According to an anti-corruption watchdog (cited by the BBC), “Corruption is a serious problem of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 states”. Of the ten countries considered most corrupt in the world, six are in sub-Saharan Africa (www.cfr.org). The corruption index of Transparency International (TI, cited by BBC) puts Somalia at the top of the list of the world’s most corrupt countries. It also recognizes Nigeria and South Africa as powerhouses when it comes to what I refer to as perhaps the most collectively discussed topic among global leaders.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (www.unodc.org) defines corruption as “a crime committed by officials (public or private) abusing of their role to procure gain for themselves or somebody else” and the OECD proceeds to include bribery, embezzlement, nepotism or state capture (www.oecd.org) as the various forms of corruption. The World Bank and the Danish International Development Agency respectively defines the act as “the abuse of public office for private gain” and “the misuse of entrusted power for private gain” (www.ghanaweb.com).
David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, perhaps brings new meaning to the severity of corruption in some countries when he indicated in a secret comment at the recently-held anti-corruption summit in London that Nigeria and Afghanistan are “fantastically corrupt”. Undoubtedly, the extent to which different countries are perceived as being corrupt varies. There are nations perceived as least corrupt, “cleanest” countries in the world, such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden where officials tend to show the public how money is spent and have judges that don’t differentiate between rich and poor (TI, BBC). Transparency international have also picked out countries like Ghana which has been rocked by series of undercover films showing judges allegedly taking bribes – as a signal of hope that activists are putting in genuine efforts to expose, name and shame the corrupt plaguing our societies.
Corruption has always remained a cancerous part of human institution albeit rifer within the domain of public establishments and state dealings and the impact so far has been devastating especially for Africa. A 2002 African Union study estimated that corruption cost the continent roughly US$150 billion annually. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (cited in www.cfr.org), “developed countries gave US$22.5 billion in aid to sub-Saharan Africa in 2008” a glaring statistics that further drives home some economists argument that Africa governments need to fight corruption instead of relying on foreign aid. To draw out some specifics, it is estimated that corruption costs Ghana over US$1 billion annually sadly a figure far exceeding annual budgetary support our leaders parade themselves to beg from foreign governments and international donor agencies year-on-year. A near time case is the 2015 International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Facility of US$918 million approved for Ghana to address growing imbalances and stabilize the economy. In other parts of the continent, the statistical impact of corruption is quite disturbing. According to a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2015, corruption in Nigeria could cost up to 37% of the country’s GDP within the next 14 years. That in analytical terms translates to a loss of around US$1,000.00 per person and this figure according to the study could leap up to US$2,000.00 per person by 2030.
Corruption is one of the most publicly decried social and economic challenges globally. What remains rather surprising is the fact that there seem to be no single individual or institution that does not support the fight against corruption yet it is these very actors who engage in the most extreme form of it. It is almost heartbreaking to see representatives of state institutions, private organisations, and political parties taking seats on various media platforms to deny any corruption allegation. Yet the situation continues unabated. When Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the prominent investigative journalist in Ghana bust onto the scene with his ground-breaking videos on corrupt practices among key institutions in Ghana, national and global advocates hoped this was the game changer in the so far fruitless fight. However, it is only true that what the shocking revelation succeeded in achieving was exposing a handful of culprits and getting the whole country talking more about corruption. With respect to the underlying issue, not much seem to have changed as the corrupt have only devised alternative smarter strategy to engage in the society frowned-upon act.
A careful analysis of why the naming and shaming has failed to yield intended change in attitude and behaviour can only be reasonably attributed to how addictive corruption can and has gotten. Like other forms of addiction, perpetrators of corruption are unable to desist from the act because they have been driven to a point where the thought of abandoning corrupt practices is seen as a threat to their livelihood, wellbeing and the wellbeing of other critical dependents and beneficiary individuals, as well as their very progress in society. Therefore if meaningful progress in the fight against corruption is to be made, additional non-conventional combating approach is required: clear and unambiguous awareness creation of the brutal societal impact of corruption via the most effective media, genuine persuasion to desist from the act by respected and noble actors, and free wholesale counseling all in addition to the currently deployed corruption-combating strategies.
It is an unpleasant reality that people engaged in corruption have been ushered into a new and accelerated money-making model that is more yielding than their normal business endervours. To those involve especially at the highest level where millions of corrupt deals are transacted, gains from the practice cannot be compared to the returns from any other venture. The money from corrupt dealings has over time become a vital component of their gross earnings, transform their lifestyle and without which they cannot progress in wellbeing. For some, it comes down to sustaining a lifestyle underpinned by wealth-building. The drawn conclusion is that if beneficiaries of corruption see the act as pervasive and critical source of income, then the stakes are high irrespective of the extent of public outcry and the consequences if caught. A simple proposal might deliver the behavioural change we require to stump corruption: A corruption committee commissioned by the state, made up of respected champions of religious leaders and supported by corruption champions in all public and private institutions, to deliver wholesale counseling via far-reaching media.
The approach can be as simple but impactful as driving home morality by showing the evidential impact of corruption on communities and country. Concentrating counseling effort on the negative impact of corruption shall aim to draw out the first important feeling of guilt among perpetrators. Each human being has conscience that can be rocked if the right emotion points are touched with powerful engaging words. The language structure should aim to awaken the moral fiber and drive home the sense of community and humanity that has kept us together as a people. The message should be a memory-sticker and carried in such a manner so as to kick-in anytime the temptation to engage in corrupt act arises. This can be communicated through powerful social advertisement with visual impact that is inviting, telling and contextually relevant. Part of the effort should also aim at getting people to believe that what define us aren’t the wealth we create, the status we acquire, and the luxury and wellbeing we enjoy but rather what defines us is how we humanely acquire these things in earnest consideration of the accompanying impact on others.
This is a model that works well in therapy and there is no reason whatsoever why it should not present a palpable alternative to the current method of addressing the issue of corruption, especially if we perceive it as being a form of addiction as I believe I have succeeded in making the case earlier. First, the addict is convinced into acknowledging and accepting that there is an addiction and it is a problem which only results in a greater loss. The subject is then presented with the impact of the current state on him or herself, family, work and the society at large and hence why it is imperative that he/she accepts treatment/help to reverse the current state. Following, the therapist explores practical avenues to keep the addict always at a distance from the addictive substance and to stay away from locations where he/she is most likely to sight or engage with it. With this ongoing routine, the addict over a period is counseled-out of the addiction.
This might be the different corruption-addressing model that will yield the different outcome we all have been fighting so desperate to achieve. The approach however must be profound to be impactful. It must employ creativity, consistency, pervasiveness, intensity, and relentlessness. As a first step to demonstrate genuine commitment by government, why shouldn’t all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies have pylons and bold inscriptions displayed on their premises and offices reading “WE ARE NOT CORRUPT, PLEASE DON’T MAKE US ONE”.
Author: Ellah Makuba || A Banking Professional || email@example.com || 0277324258