So today, we see actors and actresses, musicians and bankers clearly living above their incomes and put it on all to the “Na Baba God dey do am” utterances.
One of the enduring misnomers that Nigerians daily project is the fact that corruption is a phenomenon strictly limited to public servants. Whilst it is true that the quantum of corruption in government is humongous, we must not deceive ourselves into forgetting that those in government rose from amongst us, and they simply exhibit the tendencies our society has made acceptable. They scale is simply magnified because of the greater opportunity available to them to loot and steal. But the behavior is the same, the responses of the people are the same and the consequences are as expected, the same.
A key component to fostering this corruption is our society’s unwillingness to question the lifestyles of people. When a person’s lifestyle changes once they enter public service, and it is evident to all that they cannot be funding their lifestyle with their normal remuneration, yet we fail to ask questions and demand answers, we are party to the corruption that runs riot in our society. In fact, we celebrate and fete those who suddenly become rich in our society, showering them with awards and encomiums, featuring them on the covers of magazines and blogs, turning them into celebrities and holding them up as shinning examples. They are invited to give lectures and become the darlings of motivational conferences and seminars.
In all of this, we fail to question the source of the wealth, the structures and the streams the person has created to produce the wealth and fund their lavish lifestyle. We, afterall, should not complain when someone calls us to eat of their table; it is bad manners to talk with our mouths full. But for many of them, only a bit of critical questioning exposes the clay feet on which their wealth is built. Ask yourself, how many Nigerians can tell the story of their wealth creation, from when they had nothing and go logically through to when they became wealthy, the way most wealthy people in the west and Asia can do? What you get is a cobbling together of inspirational quotes, praises to God, with large parts of the wealth creation story left as black boxes. It is the reason why unlike the west, much of the wealth doesn’t last beyond the death of the man or woman who created it. there is simply no wealth creation structure behind it. Opportunistic wealth is all we have and celebrate.
As you read this, I am certain some big names in society come to your mind. They are the ones this piece is about, right? Very wrong. This is about our lack of questions when anyone is clearly living above their means at whatever level. So today, we see actors and actresses, musicians and bankers clearly living above their incomes and put it on all to the “Na Baba God dey do am” utterances. We see a student without a business flying first class and we put them on the cover of a magazine. We have a pastor who owns large fleets of cars and houses without a demonstrable source of income outside of their ministry salaries and we are unperturbed. The Lord is blessing, and who are we to question the mysteries of this great outpouring. And if anyone dares to point any of these things out, he is labeled a hater, a bad belle, a heretic or some other derivative these words that essentially express the same thing – you don’t have what he has, so don’t ask any questions about how he got them. Wait for your turn.
So living above your means becomes ingrained in our systems, funded however we can. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see therefore that the student, the pastor or iman, the entertainer, the MD and all those people in the example in the preceding paragraph will easily translate to stealing and praising God for his blessings when they enter public office. And we will faithfully praise God with them, celebrate them and beat their haters down. It is our way.