Corruption is one of the many problems facing Nigeria. Unfortunately, it has done significant damage to the economic, political, and social lives of Nigerians. Although corruption is present in all governments across the world, the magnitude of corruption is unequal in every society. Corruption in Nigeria seems overwhelming; the leaders as well as the followers are corrupt. In this article, we take a look at some of the causes and effects of corruption in Nigeria. Furthermore, we make suggestions on the possible ways of tackling corruption in the country.
Corruption has varied definitions; however, the term ‘corruption involves the violation of established rules for personal gain.
It also refers to attempts or efforts to secure wealth or power through illegal means (private gain at public expense; or a misuse of public power for private benefit.
Therefore, corrupt practices include such behavior as bribery; nepotism; and embezzlement; and misappropriation. Corrupt practices confer improper advantages contrary to legal and moral norms, and undermine the ability of government to improve the living conditions of the people.
Corruption in Nigeria has contributed significantly to the poverty and misery of a large number of Nigerians.
There are many forms of corruption witnessed in Nigeria. These include political, bureaucratic, electoral corruption, etc.
Political corruption in Nigeria occurs when the politicians formulate, establish and implement laws tailored to benefit politicians and legislators against public good. Political corruption has affected the way and manner in which decisions are made, has manipulated political institutions, and has distorted the institutions of government.
Bureaucratic corruption is the kind of corruption Nigerians witness daily at places like the police, hospitals, taxing offices, local licensing offices, schools, etc. In other words, bureaucratic corruption occurs when an individual has to offer tips and bribes (and other inappropriate behaviors) in order to obtain service from the public sector.
Electoral corruption in Nigeria includes political intimidation, interference with freedom of election, purchase of votes with money, and so on. Nigeria is a good example where these practices are common.
Other forms of corruption include bribery, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, favoritism, and nepotism.
In this section of the article, we take a look at some of the causes of corruption in Nigeria. We shall focus on the fundamental factors that promote bribery and corruption throughout the fabric of public life in Nigeria.
Due to the desire to live in affluence, some Nigerians get into corrupt practices for money-making.
The ostentatious display of ill-gotten wealth by public officials points to how bad corruption has reached in the society. Many of these officials before being elected or appointed into offices had modest income. However now, they own properties in choice places around the world.
The glaring lack of ethical standards across the agencies of government and business organizations in Nigeria is responsible for high incidence of corrupt practices in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, many officeholders in Nigeria (appointed or elected) lack clear understanding of the ethical demands of their position. Even as corrupt practices are going off the roof, little attention, if any, is being given to this ideal.
Nigeria has a very poor reward system is (arguably, the poorest in the world). Hard work goes unrecognized and unrewarded; on the other hand, rogues are often glorified in Nigeria. This shows that our values and priorities are wrong.
The pressure to meet the financial family obligations and demands has pushed some workers into corrupt practices.
Weaknesses on the part of those who ought to enforce laws (judges, police officers and public officials) can lead to people engaging in corrupt behavior, since they know that they would get away with it.
A large segment of Nigerians receive meager amounts for a month’s wage. How can these people be honest when they are expected to pay rent, send their children to school, and feed the family?
Under this condition, many citizens would reject laid down rules and innovate criminally to make ends meet.
Other causes of corruption in Nigeria include great inequality in distribution of wealth; and ethnicity as well as the absence of a strong sense of national cohesion:
The negative effects of corruption on Nigeria’s social, economic, and political development are enormous.
Corruption has negative impact on economic growth and development in Nigeria. This is partly because corruption reduces the level of investment, as it adds to investment risk.
Corruption has negative impacts on investment, economic growth, and government expenditure choices and reduces private investment.
Moreover, bribery and corruption, the practice of late payment, delays or refusal of payment for services rendered, scares away foreign investors from Nigeria.
Finally, the high degree of corruption in Nigeria has led to forgone aid. Some foreign donors (e.g. the International Monetary Fund, World Bank) refuse to give aid to nations that are notoriously corrupt.
Because of the widespread of corruption, the international business community regards Nigeria and the whole of Africa as a sinkhole that swallows their money with little or no return.
Corruption has worsened poverty and income inequality in Nigeria.
Due to the pervasiveness of corruption in Nigeria, many Nigerians are of the opinion that it does not pay to be honest, hardworking, and ethical.
By engaging in various corrupt acts, many political office holders have accumulated wealth and acquired landed properties in Nigeria and overseas.
This has discouraged hard work, and integrity, and has made politics a big business in Nigeria. Aspiring politicians spend anything to secure a political office because they know they will steal more once they are elected or appointed.
Thus, corruption discourages honest effort and valuable economic activities; breeding in its wake inefficiency and nepotism.
Corruption has been responsible for political instability in Nigeria, as it led to civil unrest and military takeovers in the past.
Corruption (in addition to post-electoral crisis in the Western region and the fear of northern domination) was responsible for the first 1966 military coup in Nigeria.
Corruption causes a reduction in quality of goods and services available to the public, as some companies could cut corners to increase profit margins.
Corruption has tarnished the image of Nigeria. Indeed, Nigeria’s image has been suffers due to her inability to deal with corruption and bribery.
Corruption has destroyed the legitimacy of various administrations in Nigeria.
For instance, the Shehu Shagari administration was written off as inept because of the magnitude of corruption in the administration, and its lack of policy direction.
The high incidence of corruption in Nigeria has alienated majority of the civil servants; as a consequence, many of them have left the country. Hence, corruption is partly responsible for the ‘brain drain’ in Nigeria.
In summary, years of corruption has diverted scarce public resources into private pockets, undermined democracy and effective governance, and has eroded the social and moral fabric of the Nigerian nation.
In order to tackle the menace of corruption in Nigeria effectively, we recommend the following measures:
1. Re-orientation of the youth in Nigeria to a good value system could help in the war against corruption.
2. Introduce transparency and accountability in government functions, particularly in all financial transactions.
3. Encourage a free press to report to the public on corrupt practices in the society.
4. Organize civil society to tackle the problems of corruption brought to light by the media.
5. Declaration of Assets: The state should require that all high-level Nigerian officials sign a statement granting permission to banks (both local and foreign), real estate or investment house to disclose any personal assets they may hold. Breaking this veil of secrecy is crucial if accountability must be enforced.
6. Scrutiny for sources of income: It is important to scrutinize individual depositors of huge sum of money, by financial institutions for sources. This would discourage looting of national treasury by civil servants.
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