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Corruption: Nigeria and the virus

By Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

My post on the subject matter of corruption on Monday drew a lot of flak from some quarters expectedly.

It was obvious that many did not read the post before commenting: seeing images of people they did not like, they activated their keypads to comment speedily.

Unfortunately, the post was not about President Buhari, who some people love to hate. The post was about the virus, corruption which has grown exponentially through our Nation’s history.

Just to be clear, Nigeria has not always been corrupt and that was what I illustrated in the opening paragraph of the post. We have had leaders like Sir. Ahmadu Bello, the former premier of Northern region who did not leave behind properties for his children; Chief Solomon Lar after been a Federal House of Representatives member in the First Republic, Governor of Old Plateau State (involving Nassarawa, Plateau together), Minister and National chairman of a ruling party had no house in Abuja (anytime his rent was due, I know first-hand what had to be done to sort it out) and Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, the former Central Bank Governor amongst many other portfolios; who did not help themselves with public funds.

I know a former minister of F.C.T Mohammed Abba Gana who even as at now, does not have his own house in Abuja. These were the leaders with whom we confronted military dictatorship together in her dying days.

With them, we formed PDP in 1998, but we all left once it was clear the party had been taken over by other forces. We fought with everything before we left. So, I am not part of the legacy of the looting that PDP later became as some ignorant commentators have alleged.

I resigned from PDP in 2006 and kept fighting in opposition until I had to go into voluntary exile to Europe in 2008, I returned early 2016.

Upon my return, I found out that the previous administration had allowed corruption to flow everywhere, even online. I was bewildered at the level of corruption even amongst beggars. In 2016 I wanted to hand over alms to a cluster of beggars in Lagos who would normally gather by the traffic light in a popular street at Victoria Island. Surprisingly, virtually all the beggars urged me not to give the money to a particular gentleman amongst them. They said he was in the habit of collecting money on behalf of the community of beggars and refusing to share with others.

We cannot continue this way! In the power sector and some manufacturing plants, employers will rather employ Filipino and Pakistani operators rather than Nigerian workers because of pilfering of vital machine parts.

I have heard the bizarre stories of retired civil servants who needed to bribe their serving junior colleagues in order for them to be captured in the roll for their gratuity to be processed.

Tomato sellers are hiding rotten tomatoes underneath the basket while good looking ones are popping up on top. Everyone involved seem to justify their actions by pointing accusing fingers to just anybody to create the impressions that they are helpless when this is not the case.

The Monday post is the beginning of a discuss in the ethical, regulatory, institutional, administrative and systematic reforms we must make to confront the ‘corruption’ pandemic.

This is not about President Buhari but the future of our fatherland.

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