Opinion: Corruption is the derivative

by Thompson U. Essien


corruption is a resultant factor, a reaction, an end product, “a substance that has been made from another substance”. Corruption is the derivative of our societal and economical failures, the areas we have vastly ignored or undermined.

As a finance graduate, the topic/subject of derivatives is an exciting one. If you have never heard of derivatives then don’t worry, you’re still alive but you really should do a lot more reading (honestly). Many would argue that the financial crisis of 2008 was caused by the proliferation of derivatives in the US home mortgage market. That crisis which crashed world economies and huge financial corporation’s (Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers) and led to the excessive bail out of firms like AIG etc. was primarily caused by mismanagement of derivatives.

But this isn’t about derivatives; I wouldn’t dare bore you with that and for emphasis sake I will just put you through the definitions of “derivatives”. Finance wise a derivative is a “security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds”. Exhausting as that might’ve been for you, here’s a more basic definition by Robert Kiyosaki- “a derivative is a substance that can be made from another substance.” Truth be told, that is all you need to know about derivatives.

Corruption in the Nigerian society is often blamed to be the reason why governments fail, why the country has experienced tremendous backwards progress, and why we have never quite fulfilled our obvious potential. While I agree with most of that, I am of the opinion (something I am allowed to have in this country, thank God) that corruption is a resultant factor, a reaction, an end product, “a substance that has been made from another substance”. Corruption is the derivative of our societal and economical failures, the areas we have vastly ignored or undermined.


The BASIC education that is mostly attainable in Nigeria is at best mediocre education- it is never good enough. No economy can be successful except a larger chunk of its populace has experienced a standard formal and moral education, of an enviable quality.                                                                                                                                        It was in school that I learned most of my basic moralities. That is not to say that family did not play a vital role but when you go to a boarding school, you tend to spend more time there than at home. There is a need to curb the mentality of “corruption is acceptable” through education. How about a subject (not social studies) that specifically speaks to the Nigerian child about the dangers of corruption? How about anti-corruption groups like the boy scout etc. that introduces the fight against corruption at the very basic level to tackle the menace that will not leave our society, not even with death sentences for corrupt officials.                                                                                                                                                             The sad truth is that the Nigerian Child lacks quality basic education, the very thing that should be a gift to its citizenry. Most major oil producing countries make it a core element of their society, which is the need to educate every living citizen in their country and eradicate illiteracy. The many schemes set up to educate the Nigerian child have failed because the implementation is carried out on a system that is not only outdated, but yearning for change. Interestingly you would see a correlation between the most educated societies and development. You would also see a correlation between uneducated societies and under-development, poverty, corruption. Canada, Israel, Japan, United States and the United Kingdom, in no particular order make up the top 10 most educated societies, need I say more? If you want to fight corruption, educate the Nigerian child.


Like the proverbial chicken and egg story I sometimes wonder which came first, Poverty or corruption-the egg or the chicken. I did some research and found out that while religious researchers say that the (chicken) came first, educationists (as I will like to call them) rather believe the egg came first. Poverty laid the egg that is corruption. The link between poverty and corruption is disturbingly obvious. The Nigerian society is populated by a whopping 70% of its citizens who live/exist under a dollar. Let me rephrase, Nigeria is a small land of rich individuals surrounded by a sea of desperately poor people, who look from afar and see the splendor of the Nigerian elite and wish to join them. The desire to become rich, WITHOUT a proper education is not impossible, but even then you need talent- and even with talent you need harnessing- and where best to harness the musical, sports etc talents than in an educated environment. Make no mistake, education is a priority and any society that ignores alleviation of poverty schemes does so at its detriment. Poverty ordinarily might be eradicated with employment, but this is a country that puts the cart before the horse. We yearn for better graduates, but our schools are a mess, we yearn for higher cut off grades in national exams but our system does not encourage it. We pray for better students, but our teachers lack training, our classes are closer to prisons in resemblance than an environment for learning. We remain poor because we are uneducated and because the system cannot educate us properly, and most of us tend to see a way out in get money quick assembles, corruption through governmental positions, let’s not forget the advanced free fraud popularly known WORLDWIDE as 419. For those that love statistics, the World Bank recently reported that the present government must be commended for reducing the level of poverty from 48% to 46%. Congratulations.


