In a man’s word/letter lies the nakedness of his heart, see my heart and feel my sadness. I am in pain and sorrow, my joints disjointed like a child with chronic jaundice. My heart bleeds tears of blood while my eye sheds tears of pain-fluids uncontrollably for my country, continent and humanity.
Why is Africa in such a deplorable state? Have we Africans sold our conscience to Satan and accepted corruption as part and parcel of our life? Is this then the vicious circle of corruption from which we have no deliverance? In a continent where every other politician is charge-sheeted, where bribery is the code name for getting any work done through bureaucracy, common people seem to no longer bother about such mundane issues. Our deplorable state is unimaginable, look around and see extreme decay in all facets starting with education. It is a shame that our primary and secondary school teachers are teaching our future leaders the history and culture of white men to the detriment of our own culture and heritage. Our universities gradually eroding in standards are the finished product of a failed system where some lecturers compliment the efforts of some parents by offering the female students sex for grade and some ladies give theirs freely in order to pass their exams and some engage in examination malpractice while the male students get good grades by engaging in all forms of crime from examination malpractice, stealing, kidnapping to arm robbery in order to raise money in exchange for high grades. What a jamboree of all illicit happenings that have reduced the certificates of African schools at all levels to ridicule.
My attempt in this write-up is not just to stir the moral conscience of my fellow Africans, but also to critically analyze the roots of corruption in Africa, and hence suggest an antidote for the same. Corruption a ten letter word is the grandfather of all evil in Africa, the facilitator of election rigging, and the collaborator of all political assassinations, the mover that promotes and catapults puppets into powers, the prince of sabotage and the destroyer of Africa’s soul, and the invisible bullet that destroyed functional laws in Africa. How do we deal with this consuming 10 letter word that has impregnated our politicians to obesity? How do we decode this virus that seems to have been resistant to all approach?
AFRICA, this is a time to wake-up and create the long awaited change that we all desire. Every nation in Africa has gone through colonization but yet to experience a revolution. The reason for our marginalization is because we have not grasped the depth of our transformation; as to learn how to manage our freedom and resources well. Freedom is more costly than slavery but necessary. We cannot truly say that we are free from Corruption and bad governance until we begin to enjoy the benefits of our freedom in the practice of our Afrocracy (Afrocracy I dare define as the Africanized system of governance through African culture of being your brother’s keeper shrouded around the people’s consultation, by the people’s consensus actions, and for the people’s collective prosperity and development. Simply put “it is African sources for Africa’s solution).
The despotic style of African elected leaders is a contribution to our major under- development. Other continents of the world know that we have what it takes to stand as a world power but laugh at our greed, corruption, bad leadership and ignorance which are our major setbacks. For instance, the recent late Libya government who should have been seen as a living hero if he had surrendered power on the request of the masses without struggle; had destroyed the much he built for his nation on the platform of power drunkenness. The likes of Mandela of South Africa, a living hero and legend that fought selflessly for his people’s freedom and yet relinquish power to others in his prime, is a factor that depicts an epitome of humility in leadership.
Although, the journey is still far but we can be closer to fulfilling our dreams and making life better for ourselves if we can arise from our slumber to manage our God-given resources well and utilize judiciously the leadership power. There are many past heroes, who may never forgive the present leaders in Africa because they are certainly not representing what they stood for and fought for in their life time. We must arise to follow the rule of justice, truth and equity; defend our continent, protect our interest and culture and above all unite our might. We must preserve our heritage from our founding fathers and place value on human lives; it’s a call to duty-oh! Africa.
In the journey of life, you can start alone but don’t stand alone. We need the collective effort of all the African countries to make a positive change in this side of the world. For instance, achieving political stability in our quest for Afrocracy (not the so-called democracy) requires economic equilibrium, police and military might, material and human resources and the God factor to uphold this continent and stand as a whole entity. We may be called the “Blacks” but that speak of our beauty and originality as instituted by divine deity. Oh Africa! Arise and appreciate your qualities, embrace your diversities, harness your potentialities and attain your possibilities.
If one reviews the data on the list of corrupt countries for 2011 carefully, it is not difficult to note that the countries at the top of the list have one thing in common (irrespective of their demography). The least corrupt countries are economically more free, with a less intrusive government and much less regulations. Similarly, the countries that are the most corrupt also have something in common: They have a burgeoning government shrouded around excessive wastage that endorses protectionist policies armed with tariffs, quotas, and prohibitions and similar such evils. To put it in very simple words, countries that have a free market policy though with economically excruciating/harsh conditions are the least corrupt, whereas countries that are dependent on government are the most corrupt. This then is the simple truth about corruption, though my socialist friends will scoff at this idea. They have not only placed the government to the ugly status of demigod, but also look up to the government for solutions of all social evils. The government is not the solution for corruption, but it is definitely the precursor of corruption.
