I believe if corruption were a man (hereafter personified and referred to as “Mr. Corruption”) he would have lamented why he has been excessively castigated and unnecessarily made a scapegoat for Nigeria’s persistent leadership failure. Against this background I voluntarily chose to stand for “Mr. Corruption” to establish the actual extent of his culpability in ruining Nigeria, exonerate him from unfair castigation, and in the meantime identify the principal culprit.

First of all, it should be noted that “Mr. Corruption” has always been in human nature and is so strong that there is only one power that can conquer him, and interestingly this power has no material existence at all. This power is one’s degree of personal morality and piety. “Mr. Corruption” is thus apparently hard to defeat since nobody can access the mind of another to figure out his intent.

Over the history there have been efforts to fight “Mr. Corruption” through different individual and collective initiatives; some spiritual and some temporal. And while the spiritual initiatives mostly warn against “Mr. Corruption” for the role he plays in ruining the eternal fate of people in the eternity, the temporal initiatives mostly hope to improve human living standards by eliminating him. The temporal impacts of “Mr. Corruption” are particularly obvious for obvious reasons. Poverty, insecurity, instability among others are some of the signs proving the existence of “Mr. Corruption” in any particular society. Admittedly fighting him has never been easy on both fronts, and it is impossible to eliminate him completely anyway.

Realizing this fact, some apparently realistic stakeholders on the temporal front shifted a great deal of their focus on philosophical grounds to fight “Mr. Corruption”. Instead they intelligently and creatively explored how to contain him and come to term with him with minimum cost possible. They have been able to squeeze him to the minimum by employing constantly updated technological and intellectual resources. Consequently though “Mr. Corruption” manages to operate nonetheless, the countries and entities who practically uphold that realistic approach continue to grow more economically prosperous and politically stable anyway. Incidentally all advanced and civilized countries today apparently fall in this category. This is reflected in the simple equation that what they loose as a result of unpreventable corrupt practices is overshadowed by what they on the other hand achieve through institutionalizing the use of up-to-date intellectual tactics combined with modern technological techniques.

In Nigeria just like in many developing countries the educated elite simply lack such vibrant intellectual capacity and skills to not only explore something similar, but even to utalize the available techniques to get similar results. In other words they mostly lack the required intellectual capacity to access modern tactics in management and leadership skills, which render them incompetent to deal with “Mr. Corruption” properly. For instance, one can imagine the extent to which the “e-government technology” has substantially reduced corrupts practices in the civilized world, and compare the situation with what is obtained in Nigeria where a typical civil/public servant has no basic computer literacy at all.

Therefore official incompetency is actually the main culprit militating against Nigeria's growth. This is not surprising considering the magnitude of the decay that characterizes the country's educational sector that has produced most of the educated. I used to wonder why Nigeria's earlier generations of educated elite were more competent than the successive ones particularly the current generation. I got the answer through my realization that the relatively good quality education enjoyed by the earlier generations matched the then requirements for managing statecraft and provision of good governance. However, over the few successive decades, the quality of education has not only stagnated but drifted to the level where it can no longer match the challenges warranted by the modern socio-political and economic variables.

Frankly speaking there is an unmistakable culture of official incompetency among the vast majority of Nigerian educated who run the country's machinery in various leadership and administrative levels. And unsurprisingly there has been some sort of unwritten conspiracy of silence among them. Moreover surprisingly even analysts and commentators barely take note of this challenge let alone speak out about it.

High professional competency is indispensable in modern leadership and management works. That is why many a times individuals with proven moral integrity are assigned with some leadership or management responsibilities only for them to fail woefully due to the lack of sufficient competency.

To address this challenge there should be a sustained initiative with two fundamental approaches; short term and long term. The short term approach should immediately seek to engage reputable professional consultancy firms to provide highly skilled manpower that would work hand in hand with existing employees in various establishments over a reasonable period of time. This sustained capacity building exercise will hopefully provide the employees with practical knowledge in the usage of modern equipment and help them imbibe the necessary amount of know-how skills to perform satisfactorily. Similar programs could also be organized for political office holders accordingly.

The long term approach should of course focus on overhauling the whole educational sector to improve not only the quality of education but to ensure that what are being taught actually match the requirements of modern variables in all aspects of human endeavor.
Mohammad Qaddam writes from UAE. For more of his write ups visit www.qaddamsidq.blogspot.com

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