That Vexatious Issue
Like any patriotic Nigerian, I have once again turned my thoughts to the problem of tackling corruption in the country. Of course, better people than myself have also expounded on this issue and given their own suggestions—none of which has worked so far. And because of this failure, Nigerians—and foreigners—have simply resigned to fate, and accepted the continued existence of corruption in the country: like a tiresome but strong-muscled housewife—you can’t stand her and you can’t send her packing.
However, I am here with delightful news: having contemplated the problem again, I have thought of a way to eliminate corruption. In this regard, our religious readers have a point: only fasting and prayer could have done this, for it was after a long spell of impecunity-induced hunger that it struck me, forcefully, and with some bite, that the vocal social crusaders of my generation have been approaching the issue of corruption very wrongly.
Why do I think so? Because these current crusaders tackle the issue in the same manner as their predecessors: writing long articles no government official will read, shouting on TV, demanding vigorous anti-corruption laws, crying for enforcement of anti-corruption laws, punishment of offenders, transparency in government—and a lot of other yawn inducing measures. Who needs all that wahala? Certainly not my hungry stomach. And definitely not our busy, hardworking governments. In any case, none of the suggested reforms has had any effect, even when implemented. In fact, the more one tries to enforce these reforms, the more corrupt the country becomes! As a general example, take the EFCC, which—forget it, you know how that hilarious experiment ended.
It is popular wisdom that only a mad man repeats the same process and keeps expecting a different result. It is therefore obvious that we cannot keep trying to tackle corruption the same way these social crusaders and activists keep on suggesting, and expect a different result. And if anyone argues otherwise, it is only proper to have him or her locked up in a mental asylum. Does this mean there is no end to corruption in Nigeria? Of course not! The solution I will propose in the next few paragraphs is foolproof enough to put an end to corruption in Nigeria—at least, as a problem, if not as a concept.
The Inevitability of Corruption
Now, it is generally accepted that although no sensible Nigerian praises corruption—not even privately—yet every sensible Nigerian, and his brother, practices it in one form or another. Trying to avoid corruption in Nigeria is to prepare for an early grave. You will wake up every morning cursing the government, you will get delayed by policemen, your files will go missing in government ministries, your days will screaming be spent ranting at civil servants, teachers, lecturers, clerks, gatemen, registrars, contractors, permanent secretaries, doctors, judges, lecturers, policemen, until you give in to a fatal heart attack, or at least, an apoplexy. We will bury you with fanfare and continue with our corrupt lives.
What’s worse: at judgment, you will be blamed for failing to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. The point is: we all have been involved in some corrupt transaction at one point or another in our journey as Nigerians. Its as much a part of life in Nigeria as soaking garri is in a boarding school. Nobody is proud of it, but nobody can deny it. And that brings us to my main point.
The Final Solution
You don’t have to send a tiresome wife packing: embrace her and she will stop being a problem—assuming, of course, that she doesn’t strangle you in the process. Treat corruption as a friend and not as an enemy, because fighting it only makes it stronger. So, we will no longer fight corruption: instead, we will make it our prime commodity. We will pass legislation making corruption a legal phenomenon. We will start by removing all those useless anti-corruption laws (since they are not enforced anyway), stop requesting transparency in government spending and activities, and start giving national honours to people who have demonstrated the most admirable cleverness in setting up excellent corruption schemes.
Now, before you throw your hands up in alarm, consider this. Nothing, really, will have to change. We are practicing all of my suggestions already, only that we do it secretly, instead of publicly. So why suffer at both ends? Why not simply make the whole issue legitimate, and be done with? For those activists who keep predicting that corruption will destroy us: has it done so? No! In fact, corruption unites us all. The man from the North and the man from the South can jointly sit down together and loot everybody else. What better demonstration of unity can you get? Take a look at our major political party. As long as it was corrupt, it was a united house. Soon as some elements started pretending to an air of righteousness: breakdown! That’s a lesson for us all: corrupted we stand, pretended we fall.
Of course, everybody cringes from the word “corruption”. It does not sit well with our super-religious nature. You see, corruption is not our problem: the word “corruption” is the real problem. We have to fight this word very seriously. We will ban it from our languages, and issue a Nigerian edition of the English dictionary, erasing the word “corruption”, and redefining those actions that the world calls “corruption” under names more suitable to our spiritual palate: “facilitation”, “logistics”, “miscellaneous”, “appropriation” and so on and so forth. We will wipe out the word “corruption” from Nigeria.
