Friday, 6 December 2013

Opinion: Our low threshold for standards

Our sense of judgement
Some events of the last few days have now opened my eyes to why Nigeria would languish at the bottom of corruption rating indices.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Ranking places Nigeria at 144 out of 177 countries with a score of 25 out of a hundred countries.
I observed in a number of tweets that the corruption measurement parameters are skewed to a Western perception of transparency to which we have very little sensitivity.
The poisoning of openness
For instance, there are too many areas where "conflicts of interest" have no particular meaning as pertains to public office.
People or organisations might have multiple interests which could affect their motives or cloud their judgements on issues where independence are critical for a transaction to be above board.
Neopatrimonalism is the order of the day where officials dole out without accounting or accountability to obtain favours and allegiance.
Here, especially people in power buy access, influence, allegiance, obeisance or votes by using the commonwealth of public funds.
Transparency is more a dictionary word rather than one of civil engagement required in all transactions.
Few talent pools
Whilst we are aware of nepotism, influence peddling and malfeasance, they all seem to be instruments of acquiescent brokerage.
We acquiesce to the abuse of power, privilege and office; as much as we can rail against this when it is not in our favour, we are accepting of the gains that this brings us without quibble, concern or even conscience.
The extension of this is the tribal and clannish tendency to want people like us in power rather than the best people we could find do things for the good of all.
The number of states in Nigeria is evidence of the many pools we have to fulfil positions to represent federal character but these many pools do not constitute adequate talent pools to tackle the challenges that face Nigeria.
Low thresholds for standards
For instance, we have a Freedom of Information Act that appears to be a tool of courageous engagement than an everyday call to accountability.
In the almost 30 months of the signing of the Freedom of Information Act, we have not seen its common usage in unravelling the obscurantist tendencies of the government, this especially in determining the cost of our democracy, how much oil we produce, how it gets spent and the real cost of the fuel subsidy.
The fundamental ethical demands of honesty, openness, integrity and so on, have a much lower threshold of fulfilment.
Normalised abuse
We have low expectations of ethical conduct, this accompanied with a very low emotional intelligence of the leadership that they are not discerning of issues enough to adapt or adjust until shamed, blamed, defamed embarrassed into taking appropriate action.
Rather than address the issue upfront, we seek moral equivalences and comparative scenarios to excuse reprehensible conduct or justify positions we have taken.
Consequently we are almost inured to the abuse of power and office, whilst those in power cannot be made fully accountable because the pursuit of truth, fairness and justice is neither with determination nor resolute.
Objectivity and honesty
I reflected on this as I read comments on certain blogs that partly inspired the blog I wrote yesterday - Opinion: The Salvation of Full Disclosure from Hypocrisy
The bigger lesson I want us to take away from that blog remains – With Full Disclosure, whilst people might question your objectivity, they cannot question your honesty, when you juxtapose that statement with another - Without Full Disclosure, whilst people might not question your objectivity, they will question your honesty.
You have a trade-off between objectivity and honesty predicated on full disclosure, that subtle distinction is what had me in the middle of the absurdity of apologising for manifest hypocrisy.
I have to admit and accept that my cultural influences are probably too diametrically opposed to my greater engagement that we all probably have a long and hard job of re-education and reorientation to appreciate that we need to raise the bar for ethical conduct.

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