By Theo Adebowale
Father General is our host. That title, his office, is peculiar and unique, but we shall help you have a glimpse into its significance. Elsewhere you have Lt General, Major General, and Brigadier General. In this place we have Father General, our host. His place provides a modest, simple, warm atmosphere for sharing information, for education and connection. The other day at Debo’s place, a young medical doctor was diagnosed of jedijedi. He was encouraged to blend some herbs and drink it before breakfast. Three days later, he returned to confirm the efficacy of the prescription. Gists abound at Debo’s place. Because he facilitates it all, and is ever homely, he was decorated Father General.
Last week, there was an interesting debate at Debo’s place. Ilemobola an occasional member of the house cast a look at the Nigerian political situation and posited that poverty is cause of corruption. His assumption is that a poor person is gullible, and open to any temptation including having a share of proceeds of corruption. As such, so long there is poverty in the land, so long would corruption fester. The predictive part of his assumption appears valid except that some members of the house did not agree that poverty is the mother of corruption. Paul, that is Baba Ibeji, however interjected that the Israelites preferred Barabbas to Jesus, as such the political salvation of Nigeria might be found in a certified corrupt politician because he understands corruption and would be able to stem it and put an end to poverty.
On the contrary, corruption, some of us believe, gave birth to poverty. We would do well by investigating how corruption came about. Lack of contentment surfaced early in human community. The whole earth was made available to the sparse population that dwelt there. Each person had the land before him to suppress. They cultivated the ground. Some harvests were bountiful, some yields were poor. But there were also loafers who preferred to loathe about instead of making hay while the sun shines. Loafers wander round the place taking note of farm yards, great harvest, beautiful yield of other people. These loafers envied success, and went about as the criminal in them was aroused to take other peoples harvests. When they were apprehended, the community imposed sanction including banishment into exile, and other lighter punishment as deemed fit.
Some of those whose harvest were poor, out of envy, connived with the criminals to undermine the authority of the community. The greedy gradually devise the means to reap where they did not sow. They even appropriate to themselves what the community gets as contribution from patriotic economically active members. The greedy loathsome criminal folks started raking a little from the common barn. With time, they discontinue making any productive contribution whatsoever. They have drilled several holes into the common pool. They drain the common wealth. Having established Corruption Incorporated Nigeria Unlimited, they have set up their own powerful organization with agents in every facet of the state. Prominent members are ideologues of a sort marketing corruption as a profitable way of life. Their breakthrough came as their worldview transcended religion, region, ethnic groups, cultural identities. Corruption Incorporated Nigeria Unlimited is a fraternity, with a powerful propaganda machine that makes even victims of corruption sheepishly endorse its ideology and market its products and distribute its totems. The flood of corruption has covered the landscape so much that rescue operation appears too slow and ineffective. Practitioners of corruption have a ferry by the lagoon to “rescue” internally disadvantaged i.e. the poor citizens into the lagoon of poverty.
Corruption may provide immediate relief at party primaries where some of the loot is denominated in hard currency to buy the conscience of delegates. At general elections, prominent politicians and merchants of violence are generously loaded with logistics. The unwary voter is handed a pittance to prepare a ‘good’ meal after election. He abdicates his only weapon, authority over the Permanent Voter Card, which entitles him to express himself or herself as being human and equal to any other man as God’s creatures.
Corruption dispossesses every man of the sweat of his labor. What the state gathers as contribution from every citizen to do for them, what none of them could have done on his own, proprietors, directors, agents and hangers-on of Corruption Incorporated Nigeria Unlimited corner and convert to their private use and the corruption pool. On its trail are unexecuted projects, collapsing and collapsed infrastructure; Auto crash takes place on Nigerian roads because some people have misappropriated funds meant to provide and fix them. Many patients and relations struggle to raise huge sums to pick medical bills and buy expensive drugs. By the hands of the corrupt the drugs are fake and deliver death. Several misfits planted by the corrupt are visible in positions of responsibility where they make and implemented policies that facilitate crimes and exonerate criminals. Because of the intimidating presence of criminals in public institutions and agencies, those who want to uphold propriety and canvass due process, transparency and merit are daily frustrated, humiliated and eliminated. Poverty is multiplied because the system is corrupt. The corrupt have seized the socialization and recruitment process of Nigeria. Ordinarily, one can easily be persuaded to join them, since he cannot beat them. but that is defeatist. Masters and prophets of corruption cannot fix the economy. Belzebub cannot cast out Belzebub. Unless there is poverty, shady business cannot thrive, so the corrupt nurture and water poverty. It is when people are rescued from poverty that they begin to be rational and critical. So corruption has to be stifled for a start.
We must realize that several booby traps have been planted to make a mince meat of integrity. Honest living is becoming more and more discounted and unfashionable, because legitimate wages cannot provide basic comfort. But these times shall pass, it is only that honest citizens must tarry a little more. Looters are investors of a kind. They release a fraction of their loot to secure a larger loot. Hustlers that they are, they defect from one party to another until they reach the end of defection. They defect even in the nomination process. To catch attention, a defector can file nomination for an office, do some bargaining through an ignorant fellow, and defect or elect to contest for a lower office. Once upon a time, a former presidential aspirant from Ekiti State, promised to invest in development of Ekiti funds he had collected from government to build a radio station in the former Ondo State contest for a lower office. They have foot soldiers who they planted in the corruption career to fleece public resources from which they fund their fraternity. Corruption has a habitat in poverty as fish and other marine lives enjoy waters. The corrupt are ambitious, intelligent and resourceful. They look forward to turning rivulets to an ocean where their business would make greater returns, of course to the detriment of the larger community perpetually ravaged by poverty.
When elections approach, the corruption actors and actresses are at their best, ebullient, friendly, accessible, pontificating, generous, giving lavishly, and ready to help the needy, philanthropists par excellence. One of them visited Owo a few weeks back. He ’empowered’ some folks handsomely, may be, as a ‘constituency project’. But that night the beneficiaries were visited one by one by armed robbers who recovered from them all the ’empowerment’.
Law abiding Nigerians are already investing the more in economically productive activities. Ingenuity of the youths is already yielding results. Free funds, a drain on the economy are no longer forthcoming. The international community is aware that looting, money laundering other sharp practices are on the decline; as such it is now safer for them to do business with Nigeria this is a positive development. Nigerians should not be deceived into the ferry by the lagoon; it flings those so lured into the ocean of corruption where hooligans, ritualists, organ harvesters and blood suckers destroy.
Flee from corruption and the corrupt. They are beneficiaries of mass poverty. Vote against agents of corrupt practices. Let us look inward to find what to do to supply the needs of our people. Corruption will lose the battle if only we are focused, and resist it. Once we overcome corruption, poverty will vanish. Corruption, remember, cannot harm, hinder or limit poverty. It can only multiply it because it is its brainchild, an effective weapon of corruption.