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Odera Okakpu: Still On The Matter

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In a typical Nigerian conversation, once someone complains about one government induced struggle or the other (bad roads, no water or light, etc.) a conversation ensues on how the government needs to change: “Our leaders don’t care about us”, “CORRUPTION!!!”

One such conversation unfolded recently on my way to Lagos Airport early in the morning, on a dark road that should have had streetlights. The driver, and my cousin who accompanied me, began a heated conversation on how the electricity situation had deteriorated so badly. Silently, I chuckled.

My cousin and the driver had just agreed with themselves about how Nigerian leaders are corrupt. That was when I felt inclined to join in and correct them. It is not just Nigerian leaders who are corrupt. Nigerians are corrupt—including myself and the driver and my cousin, and any other supposedly upstanding citizen of the nation. Minor things that incur tickets, taxation and even jail time in other countries are norms for us.

Any right thinking Nigerian given a government position today would not be able to fight corruption alone. Even if you wanted to try, your family, friends and anyone that ever let you borrow their phone to make a two- second call, would hound you for how you are supposed to change their life and bless them the way God has blessed you with that position. Even your mother may cry to God in amazement when her situation is not changed drastically in your first month in office.

Our darling nation runs a very simple, unvoiced agenda: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” No one, since Fela, has actively tried to “beat” the corrupt sway of events in Nigeria. Even he, in his unique way was not without blame; marijuana, after all, is illegal. In very subtle ways, reputable individuals not involved in government have in one way or another given into corruption or even encouraged it.

Corruption has become so interwoven in the fabric of our lives in Nigeria that there is hardly any avoiding it, and hence no right for anyone to throw blame. Paying extra to get your passport done on time is not a normal thing. Neither is owning a drivers license without taking a test. “Working” your service to your state of preference or even living in a state without paying a simple tax are all forms of succumbing to the powers that be. To be fair, these minor offences we commit are not because we are delinquent or intend from our hearts to be corrupt, but to survive in this wild that is Nigeria, once in a while, we must.

So when conversations like the one between my cousin and the taxi driver come up, I heave a big sigh, roll my eyes and ask: Are we still on this subject? Our leaders are no greedier than our friends would be if they had that much power. And they are even more encouraged by the people around them who push them to limits to prove themselves. Those people are not leaders; they are simply Nigerians.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Harperdrewart

My name is Odera, some call me Deedee, some call me Odie. I am the only child but I have not been spoiled materially only with lots of love. I believe I’m very opportuned. I graduated in 2013 with a BSc in Journalism from the American University of Nigeria, Yola.

10 Comments

  1. Deborah . O

    August 12, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Nice one. While pointing fingers we often forget that 4 others are right in our faces. But i wouldnt say that is an excuse to be corrupt. Our leaders started this mess and can end it. Our leaders need to CHANGE!

  2. Okwy Rose

    August 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Odie, nwanne m, you are so right about all of us being corrupt however, it will have to take one person in power to seriously denounce corruption in private and in public. Yes, he will be persecuted for it perhaps even die, but one person in a great position of power has to champion this cause and others will follow suit just like Buhari’s WAI –WAR AGAINST INDISCIPLINE TOOK PLACE YEARS BACK.

  3. wisest duchess

    August 12, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Noted!

  4. ashley b

    August 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    nice one chappie!!! And @ the end of day still, only thing to come out collectively from this well noted piece from we so called “” nigerians”” will be comments/yarns!! ODIE……. me, you, your cousin, your driver, bella- naija faithfuls etc, Lest i 4get jonathan n his cohorts all know that, Aint no goddamn CHANGE coming anytime soon!! abi una wan bet ni?

    The African Continent and its people need to have a Decade of heavenly sent Prosperity, before certain things can be condoned. The rule of Law is one of such things!!

  5. TheresaO

    August 12, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    No change will happen unless we all take personal responsibility for our actions instead of waiting for the government. I hope we get there someday.

  6. This subject is overflogged. Way too many articles on it.

    • www.thelmathinks.blogspot.com

      August 13, 2014 at 11:27 am

      What articles have you written? What have you done to effect change in your own little way? Maybe you can share with us so we can learn from you.

  7. Loulou

    August 13, 2014 at 9:36 am

    its true…

  8. Fleur

    August 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Odera, are you female or male? Cant tell from your dressing.

  9. Oke

    August 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Hey. Really nice write up. No one can disagree with what you have said. However you also cannot disagree that we need visionary leadership to help make things right. In most developed nations, someone set the pace. One person ( or a group of people) got a position and knew that a lot depended on them, and they did stuff to set things the way it ought to be.

    If you couldn’t pay a bribe to get your license, even if you wanted to will you? In other countries, someone (or a group of people) designed the system in a way that you have to take the test before getting your license.

    It is not uncommon to have a group of people who don’t even know where they are going or what they want, or what is ideal. This is the reason why if you then seek a position, you’d have to ensure that you set things in place.

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