Reading a LinkedIn post by former Senator, Babafemi Ojudu on Chinụa Achebe’s famous literary work, the observation that “when idiots get rich, they don’t mix with others” offers a piercing commentary on the pervasive phenomenon of isolation that often accompanies wealth acquired through corrupt means. This sentiment finds poignant resonance in contemporary Nigerian society, where corrupt politicians, businessmen, religious leaders, and even professionals often distance themselves from the very communities and relationships that once defined them.

The trajectory from modesty to opulence through unethical and dishonest practices has regrettably become a defining characteristic of many individuals in positions of authority and influence across Nigeria. As they amass ill-gotten wealth and ascend the ranks of power, their interactions with ordinary citizens and former friends undergo a remarkable transformation. This transformation manifests as social detachment, a severance of ties, and an apparent disdain for the very fabric of society that they have exploited for personal gain.

The emblematic example of corrupt politicians serves as a microcosm of this disheartening reality. Once ordinary citizens themselves, these individuals often assume public office with the promise of serving the people. However, as they succumb to the allure of embezzlement, kickbacks, and unethical dealings, they gradually distance themselves from the daily struggles of the populace. They erect walls of opulence and privilege, isolating themselves within the confines of illusory grandeur while the community languishes in the shadow of neglect.

Similarly, unscrupulous businessmen, propelled by the insatiable pursuit of wealth, detach themselves from the ethical principles that once governed their endeavours. Their newfound affluence becomes a barrier, insulating them from the very communities they once arose from. Former friends and acquaintances are abandoned in favour of social circles that exalt material excess and moral bankruptcy.

Religious leaders, entrusted with the spiritual well-being of their congregations, are not immune to the corrosive influence of ill-gotten riches. As they amass extravagant wealth through exploitation and manipulation, they retreat into domains of opulence and privilege, severing the empathetic bonds that previously connected them to their followers. The once-hallowed grounds of spiritual guidance become obscured by the looming shadows of avarice and hypocrisy.

Even professionals, once dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and societal betterment, can be ensnared by the tantalizing promises of unearned prosperity. As they trade integrity for opulent lifestyles, they isolate themselves from the communal ethos that once imbued their work with purpose and meaning.

The consequences of this pervasive trend are multifaceted and pernicious. The isolation engendered by corruption perpetuates a culture of impunity and moral decay, as these individuals become increasingly insulated from the ramifications of their actions. The cavernous divide between the corrupt elite and the rest of society engenders resentment, disillusionment, and a palpable erosion of social cohesion. Trust, once the bedrock of the community, is corroded as the chasm between the privileged few and the marginalized many grows ever wider.

Moreover, the inherent dangers of such isolation are manifold. Alienated from the pulse of society, these individuals become susceptible to a host of vices and self-destructive behaviours, ensnared by the hollow trappings of their ill-gotten affluence. The ephemeral nature of their wealth becomes a harbinger of ruin, as they forsake the enduring richness of human connection for the fleeting allure of material decadence.

This affliction extends beyond the immediate perpetrators, casting a long and foreboding shadow over future generations. The legacy of corruption and isolation permeates the fabric of society, sowing seeds of discord and inequality that germinate and flourish across successive generations. The children of corrupt elites are condemned to inherit not only the ostentatious wealth amassed through ill means but also the barren landscape of moral bankruptcy and societal disintegration.

Reflecting on real-life experiences, one cannot help but recall the cautionary tale of a once humble public servant who, upon ascending to a position of authority, secluded himself within the citadel of opulence and privilege. His former friends and constituents became distant memories, eclipsed by the allure of ill-gotten prosperity. As the cocoon of isolation hardened around him, he became increasingly detached from the realities of those he once swore to serve. In the twilight of his years, surrounded by material excess but bereft of enduring connections, he found himself adrift in a sea of regret and desolation.

In conclusion, the pernicious consequences of corruption and the subsequent isolation it breeds stand as an admonition to all who tread the treacherous path of unethical affluence. The empty trappings of ill-gotten riches are but fleeting illusions, while the enduring wealth of human connection and societal harmony evades those who forsake integrity for opulence. The insidious legacy of corruption reverberates across generations, leaving a trail of discord and despair in its wake. It is a harrowing parable that underscores the immutable truth: nothing gained through corruption ends well. God is with us!

Dr. Chiwuike Uba is an Economist, Certified Public Accountant, Financial Management, Public Policy Analyst, Gender Expert, Public Service Management and Public Sector Reforms Expert

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