HOW did we get to this abominable sorry pass' At our political independence in 1960, Nigeria showed a lot of promise, what with its abundant human and material resources, and visionary leadership obtainable in the country, then.But, Nigeria, as it is now, is not the country Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe fought for and dreamt of. These nationalists offered us qualitative and visionary leadership, although they had their idiosyncratic peccadilloes and human weaknesses.In the Western Region, the late Chief Awolowo engaged in such developmental strides and initiatives that changed the entire Region. Knowing that education is the cornerstone of development, he formulated and implemented free educational policy and provided facilities that made it possible for indigent people to obtain education and special facilities to enable as many as needed University education to have it in the Westerns Region.Dr. Azikiwe's erudition and political philosophical treatise offered us the road map for national development. Then, politics was issue-based. Those political titans and ideologues played politics of ideas. Chief Awolowo was known for his democratic socialism and welfarism as well as disciplined organisation to achieve same. Sadly, the opposite obtains in our country today.Today's politicians engage in playing politics not of service but personal well-being. Great and profound thoughts do not emanate from them. Their obsession is how to divert our collective financial resources into their private bank accounts.Since the demise of the First Republic, leadership crisis and bad political leadership have put Nigeria in developmental abeyance. The military with its messianic complex devastated the country, economically. Till now, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has not told us how he spent the billions of naira that accrued from the oil gulf wind-fall' Today, corruption has taken root in Nigeria, and has grown into a big tree, whose boughs and branches ruled the airspace. More so, he aborted the Third Republic, with its immeasurable concomitant consequences. General Sani Abacha, who combined kleptomania with sanguinary proclivities, killed members of the opposition and stole the country blind.Thankfully, now, Nigeria has been enjoying democratic governance for 13 unbroken years. We have seen the successful transfer of power from one civilian government to other. But, are Nigerians enjoying the dividend of democracy' Have the standards of living of Nigerians improved since democracy dawned and berthed on our shore in 1999' The answer is a categorical no. Nigerians are suffering in the midst of oil-wealth whereas the thieving politicians who occupy the corridors of power swim in unimaginable wealth and opulence.The fact is that corruption in the political leadership has remained the bane of Nigeria. Corruption is the incurable leukemia that is killing Nigeria gradually. News of corrupt acts perpetrated by our leaders is mind-boggling. The former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, is serving a jail term in London prison for corrupt practices after a court in Nigeria had acquitted him of any wrong doing. A country with corrupt judiciary where judgments can be bought is already doomed and past redemption.Nigerians seek political power not to serve their country and bring development to it, but for self-aggrandizement and to accumulate wealth. The news of the police pension scam fund was followed by the startling revelations about the fuel subsidy business. People received money for fuel they did not import. Now, the probe instituted to unravel what actually happened is compromised by allegation and sordid tale of bribery. What a country'Can Nigeria develop in the face of the magnitude of corruption existing in it today' Sadly, almost every Nigerian is everywhere assumed corrupt until otherwise proven.Corruption cuts across all strata of our society. Here, parents buy admissions for their children to study law and medicine in universities. As they are not brilliant students, they will offer either bribe or sex to lecturers in order to graduate from their universities. So, I wonder what type of lawyers and doctors they will become. Our educational system is dysfunctional owing to bribery and corruption. SSCE, NECO and UME papers flood our streets days before examination papers are written. Are our political leaders aware that education is the foundation of national development'Again, mediocrity has overthrown meritocracy in Nigeria. So, we have square pegs in round holes in bureaucracy in Nigeria. Nepotism, cronyism and bribery and corruption are factors that determine those who secure employment in federal establishments. So, can these ill-educated civil servants articulate and formulate policies that will revamp our economy and position the country for sustainable growth'Nigerians believe that they can achieve success through corrupt practice. So, they cut corners and circumvent rules and regulations. In Nigeria, people who engage in abominable deeds are hailed to high heavens while men of integrity and probity are called fools. If you fail to build mansions in your country home, and own fleet of exotic jeeps after serving as a local government chairman, your kinsmen will pillory you and consider you the biggest fool. Our noble societal values have been eroded in our quest to accumulate wealth.But, religious leaders who should check the excesses of the people are found wanting in their cardinal responsibility of effecting moral regeneration among us. Instead of preaching holiness and righteous living, most pastors of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria teach about the indispensability of wealth in our lives and the formula for making money. Pastors in these churches live ostentatious lifestyles, which provoke and incite their members into engaging in sordid immoral corrupt deeds to acquire money. They view their pastors' lifestyles as the template of behaviour, which they should embrace.The craze for wealth, which is linked to the corruption in Nigeria, is being reinforced by the prosperity messages being propagated by some pastors. Nigerians practise their religions without righteousness. Again, love is the foundation of every religion in Nigeria; but, is it love that propelled practicing Christians and Muslims who occupy governmental posts to divert funds earmarked for projects into their private bank accounts' Is it love that motivated some practicing Christians and Muslims to kill others for ritual money-making'It is an indisputable fact that Nigerians are with dead restrictive mechanisms. They are grossly immoral and unfeeling people. These Nigerians who are without patriotic feelings cannot drive developmental initiatives in Nigeria.What Nigerians need now is moral regeneration. Christian and Muslim clerics should steer Nigerians to the path of moral rectitude, and effect moral regeneration among us.'Okoye, poet and unpublished novelist wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State Click here to read full news..