Thursday, 12 May 2016

NIGERIANS ARE CORRUPT?

Hey Lovelies

I usually do not like to react when writing on my blog but this is a reaction, the type you can describe as a rant.






There's been a lot of talks going around about Nigerians being corrupt. The UK prime minister interestingly described Nigerians as "fantastically corrupt" just recently.

I think bundling every member of a country into such a stereotype is pretty unfair. But then again, I guess it is safe to say no one should bother since our own president did not hesitate in throwing such humiliating comments about the people he should be leading either. What was he expecting? That others with any regard after that uncalculated move? As a Nigerian who understands the impact of such misleading comments, I will not ignore it.
Everybody, yes I said everybody, has the tendency of being corrupt (including Brits). It is the state of the human mind to want to cheat, to cut corners, to try to make their lives easier. Except one makes a conscious effort to overcome the urge, we all have the tendency, so I don't see why a certain people should be stereotyped. Have you ever wondered why you can translate the term 'corruption' into your different languages? Because it exists where you come from too. Corruption is not a Nigerian word. Or do you think Nigerians coined the word 'corruption'?

I am not trying to make an excuse for corruption, don't get me wrong. This is just me crying out for the millions of Nigerians who wake up everyday and try to brave all the setbacks that being a Nigerian has imposed on them to make a genuine and honest living. Setbacks that only a Nigerian may be able to describe in a way that may be at least comprehensible (never relatable) to others. I repeat, it is so unfair to have to deal with such an offensive tag. Most of our political leaders are corrupt. We understand that. Do we have a few misfits in the society as well? We are not denying that we do not. But does that make every Nigerian corrupt? That stereotype is not fair to all the Nigerians that are out in different parts of the world contributing massively to International development at all. Shall we start calling out some names incase someone has forgotten that we have those sorts as well?

I will share my personal experience so you can understand how misleading this tag is.

While studying for my undergraduate degree in Hungary, I noticed one of my classmates was stealing the medical devices from school. They weren't any big equipments like that, I mean they were just elastic bands, small treatment balls that would cost absolutely nothing to purchase. He was the same guy that was always saying that he understands that Nigerians are best known to be very corrupt. I was still wondering why it wasn't a Nigerian that thought of stealing these things, rather it was him, a young man from a very rich country in Europe with all the grants you could think of easily at his disposal. I asked him one time why he was always dumping the elastic bands in his bag instead of returning them to the store after each use and he said it wasn't even compared to the money the school was extorting from us. In his defence, it was his own little way of retrieving some of the money he had to overpay at the school.
Another time, we went to practice in a rehabilitation room of a pediatric clinic. He wanted to take some of the soft balls we used for the kids because he said he wanted to use them for something. I asked him why he didn't just go to the stores and buy them rather than stealing them.
And he told me "C'mon these things cost nothing, it won't even take anything from this place if I took some of them." And I told him that was the more reason why he should go buy them. "Didn't your conscience tell you that this is wrong, or is it still the school you're trying to pay back by stealing from an independent clinic?" I asked him. And this time, he tried to convince me that picking a few of those things wasn't exactly stealing. But the next thing he said shocked me. "I know you are just being very sensitive because Nigerians are usually known to be corrupt." He also added that I was only trying to use reverse psychology on him.
"Seriously? You're the one that is always looking for a chance to cheat others and this is about me because I am Nigerian?" This is the kind of stories a lot of Nigerians will tell you.

And I've watched this story continue this way till this day - people cheating everywhere while Nigerians bear the name.
Let me play this scenario that I am sure most people can understand perfectly. 
Someone tries to cheat his people for your own benefits, why do you buy it since you're so honest? What they are trying to do is simply corruption at it's peak and you understand that, but why do you do business with them? You do this same business that hands them the very disgusting tag with them, while you walk away saying "these people are so corrupt". Who does that? These questions are directed to all the people from the "non-corrupt" places who have engaged in any form of fraudulent activity with corrupt Nigerians. 

So you saw an email that refered you to a certain person who was trying to run away with a large amount of money from their country's treasury for instance, and they needed a little amount to be able to execute the plan. Because they called the amount of money you will be rewarded with and it was enticing, you heartily obliged to play a part in aiding the process. It later turns out it was all a fraud and you start blowing some trumpets about how a corrupt Nigerian scammed you. So you are not corrupt for trying to reap where you did not sow, right? Like if it turned out well, you would dare say a word?

I have met a lot of non-Nigerians; I have lived with them and interacted with them, and I can tell you categorically that it is hypocritical to give Nigerians that tag. 
I will share another experience from back when I was in the university. It was the time I got to meet people from diverse places, hence my plenty references from back then. All the teachers always had something to say about the Nigerians that studied there. "They're hard working and very determined."
I heard it so much that I decided to do my own little survey too. In all the years and classes, Nigerians had some of the best students. I engaged the other Nigerians I met in a discussion about it and I will not forget what one of the girls I spoke to said. She said there was no way she could leave school without being able to defend her certificates, walking around with the consciousness that she didn't merit any of them. And that is someone you can readily bundle into a single stereotype as corrupt?

I was studying with another of my classmates one time who obviously wanted to come see how I studied. The course material was pretty voluminous and we had little time to go through all of it. He suggested that we shared some of the work into two parts so I could study a part and allow him to study the other. The idea was that we would master each part and sort each other out during the exams. I told him, I couldn't risk it.  "I'm not going for this exams knowing that the only way I can get a good grade is by cheating. It is undermining my capabilities and I know I can do better." And to my utter shock he told me, "C'mon Nigerians are usually the corrupt ones, I don't understand why you like acting like you need to force anything down anybody's throat. We already know the truth, you can only try so hard." He said that to me and I felt so humiliated. There we were trying to deliberate on how to pass a course. While I concentrated on genuine ways of making the job easier, he kept thinking of the best ways for us to cheat, but I still get to bear the name somehow. 

And what is my point exactly? You may ask. My point is that people need to understand the relevance of individuation. That people with strong influences need to understand the implications of using such words on a group of people carelessly. We may be very unfortunate to have a lot of corrupt leaders and citizens, but the fact still remains that every Nigerian isn't corrupt. What is more unfortunate is having the UK prime minister as well as the Nigerian president endorse this. I think this is (a very) misleading (a comment) stereotype and it is so unfair to say the least. 

Love always
JB
Twitter/Instagram: @janylbenyl



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