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Corruption in Nigeria: Review, Causes,

Effects and Solutions January 6, 2016

Corruption is Nigeria's biggest challenge. It is clear to every citizen that the level of corruption in
the country is high. It's found in every sector of society. Be it a small or big sector, there is every
possibility of observing corrupt practices when critically examined.
What is corruption? It's the dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically
involving bribery. It is the illegitimate use of power to benefit a private interest (Morris 1991).
Corruption is the giving of a bribe to an official so that the truth will not be told. It involves the
embezzlement of public fund for personal use and any act which is considered to be criminal act
according to the law of a particular society.

Review on the Corrupt State

Nigeria, which the most populated country in Africa, has been ranked high in corruption by
Transparency International and other notable organizations that monitor corrupt practices around
the world. They do not have anything good to say about Nigeria at all. High corruption rankings
affect almost all Nigerians who migrate to foreign countries, as foreigners have the perception
that since Nigeria is corrupt, so are all Nigerians.
In the year 2000, Transparency International carried out a survey on the corruption levels of 90
countries, including Kenya, Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria, Cte-d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia,
Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, India, Venezuela, Moldova, and others. At the end of the ranking,
Nigeria was seen as the most corrupt in that ranking because the country occupied the 90th
position in terms of transparency. Nigeria was the most corrupt country in the year 2000.
In 2001, Nigeria was ranked the second-most corrupt nation in the world out of 91 countries,
falling only to Bangladesh. This shows that corruption in Nigeria improved by one step when
compared with that of 2000.
Still from the same source, in the year 2002, Nigeria was again ranked the second-most corrupt
country in the world, after the organization surveyed 102 countries. Nigeria was seen at the
bottom, occupying the 101th position in terms of Confidence Interval (CI).
In 2003, Nigeria received the same ranking, making no improvements from 2003.

2004's ranking showed a little improvement when compared to the past four years. Nigeria was
ranked the third most corrupt country in the world, performing better than Bangladesh and Haiti.
That year, 145 nations were surveyed.
The record on the corruption in Nigeria really improved in 2005. The number of countries
surveyed by the Transparency International was 158. Nigeria was ranked sixth most corrupt.
More countries were surveyed by Transparency International in 2006. 163 countries were
surveyed that year. The results showed some improvement, and Nigeria was ranked the 18th
most corrupt country in the world. Haiti was the world's most corrupt nation that year.
Among the 180 countries surveyed in 2007, Nigeria ranked 148. This result shows that Nigeria
was 32nd most corrupt country in the world.
An analysis of the anti-graft/anti-corruption laws in Nigeria shows that corruption will continue
in spite of the law, because the perpetrators do not fear any consequences (Oyinola 2011).
In 2012, Transparency International again deemed Nigeria one of the most corrupt nations in the
world again (Uzochukwu 2013). In that year, the country ranked 139th out of the 176 surveyed
countries, making Nigeria the 37th most corrupt nation.
In 2013, Nigeria ranked 144 out of 177 surveyed countries in terms of transparency. The score
made Nigeria 33rd most corrupt country in the world that year. The result published by the
organization also showed that Nigeria scored 25% out of 100 in terms of transparency.
In the 2014 ranking, Nigeria is ranked 136 out 174 surveyed countries (Transparency
International 2014). The result shows that there is improvement, though things are still bad.
Nigeria was the 38th most corrupt country in the world in 2014.
Nigeria failed when it came to transparency in the country. By contrast, in 2013, Denmark and
New Zealand scored highest at 91% each, meaning the countries are clean and have higher
Confidence Intervals than Nigeria. In the other words, Nigeria is highly corrupt.

