It has lately been called the bribe-for-job scandal, most people are talking about it like it is new but really is it new, or is it a case of business gone sour, business as usual or simply put, it is escalating? Well, let me say in my admonition that it comes in many shades; do not mind our dramatic nature, now the National Assembly seems to be so interested when indeed they are equally involved. My fellow Nigerians do not worry, nothing will change, at least not anytime soon, but we will keep talking, let’s not give up.
It is not just a case of bribe-for-job, we have bribe-for-admission, bribe-for-marks, bribe-for-promotion, bribe-for-transfer, bribe-for-nysc, bribe-for-justice/injustice, bribe-for-treatment, bribe-for-bail, bribe-to-lead, from private to public sector, it has no religion, to say the sarcastic least, while Christians and Muslims fight, if the matter is bribe related, they all become pagans, if the bribe is in millions, both Yoruba and Igbos, Niger Delta and Hausa persons claim to be patriotic Nigerians…its one thing that unites us–bribes!
A culture of gratification that has left us as a nation in a state of neither here nor there. Many Nigerians feign ignorance of this phenomenon that has not just eaten into our moral fabric but has equally torn it into different bits, shreds and pieces.
A family has a health emergency and it runs to the National Hospital or any of the many docile general, teaching and specialist hospitals littered across the country and first question you are asked is “hope you know someone”? You must know at least a messenger, at best a doctor, a nurse or auxiliary staff before you will be attended to. You need to facilitate the process or you have yourself to blame. After paying, you bribe-for-bed, bribe-for-drugs, bribe-for-a-good-doctor, it is almost a case of bribing you way all through to the great beyond.
These bribes apart from being outrageous sums of money, could also come in form of a letter or complimentary card from some Minister, ‘big woman or bigger man’, with some phrase like “assist the bearer he is from me”. Whether ‘the him’ is qualified is another matter entirely. The complimentary card plays the score of a bribe.
We often lie to ourselves, like we do not know…but very few of us can claim to be innocent of the charge, …of her many sins, the former comptroller-general of immigration was painted in bad light for the recruitment scandal in her side of the wood, we forgot that it is not about her. How many of us do not know that at both federal and state levels there are different kinds of job/recruitment syndicates?
Recruitment into The Nigerian Police goes for between N100-300k depending on who the middleman and end recipient is, the Civil Defence is not any different, so also Prisons, Customs, how about the armed forces, or I recall the popular Alhaji (real names withheld) that gets procures admission for candidates into the defence academy for N1M and trust me, people say he is ‘reliable’.
Let us quickly look at this dynamics, the chap who pays for the job and indeed does get it, what kind of employee does he make, is it a case of goodluck, luck, the Nigerian myth, or a ‘Nigerian-prayer-answering-god’.
How does it really work in Nigeria, a nation where you pay as much as N100K for your kid to get into a Unity School and in five years on, you pay another N100K plus and minus for her to get admitted into a university, your daughter then bribes her lecturers for marks, and then gets out with ‘sweet grades’ and then bribes and gets the job. She cannot really function without bribes…she collects bribes for the most primary duty to be executed in her office and we wonder why…?
My constituency is as guilty as charged…bribe-for-stories, you bribe to kill the story, you bribe to give it life, it is called “brown envelope, though these days we even have cases of envelopes with many colors.
In a nation as diverse as ours, how this affects balance so badly is often underestimated, a parastatal has an opening for 2000 workers–The National Assembly gets 500, Ministers get 60, another 40 is shared around, governors get a 100, and then the ruling party and bigger beings get 1000, we have barely 300 to go through several hundreds of thousands that have applied.
These slots are sold for money, racketeered by syndicates, sold for sex, sold for who your dad, mom, uncle, aunt or family is, it is sold for where you come from, and other favors. Merit is thrown to the wind and then we still ask why there is intolerable mediocrity in the system.
We operate a system that has become ‘bribedized’, so things do not just happen the normal way, if a young person applies for a job, goes through several tests, and interviews, he scales through and is picked, surely it is abnormal, so people ask him, “how did you do it, and who helped you?”.
The bribe syndrome is everywhere, in everything we do, you want to adopt a child from an orphanage you bribe–you want to buy fuel, there is a queue, you pay a bribe, skip the queue and get served. With a bribe an innocent can always be harassed by the police and with even more bribe a thief will go scot-free.
With enough bribes, affidavits change our true age, with some bribe, we get married through the registry and when really there is no marriage. Even kids in homes now demand bribes from either parents or siblings not to tell or report either party.
In holy places we even attempt to bribe God, you are not qualified but we are told, “Give generously, provoke the Lord and see Him do a miracle in your life”. Very funny testimonies are told by our ‘sisters-in-the-lord’, how ‘their god’ has done it.
The first victim is the truth, the system suffers, we romance mediocrity, very little progress is made, the number of millions that can’t afford a bribe increases and discontent swells–for how long we continue to bribe ourselves, only time will tell.