Mrs. Gloria Laraba Shoda, the National President of National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) has lashed out at the women as largely responsible for corruption.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), she counselled women to be role models and begged Nigerians also to return to the core values for which they were known in order the save the country from moral degeneration.
Question: Could you please introduce yourself madam?
My name is Gloria Laraba shoda (MNI). I am the National President of National Council of Women Society (NCWS). I am a mixture of North East and West. My parents are from north and east, then my husband is from west. I can say that I am WAZOBIA. I am married to an ex-military officer with children. I am 60 year old.
Question: Anti- corruption fight was one of the slogans of APC and President Mohammedu Buhari during the election campaign. Is it really worth it as a programme?.
Answer: Yes it is worth it because corruption is a very dangerous disease. Corruption is something that can destroy the whole world if not checked; it is a monster and is so deep in this country that we don’t really know what to do.
Question: What is the cause of corruption?
Answer: There are many causes of corruption. Lack of education can cause corruption. It is true that many people are sent to school, but a lot of people lack education. It could be because of ignorance, greed, love for materials, it could be anything. It could be that people are trying to copy other people. There are so many reasons for corruption because corruption is from childhood. There is so much corruption everywhere; we know that there are billions and trillions of naira stolen; there is corruption even at the grassroots. So many things cause corruption. We can’t really pin point why we are corrupt other then greed.
Let me tell you what I heard from someone, a teacher was talking to a group of eight to nine years primary school children. Do we know what corruption is, they said yes. Is corruption good or bad, they said it is bad. So if it is bad, how do we stop it? One child put up his hand and said the best thing to do is to kill everybody from the age of nine. The boy is eight years and said they should kill everybody from the age of nine. Is that not corruption? That small boy is corrupt because he removed himself because he could easily say they should wipe off everybody in the country, but he said from the age of nine and remove himself. So corruption starts from the home, between the parents, mother and father. You see that even among the children, the father will love some and not love some. They try to bribe some of the children, bribe your children to do house work, bribe your children to go to school. Come if you go to school today I will give you biscuit, what about the day you don’t have money for biscuit, the child will not go to school or the child will go to school and steal. So you teach the child how to receive bribe. When they get to school, corruption continues, because the teachers themselves are corrupt. Corruption grows gradually and becomes a habit so that when they get to the big offices, they do everything to make money.
Question: How do women contribute to corruption?
Answer: Women contribute to corruption in very many ways; in their demands from their husbands, boyfriends, and children. If women compare their husbands with other husbands that ride better cars, maybe the man has a bike or he does not even have a car, she goes on nagging until the man will says okay; I must find a way of making money. The demand from their children, especially the girls, they will now say, your own is just to be asking, look at all your friends when they go out they bring money for their mothers, the children then become corrupt, they decide to steal or go into prostitution. Prostitution is also a form of corruption. The same thing they ask from the men; from home the demands for “Aso ebi’’ and outside too. For example, there are numerous people asking for “Aso ebi’’ so in one month, how many women will he buy Aso ebi for and he is just a director. He needs this money and he is just a director so he has to steal, do some dirty deals to be able to make money. So the demands of women, sometime they might not know that they are encouraging corruption. So women can be catalyst of corruption in so many ways, to their husband, children and their family.
Question: What are the consequences of corruption?
Answer: Corruption will impoverish the nation because a few people are stealing and many people are hungry. Meaning that, there is a difference in the society. You have the poor, they are very poor and you have the rich and they are very rich. That is from corruption. National development will not be normal; there may be growth because there is so much money but the growth is really not there. Roads will be bad; housing will be inadequate, no proper water for people to drink.
Yesterday I was talking with Miyetti Allah Cattle Rustlers Association, the women wing. They talked about the deplorable state of their homes, how terrible their homes are, how sometimes they have to stay two days before they can go to their homes when it rains, how there is rape and sexual harassment among women. How their children cannot go to schools, how there are schools but there are no teacher because teachers don’t even go to schools they have gone to trade. They are looking for money so they have gone to trade, they are collecting government money but they are not delivering the teaching they asked them to do. Inspectors are supposed to be there, we don’t see them, they are not there, inspector only go to cities were the teachers will contribute money and give to them. That is corruption. They don’t go to rural areas where they know that they will not get anything, where they will meet leaking roof, where there are no tables, no chairs for them to sit and of course they will not get the little welfare package. This is corruption, they called it welfare but I called it corruption. Corruption is very dangerous, it destroy things.
