By Kurtis Adigba
I have come to the painful conclusion that 10,000 (Ten Thousand) Buharis cannot stop corruption in Nigeria. I’m not making excuses for him, trust me!
I had high hopes like most Nigerians that corruption will suffer a technical knockout under president Buhari, but corruption has managed to survive round after round, cheered-on by skeptics and enabled by adjudicators who prefer technicalities to facts.
We love corruption! It is the yarn with which our national fabric is woven. We love to brand and rebrand corruption as “ blessing “ and launder it as “ miracle”. For most of us, corruption is corruption only when we are not the beneficiaries or our friends, families- natural, religious and political are not the beneficiaries . Corruption is pervasive in everything and in our daily activities.
Examples of daily corruption:
A builder ordered and paid for 600 bags of cement to be delivered to his property. The supplier delivered 500 bags and carried with him 100 used cement bags to the site. The site manager and the supplier will share the money for 100 bags and the site manager will show the builder the 100 used bags as evidence of cement already used. Both have no problem with what they have done because they are being smart and the builder is a rich person who must have stolen too.
The Laborers and Security men lifting a page from the playbook of the supplier and site manager, will steal bags of cement and sell and buy used cement bags to ‘convince’ both the builder and site manger that they used the bags. Though the builder paid for 600 bags of cement, he will be in luck if 300 bags was used on his property. The same thing for iron-rods. Suppliers under- supply tons of iron and share the money with the site manger and boys.
You go to the grocery shop and pick a few things; the smiling cashier machines other items you didn’t buy so she can pick them from the shop on her way out or collect the value. If that is not the case, they trigger a collegiate criminal system involving all the workers in the shop. This is how it works. A store worker on the instruction of the manager take some items out of the shop while pretending to help you. Once in your car he pulls out the items and say to you” sir you didn’t pay for these ones but we can give them to you for half the price”. One attempted the nonsense with me so and I told him to take them back. I also reported him to the management of the shop. After that encounter I started checking receipts issued to me and I can tell you that in 2 out of 5 cases I have seen inflation of items and prices. The usual excuse is” sir it is a mistake”. Mistake my foot. It is corruption nothing more!
You pay for hotel and at check-in point, you are told” I can give you a very good room if you are willing to settle us. I can speak to the manager”. The same hotel you paid for! Your room won’t be properly cleaned and beddings changed if you don’t tip the cleaners. Right at the entrance to the hotel the security men will ask you for money. Everyone is soliciting for something to be nice to you after you have paid for the niceness.
The cab driver picks you up and takes you through a route that he has pre-arranged with street robbers to rob and dispossess you of your valuables and in spite of your protest that he is going off-route, he insist it is the shortest route. You are robbed and the “ profit” is shared among the thieves and the driver. The driver in the midst of the confusion will disappear. You are left to bear your pains.
In the Ministries- Federal and States- files don’t move until you oil the movement. You have to pay for the files to move from one office to another. Should I talk about the police? What should I talk about and what shouldn’t I? That when you take a case or complaint to the police you have to fund the investigation? Pay for the accused persons to be charged to court no matter how solid the case is? Harassment of commuters on the roads? Abuses( physical and verbal) and extortions?
What about the Doctor who recommends CS when he knows normal delivery is possible because of more money? The nurse who steal drugs from Hospital Pharmacy to sell outside? The Teacher who is paid to teach, and he doesn’t? The Civil Servant who is does not go to work but fights for minimum and collect salaries monthly?
The biggest corruption happen at the State level but only the FG is fighting corruption. How many State Governors have prosecuted anyone for corruption at the State level? The few times Panels of Enquiry set up by a few is usually to ban their political opponents or competition from running for office in the future. Don’t forget the Governors control over 50% of revenue in the country( State and Local Government Funds) belong to the Governors. But we are all focused on the FG that is doing something about corruption.
Some former military Service Chiefs are facing charges of corruption. They stole money budgeted for weapons while allowing terror to fester and careened the country towards extinction. Yet their people who are victims of the mindless theft are supporting them and blaming president Buhari for the pervasive insecurity in the country as actions have no consequences and causes have no effects.
We accepted corruption as a way of life. Serve in public office and return home to your people without a big house, expensive vehicles, houses in different cities and towns, hotels, and millions in your bank accounts, and you will called a fool- because you didn’t steal public funds.
Workers serve 35 years and retire, but they can’t get their entitlements until they pay bribes to those processing their entitlements. When they manage to get on the pay rolls their pensions are hardly paid leading many to believe that it is better to make hay while the sun shines. In other words, steal and protect your future while you can.
All the people mentioned above and those not mentioned have one thing in common: They are blaming Buhari for corruption. They will say” we told you Buhari is not fighting corruption, he can’t. How did he come to power himself”? President Buhari is not winning the war against corruption not for lack of trying; it is because we are corrupt in and out and love corruption. We are like fish in water when it comes to corruption. To have any chance against corruption, we must change our culture and values. We need to start all over. Buhari is not the father at every dinning table telling stories that deodorizes corruption as smartness. He is not the one awarding all the contract at 500times the cost, and still not executed. He is not the one sitting on Local Government funds and crippling an important tier of government. Buhari cannot jail his way out of corruption.
Is drug smuggling to some Asian countries not punishable by death? Has that stopped some Nigerians from smuggling drugs into those countries? The high reward that comes with success incentivized the pushers. Corruption will continue to be attractive in Nigeria so long as the upsides are higher than the downsides. Many Nigerians can’t endure to see a corrupt person or persons punished. They will invent reasons why he or they shouldn’t be punished- is he or she the only corrupt person? Is it because he or she is a Christian or Muslim? Is it because he is Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, or a minority? Is it not because he or she is a member of PDP or APC? They always have reasons to rationalize corruption.
Until we decide to reject and fight corruption as a people and nation, President Buhari can only scratch the surface. We cannot fight what we don’t hate, detest and see as a problem. Until then, 10,000 cannot fight and eliminate corruption.