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Monday, 19 February 2024 08:39

[OPINION] Nigeria: A Corrupt Nation In Depression - Richard Odusanya

Nigeria is the second most corrupt country in West Africa ahead of Ghana, according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The level of public corruption witnessed in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999 in general and over the past couple of years in particular is unprecedented and is believed by many to be the worst ever in the modern history of nations. That alone can destroy an economy. There is no public economic sector in the country which corruption has not threatened. The virus is noticeable and eaten deep in the Executive branch of government to the Judiciary and the Legislative arm.
 
Corruption or the term "bad leadership" bothers me. Nigerian society is pervaded by an obsession with money (materialism). That has been at the expense of the glorification of duty, temperance, prudence and justice. Fortitude we possess in spades, but that is more a function of circumstance than of a virtue deliberately cultivated. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Therefore, leadership is a product of the society - hence, the situation we find ourselves as a nation. Sadly, we deserve the leaders we have presently because they are full reflection of who we are as a result of our traits.
 
Leaders do not appear in a vacuum. People often think that having good or bad leaders depends on the individual. The notion that If the person at the helm is good, he will do good. If he’s bad, he will do bad. But that’s a simplistic, wrong view of leadership and what ruling a country entails. The way to solve bad leadership lies in institutions and the rules and laws that the ruler must obey, which are, after all, what will determine the political landscape of the country. What matters it’s the political process, not the individual.
 
For example, in the Nigerian situation and problematic business environment; the banking sector regarded as the live wire of the economy is sufficiently primed for manipulations going by recent revelations of underhand dealings in that sector. Unarguably, there is a very strong evidence that corruption between private and public sectors is complimentary and substitutive. We have scores of multi-billionaires in our nation - only a handful are into manufacturing of goods - the rest are businessmen of forex (FX) and importation. This is the sad reality of our beloved country Nigeria.
 
Again, the perpetual low ranking of Nigeria in the annual Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an indictment of the private sector culpability and also its vulnerability. Over 200 million Nigerians are entitled to God-given resources of this nation but rogue Public office holders/Civil servants, Bankers, Oil importers, Forex speculators, Rent seekers etc that are less than 1% of Nigerians have cornered the commonwealth! Leading to the "Great Depression".
 
Moments ago I listened to the speech of the current Senate President Sen. Godswill Akpabio. He was speaking at a thanksgiving service on Sunday covered by Channels TV, Akpabio acknowledged that “there is hunger today because of the policies and actions that they (Messrs Buhari and Emefiele) took.” This is similar to the blame game, with its finger-pointing and characteristics of the same method of Muhammadu Buhari's era when a bewildered nation is regaled with Jonathan's era malfeasance.
 
The Senate president’s statement absolved the lawmakers of blame, even though himself was a principal character including former Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the former speaker and now President Bola Tinubu’s chief of staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, served in the previous assembly (9th NASS), that approved the massive loans Muhammadu Buhari took from other nations without demanding accountability if the debts amassed served their intended purposes.
 
It is, therefore, expected that during the "Great Depression" when citizens were at bottom zero, what is expected of a serious minded people is not the blame game. In contrast, President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), didn't give excuses, blame others, or asked Americans to be patient, He rolled up his sleeves and declared several relief packages that brought succour to the poor. In a speech at the University of Michigan in May 1964, Lyndon Johnson laid out a sweeping vision for a package of domestic reforms known as the Great Society. 
 
Speaking before that year’s graduates of the University of Michigan, Johnson called for “an end to poverty and racial injustice” and challenged both the graduates and American people to “enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.” At its heart, he promised, the Great Society would uplift racially and economically disfranchised Americans, too long denied access to federal guarantees of equal democratic and economic opportunity, while simultaneously raising all Americans’ standards and quality of life.
 
Similarly, Franklin D Roosevelt helped the American people to regain faith in themselves. Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
 
In conclusion, permit me to share with you the golden words of Stephen John Fry, an English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director, narrator and writer. Fry, profoundly posited: "If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do."
 
Richard Odusanya
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