Corruption is one of the major causes of underdevelopment in various countries across the world. The lack of integrity and honesty in the use of public offices and resources for individual gain has led to numerous development challenges in various countries (Smith, 2010). Studies have established that most countries, especially in Africa continue to suffer the effects of underdevelopment due to corruption. Even in the contemporary world of increased democracy, corruption always emerges as the number one hindrance to development. One such country that has lagged behind in terms of development because of corruption is the federal republic of Nigeria (Ikita, 2014).
The West African republic, which got its independence from Britain in 1960 and currently the most populous country in the continent, is in a deeply rooted state of progressive putrefaction. Even after more than fifty years of independence, Nigeria still ranks among the most underdeveloped countries in the world (Smith, 2010). Political bribery and economic corruption are the two major ways in which public resources in Nigeria are abused by individuals in influential positions. Statistics show that over the last couple of years, the country had an average score of 25% in terms of addressing the challenge. The life expectancy in the country has also gone down to 51 years due to challenges related to corruption (Ikita, 2014). Experts argue that the problem is likely to deepen if the government and other relevant social institutions fail to make a timely intervention. Many people fear that the country might reach a point where people have to pay bribes in order to be secure.
Over the years, the challenge of corruption in Nigeria has worsened to the extent of various economic experts questioning the seriousness of the government in eradicating the problem (Okofar, 2014). These questions have been asked amid a tough stance taken by President Goodluck Jonathan as a warning to anyone caught for engaging in corrupt dealings. However, most Nigerians believe that the government is doing very little development as corruption has crippled the economy (Smith, 2010). For example, corruption among security agencies that ought to act as the custodians of the law is quite worrying. Police officers have made Nigerians, especially motorists to view corruption as something that was designed to be part of their life (Ikita, 2014). It is normal for them to bribe traffic police officers every time they are made to pull over even if they have no mistake.
Experts describe the corruption situation in Nigeria as a malady that affects everyone at both human and institutional levels. This means that corruption defines social, economic, political, and development structures in the country (Ikita, 2014). The challenge of development in Nigeria is characterized by elements such as poor infrastructure, a vibrant black market, electoral crimes, lack of power supply, and abuse of human rights among others (Smith, 2010).
Analysis of the corruption challenge in Nigeria
Studies have established that a number of factors are responsible for corruption in the country. Weak institutions of governance are a major causative factor of bribery in the West African country (Ross, 2014). Experts argue that it is not possible to implement policies in a governance system where the custodians of law are the biggest violators. Most cases of corruption in the country are linked to politicians, police officers, and other powerful individuals in influential positions. Recently, the United States of America blocked more than $400 million in accounts held by Nigerian nationals accused of engaging in corruption. Reports indicate that part of the money belonged to Sani Abacha, who was the president of Nigeria in the 1990’s (Ross, 2014). This is a clear indication of a failed governance system coupled with irresponsible leadership. The leaders who are supposed to be eradicating the vice are the same ones behind its growth. The same thinking applies for the country’s police force, which ranks among the most corrupt public institutions in the country.
Another major cause of corruption in Nigeria is the public acceptance of the vice as part of their culture (Okofar, 2014). Experts argue that the people are responsible for encouraging corruption when they agree to pay for services they should be getting for free. Other notable causative factors of corruption in Nigeria include low wages, lack of legislation to fight corruption, poverty, scramble for resources, ineffective political processes, as well as lack of transparency and accountability in the public sector (Ross, 2014). Very little progress has been witnessed to date in the fight against corruption because the government is not doing anything to stop the problem from spreading further.
Some of the reasons as to why the fight against the vice has not succeeded in the country include insecurity of informants, lack of social movements to pressure the government, and lack of transparency in the government (Ikita, 2014). Other reasons include the lack of an inclusive governance system, nepotism, and irresponsible leadership among others. Studies have established that the beneficiaries of corruption in Nigeria are very few compared those who suffer the effects. The major beneficiaries are politicians, police officers, senior government officials, and influential business personalities. People who suffer from the effects of corruption are the citizens, most of whom are extremely poor (Ross, 2014). I think the persistent nature of this problem is due to the fact that the power of making decisions on matters such as this lies in the hands of few individuals who tend to abuse it.
Studies have established that most Nigerians fear for their future and that of subsequent generations if this vice is not wiped out of the society. The rate of development is quite low because there is no primary capital for investment. Experts argue that even though not everyone in Nigeria is corrupt, it is impossible to argue against the common perception that everyone in the country has to part with something to receive any service (Okoye, 2014). According to experts, waging the war against corruption in Nigeria requires a lot of cooperation and honest, especially from political leaders and other influential people in the society. The first recommendation is creating an independent anti corruption commission, which will have the power to deal with anyone suspected of being corrupt regardless of their position in government or society. Experts argue that the inability of such commissions to have their independence can compromise the ability to eliminate the vice due to political interference (Okoye, 2014). It is important to note that corruption is quite deep rooted in Nigeria. Therefore, the best point of tackling the challenge is by identifying and eliminating all the causative factors.
The second recommendation is the creation of public education programs geared towards educating the public on the challenge of corruption, its effects, and the best eradication methods (Okoye, 2014). Experts argue that the use of strategies such as advertisement in print and electronic media, billboards, as well as hand bills can be very effective in enlightening Nigerians about corruption. In addition, the experts argue that this kind of strategy should have a supporting legislation that should push people into reporting cases of corruption without fear of intimidation (Sherk, 2005). This kind of legislation can be effective if financial institutions get incorporated. If they notice any abnormal transactions, they should have the freedom to alert the relevant authorities in order to have the right actions taken (Sherk, 2005).
Other notable ways in which the government can fight corruption is by increasing levels of accountability and transparency, people’s involvement in governance, improving pay incentives, as well as fighting nepotism (Okoye, 2014). The government has a huge task of ensuring that people change their attitude and belief about corruption because it is their right to receive services in accordance with the country’s constitution. I also believe that equitable distribution of resources can play a crucial role in addressing the challenge of corruption. The reason for this is that people will not be forced to scramble for the few available resources through paying of bribes (Okofar, 2014). When everyone has enough, no one will be in a position to ask for bribes.
Corruption is a deep rooted problem that has compromised the development policy in Nigeria for a long time. The situation in the country is quite worrying, as people seem to have accepted the vice as part of their lives, and at the same time compromising the future of subsequent generations. The political, social, economic, and development structures of Nigeria are currently dependent on corruption. There is an urgent need for the government to develop effective strategies that will identify and eliminate various causative factors of the crime.
Ikita, P. (2014). Corruption in Nigeria, Not Just Boko Haram, Is At The Root of Violence. Web.
Okofar, U. (2014). The Nigerian Government is a greater Threat to its People than Boko Haram. Web.
Okoye, S.E. (2014). How to Tackle Corruption Effectively in Nigeria. Web.
Ross, W. (2014). Is Nigeria Serious about Tackling Corruption? Web.
Sherk, D.R. (2005). The Cultural Dimensions of Corruption: Reflections on Nigeria. New York: university press of America. Web.
Smith, D.J. (2010). A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria. New York: Princeton University Press. Web.