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Corruption and a lost battle



It is always heartwarming to know that the Nigerian government is working tooth and nail to confront the cankerworm called corruption.

Indeed it’s a battle that calls for a concerted effort by all well-meaning Nigerians considering the fact that no nation can move forward in the midst of impunity. But looking critically at the whole scenario, this fight can best be likened to trying to lock a stable door when the horse has already bolted or a wild goose chase, or better still what is often referred to as dead on arrival.

The reason for drawing such pessimistic conclusions is not farfetched. Corruption is ingrained and has eaten very deeply into every Nigerian fabric from a very early age. 


By the time they become adults, they are already cut and dry. The early manifestation of corruption is in little misdemeanour Nigerians fail to take cognisance of. The baptism into corrupt practices takes place at the primary school where the ordinary Common Entrance exam is riddled with malpractice as both parents and teachers collude in making a mess of things each time. The trend continues on a higher level in the secondary school especially the public schools which are the real training ground for all manners of illicit attitudes due to the nonchalant attitudes of most teachers.

To the eternal shame of a nation, it’s doubtful if there’s any secondary school in Nigeria, whether private or public where students are not assisted in one form or another during external exams. That is in spite of all “scarecrow” machinery usually put in place by the government to check and monitor such an exam but which often end up as a major part of the rot.

By the time any learner passes through the elementary to the secondary and then if possible, the tertiary institutions he is already master of the game! Since all exams in Nigeria are attended by various forms of scams, it should not be surprising that many cannot defend their certificates and the nation is now faced with so many unemployable graduates.

Ironically, however, everything in Nigeria revolves around certificates and it’s more of a do or dies affair. It’s either you acquire them, and in whatever manner possible, or all tides rise against you.  Even in spite of her excellent performance in taking Nigeria out of recession, Kemi Adeosun the former Finance Minister was severely condemned for not possessing an NYSC certificate.


Even the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is being accused and challenged as not possessing a WAEC certificate. That is despite the fact that the president is heading a more purposeful government than those with questionable doctorate degrees! Again, presently in Lagos State, an agency called Teachers Registration Council is threatening fire and brimstone on all teachers without education certificates in the guise of some obviously moribund “professionalism.”

If Nigeria is not fooling itself, what manner of professionalism can there be when most of those already issued with the so-called teaching license has been found to be utterly academically-deficient at least as shown in the Edo and Kaduna states’ expose? Indeed considering the spurious ways by which things are done in Nigeria, one cannot but wonder why all the hues and cries about certificates when the process of obtaining them is often fraught with abuses and compromises.

It’s however quite easy to see that almost all Nigerians are affected and infected by the corruption virus and how anyone hopes to rid them of such long-standing partner is yet to be seen. That explains why wherever anyone turns, and whatever process goes on in the polity, either in private or public space, even with all the pretentious religiosity all over the place, the underlying rule is sharp practice. What is paramount in the mind of every Nigerian worker is a shortcut to wealth, and would stop at nothing at achieving that. Businessmen and women get swindled by their employees who feel their boss had possibly stolen from the state and they were out to collect their share.

All manner of clandestine shoddy deals is rampant everywhere. Truth is the scarcest commodity on the Nigerian soil and no matter wherever anyone turns, getting any honest response to request especially if it has to do with exposing crimes is impossible. And sad enough, even law enforcement agencies themselves saddled with the responsibility of cleansing the Augean stables are the worse culprits at the altar of impunity. When a cripple is criticized for carrying a bent load, he accuses his critic of failure to look properly at the root before drawing a conclusion. 

Oyewusi wrote from Lagos.

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