By Ademola Araoye
We concluded the last segment noting that a first step in the colonial project was to destroy the superior moral fundamentals of victim societies in the attempt to dominate them. The project entails the construction of new social realities and forging a new identity consciousness. The engineered social realities and a constructed new identity consciousness would be designed to make these societies pliable and amenable to vicious exploitation. The objective is to make them dependent, having been vacated of any dignity or sense of self worth.
The major instrument of this malevolent social engineering was falsehood about the colonizer and his motives. After dehumanizing the colonized, the colonizer lied about itself and the superiority of its moral standing. It then lied more about the nature and character of societies whose wealth it coveted and planned to conquer. This agenda, in uprooting all pillars holding traditional communities, courted long term social and politicalturbulence. The turbulence is often manipulated to consolidate the interest of the inimical external other. With the gradual transformation of sensibilities of its increasingly agitated public in relation to the devaluation of the human spirit and calls for the abolition of slavery, the development of alternatives to slaverywas imperative. The abolition of slavery was formally actualized in Great Britain in 1807. New rationalizations, again fallacies and lies, had to be concocted to justify full occupation of the territories of those said to be sub human. The same logic prevailed among other external forces that faced up to the reality that their projected economic well being was now dependent on continued exploitation of black humanity. The scramble for African real estate was afoot. Expeditions were part of the race for territories in Africa and Asia.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, in now disclaimed reports ofhis findings to the British Parliament after a trip across the length of India, noted that he
“had not seen one person who is beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen… such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think that we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual land cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem , their native culture and they will become what we them, a truly dominated nation”
Whether in respect of India or Africa, in today’s parlance, Lord Macaulay in 1865 articulated the strategic blue print that has guided the fundamentals of all dimensions of Western subjugation of and super-ordinate relations with Africa. It has been based on permanent psychological operations to sustain a sense of inferiority of black humanity globally. The psychological operations has also victimized global white communities that have come to believe and internalized the devaluation of the human spirit. Earlier, we had identified the role of the Church in providing false sacred textual foundations of the great historic hegemonic falsehoods. Africa’s wholesale lethargy in accepting and internalizing the debilitating falsehoods had also been observed. The success of the psych-operations in Africa is illustrated in such embarrassing concepts as Negritude, which implicitly accepted the key assumptions of white intellectual superiority. Negritude has underpinned the worst form of institutional corruption linking Francophone Africa with the French establishment in FrancAfrique.
Corruption can be better understood in the context of the foundations and operations of the post colonial African state. The critical foundation in the construction of the colonial state was falsehood. The natural failure of these human-insensitive experimentations underpins the corruption that has plagued the state and its system. What emerged from the constructions of caricatured European states in Africa turned out to be monstrosities, designed not to advance the interests of human contents of these political containers in the new political entities. Instead, the conjured up state was made in the permanent interest of its creators. The post colonial state was created to project the power and cultural and economic interests of European powers. Accordingly, all manner of falsehoods, lies, and deceptions constitute the underpinnings of the post-colonial African state. Established on the basis of grand institutional corruption, African political entities have been unable to wean themselves away from that fundamental character. African statehood is a monumental fraud. Perceptions of the dubious legitimacy accorded post-colonial state reflect the greed, selfishness and foolishness of African leadership that is largely criminally complicit in the historic fraud. With a leadership generally in tune and in alignment with external forces on the monumental fraud, and associated corruption underpinning the operations of the state, any serious attempt to remove any part of Africa from its flawed foundations of fallacies and lies will unravel the rickety contrivances of falsehoods called states. This includes Nigeria, where every mechanism created for the good of Man is upended in a reflection of the monumental falsehoods on which the country and its operations rest.
The attempts to recalibrate African post-colonial systems by infusing in them observable ground realities, or in plain language, resolving the many uncomfortable but not so hidden truths that have been conveniently shunted aside, have proven dangerous. They easily degenerate into armed conflict. Elsewhere, it has been noted that conflict inheres in the multiple instrumental character of the post-colonial African state. At one level, the post-colonial African state is a vehicle for the articulation of the parochial interests of contending groups within the state who act in concert with respective affiliated transnational groups in the intermestic environment in which the state is located. The goal of the partisan struggle is to dominate and control the policy process in the state. This objective is only feasible in the context of partisan appropriation of the totality of the social, political, economic and cultural spaces. And that is the primary goal in the national politics of the post colonial state. Political Corruption is integral to that dynamicmanagement of internal hegemony. The first outcome, to mitigate tensions before they reach a breaking point, is relative exclusivity in which putative leaders of other groups are co-opted from the margins of policy by the dominant force. The co-opted are allowed limited privileges to create the impression of a national governing elite or party. This arrangement gives a semblance of a democratic inclusivity. The other scenario entails absolute appropriation, where the whole of the ruling caucus and the actual governance is sourced from a dominant group in the multi-national government.
