THE PATRIOTISM OF CORRUPTION
Growing up was laden with a plethora of experiences, our fragile little brains were taught to classify deeds on the basis of the responses it evoked from our parents. If you get screamed at, it means the action was bad, if you are flogged then, it was horrible. But if there’s a threat to disown you then, that’s a sacrilege, you might as well have discussed the pope’s sex life. So, we grouped evils on the basis of the reactions it elicited from our parents. Virtues were pretty much on the same scale; a smile equaled a good deed, a smile plus a ruffle through your hair equals a wonderful deed, all of the above plus a ball of akara- now, that’s celestial, keep that up and you’d one day be behind the pearly gates.
How easy life would have been if the classification stayed the same.
But no, growing up had its side effects, one of which includes that your eyes get to look at the same thing and see something else. The older we got, the more nebulous our idea of good and evil became.
First, you write your WAEC and it’s business unusual, being asked to bring #2000 naira if you wanted to pass each course really shuddered your very being but being rebuked and admonished for being “stupid” by your parents was too much of a burden, too much of a torture for your baby-principles. Your whole castle of integrity gets its first quake and it all comes crashing down. And why? Because your standards of righteousness (your parents) who formed the very foundation of everything you call integrity simply just pricked your little integrity balloon.
So, the next day, the very same person who walked home with his chin in the clouds the previous day is the first person to submit his own #2000 naira, with his tail btw his legs of course. Now, you are the butt of every joke. What was it your mother said again “my dear, this is Nigeria, everybody does it”. No wonder their knowing smiles when you handed your #2000 naira over.
So, WAEC is done and dusted and of course, you cleared your papers, they kept their words. But hidden somewhere within your shield of integrity is a bold crack. The only consolation is that “no be who read pass, na who pass read” or so your friends said. You are successful but not so happy. So when people wow at your results, you don’t know whether to feign the usual modesty of “na God o” or to matter of factly tell them that it wasn’t just your result alone but that of you, your invigilators, your teachers and the numerous textbooks conveniently waltzing around the hall that day.
Fast forward, here is JAMB, now you want to heal your conscience, you decide to do it alone. You study real tough, write real hard but don’t make the requisite average for your chosen career. You are heartbroken, and now you wish you had listened to your mother when she suggested special centers. All your friends who sat for the exam in special centres are now campus babes but here you are, still an ewu jambito . So, you ask yourself, if bribing and cheating is wrong, how come it has a good result? Now you are wondering “is this really right or wrong”?……if it’s wrong, how come the results are positive, at least for the time being? Does a bad tree bear a good fruit? Aren’t we supposed to know them by their fruits? The first of your people that you pose the question to simply retorts with a sneer “madam righteousness, the end justifies the means so, it is not how you got into school that matters, it’s how you get out of it”. And that seals it.
Next year, you are registered in a special center and your people do a lot of PR (Preliminary Reimbursement), the baptismal name for bribery or better put, an appreciation for a yet to be done favour. Your uncle visits the Vice Chancellor of your chosen university, with you tagging along, and at the end of the discussion, your uncle writes him a cheque of 200,000 naira to buy airtime. You know what this is and it makes you uncomfortable. So, you return home to tell your parents and they are like “my dear, I know how you feel but this is Nigeria and everybody does it, I mean, how many people get into school on merit these days?”. Now, that was the death and burial of whatever was left of your conscience, your integrity shield is shattered and your idea of good and evil becomes based on only two principles viz: convenience and public opinion. At this point, nothing is the same anymore; those brownie points you earned for making your parents smile while you were younger now seem useless. So, you obey only two commandments viz: “do what you gotta do and never be caught”.
So, you get pregnant for your boyfriend and the next solution is abortion. But for some reason, you just do not seem comfortable with it. This is not just about you or your conscience, it’s also about the law of the land and most importantly, the other life involved. Bad as you are, you still think yourself above murder.
