The Oasis Reporters
January 31, 2019
By Tony Osborg
Corruption was the reason why we destroyed our first federal regional system even though we were making so much economic progress as at that time with the rest of the world.
Corruption was the reason for most of the subsequent coups that followed.
Corruption was also the reason why we voted out a government that had got us back on the global economic map in 2015. Corruption was the reason we believed and supported this clueless and incompetent incumbent administration.
Corruption is the reason why many will not vote for Atiku even though in their hearts they know he is far better than the vegetable of an incumbent called Buhari.
Corruption is the reason cited why Buhari has just committed an impeachable offense by attempting to illegally remove a sitting CJN.
Corruption is the reason why many Buhari supporters oppose restructuring and true federalism. They believe some state governors will become more corrupt if we give the states more resources and more responsibilities.
For 58 years as a country, we have blamed corruption as the reason we made very foolish political and economic decisions. Yet the corruption keeps growing. We are about to make another foolish decision next month.
But wait a minute. What exactly is this corruption and why have we not defeated it in decades?
What we actually call corruption in Nigeria is an inevitable byproduct of modern socio political interactions. It is a byproduct of our political systems and structures.
Nigerians are as corrupt as the politicians they call corrupt. Corruption is part of the value system we have built over the years. It is our own normal. The Nigerian political system breathes, survives and is sustained by corruption. You cannot separate corruption from the Nigerian system just the way you cannot separate prebendalism from the Nigerian political system.
Corruption is one tool the leaders of Nigeria have used to unite and sustain the unsustainable unitary contraption of a country.
Corruption is what is being used by the federal government to rent peace in the Niger Delta so that the rest of Nigeria can continue to have revenue they never earned.
Corruption is Nigeria and Nigerians love corruption.
Corruption is the first (and most times only) reason why many Nigerians aspire to become politicians and leaders.
Corruption is probably the reason why that federal university or institution is located in your hometown.
Nigerians do not hate corruption.
They simply want to become the next beneficiary. They only use ‘corruption’ in a hypocritical way. Check the life of those who always chant corruption, their wealth, current job, first opportunity and many more are all products of corruption. I forgot, Nigerians are hypocritical too and they do not see that as corruption.
Corruption is not the BIGGEST problem in Nigeria. We must continue to propagate this. Corruption is not the reason why the Federal government has failed to fix the Apapa gridlock for decades. Corruption is not the reason why ASUU goes to strike almost every year. Corruption was never the reason why Nigeria got into a recession. The USA and other advanced countries are far more corrupt than Nigeria, why is corruption not affecting their economic and human development pace?
In Nigeria, corruption is a symptom and not a cause. Why do politicians and political parties budget more money for election tribunal than they do for voter education?
What kind of political system would expect a politician to spend more than a hundred million Naira to win a legislative election and not expect the same politician to become a thief once he becomes a legislator?
What kind of political system would put the entire police structure of a country in the hands of one man and expect that one man not to become irredeemably loyal to the interest of his benefactor?
What kind of system would centralize the entire resources and management of a country and yet expect people not to run to the centre to get their own share?
What kind of system externally provides funding to the state governments and yet expects the state governors to be loyal to the local people when he practically does not need the local support to generate the money he spends?
What kind of system allows the federal government to create local governments for a supposedly autonomous subnational unit in a supposed federation?
How many of us contractors can beat on our chest and say all our lives as public contractors, we have never got a contract without giving a bribe, promising to give a bribe or corruptly using the influence of our political godfather in getting a contract. Including those in the civil and public service.
Are we not all beneficiaries of corruption in this contraption called Nigeria? So why do we tend to hypocritically use corruption as a yardstick in assessing others when we have inadvertently accepted it as a culture inherent in our political system?
How long shall we continue in this hypocrisy?
Truth is, Nigeria is designed to be sustained by corruption. Corruption is what unites our elites, the chances of we becoming an elite or benefiting from our elites is what unites us the masses. We are all guilty of corruption in Nigeria, covertly, discreetly or inadvertently.
Merit only works in the private sector. What works in the public sector is prebendalism. Check the meaning of that word- PREBENDALISM.
I have said too much already. What is the way forward? We must begin to admit that the present Nigerian political system cannot be separated from corruption. There becomes a need to build a new political system.
A system that removes the excessive powers from the government and gives it back to the people. A system where the government is reduced from being a resource owner to a mere tax collector. A system where the president does not decide who becomes a governor nor a governor deciding who becomes a local government chairman and councillors, rather the reverse becomes the case.
We must reverse this top-bottom approach and adopt a bottom-top approach of government. That is the best way to fight corruption.
Power must reside with the people and the people must decide who goes up and upwards. Political and economic decision making must follow the same pattern.
The local people must have a right to organize themselves, administer themselves, raise revenue themselves, pay salaries themselves, hire and fire their primary school teachers, community police officers, and their community government officials themselves, generate and distribute their own electricity themselves and elect their leaders themselves. This if the foundation upon which true federalism is built and it is the altruistic reason why we advocate for the restructuring of Nigeria.
For as long as we operate this unitary military feeding bottle system of government, let us stop deceiving ourselves that we can fight corruption or that we are fighting corruption. This present system breathes and is sustained by corruption. Any politician who has not realized this after operating the system is either being dishonest or completely disillusioned.
There is an All Progressive Congress, APC Committee Report on True Federalism and Restructuring. Corruption is the reason why they have refused to implement that noble report of theirs.
As is our usual hypocritical nature, let us continue to blame corruption as the reason why ASUU is still on strike and why the government cannot give us stable electricity.
Let us continue to blame corruption while we ignore the most fundamental issues which only restructuring and true federalism can bring.
Let us continue to talk about symptoms while we ignore the root causes.
It Is Time To Restructure Nigeria.
We Need True Federalism
Written by Tony Osborg.
He is a Public Affairs Commentator