Corruption in Nigeria is a double-edged sword. For instance, we complain about corruption on a higher level, i.e. with politicians and big corporate organisations, however, corruption at the grassroots level is just as bad.
Interestingly, many of us are a part of this grassroots, everyday corruption. If we are caught driving one-way or beating a red light, we tip the LASTMA official instead of paying the proper fine. Or if our car documents aren’t up to date, we don’t even think twice about paying off the officers. Some of us don’t even have the patience to queue properly. We are quick to cut in the front of the line as if the other people queuing don’t exist. Or we pay extra to get access to service quicker or even to opt out of due process e.g. NYSC orientation camp.
There are so many examples and sometimes these are habits that have become a part of our lifestyle, that we don’t even think twice about when we do them. But the thing is, if at this level we are corrupt then how are we so sure we won’t be the same if we were government officials?
It may seem impossible to live different from this norm we’ve created in Nigeria, but it is doable and here’s how:
Make up your mind not to compromise
Yes, I see you rolling your eyes lol. But if we have any hope of changing Nigeria for the better then we have to be different, do something different. According to Albert Einstein, ‘Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results is insanity.’ This could not be closer to the truth. If we stick to the status quo, in the name of everyone is doing it, then things will remain the same and we have no right to complain about those in power who are corrupt.
Find creative ways to claim your rights without resorting to money
We have the habit, sometimes, of throwing or slapping money on any problem we see. This is the quickest way to get into the mix of corruption. And we allow ourselves to be exploited because we don’t even know our rights. I have paid for a fast track service and the agent hardly did anything. If I had just spoken to an officer at a certain level (who I didn’t know existed or could help me because of my ignorance) I would’ve saved myself some money and gotten what I needed. So, educate yourself on your rights and how things work so that you don’t always have to let go of your hard earned money.
Be willing to pay the price
Yes, most times, if it’s a process that involves the civil service/government it will be long and tedious. But if we were in another country and we had to do the same, we would probably adjust. I have seen Nigerians behave so well in other countries, it’s quite amusing. Don’t always take the easy way out, don’t always resort to bribes. Follow the due process, sometimes we are just too impatient and unwilling to pay the price for a better Nigeria.
I’ll end with this quote that summarises this article. ’Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.’ – William Gaddis. In the end, it lies with us, it’s in our hands.