CORRUPTION RELIGION SOCIETAL VALUES
This paper is not to dwell on the purely academic , philosophical, sociological, economic, psychological aspects of the topic but is an attempt to bring to fore the fact that Corruption, loss of religious and societal values is symptomatic of a breakdown or putrefaction of spiritual ,moral, social and religious values as directed by Jehovah, the Creator and designer of the human mind . It will also point out or proffer solutions based on the present circumstances of the this evil world and her systems or measures and finally put it on record that the ‘desire of all nations’ [Haggai 2:7], The New Jerusalem [ Revelations 3:12; 21:2], God’ Kingdom, remains the perfect, ordained, determined, and divinely designed condition or state or place where all these will be confined to the dust bin of history. In Isaiah 65:17-18, it is written, ‘For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.’ At that time this earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God as it is written, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14. Yes , at that time no man shall teach another person about God and His purpose… “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” Hebrews 8:11
Of all the words used to connote the debased, depraved, perverse, or immoral state of human societies, civilizations, generations, systems, governments, powers, personalities, values, collectively and individually, the word CORRUPT and its various conjugations grammatically or etymologically, stands out clearly as that which concisely describes the sordid and sorry state of affairs of any person, people, or place, system, or thing that is disconnected from GOD and His values or religion in absolute and relative terms.
Corruption is actually a spiritual disease of the mind with many manifested syndromes. It is the corrupt mind that churns out corrupt devices which includes, “ all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful”( Romans 1:29-31 , Matthew 15:18-20) . Words synonymous to corrupt are rotten, unprincipled, unethical, immoral, defiled, impure, dishonest, fraudulent, crooked , obscene, bribable etc.
Global corruption was what led Jehovah in manifestation of His Power and infinite Justice to destroy the first world saving righteous Noah and his family of seven. This also serves as a pointer to how He will destroy corruption that has ravaged this evil world. [Genesis 6: 11-13; Matthew 24:37-39; Isaiah 24:1-12; 2 Peter 2:5]
Religion permeates the life of every human being as well as every society throughout the world, and every religion has norms, values and acceptable standards contained in its doctrines. By inculcating in adherents these norms and values, religion is expected to promote social or societal control and acceptable standards in the society, thereby reducing vices such as corruption. Thus religion and corruption are seen as having a symbiotic relationship. Focusing on the Christian religion, this paper argues that the prevalence of corruption in the Nigerian society today is an indication that Churchianity is apparently failing and is losing its potency to correct the vices in the society.
Nominal Christianity has been bastardized and commercialized to the extent that it is losing its appeal as a promoter of right values and spiritual standing as a result of factors such as quest for prosperity/materialism by adherents and religious leaders, quest for power, victory over perceived enemies; selfish interests, sycophancy and the like, all at the expense of the virtues and moral standards emphasized in the Bible. The paper concludes that not only has the nominal Christian religion as an anti-virus failed in its function to cure a virus such as corruption, it has in itself become a citadel of corruption and the paper recommends that governments at all levels, religious leaders, adherents and the entire masses have a big role to play if the fight against corruption in Nigeria is to be successful.
Let me at this juncture give some quotes from prominent individuals that gives insights into this problem called corruption.
NOT ALL ARE CORRUPT…We must soften into a credulity below the milkiness of infancy to think all men virtuous. We must be tainted with a malignity truly diabolical, to believe all the world to be equally wicked and corrupt…..Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)…Irish-born British statesman and political philosopher.
LACK OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES OR SPIRITUAL EDUCATION BREEDS A CORRUPT SOCIETY….Martin Luther, the reformer, thundered the following regarding higher institutions of learning: “I am much afraid the universities will prove to be the great gates to hell, unless they diligently labor to explain the Holy Scriptures and to engrave them upon the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution where men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
CORRUPTION IS A SIGN OF A DISEASED HEART….All things can corrupt perverted minds…..Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD)…Roman poet.
DEMOCRACY BREEDS CORRUPTION….Corruption, is the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty or democracy…Edward Gibbon (1737 – 1794)…British historian.
NO HUMAN GOVERNMENT CAN ERADICATE CORRUPTION….It will, I believe, be generally agreed that ERADICATION OF CORRUPTION from any society is not just a difficult task: it is without dispute, an impossible objective….Obafemi Awolowo (1909 – 1987)… August 18, 1975.
