FANTASTIC CORRUPTION VS SURVIVAL CORRUPTION
Corruption is a world-wide phenomenon. Corruption is an English word and there is no equivalent word in many African languages. Therefore, corruption was not invented by Africans or the developing world. Corruption can never be eliminated but levels of corruption in a society can be reduced by sensible economic, social, and political policies. A new lexicon was recently introduced by David Cameron, the soon to be ex-Prime Minister of Britain who took Britain out of the European Union. That word is fantastic corruption or fantastically corrupt and was used to describe Nigeria and Afghanistan. But we must distinguish fantastic corruption from survival corruption.
Fantastic corruption is when legislators who make over 2 million dollars a year refuse to approve a budget because the executive excised some dubious spending. Fantastic corruption is when members of the legislature demand bribes from a minister to approve a ministerial budget. Fantastic corruption is paying the executive and legislators huge sums of unaccountable money as security votes and constituency allowances, respectively. The constituency allowance is meant to silence the legislators, so they overlook the “insecurity” vote. I have dubbed it insecurity vote because some governors have used it to foster insecurity in their states. Fantastic corruption is when a President uses proxies to line his pocket while claiming to be championing anti-corruption causes. Fantastic corruption is when a British company bribes a government official in a developing country to win a contract undeservedly over a Swedish company or vice versa. Fantastic corruption is when public assets such as oil blocks or the license to import essential commodities are awarded to cronies, mistresses, and non-businesspeople without any auction or bidding whatsoever. Fantastic corruption is when all these ill-gotten profits are stashed in foreign accounts to buoy the economy of other countries. Leaving these undeserved profits in local banks will decrease the cost of capital in the hemorrhaging economies.
Survival corruption is when the gainfully employed government official is not making enough money to make ends meet. Most African countries, Nigeria and Kanga included, do not account for cost of living adjustments in paying public sector workers. A worker living in Ajama, the capital of Kanga is paid 18,000 Jama monthly, the same as a worker living in Tubenga in the hinterland. Whereas the cost of living in Ajama is 30,000 Jama monthly; in Tubenga, it is 20,000 Jama a month. It is no surprise that the survival corruption will be worse in Ajama than in Tubenga. Court affidavits costing 100 Jama nationwide may attract a survival corruption fee of 1000 Jama in Ajama and 500 Jama in Tubenga.
Is there a way out? Yes.
1. Pay people a living wage even if it means trimming the workforce.
2. Create employment opportunities especially in the agro-based industries. This will also spur exports.
3. Liberalize credit especially for employed people so that they can buy durable goods such as houses and automobiles.
4. Create an educational financing organization so that every child regardless of his/her family background can attain the highest level of education. These loans can be forgiven if certain conditions are met. This diversifies the talent pool of the country leading to innovation and entrepreneurship.
5. Leave a voluntary tip box in government offices where people can voluntarily leave tips for government officials who have done a good job. At the end of the day, the government officials can share the booty. The present system of survival corruption is unfair and unjust because the pauper is taxed at the same level as the “self-made billionaire” who is converting state resources to his/her own use. Worse still, the “self-made billionaire” may pay only 100 Jama because the officials do not want to get into big trouble trying to extort money from the “self-made billionaire.”
Whistle-blowing should be directed at the fantastically corrupt and the survivalist corrupt can be managed through a change of government policies. The fantastically corrupt tend to be selfish, shameless, and greedy. The survivalist corrupt people tend to share their booty to augment their meager resources. Despite all these, the genetically corrupt will continue to be corrupt but the prevalence of corruption will be reduced.