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R.O. Oko: National Corruption and Economic Slavery: A Burden for the Future Generation - The Issues and Way Forward

UPF-Nigeria organized a roundtable interactive discussion at the National Merit Award House in Abuja on March 27 to commemorate the United Nations Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims.This is the text of one presentation to the forum.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this assembly on a critical issue that plaques not only our nation but many nations around the world. I have been requested to lead the discussion on national corruption and economic slavery in Nigeria with a focus on its burden for the future generation of Nigerians as well as the key issues promoting corruption and the steps we should take.

It is estimated that they are about 170 million Nigerians living within and outside Nigeria with diverse affiliations of religion, regional ethnicity/tribe and varying degrees of access to national resources. The underlying desire of the 170 million Nigerians is to attain happiness in life, which involves internal satisfaction of the mind and external well-being of the body and is applicable to both men and women wherever they reside in Nigeria.

The spiritual, human and material resources needed for all Nigerians to attain happiness in life are available within Nigeria. The Nigeria nation is noted as one of the nations with huge spiritual resources as literally every street has a church/mosque or other spiritual places of worship and almost everyone believe in the existence of the spiritual being called God/Allah. In terms of human resources, Nigeria is the most populous nation in the whole of Africa with very capable professionals in every area of human endeavor. The natural resources available in Nigeria can take care of the entire continent of Africa for thousands of years to come.

Ideally, every Nigerian should have access to adequate spiritual, human and material resources to attain happiness in life. Nigeria should have been an incorruptible nation, whose policies, programs and projects should produce incorruptible people, men and women who will live incorruptible lives and produce children with incorruptible characters and then form incorruptible families, communities, LGAs, states and a nation we can all be proud of. Is this the reality today? Obviously no!

Unfortunately, despite the nationwide desire to attain happiness in life by Nigerians and with the huge resources available, the ideal that I have described above does not exist in Nigeria but the reality is that much of the population face challenging situation of extreme suffering with very few experiencing momentary happiness.

Many have wondered about the fundamental reason for the irony of this situation of abundant resources with extreme suffering by the citizens. I have wondered and expressed this concern in many ways but the deeper we examine the situation, the clearer it becomes that national corruption is the fundamental cause of the situation in Nigeria. The production, distribution and consumption pattern is in disharmony – unfair, inequitable and irresponsible. Our nation is not being fruitful, not positively increasing and multiplying and not having dominion as expected of the nation.

The consequence of the state of national corruption is the economic slavery of the citizens and an on-going accumulation of unimaginable debt and burden for the future generation.

The state of the Nigeria nation today

We live in a nation that has been described by many as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. We are confronted with the inherited culture of corruption, structures for corruption and infrastructures for corruption. We seem to be practicing corruptocracy, which is corruption of the people, by the people and for the people, as everyone without exception is directly or indirectly corrupt by the national order.

 We face the reality of a national culture of corruption, nationwide structures for corruption and national infrastructures for corruption.

 National culture of corruption involves:

- National code of conduct that promotes and endorses corruption
National curriculum of studies that is corruption driven and produces corrupt people
National constitution that endorses corruption in high and low places

National structures for corruptions:

- The family produces corrupt people
- The schools are driven by corruption
Corruption in community worship places, parties workplaces, local/state/federal agencies

 Most infrastructures in the country are established on the basis of corrupt practices, including housing, airports, roads, public power supply, mass communication technologies, etc.

Defining national corruption

In my opinion, national corruption is the establishment of a national culture of misuse and abuse of spiritual, human and material resources, the building of national structures that facilitates misuse and abuse of spiritual, human and public material resources as well as the utilization of infrastructures for misuse and abuse of personal and public resources nationwide.

 National corruption is a situation where there is a nationwide emphasis on personal gains above public benefits. National selfishness is at the root of national corruption. A nation where majority of the people focus on self beyond others is bound to be corrupt. Citizens insist on corrupt practices before electing leaders. Students are corruptly graduating from schools as jobs seekers are corruptly employed.

 In my opinion, I think that national corruption begins from individual corruption. When corrupt men and women come together and produce children in corrupt ways, they establish corrupt families that network to become corrupt communities, states and nations. It therefore implies that we must not only focus on economic corruption as the underlying challenges. The corruption of love has given birth to corruption in life.

The growing impact and consequences of national corruption

We find ourselves in a nation where everyone is corrupt or directly or indirectly benefiting from corrupt practices at homes, schools, worship places, workplaces, etc.  The outcome of national corruption is that we see a nation where very many are extremely poor and very few are extremely rich. The economic wealth divide becomes so wide that the greater population are extremely suffering while very few are extremely happy with the stolen resources.