It is corruption that leads to all this Boko Haram problem. If you are corrupt and you want to win election, you steal money, equip yourself and you put some boys and you say they are your body guards and you begin to give them arms, the day you leave them and say you don’t want again they become terrors to the society.
When this politician does a little, another does a little, at the end of a tenure, we have a group of armed thugs that can come together to harass people. So corruption leads to so many things. People don’t even think about their own children, they believe okay, their children are somewhere, maybe outside the country, they can’t remember that their children will also come back.
There is something that one Fulani women told me, you people in the city, you make the money in the city and come to the village and buy up all the land and you drive us father into the forest to go and suffer. Don’t forget that one day; hunger will drive us from the bushes where we are staying to come to the city to come and meet you, so that is what corruption can do. She also say that the Fulani rustlers, some of cattle do not belong to them, they belong to some rich politicians, rich people and that when they Fulani boys get into trouble, this rich people will deny them and ofcourse they will retaliate. Their children now don’t even fear police anymore, they are ready to die.
You say you want to empower women, every day I hear of empowering of women, but you empower the same women that have already been empowered. Is that not a type of corruption because you cannot go to the villages? You cannot bring out people; the real people that need to be empowered cannot get it because it has been taken by people that can empower others. That is corruption, it is a virtual circle.
Question: Corruption fight – is it really biting hard?
Answer: Corruption fight is biting hard on people that have billions, and it is causing more problems for people that have nothing and they continue to be corrupt again. Corruption is being stopped at the very top, but at the bottom corruption is happening.
Question: Is the battle against corruption on course?
Answer: Yes the battle is on, but we have not really seen, but we hear that some corrupt people are there. Nobody has been taken to court and have been convicted of corruption yet. But it is as if to take hold of them, collect the money and warn them to go and sin no more, that is what is happening.
Question: If you where the President of Nigeria, what will you do?
Answer: Nigeria is a very complex country and corruption is so much that if you decide to jail everybody that is corrupt in Nigeria; I think every house will be touched. I believe that what they have stolen should be taken back and give them strict warning to go and sin no more. Just like Pastors and Imams will do because nearly everybody is guilty of corruption but it is just the dimension that is different. If you want to jail everybody that is corrupt, you need to build more prisons.
Question: In China and the East, if you are caught for corruption, you will be shot and your family made to pay for the bullet.
Answer: If you do that in Nigeria, almost everybody will pay for bullet. We are just sitting down here talking about corruption nearly every home in Nigeria have somebody that is corrupt. Nearly every home given the opportunity to see money will be corrupt. Because this thing has started, it is a social thing; it has become a kind of norm in Nigeria. Even in some tribe, they say it is where you are working that you will eat.
There is this belief that if you work with a rich man and you are not rich, than you are a fool. It is a known norm in Nigeria so if we have this kind of behaviour already from infancy, the children are growing and they are hearing this kind of things, that wherever you work that is where your eat and if you are working in a place where there is money and you are not rich than you are a fool. Then corruption will continue, even when you kill some people now, other will start again and then you kill another set of people, others will start if we decide to behave like China. And if you decide to jail, people will just be meeting other people in jail because the next set of people you bring will go to jail also. That is the problem of corruption.
But I think we should begin to teach our children from the homes. In those days, if you bring something that does not belong to you home; you will be in trouble because your mother will hold your ears to get to that place where you got it; may be you told her that your friend gave you, your mother will say show me that friend that gave you this something and that is why children in our days will say no, I don’t want because my mother will teach me a lesson. When we were growing that was what was happening; you don’t just take something home but now children will even take beautiful lace and go and give it to their mother and their mother will say ooo my daughter this is very beautiful, who gave it to you, and the daughter will tell her mummy’ lies and the mother will collect and will not say no go back, I want to see who gave you this something, is not like that. We don’t train our children like that way anymore, so we should go back to that. Home training, to our core values of those days when in the villages, if you steal your family becomes a taboo because you cannot stand up to talk, people will say, please you can’t talk because your son is a thief; you can’t even control your home. We should go back to these our values and we should teach them in schools. We don’t even have history now, a lot of schools don’t teach history, they don’t teach moral instruction, even ordinary hygiene is not taught in schools anymore they now bring French, Chinese, German and now bring some subject to replace these subject that teaches us core values for everybody.
