Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Obiageli—no, no, scratch that. That’s not how we roll on Idlemindset. In fact, we don’t roll at all on this blog; we merely stand back and throw punches at people who do the rolling—we’re jobless like that. After all, life is too serious to be taken too seriously.
So, guess who and what’s been rolling these past days? Obiageli Ezekwesili (who, unsurprisingly, has a wikipedia page that reads like a CV) and Labaran Maku, infamous informateur (who’s main recognition by Wikipedia is a suggestion for “lebaran make”). You can read the boring declaration of war speeches by both parties here and here. But for those of you whose internet connections are too slow to accommodate boring speeches, here’s the general gist: Ms Oby swears that by some unknown witchery the FG of Nigeria managed to create space where $67 billion dollars used to exist; the FG (via Maku) says Oby is mentally challenged, or as Maku puts it: “betray a surprisingly limited understanding of government finances”. In short, Maku is saying government spending is simple science if only Oby cared to read some more.
Now we will resist the urge to thrash Maku’s statements—the man is paid to make those statements. We will focus instead on Oby’s recent inspiration to raise dust and scatter ground, long after serving her time in government. The optimistic perspective is to believe her conscience won’t let her sleep easy. The pessimistic (or realistic, if you prefer) alternative is that she’s cultivating herself some fine landscape in the terrain of the Nigerian electorate. Eager as we are to believe in the goodness of all mankind, experience has taught us not to take gambles on optimistic powerpoint projections. Goodluck Jonathan is still a sore spot on our collective butts. So, to be on the safe side, we’ll assume Ms Ezekwesili is not exactly an angel of mercy.
Now, the point is, if you’re an aspiring vote seeker in Nigeria today, you have to promote yourself as an anti-corruption crusader. You have to. Every other thing is secondary. Back in the 60s and 70s, politicians used the construction of roads and the supply of pipe-borne water as their main campaign promises. But now, the electorate has moved from the villages and into the cities. Therefore, modern African politicians have to step up their game—the new political promise is to fight corruption with your dying breath. Suddenly, we have politicians crawling out from corners and all getting serious beef with this whole corruption of a thing.
Now, if you took out some time to read Ms Oby’s speech, she points out that a main problem with Nigeria is corruption, and she gives very splendid examples. Unless you’re a moron, you have to agree with the excellent research work—despite Maku’s hurriedly packaged retort. Of course, every generation is swayed by the promise of what it desperately needs—and so lots of young people are going to sit up and listen to Oby—and get thoroughly fucked in their collective asses. Not because Ms Oby is interested in deriving the highest orgasmic pleasure from their butt pain, but because the present generation of Nigerians have been told so many times that corruption is the problem of Nigeria, and if they can get rid of it, they will prosper.
However, corruption is merely a very visible symptom of our individual problems and our social problems. Corruption is an end result, not a root cause—its the consequence of putting meat on a table and not in the freezer. Nobody was born corrupt, we attained it by a combination of the innate criminality of a few people and the need to survive by the rest of us. But at the end of the day, corruption is no more crippling to a country than social hypocrisy; the preservation of outdated traditional norms; limitless tolerance of human rights abuse; an innate unwillingness to stand up and fight; and an overdose of brain-numbing medication handed out by smooth operators in the guise of spiritual caretakers.
And so we get to the lesson for today: let’s not be swayed by the machinations of personal ambitions posturing as fights against corruption. In fact, an anti-corruption agenda without an economic and social welfare plan is a waste of everybody’s time. Locking up all the corrupt politicians would only make the arresting officers more corrupt. Promises are different from principles and these two should not be confused with each other. If the principle behind an idea is unsound, the promises would fail. A would-be saviour of Nigeria has to show us a full package, backed by principle and not just adventure, flying on the flag of the trending issue. A focus on trends is better served on twitter and by blogging.