30 January 2013

Nigeria: Culture of Settlement in Nigeria


Indolence. Impunity. Vanity. It would seem that the entity called contemporary Nigeria would forever have the inventor and creator of such words to thank and appreciate, owing to the exactness and timeliness with which the terms so describe and capture the current state of the Nigerian polity.

It does not need to be echoed before it becomes glaringly clear that the cankerworm, which snowballed into greed of a cascading order, corruption of incredible dimensions, and red-eyed avarice has not spared any sector that has contributed to the integrality of the institution and entity called Nigeria.

It would seem that all in the eyes of the people both locally and in diaspora, saying that the fabric of the country has become synonymous with corruption would qualify as one of the most hackneyed and commonplace assertions ever made, owing to the disheartening statistics churned out daily from most of the international organisations.

The sentiments of their neo-colonialist tendencies and organised slavery do not measure up to the fact that though corruption is a vice that has acquired a world wide incidence, there is sizeable amount of authentication to the reports that continually make a contradiction to the ostrich we so verbally claim to play, both in Africa and in the international community.

The word-coiners and the cliché- inventors might as well go back to the word laboratory to produce more fashionable and piercy ways of expressing the doldrumic state we have come to find ourselves, for what we have is fast losing salt, and bite. Analysis of Nigeria's corruption rating in the entire 2012 puts her at a dismal 139th out of 176, tied with Nepal, Kenya and Pakistan. Between 1960 and 1999, $440 billion has been wasted, six times the marshall plan, a contrivance on which the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Europe after World War II was hinged.

I carefully and voraciously consumed the submission of my learned Oxford friend, Christopher Akor in his Peoples Daily column, where he expertly and conclusively opined that corruption in Nigeria has badly damaged institutions, led to the decay and lack of investment in infrastructure, undermined both short term and long term growth of the economy, increased poverty and contributed to the country's dependent status in the world economy. But while his views succinctly painted a concise picture of the state of the Nigerian polity, I have some reservations regarding the origin of this culture of settlement and entitlement. While there are chances that corruption could stem from an environment of laziness and indolence economically, it is yet possible to institutionalize accountability and transparency even in such cases.

There are countries that have oil (which has unfortunately turned out to be our national unmaking) as their economic mainstay, but have managed to keep their sensibilities economically afloat. Indolence and corruption may be intertwined, but it has to be made clear that they are separate vices in their own right. Like I pointed out in one of my pieces, this culture of easy and unearned money is undoubtedly one of the finest catalysts of corruption, but corruption and laziness are mutually exclusive, though linked.

Nations like the Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and most far East countries have oil as a dominant source of exchange, yet there are very little discordant tunes of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds heard from those quarters. Even when revenue is derivable from the people, corruption is still possible, even on astronomical levels. Remember, the models of Britain and America and most of the large, sane West are just a microcosm of the world, and do not always represent what obtains everywhere.

In my opinion, the culture of entitlement and settlement in Nigeria is a psychological and deeply ingrained phenomenon, without recourse to a particular cause. It is a state of the mind that makes one a bona fide of a particular favour, for the simple reason of being born, in a particular geopolitical zone, ethnic extraction, being of the same family or bloodline with a particular individual.

It totally alienates and or negates the contribution of hardwork and painstaking sacrifice to the success index of the individual, and instead hinges it on how close, how sycophantic and how determined one is to be 'where', 'when' and 'near who' it is happening.

Having carefully and closely followed the trend and style of events in this country, I have thus come to the conclusion that this malady is reparable. The sorry state of our systemic and institutionalized failure is altogether reversible. Even the culture of entitlement and unethical heritage is a possibility in rooting out. The Nigerian peoplage is one highly rooted in loyal followership. Nigeria has a good pedigree of followership, which ought not to come as a surprise going by the resounding success of the Idiagbon-arrow-headed War Against Indiscipline of the 1980s. It was an ample testimony to the fact that almost every policy was workable in Nigeria, as long as there was sincere and purposeful exemplification.

Given a very transparent form of leadership, the miracle of the Nigerian mode of transformation would seem a walk-over in the eyes of many, for it would be spontaneous, effective, and altogether permanent. What we are in for today is as a result of the huge indetermination, insincerity and shallowness of a leadership that does not give a damn(we have heard that a little more frequently in recent times) about the people being led. We have had a lot of promises with contrary body language. There have been endless probes with no results by way of prosecutions and convictions. There have been committees and reports churned out at great additional expense of the government, yet little or no implementation. The recent Police College saga may also go the same way, if the same old template of leadership is applied. Most times there are even rulings, but no imprisonments.

The rooting out of the culture of settlement and entitlement is an abject necessity; a reversal of the indolent mindset is of utmost importance. The achievement of this feat is not rocket science, its demystification lies simply on the laps of exemplary, directional and conscientious leadership.

-Nwobu, a public affairs analyst.

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