POLITICAL CORRUPTION AND SYMBOLISM IN ADICHIE CHIMAMANDA NGOZI’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKEY NDIBE’S ARROWS OF RAIN
Political corruption is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality is considered political corruption. Most economic political and social problems in under developed societies like Nigeria emanate from corruption. Some of these problems include lack of accountability, diversion of public resources to private ownership, different types of discriminations, ethnicity. Lack of competence, inefficiency etc.
There are many causes of political corruption such as ineffective political processes, ineffective political financing, and poverty. Ethnic and religious difference.
A lot of secrecy still pervades government document and this underlies the need for the passage of the freedom of information bill presently before Nigeria‟s National Assembly, also law public participation in Government to mention a few.
The pervasive corrupt practices have been blamed on the colonial masters. According to this view, the nation‟s colonial history may have restricted any early influences in an ethical revolution.
Throughout the colonial period most Nigerians were struck in Ignorance and poverty.
The level of corruption raised serious alarm that attracted the concern of both Nigerians and international community which rated Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries.
Although, the government embarked upon anti-corruption measures but were not sincerely and properly implemented such that the expected objective and goal were not achieved. The problem was rather aggravated. Since then, corruption has continued to militate against national development.
In Nigeria corruption is a problem that has to be rooted out.
Owusi (2002), however in his book, The Root Causes of Corruption in West Africa, was of the view that;
Corruption is made up of opportunist manipulation or branches of existing laws and regulation for advantages.
He emphasized that;
Our inordinate desire for wealth, power prestige and high status and its desirous consumption of scarce, expensive and prestigious import commodities is no doubt one of the roads to corruption in the society”.
Over the years, the country has seen its wealth withered with little to show in living conditions of the average people.
As with many other African nations, Nigeria was an artificial structure initiated by former colonial powers which had neglected to consider religious linguistic and ethnic differences.
The causes of Nigeria Civil War were diverse although, in his memoir, journalist Alex Mitchell blames involvement of the British, Dutch, French and Italian oil companies whose battles for the rich Nigerian oil fields started the Civil War and kept it going.
Nigerian‟s political problems also started from the manner in which the British took over power, administered and abandoned government and people of Nigeria. The British administrators did not make effort to weld the country together and unite the heterogenous group of people. Though many technologies we have today are due to their enlightenment.
Northern leaders however, fear that independence would mean political and economic domination by the more westernized elites in the south, preferred the perpetuation of British rule. As a condition for accepting independence, they demanded that the country continue to be divided into three regions with the North having a clear majority.
On January 15, 1966, major Kaduna Nzeogwu and other junior Army officers (mostly majors and captains) attempted a coup d‟etat. It was generally speculated that the coup had been initiated by the Igbo and for their own primary benefit, because of the ethnicity of those that were killed. The two major political leaders of the North, the Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Premier of the Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello was executed by major Nzeogwu. Also murdered was Sir Ahmadu Bello‟s wife
The coup was not only generally carried out in the Northern region, it was most successful there. The fact that the officer, Lieutenant Connell. Arthur Umegbe was killed can be attributed to the more fact that the officers in charge of implementing Nzeogwu‟s plans in the East were incompetent. The coup, also referred to as the coup of the five majors, has been described in some quarters as Nigeria‟s only revolutionary coup. This was the first coup in the short life of Nigeria‟s nascent democracy. Claims of electoral fraud was one of the reasons given by the coup plotters. This coup resulted in General Johnson Aguyi-Ironsi, an Igbo and Head of the Nigerian Army, taking power as General becoming the first Military Head of State in Nigeria.
By the late 1960s the literature of disillusionment was taking form as a reflection of the widespread violent conflict and political corruption which had began to take hold throughout African societies. Such conflicts inevitably threw the nationalist project into turnoil: how can one speak of a nation or even Pan-African identity when a national is at war with itself? In terms of the novel as genre, Gikandi states that in the mid-1960s the form and function of the novel changed almost overnight, moving the reader away from the sometimes celebratory and utopian tone of earlier novels to a grim critique of the narrative of cultural nationalism. This was a generation of writers who are consciously distancing themselves from the project of cultural nationalism.
