Recently in Nigeria, stories of corruption in different form have become the norm. From the legislative to the executive and finally to the judiciary, the powers of the different arm of government which have been separated for the benefit of the governed have become united in corruption dealing adversely with the governed.
From the cases of corrupt judges to that of senators in the legislature and finally to the executive officers, even the educational sector is not left behind.
The list of atrocious corrupt acts perpetrated ranges not just from pension fund scam to fuel subsidy scam, election rigging, bribery, embezzlement of funds, certificate scandals and so on. Even the private offices are not left out with everyone trying to stack the deck in their favour. Offices in both the private and public sectors have become a competitive field of thievery, thuggery and misappropriation.
The problem of corruption has generally been attributed to leaders with the belief that with corrupt leaders, come corrupt nations. Leaders have become exemplified as persons who ascend the seat of power with the immediate desire of pilfering from the coffers of their office, thwarting the existing policies in their favour and in turn eating his or her own share of the national cake and so far, most of them placed in high offices have proven the perception of them held by the populace to indeed be true.
According to the United Nations Universal Definitional Guide, there is no single, universally accepted and comprehensive definition of corruption. Corruption has been defined by the English Dictionary as the act of corrupting or of impairing integrity, virtue or moral principle.
According to the Section 2 of the ICPC Act, corruption includes vices like bribery, fraud and other related offences. It is the abuse or misuse of power or position or trust for a person or group benefit.
The reality of corruption in Nigeria is that it works as a blanket covering virtually every aspect of the socio-economic life of Nigerians.
Corruption plagues to a considerable extent all the leadership spheres in the social institutions of the government as well as the political institutions.
The impact of corruption is not restricted to a particular segment of the society and is virtually felt by every man, woman and child in Nigeria.
According to Karl Kraus, “corruption is a crime against humanity and worse than prostitution as the latter endangers merely the moral of an individual, whereas the former endanger the morals of an entire country”.
With the coming into power of President Muhammadu Buhari, the war and fight against corruption have been brought to the forefront.
His administration has launched an anti-corruption mandate in every facet of the economy of the country.
However, despite the attempt and efforts of the government to eradicate corruption from its grassroots, the role of youths in this fight cannot be overemphasised.
Youths have a major role to play in the fight against corruption as the vision of every country including that of Nigeria lies in its youths.
Kurt Cobain in his famous quote succinctly stated, “The duty of the youth is to challenge corruption”.
The youths are the stability drivers of the country who depend on their success will either brighten or darken the country.
The fight against corruption should therefore on the part of the youths, start first at a personal level. It has been stated from time immemorial that youths are the leaders of tomorrow but the actual work does not start from the leadership position, rather, it starts from the little pieces we contribute in ensuring that the country is that which we can be proud of leading.
It starts from our contribution in the fight against corruption in our country, which is threatening the unity of the country, destroying the peace and eroding the hope that our country can still be better.
It starts with the restructuring of mental perceptions of what leadership should be all about. Youths as future leaders must make sure they avail themselves of training, information and opportunities that will enable them to be responsible leaders.
The youths have to develop a high sense of integrity that will enable them to be united as a country, to develop high ethical and moral standards, rather than joining the bandwagon of “everyone does it”. They must have the ability to consciously decide to be change agents rather than passive participants.
In their professional lives as well, youths should endeavour to stand out as examples of what is right and proper. The impact of the youths in nation-building should first be felt in the niches they have carved for themselves before it is collectively felt on a higher scale. Youths must stand for what they believe is right and this can also be done through sensitisation campaigns.
An attempt can be made by the youths to sensitise the general public through various platforms both online campaigns and physical presence on the root causes of corruption and how it can be combatted.
Youths must advocate for transparency in the offices as well as accountability of the leaders to the led.
As stated by P. Shankar, “once the youth of the country recognise corruption as a weed which is to be destroyed from our midst and show themselves as ready and determined to fight it, and not be passive, then we can indeed hope for a good future for the country”
Thus for youths to actively participate in their role in the eradication of corruption, they first have to recognise the fact that corruption is a weed which has to be uprooted from the very grass root of our nation.
It is high time the youths rise to their feet and raise their voice and the resultant roar of silenced voices ready to act should frighten the evil forces of corruption away.
Umeokeke P. Ujunwa is a recent graduate of Law at University of Ibadan.