ criminals? Why are all the former presidents and former heads of states criminals? Must they be criminals?
I heard that when completed projects are commissioned in Nigeria, that contracts are given for the purchase of the pair of scissors used in cutting the tapes or bands. The average cost of the pair of scissors usually ends up at N150 000!
The person who got the contract, the person who approved it and the public official (chairman, governor or president) who used a one-time pair of scissors that cost N150 000 are all criminals.
Next time anyone needs a pair of scissors to cut tape in Nigeria, please send me an email or give me a call. I will send one for free. My only request will be that the N150 000 should be donated to the motherless babies home in lsolo because someone will add the N150 000 to the expenditures anyway.
Nigeria politicians remain criminal because that is what the system requires, sadly. It doesn’t have to be so. I heard that if a man or a woman tries to be honest and trustworthy, that he or she can be murdered by friends or colleagues.
People who try to be honest at places of work or in public services are soon disowned by friends and families.
When good people become endangered species, the result is what reflects in the daily lives of the ordinary masses-the downtrodden.
Nigeria is rotten in uncountable ways. People who are not willing to play ball are neglected, cast aside or even never given the opportunity to emerge as public servants or contributors to the success of the society.
In this sense the country Nigeria has been a tragic occurrence since the years that precede the civil war years.
But are there ways to get out of this ugly situation? How can the people be cured of their permanent fixation on corruption as a means of succeeding in the country? Nigeria does not have a specific dose of ingredients or actions that will cure her.
It is very difficult to know what should come first in an attempt to move this country away from these criminalities that fill the minds of all and sundry. The majority of the people have never known a system that works correctly.
The majority of the people have been wrongly orientated for most part or all of their lives.
Education is no longer universal in Nigeria and civics, history and citizen responsibilities are off the curriculum. People grew up seeing that their existences are like a rat race and the ultimate goal became to be materially better than your friends and neighbours no matter how you do it. This is so tragic!
The only thing that has mattered in Nigeria since the collapse of governance almost 5 decades ago is how one takes the shortest cut to wealth. Family values collapsed as many parents became incapable of raising normal children in an abnormal country. Even politicians mentor their wards and godsons to be criminals like them.
But there are still many people who are representing Nigeria positively in various ways at home and abroad. There are good families and there are good parents.
Yet, one is worried about the several questions that beg for answers and solutions.
How can the majority be educated or given the appropriate orientation that will help to reduce or eliminate the criminal tendencies in them either in private or public institutions? How can Nigeria one day revert to that point where a proposal for a borehole will reflect N1m or N2m if that is the correct cost rather than an exaggerated N70 m?
The alternative costs to Nigeria’s corruption-ridden contracts and looting of treasuries are inestimable. Does the Lagos State government for example know how many Lagosians that can be housed with N70m? Then multiply that by 2…Then let us imagine the scale of corruption nationally!!! Tragic! Painful!
There must be a particular action that will set the ball rolling.
How can Nigeria stop choosing criminals to serve them? How can Nigerians stop seeing criminality as a normal way of life? How or when will this falling country be able to finally round up all the political criminals still parading themselves around town as saints?
I can reiterate two things that l think are important for Nigeria and Nigerians.
First is the political solution that all beneficiaries of the political nonsense in Nigeria do not want to discuss. Just now Nigeria remains a game and whoever captures the center controls everything.
At this moment it is Buhari and APC who decide who a criminal is or not. To some extent it seems the EFCC is wriggling its tail in recent months after many years of nonsense job done. The EFCC itself is rotten! The judiciary is lame.
A correct political system will remove the power at the center and allow the different regions to develop at own pace. Some 50 something years ago Nigeria was among the best countries in the world under the regional system of government. Why is it so hard or impossible to implement the system that works best? It baffles the intelligent minds.
A correct political system will settle the nonsensical discussions and arguments about the useless federal character to a large extent. Resource control can be discussed so that another idiotic war does not break out.
The second issue is independent of the first. It is about the institutions of governance, how they can be managed correctly and productively.
For a dysfunctional unitary system (as it is now in Nigeria) or a decentralized regional government, it is still important that criminals are not in positions. This is a dilemma for Nigeria or the states.
Under any kind of system, the persistence of criminals everywhere and in political offices anywhere in the land will continue to show in the low standard of living, the high cost of living, lack of electricity, lack of social justice, lack of social amenities, lack of public schools, low life expectancy, high mortality rate, increase in number of uneducated people and many other vices that are characteristics of a poverty-ridden country/a failed country.
One solution that has never failed in history is the genuine revolution masterminded by the downtrodden masses who have lost everything to the oppressors and losing their own lives became the ultimate price for the freedom of their children and children’s children.