When citizens are asked why politicians fail to meet their expectations, corruption figures prominently in many of their answers. The term can, however, refer to a number of quite different phenomena, only some of which are clearly unlawful in most countries.
In its most brazen form, corruption involves the illicit exchange of money for political favors. It could refer to substantial campaign contributions, which—even if they are legal—are likely to be “remembered” by politicians once they are in power. We also speak of corruption when discussing the policy consequences of the pervasive “revolving door” arrangements —lucrative positions by which political office holders offer their kinsmen.
Arguably, parties and elections morally corrupt our political leaders. The possible explanation is that our elected leaders initially enter politics as well-meaning, public-spirited individuals but that the process through which they are selected morally corrupts them. The difficult task of rising through the ranks of their own party makes them lose sight of the common good, instead “training” them to focus on small-minded career advancement. They learn to please the higher ranks—in whose hands their future lies—at all costs.
In countries in which political campaigning relies heavily on private funds, seeking campaign contributions from wealthy donors and well-funded organizations further compromises their ideals of public service. At the end of the process, actually running for office in an election also further degrades their morals. After all, winning the public’s favor in a modern-day election is not easy, and the prerequisites for doing so appear to include learning how to bend the truth and taking a lax attitude towards personal or ideological loyalties.
Our democracy is tired, vindictive, self-deceiving, paranoid, clumsy and frequently ineffectual. Much of the time it is living on past glories. This sorry state of affairs reflects what we have become. But current democracy is not who we are. It is just a system of government, which we built, and which we could replace. So why don’t we replace it with something better?
In my understanding, the Central Bank of Nigeria is known for attracting and raising avant-garde few who are capable of changing the narrative of our poor political parlance, if the same standards used at the apex bank are employed. Plying Soludo in that route are the likes of the late Mai Lafia; Emir Sanusi Lamido; and Prof Moghalu who are good products of the same institution.
Sadly, intellectuals who were successful in other niches used to find it difficult to bring desired changes to our political system; our political space is a loose one. It creates holes which easily erode those admirable qualities in our change hopefuls. It is a curse we pray a Soludo- led administration break.