I’m sure a few people would be wondering how I can possibly link religion as a root cause to corruption. A few of you might also be like “Oh he did not just go there!”… YES! Please spare me the number of churches and church goers we have in this country. Equally, spare me the number of Muslims we have in this country. I am well aware of the fact that some of the world’s biggest churches are resident here and I do know that we love to pride ourselves as a religious society, but allow me to ask you a few questions. Does your leader cast and bind corruption as much as he does demons? Does your leader advice against corruption as much as he does fornication, adultery and divorce? Does your leader sincerely do enough to kill corruption from our society? It seems to me that we as a country do not identify that corruption is an unethical, immoral bane in our society and must be tacked by constant rebuke. It is no news that we celebrate corrupt politicians in our places of worship. These people steal budgeted funds and lavish it on the houses of worship and the leaders of the folk. I cannot even go into how politicized the church has now become. The brewing romance between the church and government elite has not led to a reduction of corruption in our society, shouldn’t that show you that none is improving the other?                                                                       Take a step back and ask yourself, when was the last time your pastor said a rebuking word about corruption in this country? Imagine a religious society that cared more about eradicating corruption than receiving tithe. If you must check corruption, our religious leaders have to do a lot more.

Accountability vs. Self Interest & Indifference

We need to teach ourselves as a nation the basic concept of cause and effect. An action will create a reaction, likewise a lack of action which is an act of not doing anything, will also create a reaction. Nobody checks the excessiveness of our leaders.  The lack of accountability has been replaced by selfish interests and an indifference to our plight. In other words, if it is all well and good for me, I really do not have to bother about what my government does. And while such an attitude has crept and bore fruit in our society, the kleptomaniacs have become even more audacious. What used to be pilfering of a few millions has now evolved into a looting running into billions, and that is what happened when you refuse to make your leaders accountable.                                                                                                              Do not forget that we now offer a pardon as a high form of insurance to cover you up should you get caught. When excuse accountability in Nigeria, we more than allow it to foster corruption. Our docile nature encourages our leaders to loots us even more. Get angry, but do not get violent, and demand that every government at every level is accountable for the funds they receive.

Think about the pension scandal, isn’t it sad that people who have given their lives in service to this country have been robbed of their benefits. Think about the fuel subsidy scandal, the fact that we could not even get a trust worthy report on that should be a turning point. Think about the amount of money spent on power projects in this country, yet the problem seems to get even worse. Think about the next scandal you are bound to hear, and how indifferent you will be about it because that is what we have become. A citizenry of docile characters, because we are only interested in what might directly affect us, at the thought that our society is too big to fail. Why don’t we take up a new attitude, an attitude of accountability over self-interest and indifference? All successful nations speak one language- a common goal, a common interest, a general feeling to see the country do well irrespective of religion, origin or tradition. We are not in Nigeria, we are Nigeria. It is our presence and our actions that make Nigeria exist, let us stand up and demand that the right things be done.

The cyclical causes of doom and gloom in Nigeria cuts across the various factors of education, poverty, religion and a lack of accountability, and the resultant effect is the highly toxic nature of corruption.


My opinion is open to constructive criticism, I am aware that as humans we would have diverse opinions and I would love to hear yours. No opinion is generally correct/incorrect, so feel free to disagree with me. However in doing so I hope you come across without anger or prejudice, rather with enthusiasm and the desire to improve yourself and society.

However if you cannot do that, then I will leave you with the words of Ashleigh Brilliant- “If you do not like my opinion of you, you can always improve”.

Thank you.



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


Follow @ynaija on Twitter


1 Comment

  • Cj Lagos says:

    Your opinion is very much “on point”. I can bet you, that your opinion about corruption is being discussed, in highly charged em-passionate gathering anywhere in Nigeria or outside Nigeria, as we speak! You see, we love to make noise about our selfish thieving government officials at such places, but fail to take actions when necessary. We deserve the type of government that we have. Nigerian population are too indolent, unserious and too scared to challenge authority. We have been bamboozled to believe that challenging authority is akin to challenging an elderly person in our society, hence we this “Big Oga” knows better what is good for us. I am also sorry to say that we are now being pacified even more, by all the new “bling, bling” culture of the Nigerian artists, reality T.V, etc, etc, that our children would rather their learn how to sing or dance, so that they can have a chance to win the, “Nigerian Idol or any other rewarding gifts from the brand promoters of these shows, rather than hit the books to find the next big invention to help further humanity. Great piece! Keep telling the story. Maybe one day, Nigerians will wake up from the slumber.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.