The Perceived Corruption of Office Holders: A Debate on Compromising Standards

There is a general belief among people that officeholders and politicians are naturally corrupt, and so the electorate shouldn’t expect so much from them when they get into office, as they would only go there to feed fat on public funds. That idea stems from the fact that human wants and desires are insatiable, and so they often can’t resist the urge to steal. The idea that officeholders are inherently corrupt and likely to take advantage of their positions for personal gain has been a prevailing belief among the public for many years.

This perception has given rise to a heated debate in recent times. A close observer of such arguments would see that two distinct schools of thought always emerge. There’s a school of thought that thinks that corruption is a universal human trait that isn’t only found in politicians. The other school of thought, however, believes strongly that maintaining integrity in public service is very much possible and also crucial.

In this article, we will go into detail, looking at the various schools of thought and examining their arguments. We would then look at an interview we had with a few random individuals and at the end of the day, we would attempt to draw a conclusion that we think is reasonable based on their various perspectives and from general knowledge.

This promises to be an engaging and interesting read, so sit tight and enjoy.

The Pervading Perception

The belief that officeholders and politicians are often predisposed to corruption is deeply rooted in the public consciousness. This perception often arises from a combination of historical cases of corruption, widely publicised scandals, and a fundamental distrust of those in power.

We would be considering Nigeria as a case study. It is on record that a certain former governor in Nigeria, on handing over to the next governor was already on his way to Houston Texas but was immediately apprehended by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), although he was later released a few days later. Reports have it that he was involved in a suspected ₦42 billion fraud case and misuse of public funds.

Few of those corrupt individuals were convicted while most of those cases were swept under the carpet. Cases like that reflect the scepticism that many people hold towards their elected representatives, often leading to lowered expectations for ethical behaviour from officeholders.

Irrespective of how good a person was before entering office, there’s the general belief that they would surely compromise and focus on feeding fat on public funds. This perception perpetuates the notion that it is a matter of when, rather than if, a politician will succumb to corrupt practices.

The School of Thought: Universal Human Tendency

Students of this school of thought believe that corruption isn’t exclusive to politicians, nor is it tied to their roles. They believe that all humans irrespective of their profession or social standing, can compromise their standards and engage in dishonest behaviour. They point out that religious leaders, heads of schools, and business owners, all exhibit some form of corruption or the other but theirs escape the radar because the spotlight isn’t on them.

This school of thought suggests that the opportunity to engage in corruption is the primary driver of unethical conduct. What this means is that someone who hasn’t stolen or not exhibited corruption tendencies simply hasn’t had the chance to do so.

This perspective points out the universal nature of human temptation and the challenge or resistance to it when presented with the right circumstances.

The School of Thought: Upholding Integrity

On the other hand, some vehemently believe and argue that maintaining integrity, especially in public office is not only possible but also imperative. They emphasize that officeholders have a moral and ethical responsibility to serve their constituents faithfully and transparently.

They quote the popular saying of former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi who stated clearly that public funds should be used for public good. He had constantly maintained that there was not a single case of corruption traced to him because he did the right thing.

This same school of thought quote the case of the current governor of Abia State who has in less than Five months been able to give Abia State a new facelift. Governor Alex Otti was quoted recently as saying that he hasn’t taken a salary since he came into power and won’t do that for the next four years.

According to this school of thought, it is still possible to not be corrupt while in office. This school of thought advocates for accountability, transparency, and stringent anticorruption measures to deter unethical conduct. They also believe that the individuals who are elected or appointed to public office must rise above personal desires and prioritise the welfare of the public they serve.

Random Views and Observation

A Lady who wants to simply be identified as Darasimi has this to say: “Corruption is a subject of long debate and it’s something that seems like it can’t be eradicated. What has to happen, however, is that predecessors should lay good examples and standards for successors, so that when those successors come in, they would see a blueprint they would want to emulate, if the blueprint laid down is however negative, they would somehow exhibit same.”

She went further to state that Nigerians are somewhat used to corruption, and since corruption has gradually become a universal human trait, the focus should however be to do some form of public good in the process!

The debate on whether officeholders are naturally corrupt or whether they can maintain integrity is a nuanced one, rooted in complex human behaviour and societal perceptions. While the most common belief is that officeholders are predisposed to corruption, such a perspective is not without its challenges. 

On one hand, some believe corruption is a universal human trait, while on the other hand, there are proponents of ethical public service that assert that maintaining integrity is not only possible but essential.

In Conclusion, the true nature of officeholders and politicians and their propensity for corruption remains a subject of hot debate. However, public expectations and the establishment of robust mechanisms for accountability and transparency are vital in shaping the behaviour of those in public office. Ultimately, the question of whether one’s standards will be compromised may not be entirely determined by the role one occupies, but by the strength of their character and the ethical framework one chooses to uphold.

The Final Message to us all is that in everything we do and wherever we find ourselves, let’s always strive to be the change we seek and by so doing, just maybe, corruption would be reduced to a drastic level.

– Eze Arinzechukwu Evans


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *