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Corruption: Through my spotlight! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Aniekan Ekah, Nigeria Nov 3, 2007
Human Rights , Education   Opinions
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Corruption: Through my spotlight! Sometimes I wonder why a single word would create so much concern and attention whenever it is mentioned. Over the past years or so, the word 'Corruption' never rang a bell but it was still in its lay-low existence. With the advent of man's almost-reaching-level speed with God's wonderful creation, the invention of 'artificial necessities' by man has triggered corruption to its climax in today's society.

Corruption as defined by a large group of people is not only concerned with abuse of public office but also, the decadence in moral standards and values. The assumption that wealth prevents corruption is a form of misconception, which provides defensive support to corruption. It gives a warm fuzzy feeling to the public- 'we are not really corrupt; it is our poverty and the rich-poor gap in our nation which is causing it. Once I get rich, corruption will go away'! The converse is true - evidence supports that corruption itself is the cause of poverty and widening the rich-poor gap.

I've carefully observed that during the period of his youthful days, man has lots of physical, mental and intellectual developments. This period is an evolutionary one in which man experiences rapid development in his transformation. Hence, the need to provide himself with means of self-control and curbing his self-defiance as well as wise leadership that can lead him to a straight path. More often than not, most people attribute corruption to joblessness, getting in contact with corrupted people and keeping their company, estrangement between youths and elders and reading destructive book, magazines, newspapers etc.

In this world, we have many who have the ability to motivate and mould innocent minds to believe in getting corrupted to meet an end. Unfortunately, to them, 'the end justifies the means' philosophy works. In Nigeria, where poverty is rampant and millions of youths are jobless and frustrated, they are targeted to become 'most susceptible' by these people.

In the absence of any alternative avenue to vent their frustrations, the poor youths are finding the destructive philosophy of these 'fantasies' attractive. The youth are most vulnerable. It is the youth who become a great force for change, it is the youth who become self-destructive by becoming drug addicts, internet fraudsters, armed robbers, even prostitutes and now we have a new phenomenon - they are becoming 'suicide bombers'. This is a pity and to save ourselves, we all must start thinking of where we are going to and where we all want to end up.

In Nigeria, some government agencies are considered to be honest, while others are considered quite corrupt, these often include the Customs authority, Judiciary or Police. Most public officers misuse the offices either by accepting, soliciting or extorting a bribe as well as instances where no bribery occurs but public office is still misused, such as nepotism, patronage, theft of state assets and diversion of state revenues.

Most people write that corruption is not a western concept, so where does it originate? Corruption reduces the overall wealth in a country, since it discourages business from operating in such a corrupt setting. Corruption reduces the amount of money the government has available to pay good workers, buy antiretroviral drugs, develop new vaccines and purchase supplies, such as books, medicines and computers. It distorts the way the government uses its money. The results is that schools, health clinics, roads, sewer system, Police forces and many other services that government provide are worse than they would otherwise be. In addition, corruption is unfair and allows those with money or connections to bend the law or government rules in their favor. Corruption harms the environment and undermines trust in government.

To me, the underlying principle that drives people to get corrupt is that systems don’t work well and thus, creates bad incentives. More people engage in corruption under the wrong circumstances, that is, if no one would find out and if they had few alternatives. What also causes corruption is the prospect of having little chance of getting caught. This lack of accountability comes from lack of transparency and weak enforcement, when law agencies do not impose sanctions on power holders who have violated their duties. Bad incentives are also part of the corruption trail. For example, a clerk or secretary who does not earn enough to live on or who is not sure they will have a job tomorrow, supplements their income with bribes.

Most people do not have an incentive to perform official duties, but actually pay for their jobs with the understanding that they will make money through bribes. Corruption also evolves as a result of attitudes or circumstances that make average people disregard the law. Poverty or scarcity of goods may also push people to hide outside the law. So, corruption is not just about ethics. It’s about the set-up and management of the government and the need for improvement.

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Aniekan Ekah

Aniekan Ekah is the Team Leader of African Youth Enlightnent Society and the Coordinator of Creating Locale Connections-West Africa (Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Nigeria) and the Programs Coordinator of Young Activists Initiative.

I do a little writing when I get provoked or motivated, thats me!
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