Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Corruption Is Like Opiates By Victor Nwoko
Opiates and other drugs with addictive potential produce effects that are euphoric and illusory to the user, creating a false reality. They inhibit the ability of the individual to reason rationally and effectively through the changes they work in the brain. These substances mimic natural substances found in the body, acting through legitimate communication systems within the body to produce effects that are detrimental to the user. I cannot but see the parallel between these substances of abuse and the brands of religion that has crippled our beloved country, Nigeria.
Nigerians are very religious. Across the land, religious activities and institutions are as ubiquitous as air. In fact, religion is a necessary addictive to political, economic and cultural life of the country. It permeates every sphere of existence of Nigerians inside and outside Nigeria. But everywhere religion is found among Nigerians, corruption abounds much more. Although the proof of causality will be too onerous for this article, an association may be easier to adduce from the abundance of anecdotal evidences out there.
Politically and economically, Nigeria operates in a space defined by a synthetic mixture of black magic, religion and vacuous ideologies. The result is a system that has its moral and philosophical underpinnings in a cocktail of magical tales with religious leanings. To illustrate this, one need not look afar. A police officer is a candidate for immediate double promotion for doing his job especially in the presence of the Inspector-General or anyone with the ability to effect such. In countries where principles and order are observed, the officer may receive a medal for extraordinary bravery but no promotion because there is a laid down procedure and a guiding principle for that.. Yes, although the principles that informed the procedures for promotions are clearly stated in the police (or for that matter, civil service, army, bank etc) operational manual, it has no meaning beyond the pages upon which they are written. There is little wonder why the vast majority of our compatriots pray for double promotions - we act outside the bounds of rational principles. We act by impulse, as if overwhelmed by emotions to the detriment of our capacity to reason objectively Due process is a slogan in Nigeria while it is a reality of life in functional nations.
It is an accepted ‘truth’ within the Nigerian religious establishment that leaders both secular and religious are ‘appointed’ of God. This invariably means that such leaders are only answerable to God. This has led our people, leaders and followers down the path of complacency and laziness in the fight for eternal vigilance over the inalienable rights endowed on us by our creator. We rather resort to prayers in place of vocal opposition that demand accountability; we turn to fasting in place of civil opposition that articulates a viable alternative. Thus, we enable tyranny and corruption; enthrone injustice and ungodliness through our legitimate religious acts. No religious leader to my knowledge is accountable to the congregation in financial matters. Rather, they intimidate those who receive the revelation of accountability with heavenly curses and punishments. They teach that they are accountable to God alone. We grow up in our religious groups numb with respect to accountability. We are neither supposed to demand or expect it from our leaders. This sure feels like opium.
There is a saying that the unborn Nigerian child cannot wait to get a share of the national cake. There is some truth to this because the bribe givers and takers are religious Nigerians, The thieves pilfering and pillaging the nation’s treasury are religious Nigerians. Yes, pastors, imams and other religious leaders are parts and parcels of the corrupt enterprise. Since money answers all things, it has become king above all things in our lives. How you come about your wealth doesn’t matter; it can be baptized, renamed and you, canonized! Just bring a hefty sum for the work of God. We legitimize thievery, at least certain modes of it; we kill our collective conscience and we wonder why we keep producing leaders who are callous and unrepentant and very religious. We trade in fraud and stock-up corruption like treasure. Our pastors preach sermons copied in its entirety from televangelists or their books while claiming such as divine revelation received as they prayed. Our professors copy (plagiarize) other people’s books and sell them as handouts to students. With the stolen intellectual property, we sell grades and graduate morally inane students and we wonder why we produce leaders who are clueless. We bribe (un)civil servants to do the very job they were hired and paid to do and we wonder why the engine of our government is dead, our roads, death traps, our hospitals, morgues and our aircrafts coffins.
We thrive in disorderliness and crave darkness. Even those of us outside the shores of Nigeria, we crave for home in part because it affords us the opportunity for ‘legal’ disorderly conducts. For us, to queue in line is not just an inconvenience, it is shameful and beneath our person. We love darkness because light will expose our deficiencies, our weaknesses and our wickedness. Light threatens the root of our power. In our religious houses, we discourage reasoning and dissent because we prefer uniformity to unity. Top civil servants abhor dissent from their juniors because they fear being exposed as truly incompetent or clueless.
Yes! We trade in fraud and breed corruption because we have created an environment where consciences, individual or collective, suffocate and die. This environment subtly changes the natural wiring of consciences like opiates do our brains. The euphoria of a certain quantity of booty dissipates quickly, requiring larger quantities for the euphoric effect. It flows down our head through our beards like the oil poured upon Aaron! No wonder we are addicted to corruption.
Victor Nwoko lives in Philadelphia.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters