First, the concluding story of Mr. Stone
Under the strong influence of self-preservation, he got down from his car, boldly gave an empty speech with words like tragic, investigate and future plans. He promised a donation to each of the affected families and he left the scene saying to himself,
‘Next time, we need to pad enough money on top of the actual cost so that we will be able to carry out the project after taking our own cut.’
Yes! That is what he got out of the experience of killing 23 babies. “We will try harder next time to be corrupt and impactful at the same time.”
If you are a young person working in Government, an NGO, Philanthropy-based organization, or closely with any of these organizations, you have every potential to be Mr. Richard.
Infact, Mr. Richard is you (did I hear you say God Forbid?). Well, you will be just like him in a few years if you do not make conscious and concerted efforts to be nothing like those who went before you. The first trap is thinking that somehow you can find the magic mix of both worlds and you will change your country while treating your appointment or employment like the answer to all your personal financial goals.
We have all heard the stories, food meant for refugee camps being sold in shops, money meant to build schools used to build mansions instead, people diverting funds meant to transform lives to their personal pockets, riding fancy cars, abandoned projects everywhere. Not just in Government, foundations and NGOs, everywhere.
Here are things you must know if you place value on your conscience and you want to work in this area (especially the last one):
1. Corrupt systems are built-to-last:
The systems of corruption are designed to lure, force or break you into submission or frustrate you until you give up and leave. I can tell you from experience, it is no joke the pressure you will come under. Infact, when the threats, lies and smear campaigns pile up high enough, even your friends who love you will say,
“Do what they want so that they do not prevent you from making an impact”.
If you fall for it, you would have just taken the first step down a slippery slope to becoming Mr. Stone. If you cannot stand the heat, do not get into the oven or the story you just read, is you in the future. You must have the willpower to do good even if it means being disliked, and you must also develop a high threshold for pressure.
2. No one is born heartless:
Your ‘heart’, conscience and ability to deliver, are not immune to the power of self-preservation so try as much as possible to avoid conflict interest when implementing projects. You will not be able to send an incompetent contractor packing, impose fines or reduce costs optimally if the contractor is you in another person’s body.
3. STOP with the pressure and bad advice:
This is for friends and family of public office holders. Yes! You are part of the corrupt system when you make comments like, “Wow you have made it.”, “You cannot do this for 4 years and have nothing to show oh!”, “It is our turn to chop”, “If you don’t join them, they will frustrate you oh!”,
“Ah! Ah! Is this what you are still driving? A whole Government worker?”, “Can I get a loan of 50 Million?” Side eye to all of you.
You cannot insult corrupt office holders and encourage your friend in government to let you supply one notepad at N100,000 per copy.
People’s expectations of who we must become are a major part of the problem we face. The pressure is crazy, nobody wants to feel like a failure and when you say things like that you give young people more of a reason to take a step down that slippery slope to wickedness.
4. Put God first:
Let me tell you. When you try to do things the right way thinking you are in your little corner, the different variations of threats and attacks on your character, spirit, soul and body are unbelievable. God gives strength and protection through such times. I remember some people sending a message to me that they would attack me spiritually blah bah. I thank God, He is protecting me and I will always put Him first because evil cannot win.
5. It is not just you:
It is easy to feel like a martyr and that you are the only one that wants to do the right thing. Before you go down that road, remember this: It’s rarely ever just you. If you shine bright others who need strength will gravitate towards you. Bringing me to my penultimate point:
6. Surround yourself with good people:
Spend more time with people who do not think you are a fool for not spending public funds on yourself. Ask yourself: does my current circle influence me to do good or bad? If your answer is not what you are proud of, then it is high time you changed your circle. I am forever grateful to God that my Principal officer, Mr. Godwin Obaseki is a beacon of light, an example for us to do things right and serve the people always.
7. Finally, Don’t Feel Used:
Before you start the role, negotiate a fixed amount of money to earn each month and be content with it.
Do not allow yourself to feel used when you give out contracts or opportunities. This one can be difficult, but you should keep reminding yourself that you are doing what you are being paid to do.
Do not take kick-backs from contractors! That is the beginning of the end!
In Summary, if you are not too young to run, you are not too young to shun corruption.
Thank you for reading.
In my next post, I will talk about something completely different.
Please share your comments, questions and experiences.
I assure you the next post will not be this long. :)