On the way to Ibadan from Lagos, just after crossing the first of the concrete bridges on that most horrible and dangerous of roads called Lagos/Ibadan Expressway (more like expressway to hell) on the Lagos/Ogun States border, on the right you will see the business empire of one Otunba Ghadaffi (SAN), and the sign saying “SHIT BUSINESS IS GOOD BUSINESS”, referring to the commendable fact that he has departed from being a lawyer and made a fortune in dealing with what most of us are repugnant of – waste and environmental management. The man supplies mobile toilets to venues, clears drains and soak-away. In short, his business is clearing, removing and disposing shit, mostly human faeces, and he’s doing very fine, thank you.
Anytime I see Otunba Gaddafi’s (he must be a big guy, because in Nigeria, we always refer to big and imposing guys and women as “Ghadaffi – God rest Moammar el-Ghadaffi’s soul) signage, I always have a wry grin on my face and relate it to the issue of corruption in Nigeria. Please, I am not in any way impugning that corruption was responsible for Otunba Ghadaffi’s success. In fact, with his line of business, we are certain he made his money from dirt and turned it into riches through dint of hard work, and he deserves accolades, respect and awards.
Corruption is good business to the participants and those who profit from it. I am not talking about official government corruption, but also private and public sector, and even the petty corruption we encounter in our everyday life, which to me, has ensured that corruption will never be eradicated or even managed to acceptable levels in Nigeria.
It has permeated into our social, religious and cultural fabric. It is everywhere, and some people, who think they are clever than the rest of us, are doing fine by it.
Corruption — is a good thing when it’s “official”
With several government officials and politicians trying to convince us at every opportunity that official corruption, while still growing, is no longer a hindrance, the rest of us should apparently understand that according to our government line, corruption is now good for the economy. Furthermore, the government - civil servants and their political masters – are trying to convince us that it is corruption that is keeping the country economically; and that if not for corruption, this country would have collapsed.
A report just released by Transparency International claimed that Nigerian Federal civil servants took N450 billion in bribes, kickbacks, gratifications, etc in 2011 so far. Good business to some; and bad business to the people they are supposed to serve, isn’t it?
Risible and ludicrous as this may sound, there seems to be an element of realism in these assertions. Of course, corruption by any name is an evil. Small or big, petty or massive; it is evil, even its origin and definitions; religious, sociology, psychology, philosophy, etc.
What these ruling elite are admitting to, is that while corruption is good for their illegal business, they are privately wishing it could be managed to an acceptable level. In reality, the competition amongst the thieving elite in trying to outdo each other is beginning to be terrifying and very alarming even for them, so they are getting spooked. I have proffered this Corruption Management solution some time ago, because really, there is no society that is not corrupt; the “good” societies, e.g. Western countries, only manage their corruption well, and do not allow it to debar or interfere with their human progress and development.
When ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo promised a reduction in the growth and practice of official corruption, and then established the ICPC and the EFCC, he was subtly admitting that the Nigerian Police, who should be the ones dealing with corruption in public sector, cannot do it. He failed (This is another story to be told one day, but we all know why he failed – he himself could not resist being corrupt). In fairness to Obasanjo, corruption bourgeoned into...