The War Against Corruption
- The war against corruption in Nigeria is necessary and imminent. It will never be decisively won nor would it be sufficiently waged. This article is also an appeal for all hands to be on deck to enable the battle against corruption be fought from their multidimensional fronts.
- As the third most corrupt country on earth, the war against corruption is necessary and compelling on all Nigerians of goodwill, to weaken and wipe off the stigma of corruption we tend to portray in the comity of nations.
- The multidimensional fronts of corruption must be identified to facilitate a necessary and sufficient combative operation. As Nigerians fight corruption, the dreaded qualifier adjectives some append to our country as most corrupt; frantically corrupt or fantastically corrupt would no longer apply.
- The Holy Father Pope Francis identified corruption as the worst form of criminality. Individuals who willingly engaged in corrupt practices deserved greater prosecution and punishment than would a criminal. On September 18, 2016, Pope Francis warned members of the Vatican police against modern crimes associated with exploitation, bribery and corruption.
- The notion of corruption: For the purposes of this expository study, an operational definition of corruption could be understood as an improper and depraved moral behaviour selfishly programmed and executed to advance one’s environmental adaptation and survival, at the expense of others. A corrupt practice is rotten and malicious behaviour that deviates from the norm and wrongfully convinces the protagonist of having an adaptive and survival edge over others. Most corrupt practices tend to be rooted in selfishness and the bogus desire to outwit others. Cyber criminals and 419 tricksters fit our description.
- The cradle of corruption: Human intelligence understood as the capacity to acquire and use knowledge in order to adapt effectively in a given environment and survive; generally serves as both the cradle and the catalyst for corrupt behaviour. Consequently the more intelligent we tend to be in a given community, the greater our chances and exposure to corruption.
- The Christian mandate to fight corruption: “After he sat down his disciples gathered around him and he began to teach them. You are the salt of the earth, but what if salt goes flat, how can you restore its flavour? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly father” Mt. 5:1;13-16.
- As a consequence of this mandate from Christ, the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria must generate a massive bottom up – top down battle front against corruption.
- The bottom up battle front against corruption would consist of effective catechesis prepared by Christian scholars at the sponsorship and supervision of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, to be used in catechetical instructions at all levels of private and public institutions; from kindergarten through the tertiary levels. Scholars define “mpu” in the process and highlight the consequences of corrupt behaviour to national development and international co-operation. Basically in Ibo: Gini bu mpu? Kedu ka emume mpu ji di njo?
- The top-down battle front against corruption would consist of seminars and conferences on the evil consequences of corruption; the organization of massive peaceful demonstrations by man, women, youths and children to condemn any unlawful looting of resources meant for development purposes. If a political office holder in Nigeria siphoned public funds meant for national development into foreign banks, no national stadium should be named after him.
- Manifestations of corrupt behaviour: Human intelligence again referred to as the capacity to acquire and use knowledge for effective adaptation and survival is a very broad based construct. The reality of corrupt behaviour is a construction of human intelligence. The human cognitive processes of memory, creativity and problem solving are inconceivable without intelligence. The problem solving strategy, a movement from a set of givens to a goal; terminus a quo ad terminum ad quem; tends to foster corrupt practice. Two corrupt practices that fit our descriptions are briefly highlighted.
- Bridal dances inside church: This corrupt practice requires wedded couples with their families, friends and associates to dance inside church or come forward couple by couple and donate money in aid of church building projects. If you notice canopies pegged around church buildings on a wedding Saturday morning, the signal is given that the about to wed couples could not financially rent a hall. In addition, some couples do not have meaningful jobs, no houses of their own and no meaningful savings to raise a family; care for an infant or pay for school and health care costs. One is yet to look through a church ledger where the nuptial dance and donation accounts are kept? His Holiness Pope Francis warns us: corruption is worse than criminality!
- Mandatory text book sales to students: Like every other Nigerian, most students live below the poverty line as the United Nations estimated that seventy percent of Nigerians lived below the poverty line. Some tertiary students do not take breakfast, take lunch and struggle for a pack of indomie or some other snack for dinner. Text book purchase is never mandatory in Europe and America. This exercise is optional in some tertiary institutions in Nigeria. In most private primary secondary and tertiary institutions and few public tertiary institutions, individual, teachers and lecturers insist on mandatory text book purchase. Students are frequently required to summarize particular chapters in a book for take home assignments. Other students financially incapable of paying for text books, miss out on continuous assessment and would run the risk of repeating the course due to a failure grade. In some cases, students are not allowed to buy text books from the market or borrow used books from family members. Corruption is the undue use of one’s intelligence to defraud a neighbor for one’s selfish benefit. For pope Francis corruption is worse than criminality.
- As the third most corrupt country on earth, Nigeria touts to condone what most other countries abhor. The time to redeem our image and collectively reject the obnoxious stigma of being frantically corrupt is now. Change must begin with me. A battle is declared on corruption by the political head of state of Nigeria. As the light of the world and the salt of the earth, the church must partner with the political class to wage war on corruption. How soon do you expect to read from a catechism book of instruction: “Gini bu Mpu”
To be continued
[Part of a homily to mark Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, annual congress for Owerri Catholic Archdiocese at St. Mulumba Parish Owerri on October 22, 2016 by the Spiritual Director, Rev. Fr. Dr. Donatus N. Nwachukwu; Associate Professor, Psychology, AIFCE Owerri]