Across the one hundred and four universities in Nigeria, future generations of leaders are being planted with various seeds of knowledge in the areas of arts and sciences. They have already passed through the basic levels of 6 years of elementary, 3 years of lower secondary and 3 years of upper secondary education. This they have done through the mounts and hands of many teachers who themselves did not have the specific training to enable them impact the knowledge of anti-corruption principles and mindset, as no such subject matter existed in terms of curriculum planning.
As a matter of specificity, many Nigerian teachers, tutors, lecturers, administrators and faculty members, basically have no direct or indirect taste of a class in the psychology of corruption , at least within the context of home-based education.
Could this be the critical missing part in the psyche of some educated Nigerians who for several years have occupied various leadership positions in both public and private sectors?
If this were to be the case, then the obvious mentality of corruption in the population, and in the leadership in particular, becomes more vivid or clearer to comprehend.
Taking a course in the area of the psychology of corruption does not mean the beneficiary will be free of corruption mentality, however for many in Nigeria; it will be a social plus! Yes it will be, just look at what we have become and the current reality in the society.
At the present moment, the nation is in a better position to seek for a bottom up approach to reduce this psycho-social ailment that remains a core reason for poor governance and the main responsible factor for the endangered image that Nigeria currently portrays on minute by minute bases.
It is a fact that Nigeria is not different from other nations that struggle with the vice of corruption but in Nigeria this vice is openly a normality, a standard and a continuous way of life as well as a part of the cultural identity.
The universities with the assistance of curriculum specialists should see that every first year student in the university (and other higher institutions) take a core course which could be described as the “Psychology of Corruption”. The working definition of the course must be defined within the traditional, social, cultural and public context of Nigeria.
As a new and developing course, it should be operated as an “Attitude”. As a standard course, it should be viewed as a learned act with predisposed non-biological formations but with a pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that could result into Corrupt Personality tendencies or orientations.
By virtue of these defining features, the psychology of corruption should be viewed as subjective in nature and in practice, and as such, requires therapeutic principles in its approach. In other words it is a mindset.
It should be thought both as a theory and hands-on subject. The activities in the course should involve experiential, field work and outside class room learning. The course as a psycho-social subject is situation-driven, as such; students must play all roles (e.g. for and against), involved in the act of corruption. As in the following; the giver, the perpetrator, the interested, the on looker, the self-persuader, the receiver, the sufferer, the one making nod, the inviting face, the go-between, the fool, the daring and others. These simulated behaviors should done under supervision and followed by some form of debriefing to avoid unintended feelings or behaviors.
At no time should the course be taught or presented as a class or curriculum in the area of religious morality as in so doing it could generate a customary or religious response—“ everybody de duam or everyone does it, God go forgive me or God will forgive me”
The psychology of corruption, as a course should become familiar to students as a subject with layers and levels as in graft of minuscule and massive scale; local and regional scale; national and global scale; and hidden and wide-open scale. These bi-polar characteristics should be demonstrated with Nigerian examples.
The learners of the course should become familiar with a course like introductory Psychology to enable them fully understand corruption-laced attitude with specific features like: justifying, expecting, accepting, rewarding, and originating (rootedness) as frames of mind in an actual participant in corruption matters.
The students should learn about the various terminologies, jargons and vernaculars that represent behaviors of corruption. They include but not limited to likes of bribery, inducement, kickback, and other colloquial and conversational expressions specific to the Nigerian psyche.
The axis of corruption in Nigeria comes in form of a hierarchy, dimension and impression, as such students should become familiar with ways to reduce, manage or curtail the problem of corruption—they include leaning to play the “games” of: altruistic behavior, non- selfishness, common interest, self award, self-obedience, clean leader, helping behavior, self-freedom, self-control, internalized discipline, positive world, and other likes.
The time is now for this form of training across all Nigerian universities to begin. This recommendation which should be put to study and practice now, comes at a time when the Nigerian Psychological Association (NPA) is posed to hold its yearly national conference between the 18th and 21st of may, 2010, at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria. Furthermore, it is hoped that the proposed course receive swift support from the Nigeria Universities Commission, the various Ministries of Education, as well of any one that wishes the nation well.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is a practicing Forensic /Clinical Psychologist, and the Interim Associate Dean of Behavioral Science at the North Campus of the Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. [email protected]