As at 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost $400 billion to corruption since after independence, that’s more money it took to rebuild the whole of Europe after world war 2. Just last year my beloved country without much surprise was ranked 144th of 180 for the most corrupt countries in the world.
Let’s turn our attention from those clearly underestimated facts and see Nigeria for what it really is. While an average Nigerian would be quick to start blaming and cursing our leaders for this level of corruption and hardship in the country, I’d rather blame it on the average man on the street, the woman selling by the roadside, the students studying so hard on our campuses and any Nigerian normal enough to read this article.
Some time ago I went to visit this uncle of mine, the day i went there, the 14-year-old son had just collected his result from school and he came first. I felt good, he was repping the family on a good light so I encouraged him to keep it up but i observed he did better with the Art subjects like English, Government, Literature in English, C.R.S, and History so we got talking and I asked Jeffery what he would love to become in future. My cousin said he wanted to be a politician, I got more curious and asked why he wanted to become a politician, well he said because he wanted to be very rich. The parents laughed hard and so did I pretend to. But then again i observed the root of Nigeria’s problem, springing up in another Nigerian. The “live large fever”! Perhaps it’s in our gene.
Now that was from a boy in SS1, the scholars in our higher institutions obviously don’t share a different idea. They say absolute power corrupts, but with Nigerians ” power ” I mean just ordinary power corrupts; it doesn’t have to be absolute before it corrupts us and we abuse it. Give an average man a gateman and he sees himself, Lord, over him. Appoint Mr A the M.D today and his secretary will automatically become his toy with whom the word respect dies. My 4 years in Uniben brought me across all sorts of political ideologies but there was one thing common about them all. The greed was the same thing. At SUG level of governance, you hear students embezzle as much as 2 – 4 million naira in one academic year. A particular SUG candidate would greet everyone while moving around campus but would send boys to go beat a fellow student up that approached the same girl he was “eyeing” once he became SUG president. We don’t want to live normal lives, that’s where it starts from.
We want to drive Rolls Royce, own private jets, move with police escort and have our names mentioned in music albums so for the elite, politics is the only way to afford such luxury. That’s what the average Nigerian sees as a good life. It is very rare to see a Nigerian who admires “owning a scholarship scheme for less privileged students” as one of their life plans. Never. We want the show-off, the fame and whatever pleasure that comes with it and while it is very normal and good to dream big, we should understand that when it’s for the most insane reasons it becomes dangerous to the society and that is what Naija is suffering from. We have a dirty and corrupt citizenry, rotten to the core with the most absurd mentalities. These leaders don’t fall from the sky, they are products of our society too, the society that teaches greed and infects them with the “live large fever”. What else would make someone steal billions of naira meant for retired workers comfortably and not feel any remorse. Oh! I forgot those are the ones we call national heroes. Nigeria we cannot give what we do not have. The society is messed up so where will the good leaders come from?
CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, YOU CHANGE YOUR WORLD
No Nigerian leader has ever and can ever embezzle public funds on his/her own. There’s got to be accomplices, normal Nigerians who usually help them out under the guise of loyalty and put the general public in peril. So maybe we are as guilty as those politicians up there. We might even steal more if given the opportunity. The trend says “nor be me start am, steal your own ‘comot’ for there” and so the circle continues. Secure enough money for yourself and unborn generations and chill. The next person comes and does the same. I became a bit soft on these so-called corrupt politicians when I took my time to study the Nigerian society.
We have professors rigging elections for governors, ordinary secretaries helping DG’s inflate figures, common bank managers helping senators launder money, custom officers help rich businessmen pass contraband goods, youths helping assassinate political rivals, market women inflating prices of foodstuffs, police escorting the worst criminals, the biggest fraudsters have the highest followers on Instagram, the shows with the least positive impact on kids and youth get the most attention of the youth. It becomes almost impossible to get a good leader from such a society. The leaders know the citizens are not any better so no need to worry about accountability, for who? People who will steal more and wreak more havoc if given the same power.
They know the best kind of youth would rather spend more time trying to get a degree and just have a decent job and work and die. He is too busy trying to survive and take care of his family in this bad economy so he can’t keep up a protest against the government. The rest are busy looking for clients to fraud online, participating in twerk competitions or enjoying mentorship from a certified sex coach. Nigeria is the man who sits under the mango tree enjoying fresh air while his hut is on fire. That we see nothing wrong in our society is proof all isn’t well. Maybe we don’t think well enough in this part of the word, sometimes one is forced to think we are cursed. I mean if our forefathers could willingly sell their brothers, sisters and even children into slavery because of Dane guns and mirrors, why are we surprised with the way the North and south-east see each other today? Why do same Nigerians, Africans go out of here and do exploits? Why don’t we give ourselves relevant opportunity to excel? Little wonder the white man considers a black man less than himself.
Just like us he was taught in school too, how his ancestors came to our land and we gave up ourselves. So effective was our madness that some colonies used fellow blacks to oppress blacks and it worked as indirect rule. The stories of shame about Africa, about Nigeria are endless. If we must tell stories then let us tell it with all truth for whatever is not entirely true isn’t true at all. Maybe we are meant to live this way, maybe we just enjoy the poverty but when we decide to start changing the very way we think about life which in my opinion is impossible, then we can change our society and then the country but until then, we can never give what we don’t have.