By John Igoli (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It is the patriotic duty of every man to lie for his country. Alfred Adler
When it comes to patriotism we always volunteer others. Others should say the truth and work to move the country forward. They should organise all the protests and resist all forms of corruption and malpractices while we sit and watch and maybe applaud if not criticize from our comfort zones. To these set of people, patriotism is lying to your country.
We are unable to distinguish between patriotic zeal and personal greed. While those in power adduce patriotism for their nefarious activities, the less privileged ones give the same reasons for their corrupt practices. The government on the other hand use patriotic concerns to inflict pains and hardship on the hapless poor who are in the majority today. The phrase â€˜called to serve my country' has been turned to â€˜hastened to serve myself' at the expense of the country.
Patriotism has become a gong sounded by anybody caught in corrupt practices. The 87 fake youth corps members apprehended recently dared to invoke patriotic juices in their veins as reasons for engaging in such an act. The regime of fake youth corps members did not begin today; it is well known that there are professional youth corps members. These are individuals some graduates but usually non-graduates who â€˜serve' on behalf of others. They collect call up letters; go for the service year and at the end hand over the discharge certificates to their patrons.
The patrons are mostly children of the rich who cannot be bothered to serve or have travelled abroad for further studies or have secured very lucrative jobs. With the fate befalling both prospective and serving youth corps members recently this option may become more and more viable in the near future. However from recent experiences, serving in some parts of the country could prove fatal if one is unlucky. This may put a check to our professional corpers and make them to think twice before accepting to go and serve on behalf of others. If our security agencies wish to get to the root of the rot in the scheme, they should investigate and expose these â€˜pseudo-corpers' and punish their patrons also. In the jobless economy which we operate today, serving the nation or patriotism has become a profession.
One way of checking this malaise is to make participation in the NYSC scheme voluntary. Political points could be awarded to those bold enough to have served and they can include it in their CVs but it should not deny any one obtaining jobs or other positions within or without the country.
Another intervention that would help greatly on the long run is to create medium employment. We need to engage our youths productively. A salary or stipend of N15,000 per month to keep them farming or working in our rural areas will help. It will take the pressure off parents and thus reduce corrupt tendencies. It could be restricted to the rural communities for a start and later extended to cover the urban ones too. This will also provide social security and some could even start good businesses and create further employment.
Similarly we should task political and public office holders who claim patriotic fancies for fleecing our nation. They lie to acquire their positions and continue lying that they are doing their job. When probed or caught cheating they immediately claim they are obeying orders or did it for the sake of the nation. The essence of serving or doing a job is to make visible progress in the sector. If the sector is performing worse or is having avoidable problems or costing us more to run, then there is no patriotism or service delivery. Meanwhile over 87 politicians and bureaucrats have been caught in corrupt practices but we are yet to see them punished. Punishing these â€˜fake Corpers' or using them as scape goats will not in any way serve as a deterrent to our various cabals of corruption as the cabals are responsible for the current state of the nation which has led to our jobless youths opting to serve as fake NYSC members to earn a living. A negligible percentage of the monies siphoned would have employed these youths and many more gainfully.
It is not just fake NYSC members we have, we also have fake politicians, civil servants, lecturers and teachers, doctors, religious leaders, journalists even down to fake contracts and contractors or companies, universities, hospitals, schools and most of all fake poverty. The poverty in Nigeria is self-inflicted by fake planning, fake implementation, fake regulations, a fake fight against corruption and fake patriotism on the part of our leaders. Indeed what is not fake in Nigeria?