When China Achebe, a notable literary icon authored one of the world’s best-selling novels to have been produced by any Nigerian writer in 1958, no one had an inkling and premonition that things would later go sour as we currently have. The book titled “Things Fall Apart” was suitably used to typify the Nigerian civil war experience and the inability of the then Government to avert an inter-ethnic rivalry which was gradually and steadily generating intensity at every passing day and night, eventually leading to a three-year period of war. Casualties and destruction of properties that ensued thereafter were unfortunately the only ‘profit’ recorded by all the parties who participated in the war. The centre failed in its capacity to prevent a looming disorderliness, and to maintain preservation of law thus, making Nigerians_ especially people from the Eastern part_ resort to employing ‘illegitimate’ ways of protecting their people and the land. This literary luminary was famous for expressing his perspectives on socio-cultural and political issues with his prose and poetry.
This piece hopes to unearth the various dimensions in which crime and corrupt practices have totally held in captivity, the minds and conscience of the average Nigerian owing to our failing system. Saying Nigeria is a nation-state of very unique people having certain peculiarities as to finding ridiculous ways to tackle their challenges and successfully getting away with them is no longer an understatement. Our people, to the best of my knowledge as a pupil in Ifako Primary School in Ifako Gbagada in the early 90s, exhibited some good brotherliness among themselves, tried to be morally upright in their dealings with fellow countrymen and women _ though with some hidden hypocrisy. Nonetheless, we seemed to sincerely hold our various religious tenets and obligations tightly and as such, people interrelated with less fears and discomfort. Those were times when Nigerian people held their heads high. A Yoruba adage says “Omi titun ti ru, eja titun ti wo inu e” _ meaning a new wave of water has replaced the old one giving opportunities for new fishes to emerge in the ocean.
Realistically, there seems not to be an end in sight when one looks at the ugliness of the current situation of things and values that keep eroding away almost every other day. The system looks as if no amount of spiritual walfare can stop the tide of things. Things are falling apart and the centre/system looks too weak to hold them together. When the head which can be likened to the CPU of the computer system is faulty, the other component parts go on their own ways and start to misbehave. The inability of the head, in this case leads to absence of co-ordination on all fronts, providing avenues for unacceptable behaviours to enjoy a free ride in the society. For example, how long can one keep preaching to an ambitious and energetic graduate with many years of experience in ‘job-hunting profession’ to still stand tall morally. Motivational talks too have expiry date. Even the Bible says too much of unfulfilled hopes and expectation sicken the heart. Let those jobs show up and see as corrupt practices reduce and disappear.
We are Africans and Africans particularly Nigerian parents have this age-long though erroneous belief in the investment – return relationships where their grown up children pay back whatever has been invested in getting their wards educated from infancy to adulthood. They believe they already sew seeds and so they should reap, forgetting how those kids have been incapacitated by failed systems. The mentality to make money through whatever means, pushes the innocent minds to easily subscribe to the get-rich-quick syndrome. No economies thrive under such ‘voodoo’ circumstances.
The afore-analysed is an introduction into how curbing crime and corrupt practices in our modern Nigerian may be termed a “future IMpossible tense”. Corruption in Nigeria, is like a multi-faceted hydra which has its tentacles spread anywhere business transactions happen. Individuals are now faced with how to cope with the challenges of negotiating ‘corruption price’ whenever and wherever the main transactions are being negotiated. While offering and acceptance of tips are no more practised in privacy, a deliberate price increase above market prices of goods is done with so much impunity, giving the other party no other option but to pay. Eight out of ten Nigerians cannot confidently deny this practice because a victim of a dishonestly – traded transaction is equally a ‘scammer’ when tables later turn in his favour. Everyone seems to be comfortable as they get along with corruption in a way or another, all thanks to the permission of a dysfunctional system.
Much worse have things degenerated that our education sector has also been touched. Little wonders why tests and periodic examinations no longer serve as the most efficient way of determining the intelligence or otherwise of students in the country. Cases abound everywhere in Nigeria that parents now make special arrangements for their children to enjoy some form of aids for their wards during examinations. The system is so disrespected that even the older generations who should be displaying some decency now encourage the younger ones to bypass the normal strict processes inherent in the education system.
Corrupt practices such as this have become norms, reaching as far as in properly – structured and more organised examination bodies, where results from examinations conducted by organisations like WAEC and NECO are greeted with more questioning and their operation tainted with integrity issues. In a couple of years, these lads having being nurtured by morally – impaired parents and defective systems become leaders in whose hands the country’s future and patrimony are vested. And the problems go on and on following the established pattern….