(By Francis Nmeribe)
“Let’s think about this in terms of light and darkness. You do not fight darkness. In fact, you cannot fight darkness whether literarily or metaphorically by trying to remove darkness. The deathblow to darkness is the increase of light. Richard Eromosele put it this way: ““Every human no matter how excellent, must have his areas of strength and areas of weakness. In order to excel, it is only proper that we further work on our areas of strength, so much that it will impact on our weakness.“
I had an opportunity to contemplate corruption today. I do not know where it all started. I only remember that the thought of how corruption has destroyed Africa just came and saturated my mind. As I thought about it, a picture of an ALJAZEERA cable TV network programme on how the French government manipulated African leaders under their colonial influence and paid them bribes to allow them get away with their murderous rape of African economies quickly came to mind. Though I was quick to note and settle it in my mind that ALJAZEERA is only working to help make Europe and America bad in our eyes and make the Arab world good.
At that point, I thought, “we should not be taking any more anti-corruption rhetoric from these people – Europeans, Americans and whoever comes with dubious pontification about corruption. Come to think of it, corruption is an English language. I believe there are words in German, French, Portuguese, Latin, and Spanish to name but a few that mean the same thing as corruption. The word corruption is not Swahili, Shona, Igbo, Twi, Yoruba, Hausa, Creole or any other language with its origin in Africa.
My position is not about acquiescence with anything corrupt and the leprous corruption germs that are now deeply embedded in the blood stream of world political leaders and so obviously damaging to the African family and communal system.
The whole idea which I was able to conceptualise during this thinking process is for us to stop any fight against corruption because it is not winnable. If anything, all efforts to fight corruption would only make the corrupt people and corruption heroes and heroic in the mind and eyes of our children whom all of us including some of the corrupt people I have known closely would want to shield from corruption and its impact on the society. Secondly, all the people that have headed anti-corruption agencies in the world especially in Africa that I know or have heard about have ended up in the deep and muddy mire of corruption before the end of their tenure. Anti-corruption agencies investigators and staff in Nigeria, Kenya and many other African and European countries I have read about have ended up being jailed for getting involved in corruption themselves.
In the place of fight against corruption, I propose that we engage in a race against corruption and corrupt people. In this game, all those who have made the decision not to be involved in corruption should bind themselves together in some form of society. The society should not have any name that is associated with corruption. The society should not be anti-corruption society. Instead, it could be integrity society. Meetings and discussions should not be talking about how to avoid or tackle corruption. Instead it should be filled with stories and case studies of the lives of men and women of integrity who made great and big successes in life. In fact, it should not even talk about those who repented from corrupt practices. If there be such people, they should talk about their new life and its benefits for their peace of mind and heart and shall have nothing to do with the word corruption.
I realise that it would be a lot difficult to live in a corrupt society without talking about it. Also, it would be impossible to race against corruption without talking about it. However, those involved should deliberately lay emphasis on positively living with integrity than living without corruption.
Let’s think about this in terms of light and darkness. You do not fight darkness. In fact, you cannot fight darkness whether literarily or metaphorically by trying to remove darkness. The deathblow to darkness is the increase of light. Richard Eromosele put it this way: ““Every human no matter how excellent, must have his areas of strength and areas of weakness. In order to excel, it is only proper that we further work on our areas of strength, so much that it will impact on our weakness. By way of analogy, let us examine darkness and light. You don’t have to fight darkness. When the light is too much, darkness will disappear on its own volition. Strengthen your areas of strength, and your weakness will continue to diminish on its own.” (Vanguard, Nov. 15, 2010).
Drawing from Richard’s account above, let us see corruption for what it is – a national malaise, a weakness. And I agree with him that our best effort in dealing with our weaknesses is to strengthen our areas of strength. If we keep harping on our weaknesses, it would soon start sounding adventurous to younger minds.
Any effort to help young people to stay away from vices in which you laid great emphasis to how you were involved in it and how you learned your lesson the hard way have always ended up making them more defiant.
You have probably been faced with the awkward situation when a youngster tells you: “Well, old man, you did it during your time and later changed and here you are today, successful and teaching me to avoid exactly the same things you did which did not stop you from being in a position to teach and pontificate to me.”
Meanwhile, our best efforts would come from people who would individually make decisions to live the life of integrity. Exemplify the ideology of integrity, fair play and service for their children and all those under their influence to emulate. It is in the individual living that the best would come for a new society.
My confidence in this line of thought stem from the fact that all the people who have been corrupt have created more problems for themselves and their children and loved ones than they have solved.
While working as a support staff to the Special Investigation Panel set up in former Anambra State by the regime of Major General Mohammadu Buhari against the politicians he overthrew in a military coup which to me was not just an aberration but also corruption, I witnessed men and women who were learned in the academic way of life misuse public trust. There were professors, doctors, masters degree holders who are by their effort at education and age as they ranged from 35 to 60 years of age were expected to be leaders of the people in their political appointment. All these people regardless of their status got themselves mired in corruption and immorality.
It was so bad and appalling. One of the members of the panel was inspired to write a small book which I typed out for him. The title of the book by Barrister Erasmus Njoku, which never got published, which I think should, is entitled “Flight From Poverty”.
He felt that these politicians and people from the academia, who held political appointments involved in very dirty dealings were running away or thought they, by the corrupt means, could run away from poverty. How sad and how naïve even for the so-called educated people.
Those of us who may bind in a society or by individual decision to increase integrity so that corruption would run away by ‘its own volition’ know that you cannot be wealthy from corrupt enrichment. Riches can only be a small element in wealth. So those who corruptly enrich themselves cannot lay any claim to wealth. They may lay claims to some materials and pleasures of the world but these are the same that the scriptures say that “moth doth corrupt”. In other words, they have but, have nothing at all that is of value.
The mindset for wealth is the same mindset for creation. If you create something, it is created by you. If you stole something, it is stolen by you. They are clearly different from each other. Wealth is created while riches are acquired. Corrupt acquisition of riches has the same definition as “stealing” in my training on Police Duties at the training school many years ago. Nobody can successfully steal his way to wealth. We all know where the materials acquired by armed robbers, drug dealers, corrupt politicians go. They are never bequeathed to anybody. They are immediately wasted by their children, siblings, wives and even enemies where they are not confiscated by government.
My former Bishop, Justice Chiemela Ehiodo put the whole scenario surrounding corrupt people this way. He said: “Those who steal public funds or trust end up wasting those resources they have stolen and destroying their own lives”. There is no better way to describe the condition of corrupt people. As the few men and women of integrity continue to deal with their lives according to good conscience, we would watch and see the estate of the corrupt waste and in due course and in an evolutionary way, people would learn.
So let’s stop wasting our time, resources and more of our people in the fight against corruption. Instead, let’s begin the race today be increasing integrity wherever we are.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”