One might read the title above and assume that it will be followed by an explanation of the causes of Nigeria's woes. Sadly, that will not be the case, as this is not the proper medium to begin to speculate on the many things that contribute to Nigeria's problems.
Instead, I will simply hold up the alleged comments of a Nigerian politician, the 'Honorable' Adeyemi Ikuforiji. Ikuforiji is currently a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and aspires to become governor of the state in the 2011 elections.
The following is a quote from Ikuforiji:
The logic expressed by Ikuforiji is a key example of the sort of thinking that destroys a country and condemns its people.
A careful reading of the comment shows that Ikuforiji believes that the focus on corruption at the state or legislative level is misguided. Following his logic, Nigerians should spend more time worrying about the money being misspent and stolen by the executive, in this case, Goodluck Jonathan. He also asserts that illgotten money spent on cars is more important and thus better than spending stolen money on parties to celebrate the 100 day anniversary of the current state governor, Tunde Fashola. Ikuforiji also talks about the lack of criticism received by local state commissioners and criticizes the focus on more visible politicians such as himself.
That this man could ascribe legitimacy to any type of corruption is an glaring illustration of how Nigerians have managed to validate corrupt behavior. Spending stolen public money on cars or parties is not the issue and the thief's position on the political food chain is irrelevant. What is of import is that using money that does not belong to you and using a public position for your personal benefit are wrong, immoral and illegal! Ikuforiji forgets that no manner of corruption is right. And as a fellow member of the Nigerian twiterverse, @JibolaL reacted in typical Nigerian fashion, "Should "I stole d smaller meat" be the issue?" I like many others agree that it should not.
Sadly, Ikuforiji's warped and despicable thinking arguably reflects that of a majority of Nigerians who have managed to justify corruption. At first corruption was ignored by the populace because in many ways it was powerless to counter the agents of corruption. After all, they were powerful military dictators with guns. Eventually, corruption was justified because thinking rationally, some believed that as long as they benefited from the agents of corruption, everything was fine. After all, individuals were getting cars, roads, electricity and other benefits in their community that they had not received from other 'leaders'. And then of course, the average person realized that if their 'leaders' can "chop," so can they.
The circle of corruption, unfortunately, has simply kept on spinning.
What is even more unfortunate is that in spite of such ignorant drivel, Ikuforiji will find someone to sing his praises. And even if he does not win the position of governor in the elections, he will likely still be considered a stalwart of his community and some children will be encouraged to be like him. While it is understandable that nobody is perfect, to hold up an individual that does not understand that Nigerian corruption is wrong and
who appears so morally bankrupt is another stain on the Nigerian society.
There will be those who will scream that if one is to criticize Ikuforiji then all other corrupt Nigerian officials should equally be criticized. They are right. All public officials should be held accountable for their missteps just as a child should not be allowed to step out of line for fear that he will someday become a problem. Since Nigeria is yet to show courage in collectively addressing the short comings of its "Big Men", spotlighting Ikuforiji's offensive logic and justification for corruption is more than necessary.