A little of historical digression will help us know that corruption is a global problem and started long time before the Babylons. Philosophers, thinkers and prophets warned people that corruption is a menace that kills people and destruct their societies. Socrates and his student Plato tried to create an utopia of corruption free society with philosopher-king as a ruler. Many European thinkers tried to teach people some moral codes that would train them to live without falling into the trap of materialistic hysteria that leads to corruption. Ethics, in the case of Cynicism, Epicureanism and the extreme version of Stoicism, teach an adherent to have self-control as he passes through the magnetic forces of demands.
Cynics think we should reject all types of government for us to reject corruption! If government is power then power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! But this is logical fallacy from the cynical distorted assumptions. It is like saying: since penguins are black and whites and old televisions are also black and whites therefore penguins are televisions! The premises are sound but the conclusion is false.
Plato and Aristotle based their arguments on the assumptions of ontological dualism. They think, the ideal government can never be corrupt, therefore, for an ideal government a philosopher-king is needed, as it is in the discourses of Plato in The Republic, or a virtuous aristocrat in the case of Aristotle in his Law.
I don’t want to labour into the discourses on political philosophy, good governance and corruption free society so as not deviate from our ultimate target. We all know corruption is a cancerous sin that spreads from high levels with highest concentration and diffuse to the lower levels. It is a term associated with ethical condemnation. Corrupt president creates corrupt citizens and corrupt civil servants. Whether you support aristocracy, democracy or shariacracy, corruption is a biggest enemy that can bring the system down.
Before this time, corruption is not hot issue. It used to be purely philosophical with discourses relating to the governance, state and utopia. The scandalous nature of Homo Corruptos, a new generation of money-eating animals, contributed to the popularity of the issue with many interests placed on it. Many thanks to the globalisation! We are living in the world with many news media exposing corruption and bringing it to the ears of housewives and ageing women. Yesterday my mother asked me whether I read about money-swallowing mammals and reptiles in newspaper. My mother is a very good radio listener and she follows the trends in newsmagazines. With Internet, world know that Nigerian snakes and monkeys are good money eaters. Nigeria is very good laboratory for evolutionary scientists. We are evolving with snakes and monkeys on the same phase, money eating.
There is beauty in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The theory can be applied not only to the animals but to another jungle like Nigeria where political selection is based on the survival of the corrupt. The fittest in Nigeria’s democracy is always coming from pseudo-elites. In this political jungle, power is transferable from cabals to cubs, from frying pan and falling into fire. You can understand what they mean by lions’ share in Nigerian context after looking deep into our politicians and the “dividends of democracy” they enjoy.
The evolution of Nigeria is a series of tragedies. Before a single up, in Nigeria’s evolution, there are many downs. Like cancer, pseudo-elites, penetrate the tissue in our country’s skinny body and corrupt it. We have dishonest and unpatriotic pseudo-elites who serve themselves first before serving the national interests. Corruption is everywhere from local governments to presidency. Though we have mirageous war against corruption but grass-cutters are many in the Aso Rock.
We predicted it wrong when we thought Buhari on power would bring a policy of zero tolerance for official sleaze and corruption in government. We didn’t know that snakes would swallow millions of naira and monkeys would steal our money. By the way, we know it in history of biological evolution that reptiles like snakes are among the oldest creatures to live on earth, and we share closest ancestors with monkeys. Corrupt politicians are now going back, tracing their genealogy and joining hands with their families in the animal kingdom for the destruction of national resources. After Neanderthals, Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens, we now have Homo Corruptos as Nigerians.
Mr Aliyu can be reached on Twitter: @aliyussufiy