VISUAL ART AND CORRUPTION: The Art of The Steal

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Hello everybody I did not see too many of us on thepagemagazine’s Facebook page. Wetin dey happen? Well I take it we are just getting warmed up. Afterall it takes extra internal psychological and moral determination for a Nigerian to decide that he or she wants to fight corruption or even to follow the fight against corrupion. But I know many of us can do it. Go ahead, try a quick search and find us on Facebook. Or should we drop a link here? Ok then here is the link to a post about our last piece posted last Friday, 7th April and on which I commented this:  Please let us see your take on how the arts can be deployed against corruption and therefore powerfully align with the National Action Plan of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which, among other measures, outlines key steps for getting rid of the culture of corruption. Before going further, here is a look at the objectives of this column:
From now till about 2019, VISUAL ART AND CORRUPTION means to provide artistically flavored and garnished reporting and commentary on;
1) The progress being made in the implementation of OGP in Nigeria on a national scale and within specific public and private sector organizations.
2) Local and international socio-political and economic developments that impact on the well being of Nigerians
3) The Nigerian entertainment industry with a view to investigating how the almost 2 decades old revolution in the entertainment industry may find a translation into the still arts thereby stimulating renewed dialogue about the much talked about African Renaissance.
Why publish from now till 2019? Because this column considers it crucial to flow with the Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Plan for Nigeria which is currently sitting on an implementation period running from 2017 to 2019. Please stay tuned.

There are of course so many monkey tricks involved when dealing with corruption. For instance, the money one might be chopping from government is all too easily considered a blessing from God (“is this not my reward for all my years of hard work and suffering in the public service? Please don’t disturb me”). Even at the petty theft level, so it is. For instance a certain keke driver found a phone forgotten by a passenger. A rather expensive phone at that. But of course it was not returned to the owner because that phone was considered a blessing from God. My dear reader, on that note how can this column fail to highlight the government’s slogan that CHANGE BEGINS WITH YOU. The suggestion of that slogan is that everybody is a change agent. If that keke man understood this principle, perhaps that phone would have been returned. Will God punish the government for the theft of that phone? Will the hammer of judgment for that particular theft not fall squarely on the keke man? On the other hand, there have been many honest keke drivers, taxi drivers and countless Nigerians in various walks of life who did the needful when faced with the moral test of returning a very expensive phone or other expensive item or large sums of money which one of those monkey tricks of the mind could easily have convinced them to consider a blessing from above.

In an earlier piece, we mentioned that corruption is intractable and hydra headed. We also observed that while other anti-corruption tools and interventions appear to be struggling to grab corruption by the legs and by the tail in order to topple it down, Visual Art has the unique duty of grabbing corruption by the neck and squeezing…gently at first. Its time to cook for corruption a stew that it can choke on…over the medium to long term of course because giants sometimes are stubborn about falling down even when hit very hard (unless of course you are blessed with the power to strike with the force of David against Goliath). Planning is one thing. The passion to implement the plan is quite another. The universe of visual artistic expressions is like a river where one may go to fetch buckets full and tanker loads of passion for driving total implementation of essential national action plans.
Corruption is The Art of The Steal and takes many forms and that is why OGP Nigeria is currently tackling corruption under 4 major thematic areas which include FISCAL TRANSPARENCY, ANTI-CORRUPTION, ACCESS TO INFORMATION and CITIZENS ENGAGEMENT. These area cover all possible areas under which solutions for the corruption problem can be discussed. The Art of the Steal has generated a catalogue of euphemistic devices which enables it to sustain its parasitic relationship with public and private institutions. So do stay with us as we deliver artistically seasoned coverage of progress being made under these areas from now till 2019 (after which the journey nevertheless continues).
Our featured work for today is titled DESTITUTE by Mr Ibim Cookey. This work was among several other paintings exhibited at Universal Hotel, Enugu. ‘Destitute’ is a painting on canvas and captures one of the casualties of corruption in the form of the abject destitution of a severely malnourished child. The destitution is further amplified by a symbol of the narrow dietary options which a culture of corruption forces upon the hungry. A diet so narrow that common biscuits are sometimes substituted for breakfast, lunch or dinner rather than eaten as a snack. This column is certain that many of our readers will remember that whenever they much on a cookie…as a snack for that matter. Crunch! Crunch!

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