Facets of Corruption
Corruption takes many forms and can be interpreted by many people in many ways. It is hard to
enter any sector in Nigeria without observing one corrupt practice or the other. The areas where
corruption is observed are not only in the public sector or in politics

Political Corruption
Books have been written, people have talked, and press companies have been writing on the high
level of corruption in Nigeria politics, yet the political perpetrators pretend as if they are not the
people being talked about. They feel they are above the law.
Corruption takes many shapes, starting with embezzlement, bribery, rituals, rigging in elections
and so on. In fact, corruption is highest in the political system. In both the Senate and the House
of Representatives, corruption is seen as normal. Where do we start among politicians? It is
because of the wicked level of corruption that makes both the youths and the old struggle to
find themselves in one political party or the other. They believe that once they occupy any
position in politics, even the smallest, they will use corrupt tricks to fill their pockets with public
Embezzlement of public funds is common. Many leaders have helped boost the economies of
other nations by depositing embezzled money in foreign banks. Facts and figures have shown
that on many occasions, the men who rule the country have embezzled funds into foreign banks.
Political corruption is persistent in the Nigerian state. Since the creation of modern public
administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal
enrichment (Storey Report 2014). After the death of the former president, President Sani Abacha,
an investigation was carried out to detect the amount of money he embezzled in gas plant
construction in the country. The investigations led to the freezing of accounts containing about
$100 million United States dollars (Hector 2004) that he stole. The Abacha administration in the
1990s notoriously looted upwards of $3 billion (Uzochukwu 2013).
As of a few years back, whenever it was time for election in Nigeria, small children in the
country began to go missing. Child-missing during that period was rampant and parents were
usually advised to guide and guard their children from ritualists. But why was it like that and
what were the children used for? This is another face of corruption that breaks the hearts of
mothers. The missing children were used by contesting politicians to perform ritual killings in
order to get protections and other devilish powers that will enable them win elections. This is
corruption and wickedness in the highest order because it involves the termination of human life.
Those who take part in that practice have their children at home and went on capturing and
killing the children of others. It is not as if this has stopped, but it has slowed down.
Election rigging is not an unheard-of phenomenon. During elections, the contestants hire thugs
who go round the election polling stations to highjack the ballot boxes. When they steal these
boxes, they then use their hands to vote for their candidate. In the recent times, the new tactics
that the contestants have adopted is buying voters cards so that they can manipulate and use the
cards for their own advantages.

On many occasions politicians have bribed some top officials to do wrong things to their favour.
Some political leaders, including governors and presidents, have been sued by opponents, but the
sued followed the back door, bribing barristers and judges. At the end of the judgement, the
leader who bribed won in the case.

Corruption in Universities and Colleges

It is not new to any real Nigerian to hear that corruption parades itself in universities,
polytechnics and colleges. There are certain things that lecturers do that deserve hot
punishment. Most lecturers use the opportunity they have to take advantage of others.
Harassment of women by lecturers and pressure to sleep with them is common. The most painful
part of it is that some of them are married, yet they are not satisfied. After some of the female
undergraduates submit to the lecturers request, they are rewarded with good grades.
Universities have been crying about the amount of funds allocated to them. A lecturer in a
university located in Anambra State on the nature of the poor standard of the foundry in the
department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering has this to say: What makes our foundry
to be of low standard is...corruption. An organization gave the department some money that
would have been more than enough to upgrade and standardize the foundry, but I do not know
what the management of the department did with the money. Corruption is one of the biggest
challenges faced by the education system.
How do some students find their ways into the universities? Some are there not by merit, but
through a kind of bribery called sorting. Some rich men in the country bribe vice-chancellors and
heads of departments to secure admission for their children. When this kind of dirty practice is
conducted, those who would have made it on merit are cheated, as no admission will be offered
to them. Every university in Nigeria has a quota (maximum number of students) they can admit
each year.