POLITICS POWER BREEDS CORRUPTION….Lord Acton …British historian and liberal philosopher John Emerich Edward Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton, issued the famous statement “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In 1895 he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge in England.
MEN IN POWER ARE NATURALLY CORRUPT….POWER IS NO DETERRENT TO CORRUPTION… The privileged man, whether politically or economically, is a man depraved in mind and heart. That is a social law which admits of no exception, and it is applicable to entire nations as to classes, corporations, and individuals……Mikhail Bakunin (1814 – 1876)…..Russian-born anarchist
MAJORITY OF POLITICIANS WILL NOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD….The politician who steals is worse than a thief. He is a fool. With the grand opportunities all around for a man with political pull, there’s no excuse for stealing a cent…..George Washington (1842 – 1924)…U.S. politician.
LEADERS ARE THE ARROW HEADS OF CORRUPTION….Once a political system has been corrupted right from the very top leaders to the lowest rungs of the bureaucracy, the problem is very complicated. The cleansing has to start from top and go downwards in a thorough and systematic way…..Kuan Yew Lee (1923 – )….Singaporean statesman.
FAMOUS QUOTES OF CHINUA ACHEBE ON CORRUPTION IN HIS BOOK
‘THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA’
“…corruption in Nigeria has passed the alarming and entered the fatal stage; and Nigeria will die if we keep pretending that she is only slightly indisposed.”
“… Nigerians are corrupt because the system under which they live today makes corruption easy and profitable; they will cease to be corrupt when corruption is made difficult and inconvenient.”
“… corruption goes with power; …therefore to hold any useful discussion of corruption, we must first locate it where it properly belongs – in the ranks of the powerful.”
“…we are all living witnesses to the failure of helpless integrity to solve the problem of rampant corruption which threatens now to paralyze this country in every sinew and every limb.”
“…but to initiate change, the President of this country must take and be seen to take, a decisive first step of ridding his administration of all persons on whom the slightest wind of corruption and scandal has blown. When he can summon up the courage to do that, he will find himself grown overnight to such stature and authority that he will become Nigeria’s leader, not just its president. Only then can he take on and conquer corruption in the nation.”
Our well known Nobel laureate , Professor Wole Soyinka states that when you fight corruption , corruption will fight back with more ferocious might.
Worldwide, religion does not only prepare adherents for life after the existence in this world, but also ensures that adherents live a holy and pure life. Adherents are expected to imbibe some values and virtues to promote peace within the society. This implies that religion serves as a means of social control. Unfortunately, religion as practiced by both religious leaders and followers in Nigeria today, has become commercialized to the extent that anything goes. From theft of church money to ritual killing in the name of money; from deceits by religious leaders to willingness of followers to engage in dastardly acts; from fornication and adultery by leaders to hero worship of criminals, fraudsters, election riggers and sycophants; acquisition of titles and self proclamations such as Bishop, Most Senior Apostle; His Holiness; Bishop of the whole world; Dr; Founder ;Prophet; Pastor; Evangelist and so on. The only thing that is yet to be seen is the outright inclusion of ‘limited or PLC’ after the name of these churches, yet what they do therein is much more businesslike than the so called limited or public companies. [ 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12]
In Jeremiah 5:26-31, it is written, ‘For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?’
The prevalence of corruption in the society is an indication of the failure or failing role of religion to serve as a social control (Yusuf, 2003). It is against this background that this paper is aimed at looking at the role of religion in curbing corruption in the society and to what extent religion and corruption have impacted the Nigerian society.
Social or societal values, beliefs and religion are all interrelated concepts . according to Durkheim, ‘ religion is a unified system of beliefs, doctrines, and practices related to sacred things’ It unites all who adhere to those beliefs. This means beliefs are part and parcel of religion. In societies in general religion is of core value. It is a rich source of moral and social values. When Israel as a nation was in its infancy, the importance of building their society along the laws given by God was stressed. In Deut. 4:5-8, it is written, ‘Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?’
