ABUJA (Sundiata Post) According to London Evening Standard, former President Obama and his wife Michelle “signed book deals with Penguin Random House worth more than $60 million (£44.6 million) last year. It’s said to be a record sum for US presidential memoirs.” In Africa, Obama wouldn’t have needed to task himself mentally and intellectually to write a book for personal financial profits. In Africa, he would have made billions of dollars for himself by using his office as a gravy train. But in Western societies, the system is so transparent that that you can’t simply do that without consequences.
In Africa, however, leaders can conveniently make money at public expense. Public office is used as a gravy train. Honest labour is a dirty word. How many African leaders make money from book loyalties and other creative efforts? Instead, they use public office for private financial advantage. They use public offices to become future company directors and chairmen. Their fronts and friends become government contractors. Because of the docile nature of their citizens, the sources of their wealth are hardly subjected to scrutiny. In fact, we even defend their shady wealth because of ethnic and religious solidarity. There are places where white collar thieves are so naively glorified that you can be lynched for insulting a government thief.
While in Western societies corruption attracts infamy, in Africa corruption is honoured and shamelessly rewarded. When you attach glory to a crime, you inevitably creates incentive for such crime. When stealing public funds is perceived as fashionable or a mark of achievement, we automatically destroy the spirit of honest labour. Hard work is perceived as an inconvenience because public office opens the doors to overnight wealth. Why is politics more attractive than medicine? Because in medicine you need to work hard to excel, but in politics such challenge is unnecessary. It would be naive to even imagine that altruistic reasons attract majority African leaders to politics.