The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines culture as “the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organisation of a particular country or group.”
Language reflects the culture of a people and Nigeria is a country with various peoples and languages. However, the country has a lingua franca, the English language, which belongs to England. There is also a corrupt version of this language known as pidgin English.
Corruption has over the years, eaten so deeply into the fabrics of the Nigerian society to the extent that it reflects in the everyday language of many Nigerians. Sometimes, some vocabularies are wrongly used. For instance, the dictionary defines the word “hustle” in various ways: “To force to make a decision before they are ready or sure”, “To sell or obtain something, often illegally” and “To work as a prostitute.” It also defines a hustler as “a person who tries to trick somebody into giving them money.”
If the above descriptions explain hustle and hustler, then, it is correct to say that most politicians and political office holders in Nigeria are hustlers. It is the true picture of their character that has been presented by these explanations. What most Nigerian politicians have done over the years is to deceive the people with false promises, obtain their electoral mandates through rigging and assassination of opposition. They are also political prostitutes because they hop from one political party to another.
Ask individuals among Nigerian youths what they do for a living and you get a reply like “Am just a hustler.” Obviously, they don’t know what the word means. Corruption is just a way of life in Nigeria and herein lies the leanness of development prospects for the people and country.
A political office holder who refuses to steal public funds like his counterparts is seen as an underperformer or failure by many, including the members of his own household. An act of honesty is perceived by majority as an error, while fraud is widely applauded and accommodated. When someone is caught stealing, instead of considering how punishment should be meted to the culprit, the average Nigerian first, considers how much was stolen. If the amount happens to be meagre, the person is criticized for stealing such a meagre sum. So, the amount of money stolen becomes the issue of concern rather than the taboo itself, which is stealing.
The official nature of corruption in Nigeria frequently heightens doubts as to the readiness of the country to leave underdevelopment status. There is no other country on earth where an outgoing head of parliament or any government official sells his or official residence to his or her successor as if it is a personal property. This only happens in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, a President or State Governor unscrupulously and frequently uses the tax payer’s money to throw expensive (most times, irrelevant) parties, with no expression of concern for the poverty level in the land. Funny enough, beneficiaries of the fraud among the followership such as contractors involved in such ‘party projects’, actually look forward to the opportunity whenever new set of political leaders assume office.
Ours is a society where a known criminal is highly respected because of the volume of cash the person parades. We are in a clime where leaders lie to the followers shamelessly about matters that are already in public domain. Countless instances of such cases abound. They include the late President Umaru Musa Ya’Adua illness saga, Dame Patience Jonathan’s illness case, Governor Sullivan Chime’s trip saga, the repeated NNPC/CBN missing money brouhaha, the lies about the ongoing anti-corruption war that focuses only on government’s enemies, the lies that Boko Haram no longer exists alongside daily increasing killing of innocent citizens (Most families in Benue and some other middle belt states have lost a member to killer herdsmen under Buhari’s regime), the secrecy around the exact amount recovered as stolen monies and the absence of transparency in its administration, the annual padded budget saga, and so on. Nigeria’s leaders do not have the trust of the followers and they don’t care about that. They are not even bothered about being trusted. This is a very sad situation.
As a people, it has become necessary that Nigerians begin to eliminate the corrupt elements in their daily lives. Unless individuals and peoples from the various groups that make up Nigeria return to the original noble values of integrity, love and honesty, there is no way the country can move beyond its present status in terms of growth and development.
According to Mohandas K. Ghandi, father of the Indian nation: “The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity and worship without sacrifice.”