Saturday, August 4, 2018
A professor of Psychology of the University of Lagos, Banke Awolaja, has identified tenacity as a major factor that was responsible for the sustenance of decades of corruption in Nigeria. She made this known at the second Boma Eneramo Memorial Lecture held today at Asaba, Delta state. Whilst acknowledging that the major culprit were selfish and wicked leaders who, over decades and through successive actors, executed master plans of creating and sustaining corruption in the Nigerian system, she also noted that the spirit of tenacity of Nigerians were of disadvantage to us as it was the “invisible wing” on which corruption rode for decades.
Below is an excerpt of her speech:
“Corruption is not something Nigerians woke up to realize had ravaged their society. Rather, it was (well, and still is) a result of well-designed plans of the wicked leaders Nigeria had for over 100 years of its existence. The British laid the foundation - because they never really cared about the people. They only wanted goods and cheap labour. After Independence, the menace of tribalism - which was however instituted by the British - made it easy for Nigerian rulers to have proper grip of the economy. So, those who were supposed to lead us - at every level and across every sector - deliberately made the majority poor so they could always be at their mercy. And this was the distinctive beginning of Nigeria’s suffering.
“So, issues like teachers’ poor salary, police poor salary and living conditions, poor agricultural system, poor infrastructures are not results of corruption. Rather, they are the machineries of corruption. They were deliberately created. In order words, if by any chance, any of these goodies came to be, the masters of corruption would spend monies to take them out. The simple logic is, when you have good education, good road, and food, that is when you would have the resources, energy and time to challenge corrupt rulers.
“This is, however, on the part of the politicians. But what I would really love to harmer on is the bad in the good spirit of tenacity Nigerians are known for.
“The popular Fela’s song “suffering and smiling” sums it all up. But I dare say to you that it is not possible to suffer and at the same time smile. Let me put it very straight, if you are smiling, then you are not suffering. This is the way our minds work: when something negative happens to us, we can decide to see it as negative, and as such we suffer a negative emotion; or we decide to cheat on the incident by “excusing” its negative. When we do this, we don’t “suffer” the negative emotion.
“So, what Nigerians have done over the years is to look at the horrible incidents that slapped us in the face every day and say things like ‘Na wa o, God help this nation’ ‘Na dem sabi,’ ‘life goes on.’ So, you see that at the foundation of this tenacity is cowardice and selfishness. I know some of you are saying in your mind ‘look at this women, is it easy?’ If it’s not easy, then stop blaming the corrupt leader who is risky his life and that of his family so he could fulfill his dream. Believe me, his dream is principally to become extremely rich and powerful; and it is you and I he is using to achieve that.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the most important thing I want you to take home today is this: when you give yourself a reason to smile over our suffering, rather than think about how to get yourself out of the situation, you simply give yourself a reason to rationalize corruption. Somewhere in your subconscious, you become sympathetic to corruption. Hence, you unknowingly give yourself a reason to be corrupt too. When your electrician is ripping you off and you know it but you do nothing, it is because you had consciously or subconsciously concluded to get your money back from somewhere else - by ripping somebody else off. Several studies have proven this. That is how the human mind is wired! (Though there might be very few exceptions.)
"Our tenacity is that 'invisible wing' on which corruption rides and is sustained.
“So, fellow Nigerians, this is my advice to you: get uncomfortable about that AC man ripping you off, get uncomfortable about your child lying to you to get more pocket money, get uncomfortable about your mobile service provider not delivering the service you paid for, get uncomfortable about that airline company changing flight schedules without regard for you, get uncomfortable about that civil servant’s shoddy attitude, get uncomfortable about that LG Chairman’s unaccountability. Sometimes all it takes is simply asking questions; sometimes, it’s simply writing a petition. And like Eneramo, you would have initiated a ripple effect for positive change. Thank you. God bless you.”
The event was held in honour of Boma Eneramo. He was the 30-year old cancer-patient Nigerian whose petition to the Inspector General of Police, two years ago, sparked up nation-wide protests that later led to the arrest and prosecution of two prominent politicians - a former senate president and a former governor. Eneramo died seven months after his petition.
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Tolu Adesina Saturday, 14 February 2015 14:34 Comment Link
I just wish GMB and GEJ could come and read this article to learn.
Nigeria is truly the giant of Africa. Some of us can see that already.
Alice Saturday, 14 February 2015 14:30 Comment Link
One word: Beautiful!
Nigeria, we believe in you.
Supo Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:08 Comment Link
Great write up.
I've always said this. We are our own enemy in this country.
I hope someone learns from this.
Keep up the good work.