The very few rich leaders turn around to offer funny programs that will create rooms for greater corruption. For example, free education system is projected as people friendly program but we do not realize the huge cost of free education on ourselves and the future generation. Free healthcare sounds a great idea but behind this free stuff is a huge debt for the future generation. In fact, national corruption is the root cause of economic slavery. When the colonial masters were here, we thought we had begun our national slavery course. At independence, we felt we have begun our wilderness path to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, each of the civil dispensations since independence has collapsed due to national corruption and slavery.

The 1959 – 1979 dispensation that began with Tafawa Balewa was brought to its knees by the military with corruption as the core reason. After many years of military rule, we returned to another civil rule in 1979 with the hope to create a new civil leadership dispensation from 1979 – 1999. Under the leadership of Shehu Shagari, the civil government of the second republic was brought to an end in 1983, shorter than the Tafawa Balewa era due to allegations of gross national corruption. The successive military rulers that followed Shagari were each overthrown on the basis of allegation of national corruption.

By 1999, we had an opportunity again to witness the return to civil leadership under Olusegun Obasanjo, with the hope that this third attempt will provide a corrupt free civil dispensation from 1999 to 2019. Today, many are of the opinion that the corruption that has taken place between 1999 and 2013 is far greater than the corruption from 1959 – 1999.

Today, we wake up to the national embarrassment of unimaginable corrupt practices in high and low places, including the exalted national assembly to the low level cleaners and waiters at the airports. Today, an average Nigeria citizen who should have completed the 40 years wilderness course from 1960 to 2000 still lives below the standard of life in the wilderness. We have been returned to another economic slavery course by our own people and not by someone far away.

 Our nation has been mortgaged and most of our economic relationships are designed to fuel corruption in high and low places. The underlying point here is that there is national nationwide corruption that transcends all known borders of religions, regions/races and even resources.

 It is obvious that we are creating a huge burden to be inherited by the future generations. We are building a nation that our descendants shall never be proud of. We are creating a society where everyone without exception in the future will not live in happiness but in sorrow and suffering.

 Our national economy is sustained by a mono product called oil, whose national theft has broken all records in the world. We live in a nation where the areas with resources have no evidence of any such resources. We live in a nation where leaders gather monthly as shareholders of our national resources without any structure for accountability. Our people are in a state of full economic slavery and those who can escape this path are the strong hearted who feel no pain in killing others to gain national recognition and to join the league of nationally corrupt citizens. The only functional institution that serves the interest of the people concerned is the political leadership system, where lawyers are not lawmakers, political scientists are not in political parties, and educators are not in charge of the education system. Ours is a nationally corrupt system that drives us into economic slavery and creates a huge burden for the future.

An overview of our corruptly formed nation 

 When we understand the history of the Nigeria nation, we will agree that we were formed in corrupt ways. The colonial masters came with a vision to build one Nigeria. Between 1899 and 1919, they ended up amalgamating the diverse North and South, without addressing the inherent conflict between Muslims, Christians and the Traditional Religious groups. They brought our bodies together, when our minds were far apart. Without an internal religious integration, they focused on external regional amalgamation. Our national corruption stems from the fact that our national mind and our national body are opposed to each other. While our mind is divided against each other, our body has been forced together without understanding why we should be together. Therefore, each person is in this marriage for his or her own interest only.

 Realizing this defect in our national formation, the nationalist movement did not support the idea of the constitutionalization of the amalgamated Nigeria which dominated the 1919 – 1939 history of colonial rule in Nigeria. Eventually, between 1939 and 1959, the nationalist movement increased their agitations against amalgamation and dependence on colonial masters. The first outcome was the collapse of amalgamation and the birth of regionalization.

Unfortunately, our regionalization policy was corruptly designed as we witnessed Nigeria tribalized into Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba under the disguise of North, East and West regions, when elementary geography teaches the basic cardinal points to be North, East, West and South. In utilization of national resources, the corrupt regionalization policy increases corruption through the elimination of West and East and a replacement by South, putting Nigeria into North and South, when in reality we had North, East and West. There is nowhere in the world where East and West equal to South except in Nigeria, and this has fueled huge national corruption, as resources are not equitably distributed along the quantity of citizens but in terms of regions/tribes. The huge majority of other ethnic nationalities are enslaved by the sermon of three major tribes, three major languages, three major political parties, etc.

