In today's post I will attempt to show you how much corruption is really costing us.
So here we go.
Have you heard of Lee Kwan Yew? Well, he is the guy who while as Prime Minister of Singapore, took the country from a weak and poor third word country to becoming a well respected and rich developed country. Now Singapore has the highest ratio of millionaires in the world. There are very few poor people in the country. And a lot of developing countries have been studying the methods he used in moving the country from a third world one to a first world one. And this where we get to the part that concerns us.
His advice on how African countries can replicate what he has done has been sought repeatedly. And what makes his advice more relevant to us in Nigeria is that he knows us very well. He was in Nigeria two nights before Tafawa Balewa amd Festus Okotie-Eboh were killed in the Aguiyi Ironsi coup of 1966. He schooled with a lot of Nigerians while in the UK. Nigeria was a choice host for Commonwealth meetings then and he was Singapore's representation at most of the meetings. Even Obasanjo, had once discussed with him about sending in bright young leaders from Nigeria to study his economic development success methods. So he knew us and during an interview, he was asked questions about how we can become a success story like Singapore. And he generously said a lot of very relevant things, which I quote some below:
"Our first goal in Singapore was to shape the government into an effective instrument of policy. This required strong, fair and just leaders who would have the moral strength to command the respect of the people...
"Responsibility for the people under their care required that luxurious living whilst our people were mired in poverty and backwardness was out. We ensured complete accountability and open separateness between personal assets and public funds. Corruption, which we regarded as a cancer must be eradicated as soon as detected...
"The Economist Survey of 1995 on Nigeria reveals that, 'It is not only in Africa that corruption exists. But in Africa it is dangerous because corruption is becoming ingrained culturally at all levels of the society; both in government and in the private sector. As Africa glimpses the consumer society a cleavage has risen between desires and the ability to satisfy them locally. This provided fertile ground for corruption which must be curbed and weeded out as it is a real and serious obstacle to development and modernization.'"
From his statements, corruption is costing us development and modernization. We will remain backward and poor as long as corruption remains at the high level it currently is. People mix the public assets with theirs and keep using the word national cake as if it was wealth left them by their grandfather. They steal and strut with no shame.
2. Our Brightest
Some chose to leave the country entirely. Others who stayed back have chosen to live a quiet life and mind their own business. We are a country of over 150 million and we struggle to find competent leaders. The corrupt system has weeded them out. And everywhere, at the federal level, state level, local government level and at our institutions.
3. Our Future
The quality of education has been nose diving while that of the rest of the world speeds on. The corrupt government is killing our future. All the government run schools are more like prisons than a place to grow young minds.
Corruption is costing us everything in Nigeria, from our past to our present and our future. And the ones perpetuating it are not relenting.