‘Yes, we know he is a thief but he is our thief’ must stop…. This ownership of thieves because they come from our ethnic group

Kenneth Obi for CRJ

The Kenyan law professor and former anti-corruption czar, Patrick Lumumba, has some germane observations on society and corruption in Nigeria.

In one of his comments, he was quoted as saying that "The culture in many African countries that if a thief is from your tribe you say, ‘Yes, we know he is a thief but he is our thief’ must stop…. This ownership of thieves because they come from our ethnic group … or they come from our religious circle is one of the things that undermine the fight against corruption in many parts of Africa."

This happens to be the bitter truth in our country today. Listening to Nigerians defend their kinsmen who have looted the country is very sad: Abi if you get there, you sef no go chop? Abeg leave my brother make him chop him own, after all when your brother dey there, himself too chop. Life na turn by turn.

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The truth actually is that it is not just a matter of ethnic group. It is the broader coterie of people who benefit or think they benefit from the corruption.
What else can you tell a man or woman who manages to get his bit of the “national cake" from politicians? How do you want to preach to a people who roll out drums to sing and praise a corrupt politician that he loots their state resources and that he is only spending crumbs on them? These ones will rather fight and die to defend “our son” that hear that he is corrupt.

This is one of reasons why I think Nigeria may never recover from her present predicament. There still Nigerians who see politicians who steal from the treasury as heroes. They do not see anything wrong when the politicians involved in stealing the nation’s commonwealth are their kinsmen. It is only in Nigeria that a politician will steal money and the people provide tangible reasons why the politician is actually supposed to steal.

In the United States, it is a common practice to remove and imprisoned them, It is a matter of dissociating from the shame they bring upon the country. In contrast, corrupt politicians are celebrated in Nigeria by his church and given a chieftaincy title by his people. This constantly reminds us that Nigeria it is all about my thief is better than your thief and why should my thief be executed while your thief is alive.

But come to think of it, i do not blame those who are treating corrupt politicians as heroes. It is not people who have a problem. It is Nigeria. If Nigeria is a country that treats all criminals as criminals, if Nigeria is a country where all corrupt people face trial equally, if Nigeria is a country where corruption is defined without reference to ethnic, religious and party affiliations, then corrupt politicians would be roundly deplored by every body, including his kinsmen and his church.

Corruption is everywhere in Nigeria because Nigerians celebrate corruption and Nigerians have failed to see the looming danger as the same people who are improvised go about singing the praises of the very people who impoverished them.

Corruption will be cured only when we cease to find excuses for the certified corrupt. There is no way in which we are going to fight corruption without changing people’s behaviour.

We must therefore create an environment in which those who engage in graft do not have places of refuge in their ethnic group or celebrated by the same people they looted dry.

Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice is the Best way to Go Raising Anti Corruption Crusaders fighting Injustices in a Violent and Immoral Society more especially in Nigeria
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