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Corruption: Africa’s Greatest Nightmare

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Corruption is a type of strategic action in which two or more actors undertake an exchange relation by way of a successful transfer of money (material) or power (political or status) or promoting of gene (genetic), which sidesteps legality or morality or civility to regulate the relation. It is a strategic interaction or an art of nonviolent negotiation that ignores

and violets legality, morality and civility.

The difficulty of defining corruption is due to its dynamic change of residencies with time. The fact that corruption is sometimes hard to discern does not make it any less despicable or suggest that it needs to be eradicated from society any less diligently. For the purpose of simplification, an attempt to define corruption is adopted taking the definition by Transparency International (TI).

How do you define corruption?
Transparency International (TI) has chosen a clear and focused definition of the term: Corruption is operationally defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.
TI further differentiates between “according to rule” corruption and “against the rule” corruption. “Facilitation payments, where a bribe is paid to receive preferential treatment for something that the bribe receiver is required to do by law, constitute the former. The latter, on the other hand, is a bribe paid to obtain services the bribe receiver is prohibited from providing”.

Corruption in Africa threatens its people and their governments. It makes African societies unfair. It is argued that bribery as an integral part of corruption is a negotiated rent, as the beginning of all illegalities and tyranny leaving behind devastating consequences of underdevelopment, poverty, diseases, conflicts and instability. There is no more powerful engine of injustice and cruelty in Africa than corruption, so also is bribery for it destroys both faith and state. The serious consequence of corruption thus is not only State Capture but also Mind Capture. Corruption is universal. It is present in developed and developing countries, in the bureaus of public or private sectors, and in nonprofit or charitable organizations. Shift from governance to management only changes its residence.

Corruption continues to grow in Africa when incentives—money, position, rewards—are high enough and the chance of detection or the level of punishment low enough, corruption abounds. Corrupt behavior is causing problems for our communities, not because laws are weak or because we are insufficiently diligent, but because it is so pervasive.

While most noticeable in government and business, corruption is also found among religious organizations, nonprofit groups, sports teams, and individual families. Because corrupt behavior is not restricted to illegal activities, it hampers society’s progress whenever rules are bent, boundaries are trespassed, and standards are lowered. Although no culture in history has yet ended corruption. A complete cure for corruption is probably a fantasy; controlling [it] to the point of limiting the damage it does to society seems very possible. Some governments do try to combat corruption, with well-publicized trials of officials. However, it is generally accepted that we all need to confront corruption in daily life to defeat it.

African leaders and individuals in authority at different levels are the main culprits of the scourge called CORRUPTION IN AFRICA. It is clear that the leaders and individuals who ruined the continent of Africa for the past decades have no solutions to the national and continental problems they created. Even worse they have no consciousness of their deficiencies, and think they can beg, borrow and steal to buy political positions, which they will treat like their private property. They have no compassion for their people, and treat them worse than the domestic animals in their farms.

Africa is the richest continent, the one with the least natural disasters, reduced to penury by corrupt men who cause more havoc than hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and monsoons. That Africa is in constant need of ‘aid’ is an indictment of those who misrule it. And the hypocrisy of ‘seeking’ foreign investment is belied by the stolen money invested in Europe and America.

Africa has the rivers and arable lands to put an end to famine through dams, irrigation systems, and vast storehouses, as was done in Egypt five millennia ago. But for this to occur it needs to fulfill the dreams of great African heroes like Kwame Nkrumah, Sardauna Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Azikiwe, Marcus Garvey, Frantz Omar Fanonand other intellectuals concerned with the continent’s collective destiny. African intellectuals must develop social, political and scientific theories to recapture leadership of the world once dominated by black people.
The ills of Africa are not, however, the result of a curse by God, Satan, or natural disasters. While European leaders steal from others to enrich their countries, Africans steal from their people to make Europe and America even more rich and powerful. Instead of murdering foreign enemies, African leaders slaughter their own citizens, justifying the racism of their conquerors. Corrupt African leaders have killed more of their own people than put together Hitler’s holocaust killing of the Jews, America’s atomic bombings of 1945, and the bombings, sanctions and embargo on Iraq that killed millions of people with children as the highest.

