FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, November 30, 2018
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LIKE FOLLOWERS, LIKE LEADERS OR A THIEF BEFORE ELECTIONS

andom videos circulating this week paint a disturbing picture of everyday Nigerians. A young woman stole N8.8 million from customer's account, a youth slaughters a boy for money ritual, another robbed an old woman at cutlass point, bank clerks, within a week of hire, stole millions from customer accounts, and a church advertised a revival service with the caption, "Cough up my Dollars" like someone stole from them.

Beyond nefarious individuals, we see rotting institutions oozing decay at every level of service. At state ministries, officials take bribes or set up her own schemes to defraud the public. A case is not reviewed, nor a file passed to the appropriate officer until the messenger gets paid, the clerk gets a cut, the secretary's palms are greased, and more of the same up the line.

At Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), for example, officers create violations out of thin air. Junior officers nab a low-middle income motorist for making an unauthorized u-turn where it had been permitted before and where no sign indicates its prohibition. If the motorist refuses to bribe the junior officers, he's taken to the station where he'd be forced to pay more to the senior officers or forfeit his license, lose the use of his vehicle, and risk imprisonment. Similarly, you can't get a passport without bribing everyone including the cockroach on the wall! Everyone perverting the system for their own gain.

Unsurprisingly, our cultures have eroded to the point where acquisition is rated higher than character. Now, elders say, "your mates have built houses for their parents," and "they say women make money in Italy, you too, come and go there." No longer do you hear, "a good name is better than gold" and "remember the son of whom you are." Thus, when we say, "current leaders are corrupt, vote in new ones," are we simply ushering in a new set of thieves? A thief before election becomes what, after election?


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