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Chemistry of Corruption 

By Bouddih Adams

Cameroonians have elevated corruption into a fine art with its experts and devotees. It goes that every field of human endeavour or activity has its experts and devotees. The artists assemble the ingredients for corruption in their right doses; set the timing for each ingredient for the right mixture; the amount of heat needed to cook it and, then, brew it to taste, flavour and colour.

Quite a good number of Cameroonians believe corruption has died down as the authorities want to make us see it; with reference to the so called ‘Operation Sparrow Hawk’. It hasn’t. Like diseases that change form if they are not systematically and timely abridged, corruption too, has changed form; especially with the fine brains Cameroonians have.

Corruption can only be abridged with a clean sweep; like the bloody approach of J.J Rawlings of Ghana, or the massive sacking and persecution of cabinet ministers like did the late Yar’Adua of Nigeria. The selective and sporadic picking of corrupt officials in the Cameroons leaves room for opportunistic modification of the very dynamic art of corruption. 

Corruption has so permeated the Cameroonian system and psyche that they find it difficult to do anything without it. No doubt, the police and gendarmes; customs and finance workers; educational authorities and public contract services; as well as the press, are corrupt. The ordinary citizen contributes to it and grows it, without knowing.

Get this one: A contract was advertised and calls were made for tenders. A German submitted a tender stating he could realise it for FCFA 500 million; a Frenchman offered to do the job for FCFA 1.5 billion. A Cameroonian, then, submitted his tender for FCFA 1.5 billion like the Frenchman, requested to meet the minister concerned and told him they had a deal.

He asked the minister to award him the contract and he would pay the German the FCFA 500 million to realise it and, then, he and the minister would share the remaining FCFA 1 billion. And there was a deal; the Frenchman’s tender was enough justification for awarding the contract at FCFA 1.5 billion to a Cameroonian countryman. The contract was realised and he and the minister each were FCFA 500 million-richer.

What with the palm wine tappers whose manna falls from the CDC that fells palms and allows them to tap the wine. The palm trees are lying all around and about and are like, waiting to be tapped in any quantity. Tapping requires little or no effort. But the tappers would still afford to carry on the corrupt chemistry of diluting it with water and, then, up-toning it with saccharine.
What about the little boy in the neighbourhood sent to buy bonbons for his own birthday party, who tears the packet, extracts a couple of the bonbons and then seals it back?

The quid pro quo (something for something) concept has inebriated the Cameroonian person such that there is nothing like charity. Even when someone wants to donate items to an orphanage, he wants people to know that he did it. This is; giving selfishly or giving for selfish interest.

The old ways, by which our parents compelled us to carry load for old people and take a different course back to our homes, so that we don’t meet the old person for s/he to give thanks to us, but to God, are all gone. According to our parents, a ‘thank-you’ was as good as payment for assisting the old person.

When they wanted to send us with a present to someone, they would do that very early in the morning when the person is still in bed. We would be instructed to knock, leave the present at the person’s door-steps and take off so that, by the time the person opens the door and finds the present, s/he would not find us to give thanks to, but to God.

Today, if an old woman asks a child to help her with her load of, say, cocoyams onto her head, the child would want, at least, a cocoyam in return for the help. When that child grows up with that attitude and finally picks a job; even if he earns a fabulous FCFA 1 million a month, he would want a 30 percent kick-back, even from an old and retired person before paying out a paltry pension of, say,  FCFA 30,000.

Cameroonians have refined the art of corruption, added value and such finesse that they deserve to be conferred PhDs and Professorships in the art. Our approach in the fight against corruption offers very fertile conditions for it to transform and change form. Fighting corruption is simply lip service to satisfy donors so that they can continue pumping the money on which the regime survives.

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