At another level, the post-colonial state is an instrument for the advancement of the hegemonic agendas of powerful elite forces in the international state system. These powerful forces collude with internal forces whose strategic interests are served by this cooperation, to determine the direction in which the post-colonial state should evolve. Through the joint actions of the international forces and their allies within the state and its intermestic environment, the hegemonic force imposes its vision on the post-colonial state. The interaction between these multiple forces, either as separate elements or acting in concert, evolves into conflict. This interaction also determines the dynamics of the conflict that is so generated and impacts on its outcome. For cold comfort, corruption has its utilitarian ends in corruptly rigged states.
The summary of the contexts of corruption in Africa is that the seeds of corruption are embedded in the creation of the state. The material construction of the state is premised on grand corruption of factual realities, upending of values and the destruction of the ethical foundations of its society. The fundamental principle in the construction of the post colonial state is that all good things must fall apart. These are to be replaced with convenient truths of new realties emanating from hegemonic falsehoods to which the new ruling class must subscribe to gain legitimacy. Literally, all good deeds, including the commitment to the welfare of the people, shall not go unpunished. Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria, Kwame Nkrumahof Ghana, Amilcar Cabral of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Pascale Lissouba of Congo Brazaville among a few others, have three things common. They all protected the interests of Africa. They did not corruptly enrich themselves. They were hated by the West. Many of them were physically eliminated, often early in their administration. Muammar Gaddafi died horribly in a rebellion instigated by France and Barrack Obama in the United States, Contrast these occupants of Africa’s pantheon of honor with Mobutu Sese Seko, HouphouetBoigny, Omar Bongo, Sassou Nguesso, Paul Biya etc, etc…. All served or are still serving more than two decades on office. To shun corruption can also be deadly. The lesson is clear. The clarity of the lesson is that corruption is a vital requisite in the longevity of the administrations of African states. Grand Institutional Corruption is the mother of all corruption. This first genre of Africa’s derailment of the natural order of things or corruption is undertaken in various ways. Institutionalized Grand Corruption is structured. It is not an opaque process, especially in Francophone Africa as through its instrumentality African leaders share the spoils of office with French leaders.
Boubacar Boris Diop reveals the workings of the grand corruption scheme in Francophone Africa. FrancAfrique is the ultimate symbol of a confiscated, perverted sovereignty that continues to beget little monsters. Françafrique refers to a unique political phenomenon: the continuous subjugation of supposedly sovereign African states – Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Gabon, to name a few – by their former colonial master, in this case France. The head of state put in place by France must never forget that he is nothing but a puppet, or that he must consider France’s interests before taking any decision or signing any bill. As quid pro quo huge, eye-popping bonanzas are shared among African and French leaders, money that the beleaguered economies of poor countries can ill-afford to lose. He exemplifies this with confessions of previous operative who narrated how he used to carry from Abidjan, Libreville or Brazzaville briefcases stuffed with millions of francs he gave at the Elysée to Jacques Chirac.
Institutionalized corruption applies when the legitimate structures and powers of the state are mobilized within the law by legitimate incumbents of state offices to serve clearlydishonest and illegitimate ends that advance parochial group or personal goals. It may safely be termed egregious breaches of the spirit of the Constitution or abuses of legality without violating the word of the law. Repeated resort to such abuses may become part of the informal operating principles of state and become an element of the governance culture. Institutionalized corruption may be based on sound legal footing or a mish mash of the legal and illegal. But the legality may merely aromatize ethical and moral stench. Institutionalized corruption is often big; Grand corruption. These ends may be fiscal or non fiscal. This may be christened the Gbadolitesyndrome. Where this thrives, the usual effusion of patriotic sentiments by the leadership is often received as garbled contradictory logic.
The elements of the Gbadolite syndrome are derived from the standard operating principles of the Mobutiste state. This syndrome impels the head of state to consecrate his birth village or region as the center of national political and economic life. Key personnel, especially, in the intelligence and security realms, are sourced primarily from Gbadolite. Palaces are built in small villages of no economic value. Strategic investments are located there, even if the viability and longevity of such investments are clearly doubtful. They survive only withcontinued wastage of national resources. The locations of vital structures merely serve to satiate the ego or desire of the head of state to transform his humble beginning into a Mecca of sorts.Gbadolite syndrome also reflects the character of the administration or regime as composed of a dominant central character around which all fawning appointees revolve. It is typical in non-democratic settings with a command governance structure. It is an aberration in a democratic system, but may often occur in systems composed largely of groveling politicians determined to exploit the system to their personal advantage. Gbadolite is more comprehensive than the Yamousskro venture of Houphouet Boigny. Both however express the pinnacle of Grand National corruption. The depth and breadth of the Grand National Corruption is a good predictor of the depth and intensity of corruption in the polity as a whole. Grand National corruption is a pathology that percolates into the base levels of the national process. It may or may not involve fiscal transactions. Nonetheless, it is the mother of all corruption. Fiscal corruption involves monetary transactions. The latter does violence to morality and ethics underpinning the foundations of national institutions and society.
