It is more than just an expression that corruption can be likened to a chain. Its devastating effects on social and economic development particularly in the Third World is more than worrisome. Although the word “corruption” is not synonymous to the Third World alone, it is a global phenomenon. As a matter of fact, a Yoruba language, does not have a direct translation for the word corruption. I have tried to get one in Yoruba yet I found none. Therefore, I can tell you categorically that I see “corruption” and its hideous features as an invasion into a typical Nigerian society. It is an anomaly that was imported to devalue our cultural norms, values and beliefs.
In the time past, when our cultural values and norms were still intact and undiluted, there was total abhorrence for any corruption related crime. Therefore no suspected dubious person would be spared to live or walk among his people. There were stiffer penalties for anyone caught with dubious act, stash stuffs that belong to general public and even device covetous mean to acquire such. Such corruption related offences would attract penalties and punishments such as public chastisement particularly at the market/village square, ostracisement and even outright banishment of the families of the offender and disgraceful death.
In those days, I was told by my grandmum that you could display your wares in marketplace for as many days as you desire. No armed robber or thief would touch your stuffs except the buyers, who would only buy and leave your money beside your wares until you return to pick them. This was the type of corrupt free society they built for themselves. However, everything changed, should I say a result of over-civilisation or greed, avarice or even external influence on our traditional values hence the invasion of this hydraheaded monster, wrecking untold havoc on national development.
Nowadays, corruption transcend all spheres of life. It has been proven that by 2050 there will be one corrupt minded employee in the every organisation. That is more than serious, isn’t it? But just make sure you are not the one, because I know it won’t be me! Lol.
In a bid to tackle this major bane of development in most societies. United Nations set aside yesterday, December 9th, of every year to intensify the war against all forms of corruption both at global level and local level. The theme for 2014 is ‘Break the Chain of Corruption’. Various activists across the world have fought against corruption within their capacities, so many of them got killed in the process, some were thrown into jail and even stripped of their fundamental human rights to speak against societal ills and injustice. All these were done by some so called ‘sacred cows’ to silence these people so as to conceal the truth from people.
One of such activists is Liu Ping, a Chinese Human Right Campaigner who was sentence to more than six years in prison in 2014, after organising an event, which called on the Chinese government to step up its fight against corruption. She is one of many people persecuted and detained for their links with the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose network of human rights activists in China. She singlehandedly tried to tackle corruption by pushing government officials to make their assets- things like property and investments public. I remember that in Nigeria only one President had successfully made public declaration of his assets. Late President Umar Musa Yar’adua exemplified excellent leadership and corruption free goverment by publicly declared his assets while in the office.
International organisations such as Transparency International and Corruption Perception Index have in their efforts to see corruption totally stamped out of the countries of the world embarked on annual rating of the countries with the highest corruption cases. Transparency International 2014 rating of the 5 most corrupt countries of the world currently put Somalia in the number one position while North Korea comes second. On the hand, Corruption Perception Index has 177 countries on its list for 2014.
These organisation have pushed for transparency and accountability at the various levels of governments, public sectors and even private sectors. Despite all these, corruption, graft and outright embezzlement of the public funds still hold sway in some countries which often has resulted into political instability, strife, conflict and even war.
Nigeria, as a typical example of a nascent democratic society, untold corruption cases has been recorded and made public since 1999. But only few of these cases has been prosecuted. Most of these corruption cases die a natural death, we don’t get to hear anything about them after a period of time. Yet these corruption suspects walk freely among us with impunity and probably devising another means of stashing away public funds.
Technocrats across the world have sat down to deliberate on the way forward and better approach to curb corruption. At one time, they suggested stiffer penalty such as capital punishment for any public official, civil servants or any persons for that matter found guilty of corruption. The question is, will that work in Nigeria?