Question: Where did we get it wrong?
Answer: Change in policies, there is a policy on education that we have that was set up by the federal government, but you know that every state governor wants his own special policy. When he comes, he wants to review what has been done by his predecessor. Our policies keep changing and the privates schools too came in and decide to import their own from U.S, some import from London some have a mixture, and they say let’s have a British school in Nigeria, American system in Nigeria they have forgotten that our cultures are different. So in the cause of bringing the westernized culture into school system, they remove our own culture. They remove our own core values and norms, these things that make us Nigerians they remove them and replace them with the western ones. Ofcourse what you see is some American children in the school, when the teacher talks, they say `hi’. That is what we have, something that does not happen in those days. I always fight anybody that says `hi’ to me. Look at when they send you text (SMS), they never complete their sentences, everything is short cut and the spellings are different, they have become Americans, they have created their own spelling different from what we know. That is the beginning of indiscipline and indiscipline will lead to corruption.
Question: How many women are registered members of your society?
Answer: Our society is spread all over Nigeria. Spread across the 36 states and the FCT. In the state, we have proper structures and we also have structures in the 774 local government areas; we are in millions. We have just started our data collection which in the next six months we will be able to tell you how many million members we have.
In some state we have millions; in some we have over five hundred and in some Local government areas we have up to five hundred members. We have sent out forms and the forms will be filled and returned to us. We will give them ID cards with numbers. The ID card will have a card code on it so that at any time you will know who your members are. We are in the process of doing a good portal where everything will be save so that if you want to know the number of people we have in NCWS it will be easy for everybody to know with their names and LGA, we are in that process now. You should know that NCWS is undergoing rebranding now.
Question: What are those things that you are doing to rebrand?
Answer: We are trying to make sure that we are non-political, non-governmental, non-ethnic. The things that are enshrined in our constitution we are adhering to them very strictly. In our constitution, it says that we should support the government of the day wherever we are, so if the government of the day is APC like in Abuja we support because the Wife of the president is our grand patron but when if we get to Anambra state where the government of the day is APGA and when we get to PDP state we support because NCWS is not particular about any political party. And in the very near future come 2019, when women come out to contest we are going to support women. That is the campaign that we are going to start very soon, we must place our women in good position.
Question: What is your take on affirmative action?
Answer: We are still waiting for the National Assemble to approve it and make it into law in Nigeria so that we know that at least 35 per cent of women will be in governance. This government does not even have up to 20 per cent or 10 per cent, women are lacking in this government and we are only asking for 35 per cent, it could be 50 per cent there is nothing wrong with that. We are hoping that in the next dispensation more women will come out for elective post. We are not just asking for appointive positions because when we say 35 per cent a lot of people are quick to say oh appointive positions; we want also elective positions so the political parties must give us that preference.
We are not saying they should pick their people, we are saying that credible women should come out and contest for positions. Why can’t we have women chairman of political parties? I have never heard a women becoming chairman of a big political party. When you look at the national executive of big political parties, go and count the number of women that are there.
Question: What is the contribution of women to nation building?
Answer: Women in Nigeria contribute immensely to nation building. In fact, I can say that women are the energy room of the economy in Nigeria. Even when the economy is going down, they are working. They are the ones sustaining the economy from all what they are doing – trading and farming. When we had the boost of the GDP and say that Nigeria is the biggest economy, who contributed to it, most of them are women. The men want the bigger job; they want millions of naira while the women are there making small, small money that is sustaining this country, so women are contributing immensely in education, agriculture, healthy. Name any field, women are there and they are contributing their quota. (ENDS)