Corruption In Nigeria: Causes, Effect and Solution

Over ages, the country has been held hostage In shackles and coffin of corruption and its adverse effect on the countrymen and women, it is no longer new corruption has become a household menace that erupts from public office holders to the floor of a common man in the room, how it happens, the forms it existed and how it can be curtailed needs to be discussed which is the major and focal point of this write-up.

What does corruption mean?

Corruption, multi-faced cancer that had spread its tentacles into all the fabrics of the Nigeria Society, yet is so difficult to define in one-word because Corruption belongs to the group of social sciences concepts described by Gallie as highly contestable concepts.

Thus, the definition that may be attached can be dissected and restricted, and almost all efforts had been to describe it rather than defining it.

(Agbese, 1982), said “corruption is a phenomenon so difficult to define, yet it percolates every structure of the society” and he went on to explain corruption in clearest Nigerian terms.

“When we use our position in society to secure certain advantages jumping a queue, being waved off at the checkpoint or making others bend the rules to accommodate our demands, by whatever means even if it is just ‘thank you’ our action however innocent, however well-intentional, however un-threatening to others, has corrupted a system or a convention or some rules and regulations in application”.

Chief Olusegun Osoba (1995), defined corruption, “as an anti-social behavior conferring improper benefits contrary to legal and moral norms, and which undermines the authorities’ capacity to secure the welfare of all citizens”.

So, corruption in itself is a deadly virus avoided by all, yet is a beautiful bride courted by all even innocently. But unfortunately, the definition of corruption had been restricted to the public administration.

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Corruption is therefore the phenomenon that contravened the normal legal convention and shortcuts the benefits of many entities for few individuals.

To understand the concept of corruption in Nigeria we have to recourse to the Act that created the  Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offenses) Commission (ICPC) Act 2000, where corrupt practices were limited to Offence of giving and accepting gratification, fraudulent acquisition of properties and making false and misleading statement”.

These limitations of the Act warranted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004, which has a broader scope that includes but not limited “to investigate, prevent and prosecute offenders who engage in: Money laundering,  theft of intellectual property and piracy, embezzlement, bribery, smuggling, looting including all sort of corrupt practices, illegal mining, illegal arms deal, human trafficking, and child labor, illegal oil bunkering, tax evasion, foreign exchange malpractices including counterfeiting to currency, open market abuse, prohibited goods, wastes, and dumping of toxic “.

Causes Of Corruption In Nigeria

What are the causes of corruption in Nigeria? Nigeria, despite her rich natural resources of oil and non-oil resources and boasting of been African largest economy, is still being plagued by poverty as over 54% of her populace lives on less than $1 daily.

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As her rich wealth and GDP could not transmit to sustainable living conditions, and the cause of this paradox had been identified so many times as a result of corruption.

The causes of corruption in Nigeria can be attributed to greediness, poorly trained leaders, bad remuneration and also high rate of poverty in the country.

History Of Corruption in Nigeria

Pre-colonial Nigeria was built on a strong traditional system of ethical values with recourse to spiritual to instill compliance and met out justice to defaulters, but all these was eroded by the Colonial invasion of Nigeria especially their flawed indirect rule in Southern Nigeria introduced corruption on a grand scale as they repudiate indigenous values, standards, checks and balances and their callous ways of imposing western system destabilized the well-run bureaucratic machinery which was in place and in existence across pre-colonial southern Nigeria.

Arbitrarily people were chosen as warrant officers to replace the traditional platform and many of the appointed people were of questionable character and were usually intoxicated by power, leading them to abuse and misuse their positions.

These misfits turned the newly introduced consular court system into a corrupted enterprise where instead of holding power in trust for the people, they held power in trust for the colonial authorities.

And these misfits in several instances demanded money in exchange for exemption from colonial aggression and the populace in order to avoid being punished for the grave crime of being citizens, the people responded with Bribery.

The value of hard-work that was common to the pre-colonial Nigeria invasion was destroyed as able Youth and average men were displaced from the farms to work for the white man in their farmland as miners, houseboys, clerks and in other menial capacities.

Monetization occasioned by this exercise introduced a form of greed as the white men living large on the hut taxes becomes the society model rather than hard-working and morally upright fellows and the prevailing culture of acquisition of foreign tastes, introduced a culture of consumerism rather than production.

Thus the weak government institution Nigeria with her culture of affluence which has become part and parcel of public officials coupled with the extended family pressure, village and ethnic loyalties and, unbridled competition between and among the ethnic groups and a dysfunctional legal system and enforcers of the law (police, judges etc.) forced some officials to be corrupt because they believe they could go unpunished and get away with their unwholesome acts further escalate the menace of corruption.

The poor reward system, low remuneration for public servants, unemployment and poverty further compounded with man instinctual greed further fueled corruption-related behavior or actions.

