CORRUPTION IN A MAGNIFYING GLASS
It is no longer news that the word corruption is the song of the year in Nigeria. If any person, institution, project, business or even government is counting its losses during the outgoing year 2016, the word corruption is celebrating.This is a very great attainment for that word corruption which hitherto was a weakling, sidelined, unrecognized, unimportant, despised, unnoticed, frowned at or brushed aside in the scheme of things. Corruption as just a word is very happy today and has every reason to be so. It never imagined it would attain this new elevated status in life, having come on board early in life as a despicable word, an anathema, ugly, only to be used sparingly, seldomly in reference to things or issues that do not happen frequently or things that should rather be mentioned in low tunes or whispers! Just look at the dictionary definition of the word…..”..dishonesty, illegal behavior by people in positions of authority and power…. Ordinarily how would such a word find prominence in a country to such a level that it is now being celebrated particularly in high places and forced down the throat of the entire populace?. I remember in those good old days when corruption was what it truly was – lowly placed and seldom heard of or used, I found it rather difficult to spell it whenever I was writing an essay. Flipping through one of my write ups sometimes ago, I saw where I spelt corruption wrongly as ‘curroption’; in another instance as ‘curruption and yet another instance as curruption’. I doubt if am the only one who had that problem.. But today, the situation.is different, very different. Without consulting the dictionary, almost everyone can spell the word without any difficulty – many thanks to the new status it has attained and the frequency of its the usage! Ordinarily one would have thought that corruption is ‘just a word’ and can come into usage only when necessary. But I dare say that that is not the case today with Nigerians. The word has been stamped in a ,magnifying glass and elevated to an all time high- many thanks to the powers that be, and those looking for recognition from the Powers of the Kingdom.
Not too long ago, a now retired British Prime Minister, while standing and “gisting” with his monarch, and on sighting an approaching serving Nigerian leader, described Nigeria as ‘Fantastically corrupt’. Probably not having any better joke to crack or weightier jest to make of a country so deeply enmeshed in economic bashing and political ‘Johnny-just-come’ and still reeling in the pains of a severely fought, won and lost electoral battle, the then British Minister decided to evoke the newly elevated word corruption to engineer the course and direction of discussion during the meeting. And of course, he succeeded! At the mention of the word corruption, any Nigerian Government Official today is in an excited state, moves up to a higher energy level, discusses better, more intelligently flamboyantly and confidently because the word has found favour in the eyes and heart of the powers that be. And of course any Non Government man anxiously and earnestly looking for recognition and appointment will arrange a big gathering at which he would prepare a speech powerfully inundated with several phrases where corruption is mentioned in glamour and government praised for its efforts in fighting it! There is no vile word so fortunate today in Nigeria as the word corruption and I feel so sorry for other well endowed words that should have found favour in the mouths and minds of Nigerians in this era of ‘Change’ to highlight and celebrate the gains pouring in from all sectors of the “rapidly improving” power supply, agricultural development, improved physical infrastructure, human capital development etc .
How long this celebration of corruption will last is a question that will soon find answers in the mouths of Nigerians. If the saying that anything that goes up must come down has any truth in it, then one expects that very soon corruption will start receiving a negative publicity and begin to attract the bashing of its life. After all, there is a biblical saying that there is a time to live and there is a time to die. The time for corruption to die is at hand!
By Steven Oziegbe