THE ROLE OF YOUTHS IN TACKLING CORRUPTION
WRITTEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF: A LECTURE ADDRESSED TO 77 STUDENTS FROM ADEOLA ODUTOLA COLLEGE, SENIOR SCHOOL
COURTESY: COWYL NIGERIA
DATE: November 23, 2011.
The word ‘youth’ means young people in general. Since you are young and I am young, then we are the youths.
Corruption is undoubtedly a negative trend that is widespread not only in Nigeria but all-over the world. Corruption is the reason education is not free. Corruption is the reason our schools lack basic amenities. It is the reason commodities such as food and oil are becoming more expensive by the day. Corruption is the reason the government is finding it hard to pay the 18 thousand naira minimum wage. In fact, it is also the reason why groups such as the Niger-Delta militants, MEND and Boko-haram etc. are springing up. Corruption is responsible for poverty, unemployment, social decay, educational backwardness and many other ills in our society.
Corruption is defined in the dictionary as dishonest, illegal or immoral behaviour, especially from someone with power. Therefore, corruption is not only restricted to government offices. Every sector in the country, be it economic, academic, political, social or religious, are affected by this evil called corruption.
However, it is defined by transparency international as behaviour on the part of officials in the public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves or those close to them by the misuse of public power.
Nigeria is one of the most infamous nations for corruption in the world. It was ranked in 2007, according to the transparency int’l corruption perception index, as the 147th least corrupt country, Ghana ranked number 69 and South Africa, 45.
It is very unfortunate that a whopping 80% of our oil wealth goes to less than 1% of the entire population.
Sanni Abacha is allegedly the 4th most corrupt President for embezzling up to 2-5 billion US dollars.
According to the world bank, between 1960 and 1999 , $400 billion was stolen. That is a staggering amount of money because if you were to put 400 billion dollar bills end-to-end, you could make 75 round trips to the moon . concretely, those 400 billion dollars could have translated into millions of vaccinations for children, thousands of kilometres of roads, hundreds of schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities that never came to be.
Seeing how inimical corruption is to the growth of our economy and success of the youths, then we no doubt will agree that it is important for us to fight it head-on. Fighting corruption should not only be the duty of bodies like EFCC, NDLEA, SSS, ICPC and so on. We the youths also have a role to play in tackling it. So, as youths, what are we expected to do to abate and curb this negative trend?
First and foremost, we need to always do what is right. Mahatma Gandhi, the man that liberated India from the shackles of Imperialism, once said; ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. If you want our leaders to be honest and less corrupt, you also must be honest in all your dealings. It is ridiculous to accuse a person of a crime that you yourself are guilty of. So let us examine ourselves right now. How many of us can proudly beat our chest and say we have never consciously told a lie before? How many can beat their chest and say we have never taken what does not belong to us? How many of us in this gathering can unequivocally claim that we have never engaged in examination mal-practice? The truth is that almost all if not all of us have engaged in one corrupt activity or the other. We need to change our attitude if want our leaders to change theirs, because personal development is a prerequisite to national development. And the incontrovertible fact is that our personality cannot be good if our mentality is wrong. If you are the type that goes about with the mental-mind that corruption is justifiable means to an end, if you are the type that seeks for a public office because of private gains; then you are a liability to this nation
In short, we need to evaluate ourselves and determine the extent of our corruption. After the evaluation, we must endeavour to correct our mentality i.e. it must be at the back of our minds that corruption is wrong and it cannot get you anything that will last-long. It will only cause us shame and embarrassment. After adjusting our mentality, it must show in our personality. We should not be the ones that will be caught in acts such as lying, theft, bribery, favouritism, exam mal-practice, embezzlement etc.
Secondly, in our fight against corruption we should preach what is right. What I mean by this is that you spread the message to your friends, family, relatives and even stranger, whenever you have the chance and by whatever means is at your disposal. It may be through the school magazine, through morning talks on the assembly ground, through the social network, the internet in general etc.
Thirdly and lastly is that you need to demand what is right from others, the leaders and people in power. If it is your class captain/prefect that you find culpable of corrupt practices, call him/her to order. If he/she fails to take to correction, report him/her or take other disciplinary actions against such person. If it is your teacher, do the same. The future does not belong to cowards. Wole Soyinka once wrote, ‘he dies he who keeps silent in the face of tyranny’. Gani Fawhinmi also said, ‘stand on the right thing, even if you are the only one standing’. Any leader that is corrupt is a tyrannical and despotic ruler because he is self-centred and he fails to consider the outcries and interests of his followers. We must note that the best way to demand what is right from people in power without prejudice is if we ourselves do not benefit from their corrupt activities.
In summation, to tackle corruption we should ensure we always think the right way, do the right thing, preach the right thing and demand the right thing. We must say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to corruption if we desire to move forward.