March 23, 2019

Corruption or ethnicity, which is Nigeria’s worst enemy? by Niran Adedokun

Corruption or ethnicity, which is Nigeria’s worst enemy? by Niran Adedokun

Progressively, arguments over how much corruption has contributed to the undeveloped nature of Nigeria has become rife. A conservative sum of $400 billion is said to have been pilfered from Nigeria by corrupt political and public officials since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. And as we move closer to the 2015 elections, corruption and the eradication of it is in fact becoming one of the major points of discussion for Nigerians.

nigerian flag

But some people think that ethnicity is the country’s major setback.  One of such people reacted to a piece I did about corruption as follows: “corruption is not our major problem in Nigeria. Ethnicity is our major problem, as we have no love for one another. If we have love in Nigeria, then we would not take what belongs to another or the people. People feel cheated and once they are opportune, they want to take as much for themselves and their people. The moment the pressure of ethnicity goes down in Nigeria, the level of corruption will automatically go down. It is only when you thoroughly understand what ethnicity is that you can really know the impact it has in Nigeria. The thing is so devastating that we can’t move forward without the resolution of its fangs…”

I found this contribution both curious and interesting. While we cannot deny the negative effect of corruption on our country, ethnic rivalry amongst our people is an equally hazardous impediment to national growth. And there is no country in the world without a measure of corruption

For instance, reports of corruption in Indonesia even as it strove to get classified as an industrialised country with membership of the G-20 and become the largest economy in Southeast Asia is almost as alarming as it is in Nigeria. In 2011, Indonesia was said to have lost the equivalent of US$238.6 million to corruption.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia says this about Indonesia: “Companies are concerned about red tape and widespread extortion in the process of obtaining licences and permits, and they often face demand for irregular fees or concessions based on personal relationships when obtaining government contracts… Companies have also reported regular demand for cash payments and expectations for gifts and special treatments by Indonesian officials… About one-quarter of ministries suffer from budgetary diversions in Indonesia. Households spend approximately 1% while enterprises spend at least 5% of monthly company revenue on unofficial payments…”

It is also true that no country in the world, including the United States of America, which is regarded as the sparkling example of accountability, is free of official corruption or widespread corrupt practices. The only difference between Nigeria and most of these countries is the unity with which their citizens fight corruption. Hence no act of corruption is seen as trivial.

Welcome to the forest of ethnicity called Nigeria and see how tribal groups protect their own even when caught red handed in the attempt to pilfer our collective resources.

When someone is accused of corruption in Nigeria, his community comes around him, as Nigerians ask that such people receive punishment commensurate to their infractions, protests are organised by his or her clansmen, his ethnic group goes on the defence, they begin to describe corruption by another name – victimisation.

There is just nothing as a Nigerian resolve to fight anything. We generate new standards to addressing issues depending on the where the person involved comes from. A clear invitation to the perpetual stagnation of our development as a country.

Not surprisingly, ethnicity is playing a significant role in the upcoming elections, at least as far as the two frontline candidates are concerned. Most people from the Niger Delta region, where the incumbent president is from are bent on returning him to power by all means while every major grouping in the north have elected to back General Buhari on the strength of where he comes from. None of these groups is discussing the competence of their candidate. We are therefore a nation ready to sacrifice merit on the basis of origin.

Not even the Boko Haram insurgency which constitutes the highest threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria has made us come together to fight as a country. This, to my mind is a major reason why we are not making so much progress in terminating the insurgency. And I have a sense that it remains the reason why this country may not attain its potential until we find a way to make us all think Nigeria.

Follow me on twitter @niranadedokun


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  1. Elder Moore

    Niran, there you go again! This article could not have come at a better time, other now. Ethnicity as Nigeria version is concern as protecting your own person and instituting him/her on the Nigerian people, whether or not the person has got what it takes to administer the office he occupies.

    Suffice to say why GMB seriously seeking to be elected into the office of the president when ordinarily he could have offered advice to the incumbent on ways of tackling security challenges and other ills if he were to be the president assuming he understands the panacea to Nigerian woes. Then, someone asked, must you be president? I have no grouse at one pursuing his intentions or aspiration but being obsessive about it and dividing the country on the path of ethno-political schisms are a serious danger to the corporate existence of this country.

    Issue base politics should be pursued. When once Nigerians see their fellow ethnic brothers or sisters as themselves, then true leadership will begin to evolve.

    Nice article Niran, great caligrapher of our time!

  2. engr.sam nwokoye

    Ethnicity is the foundation of our problem in nigeria.The civil war is about ethnicity.Most of the policies put in place by successive military govts were ethnically inspired including the quota system,land use decree,federal character,abolition of mission schools,creation of states and local govt,revenue sharing formular,and many other similar policies were forced down the throat of nigerians inorder to block some others.Now, such a polity cannot inspire patriotism,which would have naturally eliminated corruption because nigeria becomes the all peoples project.We have a country today where the core north is willing to tear this nation apart if forced to wait till 2019 for power,while the ibos who fought for the independence of not only nigeria,but most of africa vide the ZIK OF AFRICA,are humbly willing for other groups to lead this country, even if others have been there for decades.These are the problems of nigeria and corruption is only a fallout of inequity,paratisism and injustice in the country.

  3. Akin

    My people ,i have no doubt in my mind that politics it self is not a job of saints,however there are Good,Bad and The Ugly politics practice in every country all over the world. CORRUPTION is the most dangerous cancer to any government. Any country with high level of corrupt leaders can never grow.I dont care how rich their resources are. CORRUPTION will DESTROY the Future of any country(Even unborn generations) I don’t care what your Religion is,Ethnicity or Class,if we keep celebrating thieves…Our future leaders are scattered all over the world helping other countries to grow , the ones with no such opportunity to go out of the shores of our Nation have no clue what their Future holds .If you think it’s ok to put up with this present Nigeria situation ,i believe it’s because you have something good going for you but remember there are millions of fellow human being living by the crumbs of left over bread…This is not the country we all pledge to…GEJ just like some of our past leaders has failed Nigerians by partaking in the all frenzy embezzlement of public funds.Some of us argue that at least “They did this and done that” some of us settle for less,we encourage or accepted the “Steal but don’t steal too much” norms,are we not as GUILTY?. Should we endorse Leaders who are ok with thieves in thier cabinets? Some of us think that another four years will be different from what we have been seeing ,you are dead wrong… Buhari is not a perfect man,at least it’s reasonable to say that for argument sake, but if you put aside bigotry and biases ,i believe a less corrupt Nigeria will turn our Nation around, Buhari is known to be tough in that area and age has nothing to do with leadership .All this talk about lslamization of Nigeria is a HOAX ! There are Democratic process to undergo in achieving that,it’s like some of us don’t know how Democracy works ,ex military men hold political offices everywhere in the world even in America,Buhari is not exceptional.It bothers me that some of my fellow Nigerians cant seems to put religion aside and agree with the facts that the level of impunity in our country is crazy.We need to keep trying all options available to our nation for good change..This Cancer(Corruption) has eaten up our entire Government structure .Army,Police ,Immigration ,NNPC,Pension Funds can’t be accounted for ,no rule of law,Oil theft,Illegal Contracts here and there ,our laws only apply to the ordinary man on the street.. middle class in our country is fading out.If anyone thinks its ok to keep up with this present Nigeria ,then they are part of the problem…If you protect a thief you are a thief ,in the eyes of God,even in the court of law…A less corrupt NIGERIA will be better for ALL ! I only stand for change


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