 The attainment of independence, which began the first nationalist era from 1959 to 1979 was expected to be a moment of national liberation, prosperity and blessings to the citizens. Unfortunately, the era became a new moment of unimaginable national corruption in policies, programs and projects with institutions that became tools for the spread of the educationally transmitted disease called corruption. Our political system increased its destructive capacity that nearly every politician is infected with the virus that causes corruption and every citizen places so much hope on the leaders that they rather seek to be corrupt and do the will of the people on earth than to be incorruptible and do the will of God in order to gain the rewards in heaven.

 The second nationalist era from 1979 to 1999 did not change the pattern of national corruption and economic slavery and the consequent burden to the future generation. Our nation rose to attain an alarming state in the national corruption index. We thought that national corruption was fueled by military rule but the third nationalist era from 1999 to 2019 has shown that corruption is not just a military decree issue. It has infected even the civilians more than the military today and if the judgment of the last days will be based on level of national corruption, I personally doubt if any Nigerian can survive the expected judgment of the world.

 Today, our religious institutions, our regional/ethnic//tribal associations and the groups in charge of resources in our environment all promote corruption. True wealth has disappeared from our vocabulary and all that counts now is how much you have and not how did you get it. Our school graduates are judged by class of degree and not quality of knowledge. Our churches are rated in terms of quantity of members and branches and not quality of service of the membership. Our states are graded in terms of quantity of oil and not quality of life of citizens. This list is endless and this is our sad reality. The entire system in our nation promotes, produces and reproduces corruption in high and low places. We have a faulty and nationally corrupt system and we have all become slaves to our masters and the future generation has no hope again. Some are even praying that if Jesus is to come for destruction of the world, he should kindly consider arriving in Nigeria to begin the process here.

The way forward from national corruption, economic slavery and burdens on the future generation 

 The founding vision of the world and the Nigeria nation was not to be a corrupt world and nation. Therefore, national corruption cannot be an eternal situation. Economic slavery shall not remain forever and the future generations shall not inherit burdens from their ancestors forever. A time must come that the evil of corruption and all forms of slavery must be brought to an end. A time must come when the future generation must inherit the original blessings of humankind that the world began with. I believe, to the best of my spiritual and physical knowledge that the time for the transition from corruption to prosperity, from slavery to freedom and burdens to blessings is just now.

 Our world today offers us the greatest opportunity to bring the old world to an end and to begin a new world of peace, prosperity and progress. I have followed very closely the fundamental teachings of the UPF Founders, True Father and True Mother Moon, and this is the ideal that they advocate and have lived for all through their lives.

 Learning from Father and Mother Moon’s teaching: From what I have learned following Father and Mother Moon, we can end national corruption in Nigeria. We can end economic slavery in Nigeria. We can pass on the 3 great blessings of being fruitful, increase and multiply and have dominion to the next generation instead of burdens of debt. I have learned that we can now produce blessed children, blessed citizens and create a blessed nation.

 To achieve this, we must understand the fundamental principles of creation, the cause of the human fall and the history of restoration. We must understand the ideal of an incorruptible nation, the cause of national corruption and how to eradicate national corruption. We need an integrated anti-corruption education program for all citizens.

 We must grow from a focus on defeating corrupt persons while ignoring the corrupt principles and policies. We must not just focus on punishing corrupt persons, who are actually victims of our corrupt system alone, but seek to address the root causes of corruption and corrupt policies.

 Strengthening culture, structure and infrastructures against corruption: The way forward is to create a new national anti-corruption culture (national incorruptible culture), new incorruptible structures in the families, schools, communities, local/state/federal levels and we need new incorruptible infrastructures in Nigeria.

 In this way, we can bring to an end the old history of national corruption, economic slavery and burden to the future generations and commence a new future of a nation without corruption, a nation without slaves and a nation where we pass on blessings and peaceful way of life to the future generations.

 I am aware of the huge efforts that our national anti-corruption institutions like EFCC, ICPC, etc are making. Unfortunately, majority of their efforts are focused on punishing the persons while ignoring the policies and principles.

New approaches needed to combat corruption: The time we live now calls for a new approach to defeat corruption and free the corrupt persons. We should not build a future where the history of corruption shall be remembered. We need at last to transform all former corrupt persons to become anti-corruption champions in our nation.

To defeat corruption, we must look beyond the unfortunate victims of corruption in our nation. We should now begin to consider conducting a national corruption potential analysis of all public programs and policies so that we can defeat corruption at its commencing point.