Corruption in the Police Force

Where do we start when it comes to the nature of corruption observed in the police? Do we start
with the bribery, intimidation, sexual harassment of the young inmates in the prisons, or turning
truths upside down? There is a saying that police are your friends; in Nigeria policemen are
your enemies because they can deny the truth and collect bribes to do so. Because of the
encounter many Nigerians have had with policemen, even the good ones among them are
generalized as being bad. What a shame.
The police who work in some checkpoints on the expressways cannot do so without collecting of
bribes from car owners and drivers. Their interest is to collect money from road users and not to
secure the road. Bribes become compulsory even when your particulars are in order. Bus drivers
must offer money before they continue with their transportation business, be it fifty naira (50 =

$0.31) or twenty naira (20 = $0.12). The police are now turning to gods that receive money
from the worshipper as offering.
Some women prison inmates went into prisons singled to come out doubled. What this implies is
that the policemen use the opportunity they have to assault women who are imprisoned. The
women may say no, but because the policemen have guns, the women could not do anything.
They were impregnated before they were granted bail. What kind of prayer will erase this kind of

Corruption in Football
Corruption is like a curse laid upon us by an unknown person. Even in football has corruption.
Players are not chosen by merit. It is all about who you know in top political offices or society.
In the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), corruption is the reason why Mr. A is elected as the
leader of the group today and tomorrow the election is nullified and Mr. B chosen. Everybody
wants to be at the head so that he will fill his bag with the national cake. People do not fight to
work because it is stressful, so whenever people fight for a particular position, there is every
possibility that they are there to clean out the organization.
Reports and evidence have shown that there are corrupt practices in Nigerian football. A BBC
news report said this: A senior football official and a club administrator have been banned for
10 years following their involvement in corruption, the football authority has announced (BBC
Sport News 2013). Match-fixing and corruption is a problem in Nigerian football and has lead to
sanctions against a number of clubs, referees and officials (Oluwashina 2013).
A referee (name withdrawn) who is currently a Catholic priest serving in a parish in Anambra,
once gave his experience on the level of corruption in football. According to priest, he said that
he narrowly escaped death when he officiated a match in the local league. He stated: After the
first half of the match, none of the two sides scored any goal. Before the beginning of the second
half, some officials and young youths who were supporting the club at home side came and said
to me: if you want to leave this pitch alive, make sure that you do anything possible to see that
our club win this match. The young referee was scared of the treat and finally the home side
won the match with a lone goal. The inability of Super Eagles of Nigeria to qualify for 2015
Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) can be attributed to corruption.

Corruption in Churches
When churches are corrupt, what hope do Nigerians have? The truth is that not all the churches
in the country are corrupt. Corruption is witnessed mainly in the mushroom churches.
Mushroom churches in this context are those churches which do not have solid origin or
foundation. They are not like Catholic, Anglican, or Orthodox churches. Mushroom churches are
those churches which start when a person who calls himself a pastor goes and rents a room,

decorates it, and convinces people to join him, that he has been given powers to summon signs
and miracles from God.
Imagine how a man that have been dying of hunger for years claim that you should come to him
that he has been called and can transform you financial status. It is the common thing they
usually say that make hungry Nigerians yield to their deceptions. The people come and the socalled pastors use their tricks to collect the money that is remaining in the pockets of the poor
ones in the country.
Some of the pastors go to the extent of using magical and devilish powers in running their church
business in the name of Gods power. They give the congregations what they want without them
knowing the source of their so-called power. If it is for women who are in search of babies, the
babies may be given to them through devilish powers but continue to cause headaches to the
childrens parents till death. Today, one of the children will steal money from a bank through
armed robbery and tomorrow kill an innocent person, operating under the influence of the devil.
Pastors have on many occasions been caught in adultery and fornication. It is not new and it is
certain that you as a reader have heard about such shameful acts. Through newspapers,
televisions, and other channels, the immoral acts committed by Nigerian pastors have been
observed. In early November of 2014, there was a radio program from Blaze FM, Orifite, on a
pastor that impregnated an 11-year-old girl. According to the report, the girl was impregnated by
the pastor when her mother took her to the pastors place for prayers, and left for her own

