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Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, April 29, 2015
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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HONOURABLE CORRUPTION

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was invited to a grand feast of who is who. As I entered the well decorated hall for the occasion, I humbly sat at a corner. The master of ceremony started introducing the men of timber and caliber to the high table. An applause followed, whenever each one of them was called. I was also called up. The last person to be invited to the high table was the chairman of the occasion. The master of ceremony was so acrobatic in speech and action. He jumped up and down the stage. He then beckoned on everyone to stand up as the chairman of the occasion was about to be called up to occupy his seat. Everyone was wondering who the chairman could be. The M.C. then said, "I now invite the chairman of today's occasion to come up and occupy his exalted seat. He is no other person than Honourable Corruption. Please give him an applause!" The hall shook to its foundation as murmuring filled everywhere. A few clapped. Many shouted. As Honourable Corruption was ascending the stage, some persons already sitting at the high table disappeared like lightening to avoid being corrupt. I also went down. But I couldn't go out. The M.C. called on me to come up and say the opening prayer. Reluctantly, I prayed in these words: "Oh God the Almighty Father, we thank you for the gift of life. We are gathered here for a special occasion. May you bless all of us standing before you. However we ask you to deliver us from all the evils bedeviling us in this country Nigeria, especially corruption." At the mention of the word 'corruption', pandemonium broke inside the hall. Everyone shouted on top of his voice. The chairman of the occasion, Honourable Corruption, grabbed me at the throat. I screamed for breath. His police escorts tried to handcuff me. Surprisingly I released the male hormones in me and called on the Name of the Trinity. Immediately, extra ordinary power came into me. I charged on my opponents and escaped unhurt. As I was running for my dear life, I glanced behind and saw Honourable Corruption pursuing me and shouting, "I will deal with you!" I shouted back, "God forbid!" I ran faster and jumped into my car and sped off. In fact, I escaped being whisked away by the whiskers.

At last I got home. I quickly entered my room and locked the door. By then I was breathing like a lizard that fell from a tree. I sat on my academic seat and started reflecting on corruption. A recent occurrence struck my mind. As I was travelling to Enugu one day in my personal car, a policeman stopped me for searching. He asked for my vehicle particulars. I showed him everything. Further he looked inside my car and looked at me from head to toe. He saw me wearing green trouser under my white clerical gown. Then he asked me, "Man of God, why is your trouser different from your white gown?" I replied, "Officer, what offence have I committed?" He replied, "You have committed the offence of clerical corruption." I glanced at the officer questionably and drove off.

In my curiosity I searched for the meaning of corruption. Since I am still single, I engaged myself in marriage with the dictionary. Four meanings readily were available: Corruption is defined as the act of corrupting or state of being corrupt; moral perversion, depravity; dishonesty, especially bribery; putrefaction or decay. Invariably, we are all guilty in one way or the other. As sinners, we are all corrupt before God. There is a lot of moral decay in our society today, even among some Christians and some of their leaders. Immorality has planted a vineyard in some human hearts. There is dishonesty here and there. Some enrich themselves through dishonest ways. Our society and its values are fast eroding. Bribery now marries Corruption. It is corruption that causes the decomposition of the human body at death. The body of Our Lord Jesus Christ did not decay as he spent three days in the tomb. This is because as God and man he is not corrupt. The body of the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary also did not decay because she was not corrupt. That is why the Dogma of the Church teaches that her body was assumed into Heaven after death. Hence we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 15 August every year.

My dear, I learnt that corruption is the major cause of poverty around the world. It occurs at all levels of society, from local and national governments, civil society, judiciary, in small and large businesses. It is also found in the military, police, Civil Defence, Ocha Brigade, etc. It affects the poorest most in rich or poor nations. It undermines political development, democracy, economic development, people's health and so on. The main cause of corruption is self-interest or selfishness. When I was in primary three, our teacher asked one of my classmates, who was not brilliant, to define the term 'Selfishness.' He said, "Selfishness is a person who sells fish." The teacher slumped down as a result of laughter. From then we nicknamed the pupil Selfishness. In adulthood he bought a car and inscribed on it: "Blessed Selfishness."

Most Nigerians are selfish. That is why corruption reigns everywhere. Political corruption is a persistent phenomenon that pervades the Nigerian state. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal enrichment. Greed and ostentatious lifestyle are the potential roots of corruption in Nigeria. This leads to unaccountability. It is corruption that killed the railway system left by the colonial system. All aspects of our economy are mismanaged because of egoism. In the Government circle, corruption is found in the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Arms. They enrich themselves at the detriment of the poor masses who elected them. Those in the Executive arm use the common peoples' tax money anyhow. Funds made for the good of the masses are often embezzled or hoarded in foreign banks. Those in the Legislature are not different. They vote for millions of money just for their comfort while the majority of the citizens wallow in penury. They carry millions of Naira in Ghana-must-go bags just to pass a budget or a bill. Some of them make away with Constituency allowances. Some of those in the Judiciary sell justice by cash and carry, thereby dashing to the wall the hope of the common man. Cases last in the courts for years. Adjournment of cases is the other of the day. Often the complainants suffer or die away while waiting for justice. The summary is corruption.

In the economic field corruption is also found. The desire to become a millionaire overnight leads to low quality products. Goods are sold at exorbitant prizes. The rich smile to the banks while the poor languish in abject poverty. Some edible products are manufactured in low quality that they endanger the health of the consumers. Fake drugs are produced just to become rich. Many innocent Nigerians have died as a result. It is here that I remember the praise-worthy effort made by the late Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili when she was in-charge of NAFDAC. She saved the lives of millions of Nigerians from the wicked hands of fake drug dealers. Indeed I call for her canonization by the Church for her humanitarian services. I wish she would sit closer to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of God. Whenever I go to Heaven I must look for her and present her to God for eternal glorious Honour Award.

The 2015 Elections are over. Some politicians won as a result of corrupt practices. For them, the end justifies the means. But the moral code is: The means justifies the end. How can corrupt leaders who occupied their seats by hook and crook seek for common good? They have ascended the ladder of leadership to enrich their pockets at the detriment of the poor masses who elected them. However some have genuine mandates and are ready to serve the citizenry. Nonetheless, they must beware of Honourable Corruptions in the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, because corruption is a contagious disease. It is as dangerous as Ebola disease.

The President-Elect, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, has promised to fight Corruption at all levels in our country Nigeria when he assumes office. He must be careful because most of the passengers in his APC bus are corrupt themselves. Were they not members of the defunct PDP Government? If monkey changes dress, it still remains a monkey. It must eat banana. For Buhari to succeed, he must cut down all banana trees along the road. Some corrupt politicians in All Progressives Congress are ready to frustrate him; otherwise they will change another dress to form opposition. How I wish late General Tunde Idiagbon comes back to life to join Buhari (his Boss in those days of Military Regime) to fight the dreaded disease called corruption. The cost of Governance must be reduced drastically to make political offices less attractive. The do-or-die elections will then be things of the past. Honourable newly elected Corruptions in the Executive, National and State Houses of Assembly and in the Polity, I salute all of you. Let us give peace a chance to reign so that we may have a new Nigeria free of corruption. Long Live the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan! Long Live the President-Elect General Muhammadu Buhari! Long Live Nigeria! Honourable Corruption, see you in Hell-fire!

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