Causes of corruption
The causes of corruption in Nigeria are multi-dimensional and may not deviate considerably from the following:
- Great inequality in distribution of wealth;
- Political office as the primary means of gaining access to wealth;
- Conflict between changing moral codes;
- The weakness of social and governmental enforcement mechanisms; and
- The absence of a strong sense of national community (Bryce, 1921).
- Obsession with materialism,
- Compulsion for a shortcut to affluence,
- Glorification and approbation of ill-gotten wealth by the general public, (Ndiulor, 1999).
- Failure to pay wages and salaries to public servants when due and yet expect them to pay their transportation cost to work, pay their kid’s tuition fees, etc.
Since independence in the 1960, Nigeria has battled integrity, transparency and accountability problems within its public service. For example the announced motive behind the 1966 coup led by Major Chuckwuma Nzogwu was a desire to "rid the country of irresponsible politicians, incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats, restore respectability and accountability to the Nigerian public service" (Mbaku, 1998:p48). Years later and by 1983 a third coup masterminded by Brigadier Sani Abacha and his colleagues claimed they were "compelled to seize power from the President Shagari government to save Nigeria from rampant corruption, ineptitude and profligacy that had characterised both the federal and state governments of the country" (Agbese, 1998). By 2009 and over a period of thirty years, the conservative estimate of the cost of integrity, transparency and accountability quagmire in Nigeria was $380 billion and climbing. The state of the Nigerian Public Sector has not helped either.
The Nigerian public service has undergone changes and transformation over the years. However, successive reforms aimed at achieving efficiency and effectiveness have failed to make significant impact in terms of reengineering the public sector. For example the "Udoji Commission’s" recommendation of a "unified and integrated administrative structure, the elimination of waste and removal of deadwoods/ inefficient departments and the introduction of a results-oriented public sector that functioned on the basis of management by objective" failed to achieve its goal (Suleiman, 2009:p1). Central to the failure of reform and the root of consistent inefficiency within the Nigerian public service are:
- Colonial, outdated administrative machinery;
- Poor capacity of the majority of civil servants, sometimes to the point of Illiteracy;
- Certificate forgery to gain entry and get promotions;
- Age falsification to remain in service beyond the stipulated period/ age;
- Policy reversals; and
- Primordial considerations like ethnicity at the expense of merit" (ibid).
Various attempts have been made to bring about social reconstruction in the Nigerian public sector. They include the reform of the Nigerian public service, signing to the principles laid out in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2001 (Armstrong, 2005) and the Peer Review Mechanism set up in 2003. An independent watchdog, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),
has also operated with limited success though faced with accusations of corruption within.
In existence too are the civil service handbook which outlines the code of ethics in government business; the guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline issued by the civil service commission; the Code of Conduct Bureau with a mandate to oversee the conduct of political and public servants; the 5th schedule of the 1999 Federal Constitution dealing with codes of behaviour for public office; the Code of Conduct Tribunal with the responsibility for trial or prosecution of all infringement of government business ethics (Tunde and Omobolaji, 2009).
These measures have failed to sustain both political and bureaucratic ethics in the Nigerian public service and acts of unbridled corruption have become the norm. Other well-established mechanisms for establishing and sustaining transparency and accountability in public service include checks and balances among branches of government, law enforcement, voting in elections,
independence and free media and disclosure by politicians (Reinikka and Svensson, 2006; Djankov et al., 2008; Besley and Prat, 2009). These have been experimented with but thwarted by lack of effective leadership and political will.
The endemic levels of economic mismanagement, bribery and corruption, capital flight, political vendetta, enthronement of regional loyalties, institutionalised disrespect for economic and
financial solvency of the state and the nation at large, doctrine of ten-percent, election rigging and other tribulations associated with the Nigerian state, have crippled the economy and state’s ability to maintain social infrastructure and serve the needs of the common man (Akindele et al, 2002; Akindele et al, 2005).