In social values and institutions religion is one of the five recognized institutions. The five basic institutions in social values are , FAMILY, EDUCATION, ECONOMY, POLITICS AND RELIGION. These can however be compressed to three to agree with what the Holy Book reveals…..POLITICS, RELIGION, ECONOMICS OR COMMERCE ….Revelations 13
Although, there is often difficulties in defining corruption, because it means not only different things to different people, and even to the same people different things at different times. Also sanctions which usually are attached to corrupt practices hides them and gives them subtle or hidden forms. In fact a prominent number one citizen in this country once said “STEALING IS NOT CORRUPTION”. To underscore how even the institutions that are formed to fight corruption have swallowed this gambit to hide its meaning, The Chairman of The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission [ICPC] , Mr. Ekpo Nta as recently as March 23, 2016 supported the above view.
Some people see “corruption” as a conscious and well planned act by a person or group of persons to appropriate by unlawful means the wealth of another person or group of persons. To others, it is the act of turning power and authority to ready cash.
For (Agbese, 1982), “corruption is a phenomenon so difficult to define, yet it percolates every structure of the society. It affects the military as well as it soils the hands of the civilians”. He went further to define corruption as follows “When we use our position in society to secure certain advantages jumping a queue, being waved off at the checkpoint or making others bend the rules to accommodate our demands … by whatever means even if it is just ‘thank you’ our action however innocent, however well-intentioned, however unthreatening to others, has corrupted a system or a convention or some rules and regulations in application.” In this regard, even whatever form of seasonal gifts, free air tickets, lunch or diner – “kola” is no longer exempted, since these are likely to influence future courses of action and transactions the giver or receiver is thus corrupting protocol or breaching some rules and regulations in the society (Nigeria) etc. Professor Abdullahi.
Then for Malam Adamu Ciroma, corruption is “the deliberate binding of the system to favor friends or hurt foes, any misbehavior deviation from or perversion of the system, or misleading Nigerians or giving them wrong or distorted information about things they ought to know.” Adegbite  defines corruption as a change from a sound to a rotten or putrid state, or from a state of uprightness, righteousness and Truth to a bad state to which money or wealth is used to get things done illegally. The World Bank defines corruption as: The abuse of public office for private gains.
Some researchers have defined corruption to be related only to bribery and unlawful payments, (Grunner, 1999) . Ojaide, (2000), defines Corruption as “any systematic vice in an individual, society or a nation which reflects favoritism, nepotism, tribalism, sectionalism, undue enrichment or amassing of wealth, abuse of office, power position and derivation of undue gains and benefits. Corruption also includes bribery, smuggling, and fraud, illegal payments, money laundering, drug trafficking. falsification of documents and records, window dressing, false declaration, tax evasion of any kind to the detriment of another person, community society or nation.
According to the global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 by Transparency International (TI), which generated healthy debate, Nigeria occupies 130th position out of the 180 countries surveyed.
The effects of corruption in Nigeria have been significant. From multi-internal effects such as under development, lack of basic infrastructure like good road networks, misuse of natural resources, inadequate power and water supply, mediocrity in professional and leadership positions, defective leadership outputs, fuel scarcity in an oil producing nation, falling standards of education and work output, high unemployment rates, the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor to mention just a few , to the international effects such as the tarnished image of our country in the international circles and the caution exercised by foreign nationals in entering business transactions with Nigerians thereby weakening the economic sector. The multiplier effect has been the mass spread of poverty and our unenviable position in the list of poor and under-developed countries amidst rich natural resources.
In a very simple form, corruption means to destroy the purity of something. It is not manifested in fraud or diversion of physical and tangible things alone, it goes beyond this to encompass abuse, rottenness, misuse, decay and depravity (Labanjo 1970). The Act establishing the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) defines corruption as including bribery, fraud and other related offences (Corrupt Practices Act 2000).
However, let us focus on the fundamental factors that engender corrupt practices in less developed nations, including Nigeria.
Some of the factors are
(i) The great inequality in the distribution of wealth
(ii) Political office as the primary means of gaining access to wealth
(iii) Conflict between changing moral codes
(iv) The weakness of social and governmental enforcement mechanism
(v) The absence of a strong sense of national interest (Bryce 1921).
(vi) Obsession with materialism, compulsion for a shortcut to affluence, glorification, and approbation (of ill-gotten wealth) by the general public are among the reasons for the persistence of corruption in Nigeria. (Ndiulor, March 17, 1999).
In Nigeria, Religion features at the beginning of the nation’s constitution. Chapter 1, Part II (10) prohibits the adoption of any religion as state religion and Chapter IV (38) gives freedom to all citizens on the religion to practice and that no religion should be forced on any citizen against his will.