CORRUPTION: NIGERIA’S HOME GROWN AND WORST ENEMY
This write-up draws on various contributions on corruption to highlight the challenge it poses to the Nigerian state, the economy and the people. It is in our hands to wage a serious war against this faceless enemy that inhabits our daily lives and rubs current and future generations the much deserved justice, accountability and transparency in government, economic growth and prosperity for all.
"There are many unresolved problems in Nigeria, but the issue of the upsurge of corruption is troubling. And the damages it has done to the polity are astronomical. The menace of corruption leads to:
- Slow movement of files in offices,
- Police extortion tollgates and slow traffics on the highways,
- Port congestion,
- Queues at passport offices and gas stations,
- Ghost workers syndrome,
- Election irregularities, among others.
Even the mad people on the street recognize the havoc caused by corruption – the funds allocated for their welfare disappear into the thin air" (Dike, Africaeconomics.org). There is international acceptance that corruption, political or bureaucratic, impedes economic development, undermines stability and erodes trust in public institutions (UNPAN, 2009). Corruption is defined as:
The abuse of public power for private benefit, as a key constraint to efficient allocation of economically valuable resources, effective provision of public goods and services, and people’s confidence in the state and the legal system"
Deininger and Mpuga
In other words, corruption is “efforts to secure wealth or power through illegal means ; private gain at public expense; or a misuse of public power for private benefit (Lipset & Lenz, 2000, p.112-114).
"In addition, corruption is a behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role, because of private [gains] – regarding (personal, close family, private clique, pecuniary
or status gains. It is a behaviour which violates rules against the exercise of certain types of [duties] for private [gains] – regarding influence (Nye, 1967). This definition includes such behaviour as:
- Bribery (use of a reward to pervert the judgment of a person in a position of trust);
- Nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reason of ascriptive relationship rather than merit); and
- Misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private uses (Banfield 1961).
To the already crowded landscape (Osoba 1996), adds that corruption is an anti-social behaviour conferring improper benefits contrary to legal and moral norms, and which undermine the authorities to improve the living conditions of the people" (Dike, Africaeconomics.org). Transparency International, an independent globally authority on corruption, ranks Nigeria among the five most corrupt nations in the world.
To a developing or under developed country like Nigeria, accountability is highly critical for development in at least two ways: Private investment is crucial for driving growth level in developing countries for poverty reduction. Rent seeking by corrupt public officials can increase the cost of entrepreneurial investment and force foreign investors to head elsewhere (Smarzynska and Wei, 2001). A significant infrastructural investment in public goods such as, education, roads, electricity, telecommunication and health is important in developing countries as a basis for private investment, broad-based, and sustainable economic development. However, high levels of corruption have the potential to bias public spending in new projects rather than operation and maintenance
of old ones. In addition to reduction in economic growth, the quality of public service delivery, and foreign investment, this can, in the extreme, lead to a significant reduction in the legitimacy of the state (Tanzi, 1998).