As part of efforts to break the culture of silence surrounding the alarming problem of corruption in Nigeria, and to mobilize youths to resist and act against it, We the People recently launched an Anti-Corruption Poetry contest. The five-week contest was done in conjunction with the Port Harcourt based Seaview Poetry Club and Rhythm 93.7 FM Port Harcourt. A total of 31 poems written by young Nigerians on the subject of corruption were received, three winners were selected by a panel of judges that carefully examined each entry. For 1 hour each week, anti-corruption poem contributions were read and discussed on radio.

Here are the 3 winning entries

The Antidote
By Sampson Ezenekwe

We’ve been bedridden for a long time,
Suffering bitterly in our very own clime
From a cankerworm, utterly disastrous
How, what and who brought this on us?

It has consumed so deep into our hearts,
Sparing none, as we’ve all crossed paths
Thus, leaving us still, in a vicious circle
Little to the left, to the right, and we rattle

You are only wrong, in a nobody’s fight
Everybody is, and would always be right
You must bribe through as a Technocrat
But tell lies, to be made a Public Servant

A church only rescues the Rich in need,
Even the mosque is not spared indeed
So, take the poor to a shrine, it is safer
Oh! It’ll cost them blood, and the paper

Quality education could be the solution
But keep it expensive, as a demarcation
Extortion cum embezzlement is lauded
Deep in the constitution, it’s embedded

Election rigging is a celebrated culture
Insecurity flirts around like the vulture
But we are asked to pray without cease
Can we ever be free from this disease?

If you want more money, you have to Bet
Yet, street credibility is just so overrated
The rich gets richer, and the poor, poorer
Agitate, and be shot by their paid snipers

A Nation where her youths are gamblers
Her future should be sold to her toddlers
Though innocent, but a specie in danger
They would save like ‘He’, from a manger

Their cries, as odd as it sounds, would heal
And lead our obsolete conscience to peel
Putting her nation back on the world map
With a burning desire, to bridging the gap

Only then, we’d boast of our true freedom
From the shackles, wiggles and kingdom
Of man’s self created mother of atrocities
And we’d sing the victory song in all cities…

Woken Voices
By Queen Monalisa

The voice of the innocent you hear
The pungent smell of rusted iron mixed with salt, flooding the street

We have become unreasonable without even knowing it!
We laugh at our own Idiocracy and stupidity

We recycle our mistakes and still make a joke out of our burnt pot, when do
we wake up from our baby nap?

We have let the criminals into our abode, and watch with kin interest and
yet do nothing as they bag our treasures into their homes,

Why?, our hands are beautifully folded “akimbo” so we can do nothing
The man on his uniform take your earned penny like it’s rightfully his!

You smile back at his “stone deer” face as he steals from you in the broad
day light, and you still hail him ooo chifeoo!!
How stupid we’ve become.

Our rights we know no more, and we are so nonchalant to even border, yet
we complain when the bad men are in position.

How they laugh behind our backs.
When do we tell ourselves that they have bitten more than they can chew?
When do we learn to stop sweeping our voice beneath the carpets?

It all begins only when we’ve made up our minds… And speaks our hearts
We can, only by doing it right!
Let’s end the corruption which have eaten deep into our system.
Like a cankerworm!
Like an infectious termite!!

I Am Mr. Unpopular
By Maverick Michael

My name is not renown, yes,
It seemingly dissolves daily into the murky stream of obscurity,
but I am proud of my identity,
Unknown though it may be.
I hold my head high, like a stiff-necked old soldier, I never die.
I am ignored in social circles and I am turned away at gatherings,
Because my coats are not fancy and my shoes never change,
I am hated by many because I remain the same,
I am never under the authority of Mr. pressure,
To yield to his demands or obey his pettish whims.
Unlike what you know, I am not elastic, so I won’t stretch,
Don’t bother calling me names, I only answer to mine.

I will not dress up the truth or colour it what you want,
For a clean brown envelope of dirty green notes,
The truth needs no covering. Nakedness is her dress.
I will not look between your groins, talk less of visiting them,
In exchange for a twisted version of my opinion defiled by your moans.
I will not dance to the disjointed tunes you play,
Your flute is broken.
Keep your promotion, I will not change the figures,
I will not add a zero or square the two’s
Or invent one more name on the list
To inflate your bottomless pocket or
deepen the colour of your faint lies.

Keep your bags of rice, you can feed your greed-smitten soul with them,
This cake will go round the nation, your mouth is not wider than others.
I don’t need your boxes of empty promises, take them with you,
Your supporters have need of them,
Your little guns don’t scare me, I’m casting my ballot in a box of my
choice.
You ask me for extra-office duties or you’ll give my seat to another?
You can have your office Sir, I’m keeping my privacy private.
I will keep my name. you can smoke the paycheck.

I may be ignored but I am alive
And my voice still speaks
In the words of the few who love me.
My roads are seldom-traveled but my praise is unrestrained,
Like wildfire, you cannot love me, yet you cannot stop me.
I am integrity to A, justice to B, honesty to C.
Call me what you please,
I am Mr. unpopular but I am the standard.