Internet Fraud
Fraudulent Internet activity is another face of corruption. Graduates and non-graduates who lacks
the knowledge and skills to help them earn money find joy in Internet fraud. It is a criminal act
and deserves serious punishment. Among the classes of offences committed in Nigeria, both the
Senate and members of House of Representative are working hard to see that those caught in
such fraud act face the punishments they deserve without any favour.
Some Nigerians, who are mainly youths, have been scamming their fellow citizens using illegal
means. Some host websites online and claim to be giving jobs to job seekers and scam any who
fall prey to their tricks. They tell job seekers to make certain payments for processing documents
without them knowing that they will not be issued any job. Some Nigerians have been stolen
from by cyber criminals.
The level of corruption in Nigeria has made many citizens of the country show no respect to holy
and Godly affairs. This is seen in the report given by the spiritual director of Adoration Ministry
Enugu Nigeria, AMEN, news report on December 2014. According to the spiritual director, Rev.
Father Ejike Mbaka, some Nigerians impersonated him through websites and social media sites,

specifically Facebook. He lamented that the bad guys used his picture to deceive people and
collect money from them while claiming they were Fr. Mbaka. The notable reverend father made
it clear that he is not on Facebook and neither does he own a website with his name. He went
further to say that anyone caught in that act will dance ti the music that he or she deserves and
the police have been involved to find those criminals out.

Corruption in the Customs Service

Are Nigerian customs really doing the work they are called to do correctly? The customs service
of Nigeria is the organization that is authorized to clear goods that are imported into the country.
This group is not free from the menace of corruption.
In most occasions, you must pay bribes to customs before your goods are cleared. Many
containers that are being held captive by customs because the owners are not willing to pay the
large amount of money being demanded.

Causes of Corruption
A number of things cause corruption, and among them are:


Poor youth empowerment



Greed has caused a lot of crises in the world, including in Nigeria. It is because of greed that
political leaders embezzle from the funds they are supposed to use for national development for
their own selfish needs.

Poor Youth Empowerment

Poor moral youth empowerment is a contributor to corruption. Internet fraud, sexual harassment
by male CEOs, and other bad acts are because Nigerians lack understanding on the importance of
youth empowerment. When parents and governments empower youths both financially and
morally, the level of corruption among them will diminish.

According to international standards of poverty, a person is said to be poor when he lives under
$1.25 (210, though it varies) per day. There are many poor people in Nigeria, and poverty
pushes them into corruption. According to World Bank Group, in 2004, 63.1% of Nigerians were
poor. The poverty level increased in 2010. In 2010, 68% of the Nigerian population were

estimated to be poor. A person can take bribes to commit crime because he is poor. It is one of
the reasons why the poor youths in the country collect bribes to work as thugs for Nigerian

Unemployment is one of the major challenges in Nigeria and does not need much explanation
because it has broken the hearts of many citizens. People are pushed into corrupt practice
because of high unemployment. An unemployed citizen can indulge in corruption to make
money and live better.

Effects of Corruption
The negative consequences of corruption are many, and among them are:

Poor investment

Rise in poverty

Poor national development

National crises

Poor Investment
Unemployment in Nigeria would have been eradicated to some extent if only investors were
attracted to it. Companies that would have invested in Nigeria are afraid because they do not
know if the corrupt practice will ruin their industries in time. Because of this, they refuse to
invest in Nigeria.
Rise in Poverty
When the heads of public service are busy laundering the money that is supposed to be used to
create employment for the masses and reduce poverty, what happens is that there will be a rise in
the poverty level of the country. Just like the rise in poverty as statistically shown between 2004
and 2008. Since the government is selfish and does not want to help the poor, poverty continues
to rise in Nigeria.
Poor National Development
Any country with high corruption is likely to experience developmental bankruptcy. A situation
where some CEOs indulge in corrupt practices to make their money means that economic
development will suffer. When Nigerians keep on shifting the countrys currency to foreign
countries, there will be less economic development in Nigeria.

