By James Patrick
Transparency International few days ago, in it’s corruption index report released a rather not too surprising statistics about the corruption status of Nigeria. The report states that Nigeria is the second most corrupt Nation in west Africa, boldly standing behind Guinea-bissua. While at the same time, Nigeria is comfortably occupying the number 149 position out of the total number of 180 countries in the world that Transparency international conducted their survey on. Without being sarcastic, I think we as Nigerians know that we are worst than what T. I has on paper. I also think that this report is not shocking to any one who has lived in this country long enough to know how it works. Everything in this country revolves around corruption. Permit me to say that the heart beat of Nigeria is corruption! It looks like the synonym of the name call Nigeria should better be corrupt because this pandemic has permeated into the core being of an average Nigerian, so much that we no longer see anything bad in doing it. Corruption is in every level of our lives, we grew up to see it been carried out, even by those we call our role models or our mentors. Corruption is in every sector of our economy, the only difference is that, while it is more pronounced in some sectors, it is very silent in other sectors of our daily lives.
Before writing further, I would like to clarify that both corruption and ‘connection’ are two side of the same coin. It doesn’t matter how most of us would like to sugarcoat it. It doesn’t matter how some of us would like to dignity, sanctify or try to justify it, what we call ‘connection’ here, in this part of the world, is simply another form of corruption. The two concepts here in Nigerian differ in meaning only base on who is speaking and from what angle he or age seems to be speaking from. In other words, what makes an average Nigeria to profile a thing as ‘connection’ or corruption depends on whether the person in question is a victim or a vanquish – it depends either he or she is benefiting or been affected negatively by the situation on ground.
So, if the situation on ground is favorable or on the positive side of the person in question, we Nigerian call it ‘connection’. But, when it happens to be the other way round – if the situation turns out to be at the disadvantage of the same person in question, he cries fowl, and calls it corruption. Take for example, the recruitment process of Nigerians into any of the military or para-military force in the country. It is crystal clear that slots are been allocated to the big shots, the top guys at the seat of power in Abuja. The slots are also divided among Senators, House of Rep members, Ministers, Governors and their countless special assistants. Now! To every Nigerian seeking for enrollment into any of the para-military or the military must either go through those who have the slots in their hands or forget about the dream of being enlisted into the force. No matter how qualified a candidate may be, he or she may only see the reality of the dream in his or her nightmares – it may never materialize here in Nigeria. It’s either you know somebody, who knows somebody, that knows another person at the top, who can allot a space to you, else, that dream may never see the light of day!
Furthermore, another route through which a candidates can get enlisted would be bribing his or her way into the list of successful candidates. This also can come in two ways; firstly, slots are been sold depending on the prestige of the para-military or the military force a candidate desires. For those wishing to join the Custom service, it’s usually ranges from one million to one million, two hundred thousand. For those who want to join the Immigration, it’s eight hundred thousand, while civil defence, is fifty five to six hundred thousand here in Kano.
For the police force, I learnt it’s two hundred to three hundred thousand naira only. Secondly, for the females, they could give what they have (to the Oga at the top) to get what they want. If they make good use of what they have, they are very sure that their names would make the final list of candidates, even if they were the least qualified for the position.
For those candidates who know somebody to give them slots, for those who have the money to pay their way through and for those who can willingly use what they have to get what they want, it is call CONNECTION. while for those who have none of the above and are well qualified to make the list, but could not, they call it CORRUPTION. They are not calling the whole recruitment process corrupt because it is actually what they say it is, but because they are unfortunate to be the victim of it. If par adventure the same sets of people find themselves at the other side of the fence, they will celebrate and call it connection.
I am using this example of recruitment because as a young Nigerian, I am a victim of it. There are other aspect of this wanton corruption all over the country that we have now polished the nomenclature to call it ‘connection,’ just because it favors us. I was to be enlisted into the Nigerian custom service and I met all their requirements in terms of qualification, health wise, height, physical fitness etc. But I got turned down for no reason, despite going through all the rigorous recruitment process. A bosom friend of mine here in Kano, whose father happened to be a friend to one of the top guys in Abuja was given a slot while he was still snoring inside his fathers house. He did not do anything. He did not apply to be recruited into the service. He did not submit any of his credentials to anybody in the Nigerians custom service. He was joyfully enjoying himself, when his father called him to prepare to travel to port Harcourt for his training – that was all! When he called me to share the good news with me, I asked him how it happened and he told me, ” na connection ooo… brother get connected. ” I was bamboozled! but still kept my cool. I put myself to gather while still speaking with him. I asked him, “How?” He sighed for some seconds, then he said, “my guy, na my pupsy connection work for me ooo. ”
This is the reality of a country we all find ourselves. I have a degree certificate he has none. I have some other professional certificates, he has none. I have served this country for one solid year as a corper, he has not. I have some few working experiences, working both per time and full time, which I used to keep myself busy before I could find my dream job, he has no single working experience. As a matter of fact, he has never worked to earn a single penny right from the day he was born, till when he was enlisted to join the custom service. But he had one thing that worked for him and would work for anyone in Nigeria, any day, anytime – CONNECTION. Although I have all the qualification that he lacked, he had the connection that I lacked. His one connection got him the job, while my numerous qualification could not. He saw nothing wrong with the system because it favored him, I still see everything wrong with the system because it disqualified me despite the fact that I was qualified for the job.
This is exactly the power of the so called corruption of a thing we call connection here in Nigeria. In this country, you can get to whichever level of success you desire just with the right ‘connections.’ You can be what you want to be just by having the right people at the top to fix you wherever you want to be. In this country, your biggest dreams can come to reality within a twinkle of an eye, if you have the right ‘connection.’ In this same country, without the right ‘connections’, you may die a pauper, even if you graduated from the best university in the country, as the best graduating student from your department!
BY PATRICK JAMES
Phono no; 08138534313