Corruption and its implication on Nigeria’s corporate image abroad

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Uba Group

Nigerian newspaper headlines are daily replete with one corruption story or another in high and low places.

Corruption related stories are not limited to newspaper headlines alone, broadcast media like the TV and radio, online platforms and other social media channels are inundated with stories of sharp practices especially in government, public and private sectors.

Since independence in 1960, corruption has been the bane of Nigerians development journey. The 1966 coup which led to a 30 months bloody civil war was caused by corruption at the corridors of power.

The military hinged their reasons to strike on politicians whose corrupt activities stifled Nigeria’s socioeconomic growth.

In order to tackle incidents of corruption, the Federal Government established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its counterpart, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

Though the two anti-graft agencies have recorded some judicial convictions, their efforts are seen by most Nigerians and international communities as not good enough.

Corruption has become “The rejected food” of many individuals as it runs through every level of Nigerian government, as corruption flows from massive contract fraud at the top, through petty bribery, money laundering scheme, embezzlement and unpaid salaries for workers.

It is estimated that corruption within the state apparatus cost the country billions of dollars yearly and has affected the country’s economy both at home and abroad.

A recently published report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Matthew Page has found that African politicians have over the years exploited UKs education system to launder illicit money.

Other countries like USA, Switzerland, Dubai amongst others are said to be receivers of such illicit money flows from Nigeria.

Corruption deters foreign direct investment because it tarnishes a country’s image. Many investors who would have invested in the country look elsewhere because corruption is seen as an extra cost.

It’s on record that some foreign firms had to leave Nigeria because of high cost of operation associated with corruption.

It is on this note that the corporate image of Nigeria abroad is negatively affected. Nigerians living and doing business outside the country are discriminated against and in most cases branded criminals due to the endemic nature of corruption in the country.

Nigerians no longer proudly flaunt their green passports as doing so sends a dangerous signal to the minds of their prospective foreign partners.
The sharp pattern of commercial activities has always been a feature of international trade and they are often precipitated and emphasized during economic depression.

The corrupt landscape of Nigerian business has made business men abroad less attracted, because everyone is tagged as part of the corrupt breed of Nigeria.

International bodies are a bit reluctant to enter into contractual relations with Nigerian businessmen due to low level of trust as a result of records of corrupt acts in the country.

It is seen that corruption is part of the dominant and most common type of crime in Nigeria, as these records are being placed online worldwide thereby worsening an already bartered Nigeria’s corporate image abroad.

Nigerians living outside are now stigmatized outside their nation, as they are being treated as criminals at the place of immigration, on the street and even in the grocery stores. Many Nigerians are labeled internet fraudsters, fake business owners with unregistered business organizations.

The case of Hushpuppy and other internet fraudsters have done little to help Nigeria’s corporate identity as prospective investors turn their backs on Nigeria.

With little or no hope at home especially for the youths, and rejected abroad, many Nigerians abroad face precarious situations.
In the long run, the implication of continuous fleecing of our collective patrimony is very dangerous to the collective health of Nigerians and should be discouraged at all levels of our national life.

The voices of many Nigerians abroad, remain unheard as they might not have the platforms to air their views. Many of them who are in jail in different parts of the world are held on trumped-up charges with little or no proper representation in courts. They are considered guilty even before trial because they are seen as dishonest people, who cannot be trusted.

Not only in the corporate images alone, but in the aspect of rights and freedom, as the freedom of expression, movement, association is being restricted and affected, mostly for Nigerians in the Diaspora.

These ugly developments have affected behavioural patterns of most Nigerians. Because corruption seems to be rewarded by the obscene display of ill-gotten riches, many young Nigerians have developed wrong mindsets. Get rich quick, yahoo-yahoo syndrome has become a common refrain among the youths.

The pursuit of academic excellence is gradually taking the back seat, while criminal elements are being celebrated.

To tackle corruption all hands must be on deck. The family, churches, mosques, schools and governments at different levels must be involved. Right habits must be cultivated among the youths to develop positive mindsets about the pursuit of wealth because “charity begins at home.”

Okolie, wrote from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.