National Crises
So many crises in Nigeria today are as a result of corruption. The insecurity in Nigeria brought
about by Boko Haram is a consequence of corruption. Corrupt politicians are fighting the
government of President Goodluck Jonathan using Boko Haram as their agent because they do
not want him to succeed. The attacks by Boko Haram have caused disorderliness in Nigeria and
seriously affected the economy of the country.

Eradicating Corruption
Corrupt Nigerians do not truly understand the harm they are causing to other citizens. Corruption
can be reduced by these possible remedies:


Institution of strong anti-corruption groups

Employment generation

Proper government funding of schools

Treating all citizens equally

Self-Satisfaction in this context implies being content with what one has. When the leaders of
Nigeria are satisfied with the salary they are paid and use them in the right way, the issue of
embezzlement and money laundering will be history. Managers who are satisfied with what they
are paid will not have time to indulge in corruption to make more money.
Institution of Strong Anti-Corruption Groups
Creating strong anti-corruption institutions is another arsenal to win the fight against corruption.
This group is to work independently with the government to ensure transparency. Anyone who is
caught in corrupt practice by the group should experience the consequences decided by the anticorruption agency. That he is a minister or governor of a state should not be an excuse from
facing the punishment he is to receive according to the Constitution of Nigeria.
Employment Generation
The unemployed in the country find themselves involved in corruption mainly because they want
to make money to meet the demand of the day. Governments and capable hands should
endeavour to generate more jobs for citizens to get employed and paid in return. A busy mind
may find it difficult to indulge in corruption because he is being paid adequately.

Proper Government Funding of Schools

Understanding the importance of skill acquisition will go a long way to propel them to develop
all the schools in Nigeria. When more attention is paid to the tertiary institutions in the country, it
will produce graduates who are employable. Installation of the necessary machines needed in
universities will help Nigerian graduates acquire skills and use them to generate income, even if
no company employs them after graduation.
Self-employment will make graduates more determined in the work they do and will prevent
them from corruption like Internet scams, kidnapping and the rest.
Treating All Citizens Equally
Treating any offender in the country equally will help reduce corruption. Nobody is above the
law and any who acts contrary to it should be given the punishment that he or she deserves. That
she is the Minister of Aviation or Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria should not count in
this case. If any minister or head of state is given the punishment he deserves for corruption,
others will learn and separate themselves from any corrupt practice.
Corruption is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria. Discussed are the
many faces of corruption, causes, effects, and the possible solutions.

Morris, S.D. (1991). Corruption and Politics in Contemporary Mexico.

University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa

Danladi (2007). Nigeria Ranks 148 on the 2007 Corruption Perception Index.
Naira Land Publication

Uzochukwu, M. O. (2013). Challenges in Nigeria and Solutions on how to

resolve them.

Oluwashina, O. (2013). Nigeria Official Banned for Bribe. BBC Sport News

Oyinola, O. A. (2011). Corruption Eradication in Nigeria: An Appraisal. Library

Philosophy and Practice

The Storey Report. The Commission of Inquiry into the administration of

Lagos Town Council


Publication of Vanguard, Nigeria.

World Bank Group. (2013), Poverty and Equity.




Muazu Mohammed Yusif

Department of Political science,
Bayero University, Kano

Presented at a seminar Organized by the code of conduct Bureau, held in Jigawa 3

Star Hotel, Dutse, on 14th November, 2000

I have noted that the central theme of this Workshop/seminar is combating
corruption and moral Decadence in the Local Government Administration. Since the
country is now operating under a democratic constitution, with huge financial
resources accruing to the Local Government Administrations, and so high
expectation from the people, and yet no visible development can be seen in the
Local Government Areas, at least in Jigawa state, it is most appropriate to discuss
this issue.
The little contribution I am going to make in this seminar is on the subject of,
corruption and its effects and how it can be controlled in Nigeria.
In recent years, with the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme, Mathew
Parris has observed that corruption has become an African epidemic. It is
impossible to overstate the poisoning of human relations and the paralyzing of
initiative that the corruption on the African scale bring.
A recent report by the International Human Rights Organization came out with
Nigeria taking the first position on the list of the most corrupt nations in the world.
Indeed, in Nigeria, corruption is so rampant that it is worthless to talk of any person
who is not corrupt. May be it is better to say who is more or less corrupt.
This reality of corruption in Nigeria posits a great challenge to any government or
agency of government, which is determined to control and wipe out this evil to
National progress.

