Nigeria: A brief defense of Corruption

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I was having a conversation on Saturday and as with all conversation amongst pseudo-intellectual Nigerians, the conversation eventually went to politics. We were discussing corruption and how in the just past elections many candidates got it wrong by giving a strong anti-corruption stance without giving the how and actually thinking about the effect of a sudden corruption free Nigeria.

This is of course based on a layman’s opinion. I m no economist but what I garnered from our conversation is one of the first things needed in the fight against corruption is to prevent capital flight from the country. Like it or not, based on hearsay we have several companies in this country that hire millions of people that were started with corrupt money. If you were to probe these companies and dismantle/reclaim the stolen funds, you will put millions of Nigerians out of work. So maybe this is the reason that some of the candidates that were heavily anti-corruption who seem to want to probe past misdeeds was given the snub in the elections.

A realistic look at corruption would see that in some way, it fuels our economy. I m not advocating for corruption, don’t get me wrong but I have a big problem with people who steal state funds and establish a refinery outside Nigeria, people who take our money to foreign banks, people who build real estate all over the world with our money. Ladies and Gentlemen, if the billions and maybe even trillions of dollars that have left this country were harnessed in this country and used to start businesses that would hire people, I assure you that Nigeria would be far more developed than it is.

Before you get annoyed with me, think about this. Corruption is equally rampant in many developed countries. The only difference is that these countries engage in corruption for the benefit of their countries. These same countries that keep warning Nigeria about corruption come to our country and give kickbacks to get inflated contracts with most of the money going back to their native countries. These multinationals, hire many expatriate workers at the expense of Nigerian graduates. So tell me, Isn’t corruption benefiting them? The kickbacks they give our leaders are then further used by our leaders to build houses in London, Paris, Dubai etc. So in the end they win either way.

I was reading how despite the revolution in Egypt, the bureaucratic corruption and bribe taking that characterized the Mubarak regime is still there and in fact the removal of the regime has deflated the economy and pushed inflation through the roof. It goes to show that sometimes the problem is not only with the head; the body/the people also have a share in the blame for corruption.

A sudden prosecution of corruption, a war on corruption so to say would only lead to a shock to the Nigerian economy. A shock that would see many people out of jobs and see considerably less money being circulate in our economy. Indeed a gradual approach that would involve a mass education of the people and a change in the national psyche as regards corruption would go a long way in helping to curb corruption. As with many problems, the solution lies at the root. What do you think? Is corruption a necessary evil or even tool for economic development in channeled right? Or is it an outright evil that needs to be stamped out immediately or do you favor my gradual approach?

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