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But Who Said Our Leaders Are Corrupt?

But Who Said Our Leaders Are Corrupt?


By Samson Abanni 

“Nigerians are good people, it’s our leaders that are bad”. 


“Nigerians are hardworking and conscientious, but our leaders are heartless”. 

“Nigeria would not be associated with corruption if not for our leaders”.

Statements like these give the impression that corruption is a disease that afflicts only the top even though we know many of these leaders were like ordinary Nigerians before leadership came calling. We have to wake up from this self-deception and face reality. Nigerians are corrupt, simple. Except you have not lived in Nigeria, this leadership/followership dichotomy when discussing the corrupt ruination of the country is a comfortable lie, but one may think it holds water if he hasn’t held a position of leadership. When you draw from a population many times and consistently get the same results, it simply means that the characteristics found in the sample is coming from the population.


We can choose to believe a lie and keep running in cycles. We have to wake up to the reality that the majority who may not have stolen haven’t done so because the opportunity hasn’t come – and when they haven’t done so, they give their full backing to those who do, as long as they are from their part, at least by not being as mad at their own thieves, as they are at the thieves of others. 

I have held a position of public trust and I know those who come to “teach” you how to steal – the same people who lose the most to the plundering of the system. I know how one is required to pay bribe just to be able to work, to do good, to carry out projects to benefit people. They will tell you “I don’t care if the hospital you are building will save a million lives, if I don’t get my cut, you are not building anything “. Nigerians have a way of thinking or acting the thought that, “Everyone can starve as long as I and mine have more than enough”. That’s the root of our woes. It is not hunger that breeds our corruption, we keep making the case to justify the evil, that they keep us poor so they can bribe us during elections.  Rubbish! It’s either we are ignorant of what actually happens or we don’t take the time to find out. Some say or believe that it is the billions of naira taken by the MDA head that ruins us and not the petty-corruption by the low level clerk. Don’t forget there are thousands of such clerks chipping at the nation’s core, daily. N50,000 taken by 50,000 people monthly is not small. 

The poor harm themselves more by their little compromises. You can finally build your house from your cut, but you can’t buy an army or own your roads or hospital.  You will send your child to Canada and lose him there because there will be no country to return to, you sold a part of it to train your son. We may all have our reasons for bending the rules, but we cannot afterwards, retain the moral justification to pass on the blame to higher ups. The Minister who accepted a hundred million naira bribe is not guiltier than the messenger who accepted a ten thousand naira bribe to leak confidential information. Each is only stealing according to his capacity. Each was needed for the loop of corruption to be complete. It’s easy to think that your small corruption is not what is holding Nigeria back, but it’s an important part. My opinion is that it’s the smaller corruption that’s more dangerous because if a community stands against an oil company robbing them of billions, it’s the youth leader who will accept one million naira to talk his people out of a protest that is most destructive to his people.

We cannot afford to continue this lie even if we refuse to do anything about it. Nigerians are corrupt and sometimes I even feel it comes from somewhere deep down. Maybe it’s the effect of forever living in lack but there are other poor countries lacking such wide-spread corruption.  In therapy, healing cannot begin without acceptance. People who pass blame rarely know good success.


Dr. Samson Abanni 

School of Politics, Policy and Governance, Abuja, Nigeria. 


Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.

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