This contribution is aimed at drawing the attention of the participant at this seminar
on consequences of corruption and how to control it.
But, before going into all these we need to clarify what is corruption and the types
of corruption. This is very essential because, in order to fight corruption we must
understand what it is and what are its manifestations.

The word corruption has varied meanings defending on the political culture and
civilization of the people. In many Nigerian communities a man or community of
men can give or sent a gift to an officer, in appreciation of his good performance.
This is called gaisuwa in Hausa. But in western culture, that is corruption. Likewise if
you bend a rule or a procedure to favour somebody, although in western civilization
may be defended as a discretionary power of the officer, which may be covered by
the constitution, but in another legal procedure, that will be called a corrupt
practice. In many cultures, including the Nigerias, corruption is reduced to taking
money to give something of a public nature. It is far beyond that.
However, it is generally accepted that it involves inducement intended to pressure
an official from carrying out his functions in accordance with the set rules and the
procedures. It includes act of arrogation of benefits for oneself or ones friends and
relatives to the detriment of the right or entitlement of others regarding the same or
similar benefit. Thus, to be corrupt is to be opened to bribery and dishonesty, and to
be immoral.
In view of the conception of corruption above, the legal definition of corruption in
the Nigerian legal statutes and codes are deficient in that they are vague, unclear
and virtually exclusive of only public and judicial officers, leaving out individual,
private and corporate bodies from access to the law (even in the present
democratic dispensation the anti-corruption law is yet to be massively circulated).
More damaging to these statutes is that they do not correspond to the common
mans and social concept of corruption. The common mans conception of corruption
covers all instances of bribery, kickbacks, favouritism, nepotism and the use of
value influence in running of public affairs.
Manifestations of Corruption in Nigeria
Nigeria is a corrupt society. Corruption has pervaded every sphere of human activity
such that in every endeavour economic, social, political, etc. corruption is the
determining factor in the relationship between the people involved.
The past and present history of Nigeria has recorded many cases and exhibits of
many types of corruption. Since the code of conduct Bureau is here and is the

organizer of this seminar, I need not mention specifically these cases. Instead I will
attempt to highlight types of corruption, which the Bureau may wish to give
attention, if the problem is to be uprooted from Nigerias society.
Dogon-yaro posited two types/courses of corruption in the business world. Each
corresponds to the group or organisation involved. The first is in trading and
distribution of goods. This involves and perpetuates corruption by protecting,
hoarding and also speculation of commodities. The second involves general
contractors who operate through large financial conspiracy with power holders,
dictating policies for states and federal government. That is corruption in business
relationship, which is now very common even in international business.
Femi Adekunle, on the other hand, identifies other forms of corruption. At one level
it is the misuse of public office or public responsibility for private (personal or
sectional) gains. At another level it involves the use of public or private funds in
order to acquire and return political power or to get government policies passed and
accepted. The second is called commercial/economic corruption. These are acts by
those transacting business with various level of Government Federal, State and
Local Government, by offering kickback or commissions to government officials for
public work contract. The third is called administrative professional corruption which
involves the casual but deliberate and largely criminal action by top administrative
and professional personnel who abuse their position and their professional statuses
for private material and social, political gains. They operate via falsification of
accounts, embezzlement of corporate or government funds through mileage and
other claims, fraudulent tax returns, and cover-up of professional misdeeds.
The fourth form of corruption is the organised corruption. Mostly common in
countries of Western Europe and America, it is a relatively large-scale and complex
criminal activity carried on by groups of Mafia, mostly elites and their control agents
who are loosely as tightly organized for the enrichment of those participating or for
financing of projects of the group, for political or business purposes. The members
of these groups are influential, connected to information sources and control.
Their methods of operations include either violent attack or quite manipulation of
government treasury, big business centres or big private individuals. The fifth one is
a mere petty corruption of lower ranked workers like messengers, clerk, security
men etc. who receive some returns for services offered, especially in government
Corruption and the Development Agenda
As I argued at the beginning of this paper corruption in Nigeria is a normal affair.
Borrowing from LeVine, there is in particular a culture of political corruption in
which corruption is the normal stuff of politics. Indeed, in Nigeria, hardly an
uncorrupt person will be anything in the scheme of things in running the

