Tuesday, April 08, 2014

It's called "facilitation"

Ask any Nigerian and we would tell you that corruption is Nigeria's biggest problem. Ask how it can be tackled and we  would  be quick to blame the system and the government and we would throw our hands up in resignation.The system responsible for mire of corruption we are sinking in is an alien that possesses us especially public servants and leaders. The system is responsible for the mysterious fires that gutted Federal ministries in the 1980s when audits approached, the flagrant looting of public funds from the 80s till date and the impunity exhibited in our society. The system is responsible for the Wabara 55 million scam, Stella Oduah, Dimeji Bankole, the Police pension fraud  and Patricia Etteh. 
Though the system dwells in high offices, it also manifests itself in the average Nigerian. How you ask? It generates income for the frustrated hardworking individual to the lazy who sees it as a means to quick easy money. 
For example, you want to obtain the new driver's license, all NIgerian drivers must have by July 2014. You can either process it yourself or use the system. To process it yourself, it would take 3-6 months to get the permit or pay the system between N16,000 ($100) to N20,000 ($116) and you would get your license in no time.  How much is the actual cost of the license? N6,375 ($37). Part of the 16,000 goes to the facilitator (the system's incarnate) and the civil servants who expedite processing the license. 
Another example is passport processing.The official cost of a passport is N7,500 and there is no timeline/ SLA on processing a passport. It could take up to 8 weeks. However with N20,000($116)-N25000($145), a passport is yours in 48 hours. In this case, the "facilitators" are immigration officials-there's nothing for the boys.  Still on immigration, are you tired of standing in queues when you arrive Nigeria to be cleared? Would you love  to exit from the plane straight to pick your bags? That can be arranged for as little as $100. In fact, some security firms would provide escort services from the plane to your home for N600, 000 ($3400)- the firm takes its share and the rest is paid to immigration officials unreceipted. 
Customs is another institution the system presents itself. Scanners have been provided to check and clear containers without unloading the container. However because offerings have to be made to the system, containers are unloaded by clearing agents for custom officials to check, 79 signatures are required to clear the goods and at the end of the day an importer has to pay demurrage and pays the clearing agent higher than the originally agreed fee. 
Yet the system is neither a spirit nor a ghost. The system lives because we enable it. We enable it because it is convenient, we can afford it and we do not care, thus the system thrives and when it does not work in our favour we gripe about the decay in our society. 
The makers of system are public servants who see the government agencies as avenues to make money and make processes needlessly cumbersome. Until the "system" is starved, it the cost of living and transactions would continue to rise. 
Unfortunately we would not fight the system because we believe in waiting our turn and hope for the imaginary day we or those we influence would have control over the system.

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