By Steve Osowa
OUR collective consumption pattern as Nigerians is problematic and so it affects our perception of corruption. When we assess ourselves by our material acquisition and not by our productive capacity, there is corruption inherent in every one of us waiting to exhale.
We cannot justify the level of opulence we see in Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and some other cities in Nigeria in terms of expenditure on real estate, luxury cars, yachts, private jets, etc. If we take a forensic look at our GDP and income per capita, this bizarre taste for conspicuous consumptionÂ and materialism, in the midst of deprivation and monumental lack, can only be explained by the presence of corruptive mentality in our collective psyche.
It is not enough to point fingers at those men in the corridors of power. ScapegoatismÂ is too simplistic aÂ manner to fight corruption. We must take aÂ holistic view, lest we remain perpetually in a dynamically static state of slumber.
Thus, we will never be able to fight this cankerworm that has permeated every facet of our lives.
According to Douglas Anele in aÂ pieceÂ titled, â€œKettles calling pots black,â€Â he observed that,Â “it is remarkable, though not entirely surprising to discover that virtually all Nigerians that complain about poor quality leadership share similarÂ attitudes and world views with members of the ruling class.
In other words, given the observed behaviour of the majority of our people, it will be extremely difficult to identify those with the requisite mental and spiritual stamina to provide selfless service to fellow Nigerians.â€
In our university system for instance, aÂ lecturer whoÂ requires a poor student to pay extortionist rates for handouts in order to pass his course, after payingÂ tuition fees, does he have the moral rightÂ to complain about corruption in the corridors of power.
Those operators of the capital and money markets that play and manipulate the market for their selfish pleasure at the expense of millions of small investors are worse thanÂ the leadership of the country that they complain about, on the corruption index.
TheÂ pastor that lives in opulence, owning private jets, fleet of customised luxury cars and jeeps, while the sheep that he shepherds cannot pay the school fees of his children that attend the school owned by the church, is insensitive to the needs of his sheep and cannot morally, preach against corruption. To fight corruption we must be able to employ standards that would and can stand the test of time and space.
Members of the civil society, organisations must be able to use the same standards toÂ judge corruption in all cases instead of thisÂ selective persecution.
It is like Sarkorzy saying that Karzai is corrupt, but lie is our friend. It is either one is corrupt, or one is not. We must not feignÂ an excuse to be selective in our judgements.
On the 26th of November 2009, at about 8.00 pm. the issue of the AaronÂ team and the Niger Delta was being discussed on TV Continental. Tony Uranta. talked on the credibility of the Niger Delta leadership involved in the AaronÂ Â Â and their antecedents in the struggle for a fair deal for their People.
The moderator, one Mr. Eshonomor, could not wait to spring out the name ofÂ Chief James Ibori, whom he had issues with Chief E. K. ClarkÂ on the misappropriation of the funds for theÂ development of the Niger Delta. Uranta corrected him and that theÂ issue was in court.
The moderator then said that becauseÂ ofÂ the like ofÂ Ibori, members of the House ofÂ Representatives made a blanketÂ Â aÂ condemnation ofÂ theÂ leaders of the Niger Delta and asked the people of theÂ regionÂ to hold their corrupt leaders responsibleÂ Â Â instead of the Nigerian state.
A visibly angered Uranta advised that the speaker should zoom his lens on Obasanjo on how well he managed the resources of the country for eight years. I have not heard our dear Mr. Speaker raise his voice on any of the leaders from his part of the country, obviously corruptionÂ can only be found in the Niger Delta, a la Mr. Speaker.
We are awake, we cannot all be suffering from amnesia, Mr, Speaker!â€™ or according to Arinze Alinnor writing in the Punch Newspaper of November 29, 2009, we cannot all be suffering from â€œamnesia or cerebrospinal-meningitis.â€ Corruption can be tackled in its entirety using empiricallyÂ tested standards. We cannot turn a blind eye to it when it suitsÂ our fancy and shout blue-murder when it serves ourÂ selfish purpose
How could our honourable members whoÂ spentÂ billions traveling to look for foreign investors have enough time and the required mental input to make laws that will be beneficial to the country? However, if we all do the jobs assignedÂ to us perfectly, instead of ‘over-sighting’ or making sweeping derogatory statements about leaders of a particular region, our country would be better for it.
It is a fact that indigenes of that region, the Niger Delta, have suffered more from the conspiracy againstÂ them by theÂ leaders of the region where the author of the sweeping condemnation of their leaders, hails from. We do not want to be guilty of collective amnesia because we know that the persecution of our leaders is the continuation of a conspiracy to make them lack the moralÂ right to speak for our people.
Mr. Osowa, a public affairs commentator, writes from Lagos.