Even though the advantages in a nationwide legitimisation of what is currently referred to as corrupt activity cannot be quantified, I will attempt to summarise some obvious benefits in the next paragraphs.
1. Conserving Public Funds
First, we will conserve the public funds currently spent on “anti-corruption”. We all know this so called “fight against corruption” is a mockery, a joke, but we keep spending public funds on it anyway. This wasteful spending will stop. With our new ideology, we can cheerfully dismantle the EFCC, the ICPC and all those special fraud units of the police force. We will save: the money paid as salaries to the idle staff of the agencies; the expenses spent on importing technical equipment that do nothing; and the monies spent on investigations and prosecutions that yield no results! Do the math, and you will see the clear advantage in this.
Of course, there is the downside that governments in power will no longer be able to arrest political opponents on charges of corruption: but that can be remedied by setting up a Corruption Commission that would investigate and arrest people who have a clean balance sheet, but are opposed to the policies of the government.
Even more splendidly, we can stop wasting all the money we spend on elections, and simply allow the politicians to sort themselves out every four years—just as they have always done.
2. Increased Public Revenue
Also, legitimising corruption will boost government revenue. Taxes can be imposed on income derived from corrupt—or rather, “miscellaneous”—activities. A number of Nigerians make more money illegitimately than they make legitimately, with the legitimisation of corruption, this excess income can be taxed as well. Our Oga Perm Sec no longer has to worry about keeping foreign bank accounts. The government will take its percentage, no questions asked. Here is the further usefulness of this idea: the money stolen—“appropriated”—from the government coffers is taxed again by the government! And so, instead of the money fleeing Nigeria to other countries, it can be utilized here in Nigeria, for the good of the general public. Somehow.
On a related note, the government can also factor corruption expenses into the national budget—so that we all know that even though N200bn has been budgeted for education this year, only N10bn will actually be spent. As long as we all know this from the start it’s not really an issue anymore, and the newspapers can learn to shut up.
3. Contributing to Human Knowledge
Speaking of education: by legitimizing corruption, we will open up a whole new field of human endeavour. Finally, Nigeria can take pride in its contribution to human philosophy and knowledge. We will take strive for—and pride ourselves in—the title of Most Corrupt Country in the world. “419” will become a mark of honour. Our most corrupt politicians will be rewarded with even higher political offices. Our football clubs will demonstrate how to score a 100 goals in a 90minute game. Our school syllabus will include corruption related subjects; the school awards will go to the students who can pass without even taking the exam. We will launch degrees in Corruption Studies, and encourage doctorates in Advance Fee Fraud. Nigeria will become a centre of learning, as people come from all over the world to hear our most corrupt lecturers share their inspirational success stories. We will be the Giant of Africa once again, and this time, for more valid reasons.
4. Increased Foreign Investment
We all love dollars, and legitimising corruption will create an influx of even more dollars. This may seem doubtful at first look, but consider the possibilities. Shrewd businessmen will flock from all over the world to hide their assets in Nigeria, safe from the clutching fingers of their anti-corruption agencies. International corporations will prefer to do business in Nigeria for the free money they will get—therefore creating job opportunities for Nigerians. And when things go bad, we will readily grant asylum to international fugitives wanted on corruption related charges, and even pardon our indigenous fugitives convicted in foreign courts. And, of course, we will swindle our foreign investors from time to time—as a matter of principle. And they will respect us for that.
All Those Activists and Social Crusaders
We will have to shut them up, firmly. In fact, I propose that we make anti-corruption a crime straightaway. Anybody found discussing how to fight corruption should be arrested and charged as an economic saboteur. No one really likes these people anyway—those impudent people, always demanding their rights and what have you; insisting on due process; criticising the government, preaching to their fellow citizens, refusing to bribe the policemen; and generally making life uncomfortable for everybody else around.
These people are selfish and ungrateful to the system that produced them. They simply want their voices to be heard and we don’t need their hypocritical protests. In fact, hanging is too good for them. They should all be exiled from Nigeria, and sent to Europe and the US where their opinions are wanted.
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