A society that celebrates unbridled wealth without questioning its source is doomed and sentenced to extolling the triumph of corruption over integrity
Watching the different political parties select their flag bearers for the 2023 presidential elections in Nigeria is a sight to behold.
Some people with eloquence that rivalled Barack Obama fell by the wayside. Those with the most outlandish ideas also fell off. Then there were those who boasted a string of court cases and accusations of corruption trailing their names but they needed not say a word because their money had spoken for them in advance.
Truckloads of cash was distributed in large bags. One is not sure of the exact amount but some put it at between $20,000 and $50,000 per delegate. And, there were 2,322 delegates to determine the fate of 23 aspirants.
Do the math to comprehend the volumes of money in question.
This money excluded other secret arrangements of people advised to shelve their dreams in return for very rewarding inducements. Two candidates really struck a chord with me. They discussed issues, they were very logical in their thought process and laid out very clear plans for the country. One of them reminded everyone that the future of the nation was what was at stake and refused to bribe anyone.
The big question was: what is the future of a nation where money has the loudest voice? Where the voice of money is louder than that of reason or logic? Where a candidate is preferred not because of what they have to offer the nation but because of what they can offer the individual? What happened to nationalism? Where did our values go?
Someone said that values merely changed sides. The number one driving value in the nation today is money and for this simple, we are not going to see the end of corruption very soon.
In my youth, if I got home with a borrowed toy, I would get walloped and compelled to return it promptly. If I took home a friend, my parents would want to know who his or her parents were.
Today, it is different. Value has changed identity and the top one is cold hard cash. In our youth, going to study abroad called for the obligatory fundraiser.
As custom would have it, people were spoke encouraging words of advice before he left. But, at one time, one professor took to the podium, shared his experiences and imparted sound wisdom to a young man about not keeping bad company and the virtues of integrity.
As this went on, a very rich man with no known source of wealth suddenly interrupted the don and posed: “Are we here to raise money or speak grammar? I am donating $20,000.” Everyone cheered and that was the end of the speech-a-thons. Who wants to hear wise words when money is talking?
A society that celebrates wealth without questioning its source is doomed and sentenced to the triumph of corruption over integrity. A society for which sins are forgiven depending on the size of the pocket is doomed. A nation without consequences for unexplained largesse is doomed and graft will remain ingrained in its culture and fabric.
Often, some people who complain about compromised electoral delegates have no right to complain if under the same circumstances they would not behave in a different way. Those complaining about corruption in government in their own little sphere secretly wish they could land the opportunity. When people go around with the mindset that every political cycle opens the path for you because you feel it is “your turn to eat,” then we are doomed.
What is the way forward?
For years I nursed a dream of some day changing the world. I became frustrated after severally failing to change the world. But then I got an epiphany: Although I could not change the world, I could start by changing mine. If I succeeded in changing things in my own sphere of influence, then it would spread. With this approach, I began to notch significant changes. The values and mission statements on the walls of our companies do not bring about transformation. It is the values in the hearts and minds of people that do.
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks; Email: [email protected]