Grand National Corruption has been a recurring decimal in Anglophone states. The anatomies of Grand corruption in Francophone Africa and Anglophone are different. As demonstrated by the operations of FrancAfrique, grand corruption is an imposition on the state in France controlled proxy African states. It is a condition for the survival of every administration. The transfer of massive resources to Frenchestablishment characters by the proxy head of state is an insurance policy to stay in power. He is allowed to deploy all means to stay in office. Formal structures have been established with clear lines of interactions and dedicated senior level informal personnel appointed to service illegitimate transactions between the Metropole and province.
Grand National Corruption emanating from the Executivebranch easily percolates to the other branches of the government and lower tiers of administration, such as states, provinces and local governments at the grass roots. It also impacts corporate governance, especially of parastatal institutions, often imbued with some political authority, in the form of Legitimated Institutional Corruption. In its expression in governance, the influence of the Governor of the state, akin to that of the President or Prime Minister at the central level, is brought to bear on the legislative branch that acquiesces to the validation of dishonest executive intentions for the benefit of the Governorand of the legislators. The example of the Public Office Holder Law No 11 of Lagos State that was copied by other states captured the life pension laws of 12 states namely, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Delta, Bayelsa, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi and Rivers states. Others include Gombe, Abia, Katsina, and Zamfara. Described as anti-people, the law represented classic legitimated Institutional Corruption.
Criminal Institutional Corruption would be corruption, irrespective of the scale, by state owned parastatals and Commissions. Such are demonstrated in the revealing hearings on the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The operations of key sectors of the economy such as banks, including the Central Bank, may reflect criminal institutional corruption. These crimes, by their nature, impact the well being of the system as a whole.
Beyond corruption in politics, society and economy undertakenthat may be integral to operations of institutions is dishonesty among key actors who wield significant power in the public realm. These actors operate in the intersection of formal structures and institutions and their private capacities. In fact, they run the institutions. Institutional goals are ideas of powerful individuals with strong political affiliations. In fact, much of institutionalized corruption, from the grand institutionalized through both legitimated and criminal institutional corruption, have strong political connotations. In fact, politics drives corruption at all levels.
Yet still, Political Corruption can conceptually be set apart from the others. Political corruption is all embracing as it is sensitive. For it is traceable to the foundations of the state: controversies around population figures, their regional distribution and the very structure of the state. Election rigging is an important aspect of political rigging that is tied to institutional corruption. This single factor impacts revenue allocation formula, ethno-regional leverages for political influence, and a host of other critical issues of the governance of the state. Concepts such as Godfatherism capture the bane of democracy as practiced in Nigeria. It truncates the popular will, while replacing it with the personal agenda of the Godfather. It has had very disruptive impact on democratic practice. Political corruption permeates national definitions and parameters of universal abstractions such as excellence, competence, truth. The convenient devaluation of universal parameters in their relativization in the deployment of these concepts as national operative tools is part of political corruption. It even impacts the selection of national teams for international competitive tourneys. Political corruption is the most debilitating of all forms of corruption that may afflict a political system.
Corruption at the highest levels has had consequential influence on the capacity of individuals struggling to withstand the temptations of the system dilapidations. Individual and personal choices are made in the context of breakdown of morality and ethical systems. This genre of corruption can be distinctively labeled System Deficiency Induced Corruption. Paid paltry wages and exposed to assured retirement to penury, bureaucratsat all levels have resorted to self help to take care of businessrationally. In this regard, peer pressure and positive and negative demonstrations of deviation from professional codes help the individual in decision making on whether to walk the straight line to penurious damnation in old age or a potential damnation for seeking to beat the system. The crumpled moral and ethical landscape has not been of help to those tortured on which way to go. These are the people on the horns of a dilemma and end up embracing the opportunity to make an extra Naira in petty corruption.
Morality and Value Deficient Corruption: The complete breakdown of morality has been evident in the absolute loss of sanctity of human life. The centrality of wealth and power acquisition to life has been enthroned, even in the hollowed cathedrals of worship of god and/or mammon. The two are interlocked and often indistinguishable. Rampant ritual killings across the country would seem to be driven by two vain ambitions; the belief in efficacy of metaphysical media in the search for political power and/or money. The rise of charlatansto preeminence in the religions, spirituality inspired fornication, spirituality induced Mammon worship, the violations of wards by parents and professors, kidnappers, rapists, cultists and the opaque constituencies of all time evil may all be the full reflection of concretization of the devaluation of the human spirit that was integral to the destruction of the authentic universe of black humanity.
-Read the first part here
-Read the second part here
• Ademola Araoye is a former Nigerian diplomat and a retired official of the United Nations. Currently a Visiting Professor associated with the SARCHi chair on African Diplomacy and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, Araoye is author of critically acclaimed books including Cote d’Ivoire: The Conundrum of a Still Wretched of the Earth and Sources of Conflict in the Post-Colonial African State. He is a regular contributor to TheNEWS magazine