Why So Many Things Are Dysfunctional In Nigeria

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Every month I get emails from either FCMB or Diamond bank or Stanbic or GTBank about avoiding scammers sending fake emails, fake SMS and fake calls to get my account details. Not once have I come across a news of the banks or authorities making genuine efforts to go after those scammers and make an example for others to learn from. What reason then will the scammers have to stop doing their fraudulent activities if no one is trying to catch/prosecute them?

And it's the same attitude that is fueling corruption in the country. You will see the very authorities instituted to ensure that the rule of law is adhered to making billboards and wasting tax payers money on radio adverts that people should castigate their neighbours or family members who are making a lot of money in ways they do not understand. What logic is in that? They are basically telling you to make yourself an enemy of anyone making progress as long as you don't like the way they are progressing. They, themselves, let go the hardened criminals and give them no reason to quit their lives of crime. In fact, they help them with ideas of how to bypass the authorities and do a revenue share with very authorities that are meant to prosecute them.

And there are those who come on TV and radio to say if all Nigerians obey traffic rules, drive safely on the road and act in a law abiding way, all our problems will vanish. Those very people will be the first to break a queue if they find that a few people are jumping the queue. No one likes to be trodden on. If a danfo driver is trying to be law abiding and parking correctly at bus-stops, he ends up losing passengers to the less law abiding ones. Then why in God's universe will he keep doing that if he has a family to feed and will be extorted equally as others by the touts/police? If you lose more by following the laws while you watch others gaining disproportionately by unfollowing the laws, you must either be a university professor or be a 100% morally upright person to continue in your losing ways.

How many of us try to not lose our morality is by choosing an environment that rewards/encourages doing the right thing. We work for non-shady companies. We avoid dishonest people and systems. We chose our friends and colleagues. But not everyone of us is fortunate to have that much freedom of choice. Not every danfo driver happily chose to be a danfo driver, but once he is, he has to follow their unwritten rules (modus operandi and modus vivendi) to survive. Not everyone embroiled in the Arms fund and oil money embezzlement are intentionally corrupt; if you work in a system where it is extremely harder to be clean than corrupt, you stand little chance of being different for long.

If we don't start making it more expensive to do wrong than right we will keep having people addicted to doing wrong. And going by the prisoners' dilemma, you lose most when the other guy is gaming the system than you do when you both game the system or both decide to stay clean. There is a bigger incentive to game the system than to be the clean guy. So we have to focus more on making the system harder to game and punish severely those caught trying to game the system.

When I read in the newspapers about the Senate prodding the Attorney General of the Federation because of the case against the Senate President and his deputy, and I also see the drama around the Saraki cases, I get the sense that we are not ready to change for good. They are trying to make laws to protect themselves. When a criminally inclined Nigerian sees this he is encouraged to have higher aspirations, and gain immunity from prosecution.


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