government. If you were not corrupt, you would be marginalized if not got rid of.
And if you are corrupt, you must be prepared to follow anything without personal
initiative or ideas of an alternative policy.
Especially, of recent, political corruption has become an increasingly, important
issue, such that other types of corruption is allowed to thrive unchecked or is even
encouraged. The noise against corruption by the World Bank and other International
agencies and government of Western Europe and America is only referring to
political corruption. The others are condoned by the same agencies and
Thus, political corruption will be our major attention in relation to Development
Agenda. First, what is development? There are many definitions of development.
Petit Robert dictionary contains the following entry as meaning of development.
These are growth blossoming, progress, extension, expansion. These words imply
that forward advancement of anything is development. Whether economic, political,
or social. Then the report of the south commission, under the chairmanship of the
former Tanzanian President late Julius Nyerere, while summing up the aspirations
and policies of developing countries, defined development as a process which
enables human beings to realize their potential, build self-confidence, and lead lives
of dignity and fulfilment. It is a process, which frees people from the fear of want
and exploitation. It is a movement away from political, economic and social
oppression. Furthermore, the Human Development Report of 1991, published by
the United Nations Development Programme, stated; the basic objective of human
development is to enlarge the range of peoples choice to make development more
democratic and participatory. These choices should include access to income and
employment opportunities, education and health, and a clean physical environment.
Each individual should also have the opportunity to participate fully in community
decisions and to enjoy human, economic and political freedoms.
That is development. For the purpose of this paper, it can be seen in the following
two ways:1. Economic upliftment of the people and the society in general
2. Political involvement of the people to determine and shape a responsive political
Now, how does political corruption affect both economic and political development
of Nigeria? In western model of economic development corruption, of whatever type
is functional for economic development. It is said that in developing countries
corruption lubricate development. It is only recently when the interest of western
theory and of western world has changed because of their devotion to promote neoliberal agenda that all the western financial agencies and governments are
hypocritically talking against corruption.

Set against corruption on high scale, the IMF and the World Bank have even
promoted the fight against political corruption as a condition for fund facilities to
implement Structural Adjustment Programme. But the reality is based on the
assumption that political corruption is caused by interventionist state and in order
to wipe out corruption a neo-liberal state should be put in place. That is a state
which will withdraw all services e.g. education, health, withdrawal of all sorts of
subsidies, commercialization and privatization of public enterprises, etc.
The Nigerias state has already become the so-called neo-liberal state pursuing the
neo-liberal agenda. But, does that eliminate corruption from Nigerias society.
The reality is that under the present economic development agenda, corruption and
political corruption in particular has increased and become wide spread more than
any moment in the past history of Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, corruption has a negative impact on all indicators of economic
development. Corruption, especially political corruption breeds lack of productivity,
lack of initiative and creativity to put sound policies, which could generate further
development. Thus, the rate of economic growth, domestic and foreign investment,
employment and fair income distribution all suffered and retarded as a result of
corruption. In fact, the problems of corruption have increasingly pushed Nigerias
society and economy to the bricks of disaster, as the current lack of progress and
the political crisis between the legislature and the executive shows. This political
crisis is a great revelation of people in the leadership of Nigeria, overwhelmed by
corruption of office can go to any extent including the generation of tribal, regional,
and religious support to protect their loot.
It is the same scenario of similar or different dimensions of political conflict we can
find in states and local government area. As one keen observer has noted, wherever
there is relative peace and understanding between the various officials is where the
loot of political corruption spreads to every body in the team.
Mechanisms of Controlling Corruption
Every government in Nigeria recognized corruption as a major obstacle to easy
development. Sometimes government is changed by the Armed forces because of
corruption. And there are many approaches to stem the tides of, indiscipline,
corruption and moral decay in Nigeria. The approaches to address corruption ranges
from the establishment of code of conduct bureau (the organizers of this seminar)
by Decree, as an enforcement, investigative and detective body to trace corrupt
practices and cause punishment by the law. Others include the public complaint
commission, the various Judicial Administrative Tribunals of inquiry into scandals by
public officers. The ethical revolution committee initiated by President Shehu
Shagari in 1983 as well as the War Against Indiscipline by General Buhari and
Idiagbon in 1985 fall into the same agenda of fighting corruption in Nigeria.

