Archive | December 3, 2018

Our Nation_Ponder This Series_Corruption. Everyone Is A Victim.

Corruption Background Image.jpg

Corruption. A lot rail against it, some defend it, many condone it. But it really affects all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not; whether we see the effects immediately or not. Regardless of our social standing, without prejudice to our clout or influence, corruption is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. (Permit the cliche)

Let’s take tax evasion, for example, which is a form of corruption. Those who pay a fair share, whether they want to or not are most likely to be those who work in the formal sectors of the economy, those whose income can be tracked. For many in the category, their tax is deducted at source. For some others, they are compelled, by reason of trade or professional requirement to pay. In some cases those in this category do not pay the total tax they ought to. What they pay is “guesstimated” (a corruption {sorry now!} of “guess” and “estimated”!)

More difficulty comes with the high-end earners in the informal sector, the business or professional categories. Without mincing words, observance for many in these categories is more in breach than compliance. There are several legitimate and less-so legitimate ways of not paying their fair share, or at all!

So, how does it affect everyone? For the folk that pay their fare share, with or without compulsion, they are affected in the schools, hospitals that ought to have been built and equipped; in the roads that ought to have been constructed and/or properly maintained; in the social safety provisions that ought to have been designed and funded. But are not!

For many in this tax paying category, because of corruption of paying or avoiding due tax revenue by others, they now have to pay premium for basic education; they get mis-diagnosis for treatable ailments or ailments that if caught on time should not be terminal, and even when diagnosed, they go through hell and back to afford palliative medication that keeps them coming back for more ineffectual treatment; they risk limb and life on roads that are not safe for human passage; they are left bereft of succor when they have financial emergencies! And they repeat this cycle, day after day, year after year, until some die prematurely in middle age! A form of constructive homicide tax defaulters ought to be charged with, if you ask me! 

For the upper class, those who have perfected the art of gaming the system, they live in constant fear of their lives because the gulf between their status (sustained by the way with the full taxes paid by others) and the generality of others. They virtually live in prison, behind high walls, they hoard the protection of policemen who should ordinarily keep the peace among generality of the citizenry. When they do fall sick, they travel abroad to pay premium because their dishonesty has denied their immediate environment funds to build, equip and run first class health institutions. They pay premium for vehicles that can ply the failed roads, and pay higher premium to avoid plying those roads by investing in helicopters. One can on and on!

If only everyone pays his/her fair share of tax! Then maybe, just maybe, all will not lose out.

Then there is the issue of embezzlement, brazen or subtle, the popular form of corruption known to all. It is now known that the crudest way to become ‘financially independent’ is to hold government office, or be a beneficiary of government largesse. No, not for provision or delivery of service, but for what you can get out of gaming the system, deliberately broken. This malaise is not political party, gender or faith specific, so no one should come here to beat any chest! It is pervasive, among public office holders, and sadly even in the private sector, and their hangers-on. 

Yes, everybody loses in the end. 

Where public services are deliberately compromised to feed corruption – the roads that are budgeted for but not constructed or maintained, the hospitals that are stocked with fake medications , or no medication at all despite budgetary provisions for them, the public transport system deliberated compromised so that more funds can be allocated for repairs and purchases that are never done etc.; everyone suffer the telling effect. Those who perpetrate these dastardly acts, and those who see and turn the other eye, hoping for a time when “my turn/the turn of my person, will come”, or when for primordial/parochial sentiments, condone or defend such acts!

Maybe time has come for a PERSONAL conversation with ourselves? Would we want our lives run the way we have allowed our governments, and public enterprises’ to be run? Would we wish that our children, born and unborn, continue to suffer for our collective amnesia? Oh, yes people can emigrate, but how many can do so? Even for those who emigrate, would you rather have access to a little of a whole, or a whole of a whole? 

Each person to his corner, to her tent, meditate. How have I been part of the problem? What can I do, in my little corner to begin to reverse (note I am not saying change, for that is a long, long way down the road) the trend? 

It will be a long, hard grind; but as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a step! And please this is not a political piece! 

Ponder this, dear reader.

©Adewale Adeniji. 3rd December 2018.