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Corruption & Conflict of Interest Acts: Root Causes (2)

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bY Okechukwu Onuwka
“One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community” —Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.

In making judgments, the Early Kings were perfect, because they made moral principles the starting point of all their undertakings and the root of everything that was beneficial. This principle, however, is something that persons of mediocre intellect never grasp. Not grasping it, they lack awareness, and lacking awareness, they pursue profit. But while they pursue profit, it is absolutely impossible for them to be certain of attaining it. Lü Bu-wei 246 B.C. Chinese Prime Minister under Emperor Ying Zheng

This article started last week and I’ve retained these two quotes because of their relevance to the entire piece. We treated the first two causative factors —Fear of tomorrow and Myopic Perception of Success. Today, we conclude with the remaining two; Eroded Societal Value System and Disconnect from the centre.

·Eroded Societal Value System.  A few quotes from some eminent personalities are presented to underscore the significance of an individual or society’s value system.

“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly”. Aristotle 384 B.C.-322 B.C., Greek philosopher and scientist, student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great

“It is important that an aim never be defined in terms of activity or methods. It must always relate directly to how life is better for everyone. . . . The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system”. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, 1900-1993, American Statistician I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things. Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790, American politician, inventor and scientist

It is clear that we have developed false estimates of the value of things. The things which make sense today are those that have the smell of instant money. Attributes such as patience, perseverance, loyalty and commitment belong to distant memory. There was a time in this country when people of dubious character were never allowed to associate freely with members of the community. Parents will not accept money or gifts from their children unless they are sure of their source of income. Prophets refuse gifts from people of questionable character.

In those days, anyone who is a member of your religious group automatically gains your trust as an ethical person. When people confess to know and love God, their behaviour truly shows deep moral rectitude. But these days, we are recognised as a deeply religious people and at the same time assessed to be among the most corrupt in the world.

This implies that the decline has gotten to the point where our religious inclination now has very little bearing on our ethical standards. A new value system has come to prominence; the worship of money. Any path, means or perceived strategy that will produce wealth without sweat becomes very attractive. The result is widespread aggressiveness in the pursuit of wealth at the expense of employers, employees, country, community, children and the unborn child. With expensive and fuel guzzling Jeeps, designer clothing, visibility, and all the external shows of wealth all around the Nigerian youth, what is the motivation for the them to pursue a different path?

·Disconnect from the centre. When people are disconnected from the centre, it is extremely difficult to achieve a harmonisation of purpose. In Nigeria, people find better expression of identity through tribal affiliations. It would thus appear as if Nigeria belongs to nobody and as such the primary purpose of seeking elective office is to get a slice of the national cake and run back to the safety of your tribe. Unfortunately, this is another short-sighted sentiment.

There is no Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo or Itsekiri passport. And, in real terms, you find that even among the tribes and the states, there is very little unity. Tribalism is just a tool to promote bogus and selfish zoning agenda or justify the conscience when committing wilful acts of betrayal. The ethnic segregation cuts deep into the fabrics of individual states or tribe. The creation of more states from 12 to 36 has not resulted in better relations. Agitations continue for creation of additional states.

Villages continue to split into mushroom-sized autonomous communities. With this mindset, when shall we get to the point where more people will give to a united country than the majority stealing from the centre as a means of hedging against an uncertain tomorrow? In organisations, there are executive management staff members, senior and junior staff, and sometimes contract staff. On the one hand, the segregation can serve to motivate people in the lower cadres to aspire towards promotion to higher levels. On the other hand, the same condition can alienate a high percentage of employees who are convinced that the only way to settle scores with management is to steal as much as they can.

When these groups consider that no social penalties will result from the action, particularly when some of the goodies can be spread around the family and friends, there is little incentive to remain upright, diligent and committed.

In the end, it is our collective future that is being destroyed. As for me, I know that it will not continue like this forever. There has to be a country remaining for our future generations. My confidence is built on the knowledge that many exist in this country who are doing the right things and in the right way. Sooner or later, the impact of their perseverance, dedication and commitment will show.
It will surely show.

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