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Waging a new war against in discipline (originally posted by Ayo Sogunro in his weekly column for Sunday Punch)

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​”Today, we are fighting corruption. But corruption is multifaceted. While corruption is often exhibited as blatant theft, it has also passed—without challenge—as indiscipline in the exercise of public office.

Indiscipline is the unending verbal diarrhoea of our public officers. Indiscipline is when the president rebukes Nigerians for importing toothpicks while he travels to treat an ear infection. Indiscipline is when the same president returns from vacation to a red carpet, bagpipe-tooting reception. Indiscipline is when governors disrupt traffic with a convoy of cars. Indiscipline is when the public treasury finances the power supply, water supply, healthcare and transportation of public officers while these utilities are unavailable to the general public.

And so, it is unfair to challenge Nigerians to a disciplined behaviour when public officers are uncontrollable. Discipline is a holistic standard. It either exists across all aspects of a society or it fails. A society where the citizens are well behaved but public officers are uncontrollable is merely a slave society. In a developed society, public discipline starts with public office.

This is why public opinion has to react strongly to irresponsible imposition by public officers. We should not ignore bad behaviour simply because it is sanctioned by the president. We should not tolerate insults merely because a governor serves it out. We have to resist attitudes that disrespect the citizenry. Indiscipline in public office should be queried: from a minister who “jumps” traffic to a special assistant who insults citizens on social media.

Of course, this is easier said than done. The Nigerian masses are incapable of dealing with the machinery of government. This is partly because they are not educated enough to handle its incidences, and partly because the struggle for survival requires a capitulation before officialdom. Unfortunately, we cannot run away from the fact that Nigeria operates a patronage economic system. We have a system where profit is determined by closeness to political power, not productivity. Yet, it remains a patronage system because those of us who are enlightened enough to defy its excesses still choose to “support” these leaders.

We need a new war against indiscipline. This is a war against the indiscipline of public officers. And, until there is a full awareness by the masses, the responsibility for this war is on the educated minority. We have waged enough wars against ourselves as citizens. Now, we have to be more concerned about checking the excesses of all arms of government. We have the media and the various social platforms available for expressing public opinion. Pressure, if applied consistently, can yield results. This may be false optimism but, other than outright revolution, it is the best card we have.

Otherwise, we can only look forward to a future where our children will continue to be oppressed in their own land, bullied by comfortable parasites who feed fat—legally and illegally—on our resources.”

Please read the full article in the Sunday Punch.

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