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Nigeria-Colonialism,Credentialism and Corruption.

Ancient Benin City

Nigeria is renowned for corruption and and it’s people for a lack of work ethic.Not a day goes by,without some politician or government official being pilloried in the media for one alleged financial misconduct or another.The perception on the street,is that government officials work only to fill their own pockets.But not only public officials,private ones too.The impression has taken hold that,every Nigerian sees his office as a prebend:a place to collect his share of the spoils rather than to work.This is the “this is not my father’s work” syndrome. How did Nigeria come to this pass,Especially considering, that Nigerians are very hardworking and religious people?

Colonialism.Colonialism heralded the bifurcation of morality into personal and public strands to reflect the dichotomy between traditional and western societies.You have to understand that, traditional Nigerian society subscribed to a value-system which was very different from that of the west.For example,work.Traditional society judged hard work by the  amount of physical exertion involved.A man could not become wealthy,unless he was willing to put in years of hard work,farming or fishing.There simply was no short-cut,to acquiring wealth or riches.Absolutely none.

Imagine the quantum leap that colonialism represented.All of sudden a man could become wealthy,not by sweating it out on the farm,but by  “loafing” in some square building in the mission house for a few years.For spurning farm work, in favour of schooling,these lucky people were rewarded with the white man’s money,which enabled an exotic life style:white man’s house,white man’s car,white man’s authority.The message was,to a  farming or fishing community with it’s traditional definition of hard-work, simply that one did not have to work hard to become rich anymore.Just grab those certificates,by whatever means necessary.All hell was let loose.The race for the white man’s money had begun.

You only work for the money.Period.This is especially true of government work.Because the colonial government was an appendage of the government in London,people have come to identify government work as working for foreigners.People did not feel that,in government service,they were working for themselves.Today,after many years of  independence,that feeling is still very strong.This alienation being exacerbated by tribalism,most people only want to get their hands on government funds,to privatize it,for the benefit of themselves and their kin.For many people,the federal capital might as well be London or Paris.

And the politicians are no different.Indeed you could argue that the politician are mandated by their people to bring their  share of the “national cake”.In a country subscribing to hierarchy of loyalty,the interests of your kin trump the national interests.The result is the looting that goes on in government,because people are celebrated in their communities,for having the gumption to go to the center and grab their own share.As though they were big -game hunters,returning home from successful hunts.And the duality of morality enables this,because where as stealing within the community is deplored,stealing from government is not.For government money is still seen as white man’s money.And that is fair game.Except,the new “white man” is the Niger Delta man.

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8 responses to “Nigeria-Colonialism,Credentialism and Corruption.

  1. codliveroil September 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I read this account. It is disturbing that Nigeria is suffering a case of arrested development. This negative and self-destructive manner of thinking, that stealing from the government is fine. Is not a good one, but then again I’ve come to realise that Nigeria, is a land where bad ideas gain traction and good ones are laid to rest.

    Can no one see, that sabotaging one part of the country all parts of it will suffer in one way or another? (How can antagonosing the people of the Niger Delta be good for national well being and stability?) With all the decades that have rolled by and the millions of graduates produced at home and abroad, why do such narrow-minded attitudes still persist? Is it because it’s easier to do the wrong thing , not to mention more popular? I’ve also said that people are only too willing to blame their leaders for their woes. People have to realise they can’t walk away from their responsibility by letting some undesirable person(s) represent them, who subsequently do nothing but enrich themselves and run away when caught. Democracy is a two way street. You vote for whoever, and monitor their performance. They perform and come election time, you vote for them again or someone like them whom they have nominated. This model to date has not worked there.

    Until people can face up to their responsibilities, that the magnitude of building the nation rests solely with them, then they will never move forward indeed the country may occupy a status of being not simply a third world country that encompasses many countries on the road to development, which Nigeria can hide it’s shameful lack of achievement. But Nigeria may soon be classified as “fourth world”. A country that has no prospect of advancing at all.

    I would not classify this as a black thing, Ghanaians have shown that it is possible to turn the corner from being a hopeless basket case, to a nation that is rapidly emerging from backwardness. Botswana has long been considered a success story. So it can be done, but Nigerians are stubborn in sticking with a line of thinking that clearly is not working for them, this is both sad and shameful.

  2. henryik2009 September 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Codliveroil
    Thanks for your comment.Nigeria’s problem is not racial.It is systemic.Over the years,the government has done it’s utmost to keep the people divided,so that looting can continue unhindered.Also by promoting violent politics,government has succeeded in driving out most of those millions of graduates from the political arena.The result is government of the mediocre by the mediocre and for the mediocre.You may want to see:Leadership;free and fair elections;and knowledge-aristocrats.

  3. codliveroil September 3, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Henryik2009
    I agree it’s not a racial thing ( I said that in the last paragraph), that is why I chose Ghana as an example, when you choose other examples, people often say their situations are far removed from Nigeria’s. Ghana’s colonial and early post-colonial history is similar to Nigeria’s, before the two histories diverged.

    I am puzzled why successive governments would think it a good thing? not to develop the economy in a sustainable and balanced way. Yet they look enviously at other governments, that faced up to their challenges and have done that, for instance Vietnam, Brazil, Malaysia etc. By developing your economy you become even more wealthy, stable and progressive. Division, distraction and concentrating on exploiting only one aspect of the economy (inefficiently), leads to the unenviable state the nation finds itself in. Do people not think of their future?

    • henryik2009 September 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.I am not sure people are convinced of the sustainability of the Nigeria project.Most of our people see themselves as indigenes,of their various tribes,rather than citizens.Our so-called leaders are mere patriarch.I think that ,unlike Ghana,Vietnam,Malaysia and Brazil,Nigeria is not historic.Nigeria did not exist until someone decided to join two incompatible bits together.It is more difficult to feel great attachment to such an artifice.Not impossible though.The problem is that we have not had the leadership to do it.

    • henryik2009 September 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      Codliveroil Check out this post:Patriotism and prebendalism.

  4. codliveroil September 6, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Henryik2009, I will check out that article tonight. I’ve been short on time these last few days, please forgive me.

    Division for the most part is not associated with strength or progress, yet that is what people in Nigeria seem to be hankering for. The problems with Nigeria, aren’t simply because of the federal nature. If it were to split into however many tiny insignificant states, that were constantly at war with one another, the major problems today facing Nigeria would be facing these new states.

    Do you think the people of some dusty Sahelian state would sit quietly, whilst there near neighbours are thriving? I think not. People have got to learn to accommodate one another and reach mutually beneficial agreements, that way we all benefit from our association.

    • henryik2009 September 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.The fact is that the more states we have,the greater the clamour for division.Each state created would create a new set of “minorities”.This is clearly not the answer.Unfortunately,our don’t seem to see it that way.

  5. codliveroil September 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Exactly, I agree with the last point. There was a post on another blog, highlighting that the people of Niger state, should sub-divide.

    http://www.naijablog.co.uk/2010/08/advert-for-proposed-new-state-for-nupe.html

    I said I was against it. The thing is if you can see that division is not an answer to the problems that face the country, why can’t other Nigerians? I stated my reasons in a comment there.

    Internal states are bad enough, but individual states the size of Gambia or even smaller with their own heads of state and armies in what is today Nigeria is a recipe for disaster and mayhem.

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