Corruption and the leadership crisis in Nigeria


Since a couple of days ago, Nigeria’s newspapers have been awash with corruption allegations against suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC), ACP Ibrahim Magu. The allegations are truly of monumental proportion. When the news burst out the first time, my question was: “is it a new story?” who among all the people accusing Magu of corruption is free from the same malaise? That is, who among them from the highest to the lowest can face any genuine audit panel over his/her wealth and come out clean? My contention has been that Ibrahim Magu simply failed out of favour with certain “powers” in the nation and so they decided to deal with him. Why or how he fell out of favour with the so-called “owners” of Nigeria is what I do not know. However, they all know the truth! Ibrahim Magu’s monumental corruption allegations are only representative of the mindset of the typical Nigerian. Have you seen any national newspaper any day without alarming stories of fraud, embezzlement and insecurity? Yet, is there any big man in any prison or police cell serving time as a result of fraud? If there are, they are a negligible number and certainly those that have fallen out of favour with the “powers that be.” Only the poor go to jail in this country or those without “connections”. Nigeria is a country where corruption is celebrated and those peddling the proceeds of corruption are accorded the most prominence in our society.
This is because what matters here is the money and not how it is acquired. In Igboland, money has been nicknamed, “nma nwoke” which means the “glory or beauty of a man” character does not count any more and as such has been relegated to the dust bin. But the foundation of leadership is character and this is where the crisis of leadership in Nigeria originates. Following character is competence. The combination of character and competence give a leader credibility which is the basis of trust. Character itself has integrity as its core. This is where Nigeria’s problems lie. Men and women without character are occupying all the positions of leadership in this country! And all they know is corruption and nothing else. This is from federal government to local governments and towns. Character issues are not discussed in this country. Morality now belongs to our forefathers and nobody cares. Moral bankruptcy and character deficiency have given birth to all kinds of crime and criminality, unprecedented high level of unemployment, etc. it permeates all the nooks and crannies of the nation’s life and activities, be it educational subsector, spiritual/religious, sports, etc. All the governments of the country have bowed and submitted themselves to the monster that has eaten so deep that even primary school children are not exempted from it. Yet nothing is being done!
People flaunt their corrupt wealth during elections and use it to buy their way into elective positions. This is why only the wealthy win “elections” in this country, as well as those sponsored by god father’s who use proceeds of corruption to get their political god son elected. Magu is just typical of the real Nigeria. If you join the ruling party, your sins are forgiven. This is why all the corrupt people flood into the ruling party, whatever their name. Principles and ideology don’t matter. Nobody cares. Patriotism is an “old school word”. It belongs to the archives and only preached to the poor. Is there any hope for Nigeria, one may ask? Any move to salvage this country must be a conscious one. A revolution of the mindset, starting with those in executive leadership positions. Yes! when we have a president or governor who insists that his administration must be defined by the basic tenets of good leadership such as transparency, accountability, rule of law/due process, participation of the people in a genuine democratic process and so on. Such a leader must have moral courage to deal with all issues. Confucius in 500BC said, “to know what is right and not to do it is the greatest cowardice”. What this means is that Nigeria is a country of big cowards! This is why in the 21st century we still have only about 10% of our roads tarred, no power and water supply. Proceeds from crude oil sales are shared with impunity, contractors refuse to execute contracts and nothing happens, nepotism and favoritism reign unchallenged. Meritocracy is given back seat. Competence and character are slaughtered on the alter of political loyalty and sentiments.
Let the electorate rise up against all that have fraudulently enriched themselves by refusing to give them recognition in the society and in the churches. Let us begin to ask questions about source of people’s wealth and treat corrupt people as viruses in the society. We must reject them when they come out for elections. Of people in positions of leadership at any level, we must demand accountability, transparency and rule of law from them. Power belongs to the people. we must practicalize this and insist on social contract between us and our leaders. We need more than all these. We need a leader that is inspirationally uncomfortable and dissatisfied with the status quo in any sector of the people’s life. We need a leader who will actually ask the question of why Nigeria is different from U.S.A Europe and other developed nations in infrastructure, standard of living, life expectancy, etc. the difference is only in the quality of leadership in Nigeria and these developed nations. Questions upon questions must be asked to get to the root of the matter. We are not inferior to people of any nation. Our inferiority only lies in our understanding of what leadership is all about.


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