The DNA of wealth and work in Nigeria – Part 2
When a customs officer gets to work, he charges the importer but declares less to the Government. The immigration officer does the same – he is eating where he works.
A minister of aviation takes whatever the minister likes: The minister gets parastatals under the ministry to buy cars and houses etc. for his private use. The attorney general (AG) has advice to his government; he will do so at a price. He demands money as a right – he eats where he works.
The reputation of bishops and all clerics is shot to pieces because of alleged corruption, that is “eating where they work”.
Prisoners are not fed because the prison warden is eating where he works – he “eats” the money for the prisoner’s food. Prisoners who do not feed from food brought by their families die of hunger.
Why do we have such fanciful, facile and flexible conscience? Is it because we believe in the saying that you eat where you work? Surely we know right from wrong!!
The extension of the concept of eating where you work is that you should pad your pockets while you can because you never know how long you would be in that position at work. A feeling of perpetual insecurity cannot advance the cause of a corruption-free society.
But if so, why then do we not adopt other good business practices that would ensure transparency, accountability that is corruption-free? Why our easy acceptance that corruption is part of the business ethos?
What is the word “Corruption” in Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa and Ijaw?
It seems that no words in Nigerian languages satisfactorily translate corruption. The activity is described but figuratively in a roundabout manner.
In Ibo, a corrupt person is oli (ri), ego (an eater of money) or ego azu (back handed money), oringari (bribe taker or eater); oringaji (an eater of spoon). In Yoruba, ojeowo (money eater), egunje (bribe money or any money collected illegaly). Ijaw, ngra fi, (money eater), obu fi (back money eater) Hausa, cinhanti (eat nose), rashawa.
Are these basic view points and behaviour manipulation integral to our DNA? Are they responsible for the beliefs and behavior which can only be described as bizarre – our complete and untrammelled no holds barred search of money? Is this predilection responsible for the ridiculous stories of the new Yahoo boys and girls? The rampage for women’s underwear and sanitary pads etc. which people believe can be used in magic to make money.
Many, otherwise rational people believe that these artifacts could be used to make money? From underwear it is a short distance to human parts which are used in the pursuit of money. There must be thousands of adults in Nigeria who actually believe that money has a mystical element and could only be possessed through supernatural means including the diabolical.
The search for money is no different from the search for political power where the ultimate aim is not service but the acquisition of money.
When I was contesting for public office, a friend took me to a man in AkwaIbom. His place was well-apportioned, had expensive and spacious reception areas. He claimed that he had seen great future for me. He would need to bury somebody for seven days. I should not worry. I would be President of Nigeria. He assured me that the person to be buried will arise in seven days. He showed me the place of burial and the coffin. He did not want any money, I should come back on the eighth day and we would settle.
Many politicians seek power through the occult. One well-known millionaire gave millions to aspiring politicians but they have to swear an oath of loyalty to him by stepping over the coffin of a baby placed on a fire which seemingly did not burn the coffin.
Politicians seek the possession of supernatural powers and make sure that prospective supporters know this. Acronyms and political slogans are sung or invented for the power of politicians. One was known as carrying a baby tortoise in his pocket which makes him disappear whenever danger knocks.
Another, a former Senate President is hailed as the devil that goes to church. I was approached in Kano, Sokoto during my campaign by spiritualists, marabouts mallam, holy men – claiming to come from Senegal, Ivory Coast who promised success in my quest. Variants of these stories can be repeated by any politician in Nigeria.
These stories range from the ridiculous to the sublime. A woman claims that she needed men’s private parts for her concoction for power and she could get this by shaking hands with men “victims” – result was that the men lost their private parts (and presumably died). She had according to her 60 victims.
When I naturally raised objection to such silly stories people look at me with pity as if to say –“this one does not know what is happening. I hope the woman does not meet him. He will see when she meets him”. Well, at nearly 80 that cannot be a big loss to me!!