Corruption in Nigeria never stops on this but finds its way down to public officials as elected public officers are further aided by corrupt practices by the protection they enjoyed by the “Official Secrecy Act‟ and “Immunity Clause‟ strategically embodied in the Nigerian Constitution of 1999. And when they are out of office, they buy their way out.

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What Are The Types Of Corruption?

To know and identify the types of corruption is to remove the veil that shroud corruption in mystery. There are seven(7) identified types of corruption, and these are:

  1. Systemic Corruption: This is the corruption that is integrated into the structure of the society, as all the social aspects had been compromised with the state’s major institutions and processes as a willing tool, this form of corruption is at the level of the system.
  2. Sporadic/Individual Corruption: This form of corruption is not wide-spread but occurs irregularly as it is at the level of the individual and not the system. The exposure of the individual cleanses the rot.
  3. Political Corruption: This is the form of corruption that involves unwholesome transactions between private and public-sector actors as collective wealth is hijacked and converted to personal wealth. This form of corruption is at the level of political decision-makers.
  4. Grand/High-Level Corruption: This is the form of corruption that is not materialistic as it is in ideas as it exists in the sphere of policymaking. It can be synonymous with Political corruption but not limited to it.
  5. Petty Corruption: This form of corruption is bureaucratic and on a small-scale level as it exists on the implementation stage where the public officials meet with the public. It can be seen on the street, in government hospitals, in schools and many more.
  6. Legal Corruption: This is the corruption that is as a result of the breaking of well-stated law, no matter how unethical it appears, as long as the law does not explicitly condemn it, it is not legal corruption.
  7. Moral Corruption: This is the corruption that is in the sphere of emotions and moral discretion, this is where religion and traditional societies play a role as they are the determinants in this jurisdiction.

Effects Of Corruption

The effects of corruption can be seen in multiple fronts which can be political, economic, and social in the country, On the first point raised which is on the political front, corruption act as a major constraint and obstacle to democracy and the rule of law.

In a system that is democratic, institutions and offices lose their legitimacy when they are misused for personal advantage and thus, endangers our democracy, and even provoked the intrusion of the military in the political space to clean up the rot as it has always been the norms.

Economically, corruption leads to the depletion of our national wealth by embezzlement, as money is being taken out of the economy and stored up somewhere or in another country thus improvising our country to enrich the other country.

This has hindered the development of fair market structures which has led to job losses and also affects investment. Corruption also diverts public expenditure from sectors that benefit the poor the most, away to the sectors and white elephant projects where kick-backs can readily be obtained by public officials.

In effect, distorted priorities of public policies and diversion of public resources which could have been productively employed to increase productivity bring about effectiveness and efficiency of government performance become the order of the day.

An economy undermined by corruption has the effect of discouraging foreign investment and public donors. The resultant effect of this is the shortage of funds for productive investment. Simply put, corruption hinders direct foreign investment.

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On the social ladder, the people have lost their trust in the political system, in its institutions and leadership, as, they have developed non-challant attitude towards government policies resulting in a weak civil society causing sub-standard goods to increase profit margins.

Corruption also impacts negatively on efficient mobilization and management of human and material resources. It can also alienate modernity–oriented civil servants and cause them to reduce (or withdraw) their service and to leave the country for greener pasture.

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Solution To Combating Corruption Menace In Nigeria

The following recommendations are some of the probable solutions to eradicate this scourge of corruption in Nigeria:

  1. The citizens need to be re-orientated to cultivate positive values and dropping negative values and this program must be a holistic program that starts with the government who shows passionate political will, also to be resolute in eradicating any form of corruption, as political will is what has been deficient and lack of orientation programs from citizens to National Orientation Agency to War Against Indiscipline, the people will definitely fall in tune when the government herself shows integrity in dealing with the systemic corruption that is blighting the nation by first removing the controversial immunity clause and government secrecy clause.
  2. The government must introduce an equitable wages and incentive system and improve other conditions of work so that the level of poverty could be reduced and the quality of life improved. This will inevitably reduce civil servants’ vulnerability and susceptibility to corruption. This must go hand in hand with prompt payment of the workers’ monthly wages and salaries and prevent the brain drain currently going on in the country.
  3. Strengthening of the graft agencies set up to fight corruption–e.g. Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Public Complaints Commission, EFCC and ICPC. This may require amendment of the enabling acts and make their existence relevant and proactive and, operations effective, efficient and result-oriented. With this, their existence and public resources expended on them could be justified.
  4. The monetization of our political system must be discouraged as this will make only service-oriented people to seek political responsibilities and not the business-oriented individuals that pervade the political space of the country.
  5. The people should be given the right sense of values which should be inculcated in the people so that they could respect others for their honesty and not just for their wealth. This will help to develop a positive social attitude and enforcing a code of public ethics.

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We can see corruption has eaten deep to the bone and marrow of the nation, it has become a norm for getting things done in many public places, it has become a right and dues to pay to get elected to certain public positions, it has become cultural values among youths and able mind, we have outline practices to adopt to get rid of corruption in the society.


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