Okey Ndibe, a US-based Nigerian professor, novelist and columnist, wants President Muhammadu Buhari to create strong institutions and systems that can effectively fight corruption rather than personally tackle the challenge.
Ndibe, who is in Nigeria on a tour to promote his two books — ‘Never Look an American in the Eye (a memoir)’ and ‘Foreign Gods Inc.’ (fiction) – said this during an interview with Guardian Newspaper where he worked briefly as a journalist before leaving for the US.
Citing an instance with the US, where he has lived and taught for the past 28 years, Ndibe said corruption cannot be fought individually if there are no strong systems in place.
“We have to have systems, rather than depend on the whims of individuals. No individual can singularly fight corruption, but systems do,” he said.
“We have to have a system where people know that there are consequences for their actions, irrespective of who they are.
“In Nigeria, state governors have millions in their homes, whereas in America, Trump does not have right to one dollar of America’s money, except his salary.
“Buhari can arrest all the corrupt people, but is it not the same people that will go and prosecute? Buhari should create a system that will take care of pathologies.”
Ndibe also criticised the country’s “mediocre” education system, saying Nigeria only produced the likes of Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka because they were products of “an education system that was sound”.
“The fact that we have many novels coming out of Nigeria is almost a miracle because we have systematically wrecked our institutions,” he said.
“Achebe, Soyinka and the rest of them went through an educational system that was sound; libraries were stocked with books. There were sound professors; there was investment in the educational sector and the environment for learning was well established.
“Today despite the odds, students passing through the system are able to produce short stories; it is actually something we ought to be amazed at because this is a society that is now conditioned to producing mediocrity, because our institutions have become mediocre.”
However, he expressed satisfaction at “the quality of writing coming out of Africa by young men and women and the way they have taken to educating themselves” in spite of all the odds.
“I believe in the human capacity for surpassing achievement, so I believe it is still possible for us to produce another Nobel Laureate in Literature, but not in the sciences.”