Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Driving licence and the fight against corruption

Osita Chidoka, Corps Marshal, FRSC
It’s over a year this month since I applied to renew my driving licence at FRSC, Ojodu.

As usual when I got there earlier this month, I was given another extension of my temporary driving permit. I was asked to go home and wait for a summon to come for image capture.  It was probably the fifth extension, and I’m sure, there are many more to go before I get that licence.

The subtle message is clear to me:  Bribe an official and and cut out all this endless stress of taking time off work, driving all the way to FRSC Ojodu, wasting more precious time looking for where to park your car, wasting even more time sitting in a crowded canopy and enduring indignities from uncouth civil servants, and having to go back empty-handed at the end of it all.  I’m just intentionally ignoring the message. I don’t know for how long I will be able to ignore the message, though.

There is some form of order in the process these days, compared to what used to be. There is a clear procedure now. Nobody bothers to explain it to you, but in my experience, it moves along smoothly enough, until after all the tests and it remains image capture, the final hurdle.

The officials haven’t changed much though. The elderly, irreverent and uncouth civil servant types are still aplenty, such as the dreaded sharp-tongued woman in Room 5. She is something of an insult goddess, worshipped by her own colleagues and feared by applicants. She treats applicants with the contempt usually reserved for kitchen pests.

Those who want to avoid these indignities would prefer to induce an official to fast-track the process.

If Nigeria is serious about cutting official corruption, it is not hard to figure out what needs to be done.  Look into the processes and make them work. Fish out those who deliberately prevent the processes from working in order to extort the public.

If an application is made, there should be a maximum number of days that application should stay on any official’s table before it is moved along. One year for a licence renewal is unacceptable!

The idea of death penalty for corrupt public official in my humble opinion is silly. How much seriousness have we applied to implementing existing law? If you have not effectively utilized what is existing, how can you complain it is ineffective? Is it when you cannot muster the courage and necessary sincerity to commit a thieving governor to jail that you will now find the courage to kill him? I get pissed off with this tendency for Nigerians to grand-stand and romance highfallutin ideas, when we lack the basic honesty to implement simple, practical measures to achieve the desired results.

Get a leader that is sincere to wipe out corruption in this country today and without changing a thing in our laws will cut official corruption by more than half overnight.

It is not rocket science. Neither is it brain surgery. Nobody wants to go to jail. But people will steal public money when they know they can pull a few strings to avoid going to jail. There only needs to be a leader with a strong determination and the COURAGE to stop that and there will be a positive change.

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