I recall the day when leisurely worked in to the lecture theatre during my Master programme in the University, on the board there was a writing I did not pay much attention.
I took my seat and noticed my mates were gossiping to one another, when I looked up to the board again, I saw this
“ IT IS CRIMINAL TO BE HONEST IN A CORRUPT SOCIETY, DISCUSS?”
It was then I figured out why my colleques were murmuring.
My initial reaction was why would the Professor ask such a question.
But since it was a senior class anything could be anticipated.
Soon the lecturer appeared and decided that we should brain storm on what was written on the board.
The class came up with several prepositions, which the lecturer reluctantly accepted.
But since the Professor, had his own answers to the question, he shared it with the class. It was very simplistic but to some extent more plausible than what we suggested.
I went home that day still reminiscing why should the lecturer ask this question, more so when I was not convinced with answers he gave.
The Professor argued that in a country where one would be appointed by Radio and Television announcement and suddenly dismissed by the same medium is not good for the country.
It erodes confidence in governance and breeds criminality.
The Professor elucidated further by saying that each time when these appointments were made, the appointees in most cases were not contacted, and no reason was also given for their removals.
He further agued that by the time the appointees, finished working on their blue print, ready to start work, suddenly, when they reach home in the evening after close of the office, there was an announcement on the Television that he or she has been removed from the office.
The next day another rascal would be appointed in the same manner. He descends on his predecessors savings and embezzle the whole funds.
Consequently, the money did not benefit the society, and it did not benefit the original person who wanted to use the funds for the good of the society.
The Professor, then asked why should one be honest in such a society?
Many of us left the class unconvinced with the Professor’s answer.
Twenty seven years (27) since I walked out of that lecture theatre my mind kept popping up the same question, each time I reflected on how I could make my society better.
But my passion, patriotism, pride and nationalistic fervour be clouded my thinking and I never contemplated any answer beyond what the Professor offered.
Some of my mates who were perhaps more wiser or got the gist and headed to the advice took care of themselves while it lasted.
But those that choose to be honest and played the game by rules and regulations are now walloping in misery and abject poverty perhaps now lamenting how could the Country they served diligently would now desert them in their hour of needs.
It is 37 years since l left that class, now with the benefit of hindsight, I can truly answer my lecturer correctly.
Having spent 35 years of meritorious in the service of my dear country. I now realised the Professor was philosophical in both the question and answers he gave.
Some of the salient issues the Professor did not tell us were, how could one be honest in a country?
1. Where the government does not pay its employees a living wage;
2. Where wages and pensions are unequal among its employees;
3. Where the government does not respect it senior citizens;
4. Where the pension of its former employees are not paid as at when due and when they are paid, the stipends does not support live in retirement;
5. Where hard work, honesty and diligence does not attract reward but misery;
6. Where corrupt public officials are hero worshiped and respected
7. Where National merit awards are given to the bad and the ugly because they can purchase it;
8. Where good name is only given to the opulent, who continue to live on government resources even when they are no longer in service;
9. Where the rule of law is not respected and applied selectively;
10. Where bad governance is prevalent in all strata of governments;
11. Where nepotism is the whole mark for recruitment in to public offices;
12. Where recruitments in to the political class are based on cronyism;
13. Where the security of lives and properties are not guaranteed.
14. Where all basic infrastructures that makes lives meaningful are failing or have failed.
15. Where chocking hyper inflation in the cost of living keep rising by the day,
16. Where lack of good roads, decay in the educational and health care has reached a pitiful level.
17. Where hyper increase in the cost of electricity, school fees, petrol and food stuff continue to increase un abated;
18. Where in security, wanton destruction of lives and properties are increasing by the day, with greater sophistication and tenor.
The irony of all these, this is a country blessed with enormous resources by nature but has allowed some few privileged members of the society to corner its resources through corrupt practices, there by living the larger society in penury, abject poverty and hopelessness.
The question to ask now therefore is not, “ it is criminal to be honest in a corrupt society” as the Professor asked 27 years ago, but rather it should be, “it is criminal not to be criminal in an un just society”?
What are your take on this, may be we would possibly find answers to the anomie of the circle of injustice arresting our development as a nation.