By Mubarak Ibrahim
Corruption is everywhere. In our universities and colleges, lecturers collect money from dull students to pass them. Some Head of departments connive with Examination Officers to give As and Bs to whoever pays well. The black business allows such people spend more than they earn. They drive expensive cars, build mansions and wear lavish clothes. In primary and secondary schools, teachers extort money from parents in whatever way possible. They sell things from school badge, books, uniform to other extra-curricular services and activities such as excursions. Even in public schools where things are relatively free, headmasters never miss a chance of asking pupils to bring brooms, toiletries and chalk. With the introduction of school feeding programme, the stakeholders get richer by selling the food items.
When I legally got my teaching offer from Kano State Senior Secondary Schools Management Board back in 2009, my friend had to buy his at 25 thousand Naira. When another friend asked whether I knew where he could get an offer to buy I quickly took him to the man who sold it to that friend. He bought it too. I too paid to be transferred from Gaya Zone to Municipal. Voila! I got it only to be rebuked harshly by a brother for being a corrupt Muslim. But I was not alone. Many colleagues bought their offer or paid to have a favourable posting. The business then was whispered in fears and the society stigmatised it. Today it is shouted and accepted as the government becomes more nepotistic.
Today offers are sold shamelessly. A friend just last few weeks bought an offer from an influential person in the Nigeria Custom Service. He told me to save 300 to 500 thousand naira if I wanted an offer from any federal university, custom, immigration or other fairly lucrative parastatals. I marvelled at his confidence which tells a lot about the cancerous corruption that eats into the marrows of this country. We are corrupt! So, had I met this chap before attending an interview at a certain university, I would have paid him to clear my way to the university that was blocked by a malicious professor. Lol! At the same time, this foretells our doomed future if we would ever have one.
Surprisingly, nobody talks about this. We seem to have accepted this as normal. But it is not. We deceive ourselves. That we bribe our way to get admission, to get a good result, to get a job, to get a transfer, to get into a filling station during fuel scarcity, to get a contract, to get an approval, to get justice in courts, to get police’s attention, to get a wife if the parents are money-minded, and, interpretively to live in Nigeria; a sense of doom hangs over us.
In government offices, contracts are awarded based on commission or kickback arrangements. The illegal money that is paid to he who signs the contract, be it a governor, a senator or a simple director, has been the reason why contracts are awarded. Nobody cares about the illegality or the poor quality of the project to be carried out as a result of the inflated commission taken out of the money. That has been the norm at every level and in every office. The practice has literally bastardised the country to the extent that contracts are sold to the highest bidder only irrespective of the contractors’ poor deliverance.
On our roads, policemen, custom and immigration officers collect bigger bribe. I ply between Kano and Katsina at least and see how the business is done. Smugglers buy the road at a particular time and so none of the force would dare stop them. When they are stopped by mistake they make phone calls only or give something to be released. It is also the same in cities. Every offence Is bargainable and so we overload, drive without license and car particulars, drive recklessly and on one way. Nothing. A person is only prosecuted if he can not buy his freedom. The biting economic situation forces the traffic wardens to ask you first before you even offer it. Corruption is everywhere.
This piece was inspired by an incident with a schoolboy who had an accident.
Mubarak Ibrahim is a budding writer, radio presenter and an enthusiastic teacher of Literature.