Comments and Issues
Government–Corruption–Public Universities: An antithesis
A friend requested for a chat with us after reading the article entitled: Government, Corruption, Public Universities: The Nexus? We’re perfectly aware that there’s always, at least, an opposing view to an opinion, no matter its soundness! Of course, as they say in some African communities “you don’t limit yourself to one location and simultaneously expect to get a complete view of the display by itinerant masqueraders in action”. Therefore, this invitation for a chat was gladly honoured. This friend, an affable companionable fellow, came with his ‘team’ to tackle some of our positions for the ‘other side’ to be appreciated. Consequently, the nameless citizen journalist who went for the chat found himself, alone, with the above-mentioned well-prepared crew. The conversation ensued after the necessary ‘things’ were placed on the table. It (conversation) took the form of a dialogue and occasional interjections as simply synopsised sequentially hereafter. The encounter was both explosive and interesting! This friend of ours will be known, here, as Anonymous. We’re quite sure that he’ll prefer to remain anonymous. Here we go!
Anonymous: Na wah o! You people write about “corruption” as if you aren’t Nigerians in Nigeria!
Citizen Journalist: Why d’you say so?
Anonymous: Because you don’t consider many underlying factors that’re involved in, influence, control and propel what you consider as “corruption” in Nigeria before reaching a conclusion in your write-ups!
Citizen Journalist: I don’t get it!
Anonymous: Haba! D’you want me to “blow” dogon turanci before you understand me? For instance, in one of your articles, you submitted that the claim by “government” that funds made available to public universities are stolen, embezzled and/or misappropriated is a very lazy, inept and silly argument since the entity making the claim has elastic investigative and prosecutorial capabilities to handle deviants!
Citizen Journalist: You’re correct!
Interjection: Deviants? Who’re these deviants? D’you think this ‘journalist’ isn’t among the deviants? Most Nigerians are crooks! There’re more of them in this our dog-eat-dog and finger-pointing society! All of us want to be seen as not being part of the societal problem we all criticise whereas this is a big lie!
Anonymous: Anyway, firstly, who’s “government”? It’s nobody! It can be an amorphous, characterless contrivance like Nigeria’s! D’you know that the concept we all termed “government” is merely a myth?
Citizen Journalist: A myth? How d’you mean?
Anonymous: If you’ve read about the “roving bandits” and “stationary bandits” you would’ve connected with me easily. My friend, see, conceptually “government” is based on (brute) force, dispossession of individuals’ rights and deception. The different types of what you call “government” will be dependent on the humans behind them. The primordial base instinct to covet and crudely acquire resources is still in all of us! As also written by Yuval Harari, human beings are wired, and still longing, to operate like their hunter-gatherer ancestors! We aren’t still far from a life of “…..continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short…..” as opined by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) in his Leviathan. They may’ve done better in some places but not yet in Mother Africa!
Citizen Journalist: But we’ve all agreed to have reliable leaders in whose hands we’ll surrender some of our freedom and earnings in return for protection and communal use of gathered resources for all’s sake.
Anonymous: Yes, that can simply be said to be the concept of social contract but you’ve just stated an unachievable ideal; even in those countries you look up to! Philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke (1632–1704), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) and others did good job on the concept of social contract but humans aren’t machines that you set 99.99% confidence interval for! Or, are you desirous of 0.01% error limit in your expectations from human beings? If so, you must be joking! You’ll be awed if your eyes are ‘opened’ to closeted “corruption” in “developed” countries; but let’s leave this out of our discussion, for now, as “corruption” hasn’t a straight and universal definition! It’s because you aren’t in the ‘power circle’ that your ‘noise’ has been going up several decibels! How am I sure that if you’ve a chance you won’t be ‘corrupt’? You can only convince me otherwise if, and when, you get into “government”! You’ll then know that when eating, you aren’t expected to talk! Simple table manners!
Citizen Journalist: I don’t agree with you! What I yearn for is that if the authorities aren’t involved in what I criticise they should investigate, arrest, prosecute and punish corrupt people, if/when found guilty!
Anonymous: Look at this man! You want your “government” to do those things, abi? No wahala! Have you asked yourself who those in “government” are? How did they get there? How’re they being sustained in office? Don’t you know that all schemes that lead to “corruption” are masked with what is/are perceived by the public as good intention(s)? Many things aren’t how they look! My friend, “government” machinery is ‘oiled’ by “corruption”! D’you know that returns from “corruption” have a way of flowing smoothly unhindered from “bottom to top” and “top to bottom”? You don’t know anything! If someone is arrested for “corruption”, today, from your family/clan/tribe/ethnic group; aren’t you people those that’ll be shouting and writing that your kinsman/woman is being “marginalised”? You’ll be asking: is he/she the first and only one involved in “corruption” he/she is accused of? What about those that stole before now? What of the ‘powerful’ persons involved in the “corruption”? What happened to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”? Is it because he/she practices so-and-so religion? Sadly, a huge number of ignoramuses in Nigeria don’t recognise that politicians and capitalists don’t truly subscribe to their religions! Power and money are the gods that politicians/capitalists genuflect before! You mentioned China’s anti-corruption model? It’s part of their culture! What’ve we entrenched in ours? All the same, China may remain “…..committed to fighting [“corruption”]…..” but the menace is still serious there as its economy progresses! Oh! You’re also into ‘journalism’, abi? Good! If a ‘corrupt’ person offers you a consultancy to do propaganda for him/her; I mean good money o, won’t you accept?
Citizen Journalist: Not at all! I’ll reject such offer!
Interjection: You won’t reject it! We’re talking of a whopping amount here! Money that solves problem!
Citizen Journalist: I said I won’t get involved in such a thing!
Anonymous: I hear you! However, what about this your ASUU people?
Citizen Journalist: You mean Academic Staff Union of Universities?
Anonymous: Yes! Or, do you’ve another ASUU in this country?
Citizen Journalist: Well….. No! But “governments” recently ‘formed’ their university academic union!
Anonymous: For where? Abeg, let’s discuss better things! OK! Are ASUU members not involved in the ongoing “corruption” in public universities? Is ASUU not rigging elections for the same politicians that you always criticise? You just want me to talk this evening! Don’t provoke me o! Because I go just vex!
Citizen Journalist: Why these types of questions? But you’re supposed to be an enlightened person who’s not expected to misinform! D’you really read my articles? Have I ever claimed that public university workers aren’t part of the society? What’s my suggestion concerning thieves? Many of you are afflicted with short-term memory loss in Nigeria! This is a reason why yesterday thieves return strongly to become your leaders today! How many times will ASUU inform you people that any lecturer engaging in election duties do so in his/her personal capacity? Well now, ASUU will always move with its history!
Anonymous: How’ll you distinguish a piglet from another? C’mon sit down! Poor man! Typical Nigerian that uses question to answer question! Please, let’s clear what’s on the table! Discussion continues later!
*Andrew A. Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.