The year was 2011, our time in Medical School was coming to an end. Our new concern was to get postings for our internship training. In my mind, that wasn’t a big deal; just apply to the hospital of my choice and get the job. So, I kept applying to various hospitals to no avail. I even wrote the interview for the hospital attached to my alma mater, even though I really wanted a change of scene after 7 years.
By this time, I had spent a couple of months at home, and my class mates started asking me; ‘who is working it for you?’ I was confused; it was just an internship, why did I have to know somebody to ‘work it’ for me? It took me 9 months after graduation to finally get a place for my internship. Yes, one of my lecturers was eventually able to contact one of his former students and the person agreed to ‘know me’, if I passed the interview. Passing the interview had obviously never been the problem.
This was my first personal encounter with Corruption, in the form of its junior relative, Nepotism. It has only got worse from that point on. At the Federal Capital Territory Authority, Abuja, you cannot even enter the compound to submit your resume if you don’t ‘know’ someone. And if by some stroke of luck, you manage to get in, you are told there are no vacancies.
Yet, people are getting jobs regularly.
Niger state holds annual recruitment exercises for teachers. Applicants tell stories of having to bribe officials in charge to ensure that they are shortlisted for employment. Sometimes, they borrow the often substantial bribes from friends and relatives, to be repaid when the job is secured and the person starts receiving salaries (or bribes as well!).
In a sense, all this is petty corruption, and it can only happen because of the Grand Corruption that goes on at the top. In March 15, 2014, 16 applicants died during a stampede when half a million jobseekers were invited for a screening for less than five thousand jobs at the Nigerian Immigrations Service. (Read here, here and here). Technology is often touted as a solution to corruption, but in this case, modern technology was employed by the consulting firm, Drexel Technologies Ltd, which was not even a registered recruiter at the Ministry of Labour, to collect some N710 million from over 700,000 unemployed Nigerians, contrary to general government guidelines forbidding the payment of money by jobseekers. Although no wrong-doing has been proved against Drexel or the NIS, the senate committee did hear evidence that payments were made by the company into the personal accounts of NIS staff for official purposes.
When the Bribecode comes into force, private companies that bribe decision makers to act contrary to national interests may be liquidated. The percentage of liquidated assets paid to whistleblowers will make sure that no ‘deal’ is secret forever.
- Without Grand Corruption, chief executives can exercise better oversight and discipline over their staff, eliminating petty corruption from their organisations.
- Without Grand Corruption, the 11,886 abandoned federal projects that litter Nigeria would have been up and running, employing my fellow youths.
- Without Grand Corruption, Nigeria Airways, Nigerian National Shipping Line, and the dozens of other dead parastatals might still be alive and well, impacting on the economy, employing hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
That is why I support the BribeCode.