A mockery of the fight against corruption
YOU AND EYE Publications By Dr B.G.K AJAYI -- Published on 3:00pm, Friday, 2 December 2016.
What lessons are you teaching the young ones?
I worked very hard all my life; kept my hands off government money and property; refused bribes camouflaged as "gifts of appreciation" for services rendered for which I told them I was paid by my employers; denounced subordinates who requested for bribes before or after giving their services; disciplined assistants and colleagues caught asking for gratification and looked forward to a quiet retirement on my pension, knowing that if I managed as I have hitherto lived, it should take care of my needs.
Today I sit back gazing at the sky and wondering if I had not been stupid! It took over two years to get my gratuity; I have received only one month's pension out of 14 months' owed. And nobody seems to care! No one has offered any explanations. Yet, I spend, every month, N15,000 on my glaucoma medications , N8,000 on my hypertensive medications, pay N18,000 for my house help, not to mention my feeding at N25,000 per month. All these costs are monthly! And my pension is several months behind! Worse still, despite the so-called recession, I still see the opulence displayed by the unfeeling legislators and some government officials.
Where am I supposed to find the money? I am now 75 years old and unemployable. Even then, there's no job for my children. Three of them graduated with First class. None of them has a job. Collectively they started a PURE WATER making venture. At 38, 35 and 31, they are yet unmarried.
What do I tell them and their friends? Do I tell them to be upright, law-abiding, incorruptible and end up in abject poverty? Or do I tell them to "plan" for the future by taking "gifts" when offered and by asking for small "reliefs" or "donations" for future retirement needs just in case their employers refuse to meet their obligations to them in their old age?
But fortunately, I really don't have to tell them anything. My unwritten life's story tells it all. They "live" it with me; my story is not complete without theirs and theirs is incomplete without mine. I can only appeal to their already developed sense of justice and fairness - that two wrongs don't make a right and that diligence and uprightness are daily rewarded in the inner recesses of our minds and thoughts. That there is no greater benefit than to have a mind and heart that are free of fear of being haunted by the sins of one's youth. That what a shame it would bring to one's children and grandchildren to be led in handcuffs to the court room for fraud committed several years before when you thought your sins had been "covered"?
You can't fight corruption by rhetoric. The fight is not by mouthing it, but by strengthening the mind and thought processes on the one hand and by ensuring that a labourer gets a sustainable wage for a day's labour. Added to these, there must be security of tenure and guarantee of an adequate and regular pension to meet the basic needs of the worker at retirement.
These are not my words or thoughts. They are words and thoughts spoken and unspoken by people all around me. Many who never begged in their life have been reduced to old age beggars just because their pensions are in default. It's criminal neglect to deny a worker his salary at the end of the month or refuse to pay a pensioner his pension regularly. The various arms of governments are making a mockery of the fight against corruption.