Onyinye Ough- Executive Director of Step Up Nigeria is interviewed by Boason Omofaye on Business Day, Channels TV in the run up to African Anti-Corruption Day. They discuss her forthcoming book and the importance of educating children on the harm caused by corruption.
Corrupt people often do not realise they are corrupt. Most of them do not recognise that their actions are causing harm to people. To make matters worse, these corrupt persons are praised and celebrated for their corrupt actions by their friends, family and those who directly benefit. The sad truth is, and it pains me to say it, but many corrupt people are actually quite likeable. Often charismatic and outgoing. All of these factors makes it difficult to teach children about the harm corruption is having. Children’s books about corruption can make a difference.
Why I wrote my anti-corruption children’s books.
This is the challenge I’m trying to tackle through my forthcoming children’s book ‘Emeka’s Money‘. Emeka was a good man, and he tried to do good things for the people he liked. Emeka did not realise that his ‘nice actions’ to his friends were causing damage to the growth of his people and community. In one part, Emeka helps a friend secure a road contract from the State Governor. A woman gets injured in a road accident as the kick-backs from the corrupt deal are so severe that the roads are not built well. Emeka starts to reflect on the impact of his actions. The book tries to make direct links between different aspects of corruption and the real harm they cause on people.
Making the link between corruption and poor public services.
We need to get better at explaining the reasons why we should not engage in corrupt activities and make this real and relatable for people. Just saying that people should not be corrupt is not enough. Even corrupt people say that people should not be corrupt. It is more impactful to link corruption to the poor circumstances of the people around us. To prevent future generations from adopting what has become a common practice in Nigeria we need to start shaping the minds of our children. We all need to understand the importance of integrity in public office and delivering services for all. This goes far beyond being likeable and delivering only for our friends and family.