Opinion: Is Nigeria cursed with corruption?

by Everest Nwagwu

I have always wondered if corruption is somehow part of this awesome experience of being a Nigerian. Sometime ago, I lashed out at the old folks ruining our future and I want to come out and apologise?  No, I want to come out and offer an alternative truth to this whole corruption mess we found ourselves in.

Firstly, let me state clearly that corruption is no respecter of age, race or ethnicity, if you are a Nigerian, chances are that you have given or received a bribe, knowingly or unknowingly. I know it is easier to blame the government officials due to their ‘level’ of corruption my aim with this piece is to uncover the myth that corruption is only domiciled in the quarters of our politicians and government officials. This is my attempt to prove that MOST Nigerians are corrupt irrespective of age or political affiliation.

We read about a government official using N200m to cut grass and we were all outraged and such height of impunity and corruption. Let me use myself as an example, as the Editor in Chief of my school magazine some years back, we had around N80, 000 left in our account after production of the magazine. When I asked what we should do with the fund left, one of the guys suggested we should use it to ‘buy handkerchief’ for ourselves after all the hard work we did. To the uninitiated buying ‘handkerchief’ with such amount might sound preposterous but to over 97% of Nigerians reading this right now, we know EXACTLY what that mean. Did I succumb? No! I simply asked that the money should be left in the account for the next set to have something to work with when they arrive. I was not about to be labelled the Editor that used N80,000 to buy ‘handkerchief’, I declined because I did not want a smear on my name not necessarily because I am an anti-corruption guru.

Secondly, during my NYSC days as a volunteer polling officer,  an agent of a political party offered me N20,000 to buy ‘pure water’, also to the uninitiated, note that a sachet of water then was just N5 and assuming I wanted to buy a bag that will not be more than N100. Then as a youth corper that amount was tempting. Did I accept the money for ‘pure water’? No! But how would it sound to the man on the street that is begging for alms when I try to explain that the money was just a gift to quench my thirst and not a bribe? I remember organizing events in schools where I was told that rather than writing to the school authorities I should simply ‘see’ the SUG president and the event will be done. ‘See’ here has nothing to do with sight.

In conclusion, corruption is all around us, we might see it as ‘little’ but sometimes it just appears that corruption is the oil that drives this wheel called Nigeria. We might not know it yet, but it seems corruption is now a way of life for Nigerians, sometimes if you fail to play by the corruption rule, you are ridiculed as not understanding the way things are done in Nigeria. The Nigerian way is most times the corrupt way. Corruption is here and it appears it has acquired permanent residence status in Nigeria, it will take us years to get rid of it before it becomes a full blown citizen of our dear nation.

It is in the air we breathe, even in religious organizations, we have grown to accept corruption as normal. We have completely erased the line between morality and evil, gift and bribe. I am not accusing us of being corrupt but I am only highlighting the fact that we are in more ways than one connected to this evil called corruption.

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

Everest Nwagwu is a communications executive passionate about good governance and editor of Myonekobo.com.

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