The best example of how a market-driven economy weeds out corruption, compared to a government-dominated economy as seen in many third world countries, is the ‘Enron-UTI’ saga. Enron, one of the wealthiest companies in the world, as well as its auditor (accounting giant Arthur Andersen), both went bankrupt as soon as the accounting scandal unfolded. The punishment for fraudulence was swift and lethal. In a market-driven economy, consumer confidence is the cornerstone of success, and once it is breached, it is an unpardonable offense. On the other hand, the Unit Trust of India (UTI), the largest government-run mutual fund in India, duped millions of investors out of their hard-earned money. But what did the government do in this case? It bailed out UTI for the second time by injecting fresh funds into the company. And where do these fresh funds come from? The government taxes people to raise the money it uses to bail out UTI. Isn’t this one of the most hideous forms of corruption?
Adam Smith in his famous book “The Wealth of Nations” had postulated the primary role of the government as providing security to the citizens against internal and foreign aggressions. But the current spate of defense corruption raises doubt whether the government is capable of performing this basic function satisfactorily or not! The policemen, municipal authorities and political officials (supposed to provide protection to common people) extort a huge sum of money from vendors, rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, etc. every year. The misery of these free agents of trade can be solved by not viewing them as a nuisance, but including them in the town planning. A symbiotic relationship seems to have developed in most African countries between the cabals (mafia), the politicians and the cops encouraging, institutionalizing and sustaining corruption. The politicians provide all kind of protections to the cabals (mafias) to undertake their illegal activities, whereas the cabals (mafias) provide the cash required to run a political campaign. The policemen are like hyenas who functions as a catalyst in the nexus between the politicians and the cabals (mafias).
Heard of the ‘trickle up approach’? The grants given by the World Bank and IMF are government-to-government transfers. The leakages in the system have transformed the economic principle of the ‘trickle down approach’ to the ‘trickle up approach.’ One famous economist aptly remarked about this: The aid given by the World Bank and the IMF passes from the poor people of the developed countries to the rich people of the underdeveloped countries!
Now if we accept that government is the main predecessor of corruption, there is a solution to the problem as well. Suppose there was no restriction on immigration. Any person can stay in any country he or she wishes. Rational people will prefer to stay in that country where the government is limited and efficient, taxes are lower, etc. Now suppose on the basis of these criteria, a lot of Africans move to other countries outside Africa. The governments in Africa will suddenly find itself bankrupt, as there are no people left to pay taxes. This competition among the governments of different countries to attract people will not only help to weed out corruption, but will also foster a limited, efficient, stable government. If we can have competition among consumer durables, why can’t we have competition among governments? This might seem a very far-fetched idea, but it is not an impossible one.
Free society with its negative consequences is of course not a perfect society. There will always be some murderers, rapists, and drug addicts in a free society. But the three pillars of liberty, property rights and free trade will not only help to drastically reduce corruption but also foster a sustainable and civil society. No doubt many agreed stiff and draconian punishment on whoever is convicted of corruption. And yet our modern conversations and stories recount endless examples of human avarice and greed. Some say it is a problem of law, of integrity among those who administer the law. And while that may be true, there is a more fundamental issue. We could call it a problem of morality, of ethics perhaps.
One person I was speaking to suggested that the most important thing was for parents especially mothers to teach their children to be honest, and to work for money, not to steal or extort it (mothers because in most societies they spend an average 16 hours daily with the children than the fathers) . But on what basis would mothers teach such morality? Is it a morality of punishment? Do this so you won’t be caught? I don’t think my friend thought that. That is just the opposite side of, do it if you think you won’t get caught. Perhaps it should be taught because it is socially beneficial? Maybe it is, but most people are unwilling to put aside their own interests in favour of the good of the society. Maybe behaviour like this just makes a better human being. That is a good argument – if you want to be a better human being, or if you want your children to be good human beings. On the other hand, perhaps the Abraham solution is best. It was certainly mother-taught. Like the other ancient solutions, it differs from the others in that this involves humans paying attention to a promise rather than a threat. It involves them living in the presence of God and being blameless as far as God is concerned. In the belief that the promise of God is that he himself will bless them by being with them so long as they obey His dos and don’ts, hence earn His pardon.
As I felt as though I was living in two different worlds, and yet the two worlds seemed quite similar. As though a person living in one would feel quite at home in the other, one of the worlds is that of Nuhu (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ludu (Lut of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah). The story of extremity of ambition, incredulity, skepticism about the existence of righteous people, and the stories of a world and a city overtaken by corruption kept reminding me of tragic ends of greed, wickedness, lawlessness, selfishness and above all corruption. They are stories from the ancient world, and yet they seemed like the same kind of stories that were told in the conversation I had with friends last night about modern day morality and corruption. Are there any righteous people? How can endemic corruption and immorality be changed? Is the Sodom and Gomorrah solution the only one that works? Did it work? What about the Noah solution? What about the Abraham solution?
Your analysis of this submission, comments and contributions are welcomed.
Yusuf Yahaya is a Broadcast Engineer (Nigerian Television Authority), a Freelance Journalist at Nigerianewsline.com & Africanewsmedia.com ( both UK based Online News websites), Consultant/National Resource Person, MDGs Advocacy Project (Nigeria) coordinated by the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, and is an Associate Researcher/Member of Governing council, at Certified Institute of Development Studies (CIDS), Nigeria. +2348061600214 , email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org