Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria

Link between Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria

Summary: In this article, we take a look at the link between corruption and insecurity in Nigeria particularly, between 2001 and 2010. Nigeria. In our submission, there is a strong relationship between corruption and insecurity in Nigeria. This is because corruption by public officials caused deprivation, alienation, conflict and insecurity in Nigeria. Therefore, there is need to improve the quality of governance in order to reduce the incidence of corruption and insecurity in Nigeria.


The term ‘corruption’ according to Transparency International is the abuse or misuse of public office or power for private gain or benefit. However, it is important to note that corruption is not only undertaken for personal or self gain, as it can also be undertaken for the benefit of a third party or both.

Corruption manifests itself in many forms. Bribery, mismanagement of public funds, embezzlement, nepotism, despotism, cronyism, etc. are some of the ways corruption manifests itself. Therefore, the elements of corruption include bribery, trading in influence, graft and patronage, nepotism and cronyism, electoral and vote fraud, embezzlement, kickbacks and involvement in organized crimes. It also include unholy alliance and ‘quiet corruption’ meaning citizens not receiving services for which public officials have been paid to deliver.

Causes of Corruption in Nigeria

The causes of corruption in Nigeria are many and varied. First, is the issue of poor wage (low income). Indeed, a strong relationship exists between income and corruption. The low income of most Nigerian workers predispose them to soliciting bribes and take part in other corrupt practices to make ends meet.

Another factor responsible for corruption in Nigeria is the nation’s weak penalty system. Indeed, the risk of being caught and punished for engaging in corrupt practices in Nigeria is too low that public office holders solicit bribes and kickbacks with careless abandon. Corrupt practices in Nigeria would be rare if the chance of being caught is high, if the consequences once caught is predictable and severe, and if it is generally condemned by the society. Thus, corruption thrives where public accountability is lacking.

Similarly, corrupt practices in Nigeria have become attractive because the expected gains exceed the expected costs of undertaking the act. Therefore, a self interested individual will solicit or accept bribe if the expected gains outweigh the costs.

In Nigeria, the chance of being caught is narrow because of weak institutions and even when caught the penalty is not severe to serve as a deterrent.

Therefore, some of the causes of public sector corruption in Nigeria include poor public sector wages, lack of transparency in government business, weak institutional controls, and weak and mild penalty system to deter corruption.


In order to understand insecurity, it is necessary to know what security is. Security has to do with the safety and survival of the state and its citizens from harm or destruction. It encompasses the personal and communal state of being secured from a wide range of critical and pervasive threats.

Security can be defined at individual and national levels. At the level of an individual, security encompasses safety from domestic political persecution, social unrest and safety of the person. Others are freedom from violent crimes and human trafficking. At the national level, security means safety from cross-border tensions, government involvement in armed conflict and the extent of domestic armed conflict. It is also concerned with the number of political refugees and internally displaced people.

National security as a cherished value associated with physical safety of individuals, groups and nation states.

Generally, security denotes safety from threats, anxiety and danger. It can be measured by the absence of fear that threat, anxiety or danger will occur. Security is thus, multi-dimensional; social, economic, political and environmental.

On the other hand, insecurity refers to the prevalence of physical and or potential threat of fear, anxiety or danger detrimental to the safety and survival of individuals, groups and the state at large. This threat can be economic, social, political and environmental.

Insecurity in Nigeria comprises of the rising incidence of kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy in the Niger Delta, the insurgence of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, ethnic and religious conflicts, electoral violence, communal clashes, ritual killings and oil bunkering etc.

Causes of Insecurity in Nigeria

The causes of insecurity in Nigeria are many and varied. These include the proliferation of arms from war-turn countries, local manufacturers and multi-national corporations.

The multi-ethnic nature of the Nigerian state has also contributed to insecurity in the country. Elite manipulation of ethnicity is a major cause of insecurity in Nigeria. Thus, the politicization of ethnicity has been a major cause of conflicts and insecurity in the country. Classic examples are the incessant ethnic and religious conflicts and crises witnessed in Northern region of Nigeria.

Another major cause of conflict and insecurity in Nigeria is the unhealthy struggle for scarce resources. Classic examples are the Niger Delta militancy, and herdsmen-famers conflicts in Nigeria.

Corruption among public office holders is another major cause of insecurity in Nigeria. Corruption in public service is responsible for the lack of infrastructure across Nigeria. The poor state of infrastructure has bred poverty and a sense of deprivation; which drives force behind most conflicts and general insecurity in Nigeria.

Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria

It is important to state that corruption in Nigeria is criminal. Corruption, over the years, has brought about unemployment and massive poverty which creates incentives for unregulated competition for resources and power.

Furthermore, corruption has undermined the capacity of the Nigerian state to mitigate normal social conflict and create avenues for redressing injustice.

Indeed, corruption in Nigeria has intensified desperate conditions of socio-economic deprivation resulting in youth restiveness in the country. Youth restiveness is a major problem because restive (and unemployed) youths often channel their energies into unproductive and criminal acts that worsen the insecurity situation of the country.

Corruption in the security sector particularly has diminished the capacity of the Nigerian state to maintain effective law and order across the country in the mist of violent crimes. This becomes worrisome when considering the fact that the Nigeria police was rated the most corrupt public institution in the country sometime ago.

Conclusion and Recommendations

From the foregoing, the high level of corruption in Nigeria is one of the factors responsible for the high level of insecurity in the country.

In order to address the twin problems of corruption and insecurity in Nigeria, the root causes of corruption in Nigeria need to be addressed. This would include increase in public sector wages, re-orientation for security and judicial staff, political will to implement the freedom of Information Act and strengthen the civil society for greater degree of transparency in governance. The same political will is also required in enforcing penalties deterrent enough to reduce incentives for corruption. These would improve the quality of governance, create better life for the citizens, reduce deprivation, inequality, alienation and insecurity in Nigeria.


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