Africans must through their genuine intellectuals and development activists devise measures to block from leadership the class of corrupt incompetents who have destroyed African peoples and institutions over the past half century. As Africans we must learn from the example of China, India and other victims of imperialism on how to restore their countries to a position where they control their social, political, economic and scientific destinies. As true Africans we must restore to our people the citizen’s rights to well-being, knowledge and stability. We must think in terms of our nations and continent, not glorifying regional, ethnic and sectional warlords, thieves, and degenerates.

For too long the people have allowed leaders to steal using excuses of religion, region, and ethnicity. But no religion, region or ethnic group glorifies theft, and African leaders should be no exception.
National and continental psychology needs to be changed: people cannot condemn a man who steals a hundred Naira to buy a loaf for his family while praising a leader who stole billions for his ‘generosity’ in giving out a tiny fraction of his loot. It makes no sense to lock petty thieves in Kirikiri or other maximum security prisons while letting corrupt leaders have the run of state houses and presidential palaces. It cannot be right to steal ‘government’ property when the people recognize that this property is theirs.

A joke has it that after the creation, other nations and continents outside of Africa protested to God that he had blessed African countries (especially Nigeria) with too many material resources while denying it natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes. Signaling them to be quite, God smiled and said ‘wait till you see the leaders I give them!

This joke has come true with a vengeance as corrupt, murderous despots made their countries and the African continent the laughing stock of the world, and the slaughterhouse of their people. Given the destructive power of African leaders, Africans must be wishing they had hurricane Katrina instead.

The wars and Campaigns against corruption have not met with much success. It is a worrisome development. When the majority of people operate under such a system, individuals have no incentive to try to change it or to refrain from taking part in it. It’s not exactly earth-shattering news that corruption continues to plague the developing world. According to Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, corruption is most widespread in African, Americas and Middle Eastern countries and is especially prevalent in countries recently or currently embroiled in violent conflict.

Frustrated with the pervasive corruption in African politics, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim came up with his own way to honor the excellent leaders and shame the corrupt ones. The New Yorker recently profiled Mo Ibrahim and his crusade to end what he sees as an institutionalized legacy of deplorable, corrupt, and despotic rule in Africa through the establishment of a prestigious award for good leadership and an index grading the quality of governance.
From Mo Ibrahim’s point of view, Africa’s richness in natural resources matches its shortage of good leadership. “The greatest challenge faced by African countries is a catastrophic failure of leadership and governance. There is no other explanation. We have had to a very large extent very lousy leadership in Africa: too many dictators, too many megalomaniacs, too many thieves, who bled this continent for their personal and family benefit. And the solution to Africa’s problems is simply honest, active, democratic leadership, Ibrahim tells The New Yorker.

Drawing inspiration from the above quote, this piece is one of objectivity, positivity and development, for it is said that few people’s lives in Africa are free of the effects of corruption, from corrupt politics at national level to everyday bribes at a personal level. Hence I dare ask this question to all “How can we fight corruption?”

As we all search for an enduring and sustainable answer/solution to corruption, it is pertinent to note here that Corruption undermines economic growth, creates institutional mismanagement and hurts society by holding back economic development at all levels.

Written by Yusuf Yahaya, a Broadcast Engineer (Nigerian Television Authority), a Freelance Journalist at Nigerianewsline.com, Consultant/National Resource Person, MDGs Advocacy Project (Nigeria) with support from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs.

About Yusuf Yahaya

Yusuf Yahaya, a Broadcast Engineer (Nigerian Television Authority), a Freelance Journalist at Nigerianewsline.com, Consultant/National Resource Person, MDGs Advocacy Project (Nigeria) with support from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs.

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