But then, you figure out that you are alone on the idea of keeping the child, because your dad, a Knight of St. John, wouldn’t raise a bastard in his home and your mum, the C.W.O leader, wouldn’t have her enemies gloat over her because of that “thing” you are carrying. Besides, it is not even a “real” human being yet, she says. And u just realize all of a sudden that it’s a win-win for everybody if u get rid of this “thing” u are carrying. I mean, why bring an unwanted child into the world, it wouldn’t even be fair to it. Congratulations, you’ve convinced yourself and, the child’s death day is already fixed, unfortunately, it’d never have a birthday. Is it convenient? Yes. And public opinion?…everybody does it. Conclusion = It has got to be good then.
So just before your mum proceeds to call the family doctor, she takes out time to allot curses to her enemies for manipulating you with juju, she then curses the devil (for being the devil of course, s/one has to take the blames) and next in the pecking order is the “idiot boyfriend” who dared to sustain an erection around her daughter and was too stupid to use a condom. Now, you are wondering which is the offence, premarital sex or the failure to use a condom? This joined with the previous day’s discussion between your dad and his best friend, the Justice of an appeal court has got you totally confused as to what is really what. Of course, their chat started with the usual rich dads’ hobby –whose problems are bigger? Not surprisingly, u are your dad’s top headache but this only evokes laughter from his friend who thinks he has not seen anything, considering that his youngest son who is supposed to be studying religion and ethics abroad, just called him last week to announce that he has joined the LGBT. “The idiot who I sent abroad for getting two blood sisters pregnant while in Nigeria has suddenly decided he doesn’t like girls anymore, he now likes fellow boys” was the Justice’s exact words. “You think these children would give you less trouble if you just move them far away, but no, they only magnify it” he continued. Now, over to their next hobby – who’s got the bigger contract?
There is this INEC case on my desk, two individuals trying to snatch the seat from beneath the governor, they really trashed him at the polls, which is not surprising considering the state of things in that state. And then your dad asks who is going to win, the judge simply waves his hands and says “for now, I do not know. Hell! For the right price I could even declare you right here and right now, the winner of an election you never contested for”. The word of the law is that of cases, briefcases actually, with the right amount of bills buried within. Now, the both friends bellow with laughter and then, your father starts narrating how he’s going to utilize only 30% of the funds allotted for the execution of a particular contract and then, plough the rest into his company, expand it and employ more people. In the long run he’s doing the country a favour and also doing something manageable about the road contract he just won.
On and on it goes, we keep sinking deeper into immoralities and lawlessness each day, without the slightest pang of conscience, and this is because the society accepts it. Even if this society spans not larger than our circle of friends or a clique of a deeper voiced few, well-heeled enough to wiggle their fingers up the anus of the entire legal system, making it poop their whims and caprices. The consequence is that the judiciary which is supposed to be the last hope of the common man suddenly becomes his first fear. Since the sword of justice hangs no longer on the balance of deeds and misdeeds but precariously on the depth of pockets and obesity of wallets. Fairness therefore courts vanity and equity is consequently raped into oblivion by avarice and chronic shameless. The veracity of a statement is no longer authenticated by time and events but by credit alerts. After all, who truth don ep?
The proverbial ihe ojoo agbala afo, and we are left with no choice than to glorify corruption, worship affluence and pour libations to evil.
In this perpetual rat race of “grab-all-you-can”, we are bereft of any sense of brotherhood, nothing remains humane in the human, the consequence now becomes that since justice is on a honeymoon with avarice, equity raped to death and fairness frolicking with vanity, the paradigm relocates, the conventional value of things change. What is good becomes contemporarily bad and what is evil glories in holiness. Lies become native and truth, foreign. The honest man lives in contempt and discrimination while the avarice infested conscienceless glutton is sainted, the holy one of Israel. And just like in the days past, we all say “release Barrabas and crucify Jesus” or in a more familiar term “bring back our corruption”. It consequently becomes difficult to be kind, blasphemous to be sincere and sacrilegious to be content. Corruption has become patriotic, raise your glasses therefore, and we shall pour libations to it or lift your boots then and we shall stamp it out.