This interventionist reading of the contemporary problems regarding ethnic conflict in Africa is one that is shared by writers as diverse as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ngugi Wa Thion‟o. Discussing Nigeria Adichie takes the view that the idea of the tribe has, its roots in colonialism as people did not consciously identify themselves as Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa until the involvement of the British.
The British governed Nigeria indirectly through their traditional rulers, as a result the true leader of the masses were hamstrung and held down. Just because Africans were given authority to rule over her own people. They saw it as means to maltreat those that have more than them and sell his or her brother and sister, mother to gain favour from the superior leaders. The British (Adewale Ademoyeya:why we Struck).
These actions by the local and foreign leaders made the people to seek for independence. Many of them were not thinking straight anymore. The present leadership blame the colonial masters and fore runners of independence for their actions for not doing what is expected of them and also for the embezzlement and stealing of public fund. The political elicits in other to become rich and influential in the society, steal and blame it on the economy and leaders. No one takes responsibility for his own crime and actions.
The politicians and military rulers blame one another for a bad government no one agrees that the other is better than himself.
Emeka Nwabueze is of the opinion that, the question is not weather we should wage war against corruption or not, my quarrel is that the fight should be waged within the context of the constitution.
Several opinions hold that Nigerian political and economic underdevelopment since independence has been as a result of pervasive corrupt practices in both private and public fields: Nepotism which means favouratism granted in politics or business to relatives regardless of merit.
Bribery which is an act of giving money or gift giving that alters the behaviour of the recipient.
Political Scandal is a kind of political corruption that is exposed and becomes a scandal, in which politicians or government officials are accused of engaging in various illegal, corrupt or unethical practices.
Electoral Fraud is the illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result whether by increasing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. Embezzlement, abuse of office etc.
Arnold saw corruption as receiving or offering of money or other advantages in return for contract, acquiring an opportunity, unqualified favor, pervasion of Justice, leading ahead of a queue and the likes. He saw corruption as poverty in juxtaposition to great wealth and luxury or crook in order to live big.
A symbol is an object that represents, stands for or suggests an idea, belief, action, or material entity. Symbols take the form of words, sounds gestures or visual images and are used to convey ideas and beliefs.
It‟s also a sign, shape or object which is used to represent something else.
Symbol is seen in every culture, religion and society. This makes symbol universally acceptable in the sense that it does not exist in one society and is absent in another. There are cultural and religious symbols. Cultural symbols are seen in language, traditional attire, and tribal marks, sacred objects of ancestral qualities; like “ofo” in Igbo culture as the communion of the ancestors. In Igbo culture, grey hair is a symbol of old age and should attain contesy and respect, proverb also in Igbo society are symbolic because they are embodiment of wisdom and tradition.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Political corruption is the abuse of political powers by the government leaders to extract and accumulate for private gain.
Corruption has eaten deep into the system and has destroyed lives and communities and undermines countries and institutions.
The legacy and practices of corruption in different level of ethnic groups leads to war which leaves painful memory behind.
The attempt to create a common understanding has led to the research of this project work.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this paper is to identify the cause of political corruption, its consequences, find a way to prevent it and effect a change. There are also issues were readers find it difficult to identify the presence of symbols in Nigerian fiction and also to understand its meaning the study of this work is to emphasis more on its way out.
SCOPE OF STUDY
The project is the study of political corruption and symbolism and it is mainly focused on two novels: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Arrows of Rain by Okey Ndibe and other relevant literary work of some other Nigerian and African writers and commentaries on corruption and symbolism.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This research paper will help inform readers who have interest in political corruption and symbolism with the help of using Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie Chimamanda and Okey Ndibe‟s Arrows of Rain.
This work will expose how the governments corrupt the society, what happened before, during and after the Biafran War and military rule and how it affected the live of the masses.
The main sources of this project are the factual analysis of the two novels Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie and Arrows of Rain by Okey Ndibe.
Other sources of research are from the library, texts, the internet, Journal and reviews of related texts.