In many cultures greed is frowned upon. But is greed really a bad thing? Greed is defined as a strong desire for more. What is wrong with having a strong desire for more? If you ask me, I would say nothing? If one has a strong desire for something, and does all he can to get it, do you still call that person greedy? I think not. Were the problem really lies is the fact is the methods men take to get whatever thing they have a strong desire for. They are willing to kill, steal and destroy to attain higher levels of power and wealth.
The need for more has always been a fundamental characteristic of Human Nature. In the dark and middle ages, it was all part of political intrigue to kill, steal and destroy to achieve more wealth and more political power. At these periods in history social, political and economic institution where controlled at the discretion of specific individuals – a Monarch or a ruling council – so it was very easy to manipulate the system for one’s interest. This insatiable desire for more led to the great megalomaniacal tyrants of the first and second millennia – names like Theophylact, Medici, Borgia and Tudor would forever remind the world of the inherent dark side of human nature. Even the great German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck was known to have said “Patriotism was probably the motive force of but a few statesmen… much more frequently, it was the ambition, the desire to command, to be admired and to become famous”
But modernism came with it, institutions that operate independent of human discretion to a large extent. The concept of “checks upon checks”; The Executive, Judiciary and Legislative arms of government seize to be in the power of one man. These institutions existed to check the excesses of one another. But in many parts of the world there are many places in which these institutions have become very weak.
An example is the Nigerian state. The institutions that are meant to curb this inherent dark side of human nature have become very powerless. And because men have an insatiable desire for more they succumb to their greed and engage in corrupt activities for their own personal interests, institutionalized corruption abounds within the Nigerian State. It is no longer an exclusive act for corruption to be within the paradigms of the political elite or the old wealthy aristocratic families; corrupt practices today abound from the local bank managers to the school janitors. The average Nigerian does not see how he can get ahead without engaging in some illicit activity.
So the question is how do we set up a system that would curb corrupt practices borne out of greed in the Nigeria State?
It might just be time to use the greed of Nigerians against Nigerians. Bribery is a major pin in the ass of the Nigerian State. It is common for road users to give traffic policemen money to get out of a road violation ticket. Or for an unscrupulous multinational corporation to bribe Safety and Environmental officials to look the other way as they destroy ecosystems, by not adhering to expensive industry standards.
This is where I call for the enactment of the Bribe, Report and Acquire Act. This Act of law is meant to sow discord between the person giving the bribe –from here on known as the ‘briber’; and the person taking the bribe – from here in known as the ‘bribed’.
Though the Bill that would eventually become an Act would be a loop-hole proof document, the main gist of the Act, is to create a level of distrust between the briber and the bribed when they conduct their illicit activity. The law would state that: If anyone collects a bribe or gives a bribe, the first to report to the nearest police station gets 95% of the other’s total net worth. When an illegal transaction has gone down between the briber and the bribed, he or she who reports first essentially bankrupts the other person.
Now it is easy to say that there exists a bond between the briber and bribed, so no one would snitch on each other. But we know this not to be true, because no one is happy giving someone a bribe, and sometimes those who collect bribes are hungry fellows who just want more.
For example, if a rich man wants to give a poor bricklayer some money to look the other way, as he flouts industry standard building practices, and this Bribe, Report and Acquire Bill has already been signed into law, the bricklayer knows his fortune changes the moment he reports the bribe and the rich man would know that the moment he gives the bribe to the bricklayer, all his wealth could be taken away from him if the bricklayer reported him. He would first not have the incentive to bribe, because he could lose all his wealth and could go to jail for flouting mandatory safety practices.
And still to those who believe that the bond between the briber and the bribed is strong, how about the case of snitching within the mafia. In the mafia the rules are clear: ‘nark’ and die. But this does not stop members of the Cosa Nostra from snitching on one another as long as law enforcement guarantees them and their families’ safety.
The Bribe, Report and Acquire if well enforced and examples of cases where a serious wealth transfer just occurred between the individual that gave bribe and the individual that received bribe, many Nigerian would take dressing. Corrupt practices through bribery would become a thing of the past and the country can gorge ahead by dealing with other issues.
Image via NaijaLoaded.com.ng