Lai Labode: Corruption is NOT Nigeria’s biggest problem (Y! Politico)

by Lai Labode

Lai Labode

The Nigerian character is a cacophony of conflicting flavors of genuine  warmth, dangerous spontaneity, gapping brilliance, shocking ignorance, culture deep corruption and compulsive religiousity. – Lai Labode

Nigeria is a land of many untapped opportunities like America in the 1800s except for its unfortunate and very troubling ability to consistently celebrate mediocrity , offer false facades and respond to most serious matters in grueling  hypocrisy or for the sake of self preservation.

Most of us live in the illusion of Nigeria becoming a better nation without our deliberate individual actions or sacrifices. We are comfortable with corruption of any form as long as we are going to benefit , we are quick to judge others tenaciously for the things we ourselves are masters of without thinking of the repercussions of those actions on the ultimate well being of society .

We celebrate all sorts of absurdities and mediocrities in the name of patronage and survival , a state governor will get a full page congratulatory greetings  in THISDAY newspaper for presenting his budget to the state assembly ! . There are millions of Nigerians who do not think Ibori has done anything so terrible “after all many people benefited when he was in power” our people would say.

Nigerians of all classes have masters in complaining about things that are wrong with Nigeria, we have PHD holders in ‘NIGERIA’s Problems’ roaming the streets , in our schools, religious places, in our offices and in all manner of leadership positions. Everyone knows what’s wrong with Nigeria because we are all actors in what is wrong with Nigeria.

A classmate of mine back in Harvard Business School had described Nigeria as a country of too many ironies ,  a poor nation with unbelievable wealth of man and material . He wondered why such a huge human resource base and natural endowments could not sit at the Roundtable of the greatest nations on earth .

The Nigerian character is a cacophony of conflicting flavors of genuine warmth, dangerous spontaneity, gapping brilliance ,shocking ignorance , culture deep corruption and compulsive religiousity.

Nigeria’s biggest problem isn’t corruption, the problem goes much beyond theft of public funds. The real problem is the continued erosion of our values over time as entrenched by the ruling elite of both military and civilian leadership genres . The  problem is even more troubling  because  the  erosion of our best values is fast becoming a culture , a regular way of life which makes it much more difficult to deal with . We have a fledging culture of impunity .

When a politician fakes the commissioning of a borehole in a community, there are many accomplices in that community who know the implication of not having portable water to drink and its attendant consequences on the lives of members of that community. Exploitative facades are common place in our political dealings, we are ready to make any sacrifice for a quick buck as long as it does not affect us directly or in the immediate.

Our people must come to the realization that when leadership fails , followership  has a responsibility to rise to the occasion, followership has a duty to reset the button of leadership , governance and societal moral value system. Followership must step out of its comfort zone to to rescue society or else it fails self fatally in foolishness and self hate .

No nation is destined for greatness without the attitude of greatness by its people. Time and time again the followership have failed the country by aiding and abetting the rape of our democracy, looting of our treasury and miscarriage of justice to the detriment of society.

There is a national instinct across board to exploit one another at the slightest opportunity . I am yet to see any government institution been maned by people from outer space , those who run our offices are Nigerians , they are fathers and mothers who have children they are training ‘to become better citizens’ , they are church deacons and tittle holders in mosques who ‘ lead by example’ . They are reflections of a rotten value system that we all are part of .

Leadership in Nigeria is prone to too many mistakes , poor judgments and negative reaction due to either a conflict of interest, badly garnished advice, incompetence or outright corruption . Many Nigerians who have experienced the Nigerian police for example will tell you that fixing Nigeria will be a hell of a task. It is a total shame but surely a reflection of the larger society. Don’t expect justice unless you have money or you can make a lot of noise.

There is however a bright side to the rot in our system , there is a growing discontent across board that is driving the call for change to a higher and higher pitch by the day. The call for change is the new song in everyone’s mouth including the people that needs to be changed.

As a student of history, I know that growing discontent with a system always reaches a fever pitch at some point no matter how elastic the tolerance of the people are . The cup of always gets full , it is only a matter of time .

Those who understand the true nature of power understand its nothingness when its aura is diminished . Nothing diminishes the aura of power like growing discontent of an increasing frustrated people .

Don’t be fooled by those who say Nigerians are too timid to revolt , they speak as if the Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram are not Nigerians . There is a potential Boko Haram in all unemployed youths , there is a militant in all fathers and mothers who live in shame and can’t send their wards to school or feed them , there is insanity in many men and women who can’t get justice or have a fair shot at restitution for injustice done to them.

The troubling truth is that all cards are on the table for Nigeria’s rebirth , we must act now or be taken by surprise!


Lai Labode is the CEO of Salt & Einstein Ltd., a visionary business logic firm with vast experience of the peculiar African emerging markets. Lai is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where he received certificates in corporate restructuring, Mergers & Acquisitions, Negotiation and Strategic Agility. He is the Chairman of PDP Youth Circuit and President of the People’s Senate. Lai also chairs the National Youth Movement for Constitutional Review. Lai is the Author of the 20 Laws of Democracy and Constellation of Thoughts. He is married to Ijeoma and they are blessed with two boys, Salt & Einstein.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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