Sunday 7 December 2008

Nigeria: Eyesight linked to fraud and corruption

Excuses for answers

The fundamental principles of science, logic and objective analysis would have trouble coming through unscathed in Nigeria.

Having had an engineering education I fear for how we find excuses instead of answers to problems within the country, the publication of those excuses does leave much to be desired but the people in charge really do seem convinced of the method to their madness.

The Sunday Tribune in Nigeria obtained information that staff of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has been directed to undergo compulsory eye screening [1] with immediate effect.

Fraudulent eye tests

In fact, in is necessary to pay good attention to the health of the eyes and arrest impending eye problems or diseases, it is also known that poor eyesight might impact on performance, concentration and other aspects of well-being.

What I would not buy is the idea that poor eyesight is related to fraudulent and corrupt activity. This takes us into a realm of speculative suggestion without attempting to address the underlying issues of possible incompetence, deliberate and intentional corruption borne from the lack of principles, poor character development or just the lack of good virtue.

Now, where over-invoicing or under-valuation is concerned, it would suggest there are poor checks and balances, and the lack of procedures to arrest anomalies is a management and organisational issue – to have discovered the problems so far down the line that it has resulted to a systemic matter of fraud and outright corruption means that authority is in need of some radical review.

Results and evaluations

The results of the eye-tests should be interesting and hopefully lead to people taking corrective action that ensures their eyesight is not detrimental to their required productivity.

However, to automatically penalise those with poor eyesight as the main perpetrators of fraudulent activity such that they bare 85% of the cost of treatment is worrisome on the one hand, it also makes one wonder about those whose good eyesight absolves them of activities they might have knowingly schemed and perpetrated.

This is no fight against corruption

If indeed corruption and fraudulent activity has been ascertained, I wonder why the people are not put through an investigatory procedure leading to possible prosecution and then handed over to the anti-graft agencies equipped to root out corruption in public service.

This is where the eyesight link to corruption loses all credibility and has become a charade against the disabled rather than a determined and objective approach to dealing with corruption.

Should we then have people in call centres sent for aural testing without linking what they hear to proper comprehension?

It furthers the question of hand-eye coordination eliminating what the brain should be doing in literacy, numeracy and intelligent application of knowledge in the office the person occupies.

A lack of honest resolve

We should be honest with ourselves and go after the real issue; eyesight tests are good in any organisation, it might be used as part of a productivity enhancement methodology but in the fight against fraud and corruption, correcting the eyesight does not begin to address why people are incompetent, irresponsible, corrupt, dishonest and given to malpractice. It is insincere if not in itself fraudulent to advocate this kind of position.

This kind of action must not enter the body of knowledge as to how to tackle corruption, if ever; it should land in the laughable appendix.

Thankfully, when I read the story the chair was sturdy enough to prevent my falling over and laughing out loud with a cracked skull to boot.


[1] Fraud in FCTA: Authority orders compulsory eye test for staff: Sunday Tribune

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