The above efforts by various governments to tackle the problem of corruption has
indicated the extent to which corruption has gone deep in the lives of Nigerians. In
his famous Jaji declaration in 1977 General Obasanjo bemoaned the indiscipline,
corruption, moral decay and lack of patriotism, which characterized various facet of
Nigerias life. You would recall that Obasanjo, in the Jaji Declaration exalted all
Nigerians to be more discipline, more humane and more considerate towards the
welfare of their fellow citizens, and to eschew materialism, flamboyant display of
wealth, and unnecessary acquisitive tendencies.
President Obasanjo made that statement in 1977 when he was the Military Head of
State. Now, he is heading Democratic Government. So, what did he initiate in the
present democratic set up to deal with the problem of corruption? The approaches
mentioned above may have some shortcomings. Therefore, could not eradicate the
problem. For example, except perhaps the code of conduct bureau and the public
complaints commission, none of the other approaches is found in law book.
It is particularly significant that now, there is anti-corruption law and anti-corruption
commission. But we are yet to see how the anti-corruption law can be implemented.
I am not even sure whether the law has taken into recognition a total conception of
corruption and what can be regarded as corruption. In order to identify what may be
called corruption I propose the Chilean example. In 1994, the Chilean Commission
on Public Ethics was formed and in July, the same year the commission presented to
President Eduardo Frei-Tagle its report (see Appendix I here attached titled Public
Ethics; Probity, Transparency, and Accountability at the service of the citizen.
The report covers so many rampant cases, which may be called corruption practices
in the society. There are forty recommendations, which are summarized in the
Appendix attached to this paper. I believe that something of such nature will create
proper grounds of understanding corruption and fighting it, including enshrining in
the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria those that must be justifiable.
That is an essay on corruption and development agenda in Nigeria. It is worth to
restate at the concluding part of this essay that although there are many forms of
corruption, but political corruption in particular started with siphoning away huge
amount of money from the countrys treasury by public officials, at all levels of
government to various foreign accounts as a result of their selfish interest. This is
partly done through contracts awards and inflating the cost of the contracts with the
consent of both contractors and public officials of various offices. Little or no regards
were given on the viability of such projects and little or no effort is being made to
monitor and supervise its completion. In some cases of some government, even in
the present dispensation of democratic governance, the corruption is very crude.
Some state governors and local government chairmen have become so crude in

corruption that government funds are deposited in personal Saving Accounts which
accrue interests not to the government but to the person.
Also some governors and local government chairmen are the sole contractors of all
projects and purchases by their governments. Some go and do it directly while
some put their friends and brothers as middlemen to do the purchases.
All these happen either because of personal aggrandizement, sectional purposes,
absence of clear programme and legal framework to deal ruthlessly with the
problem or it may be because of poor pay to some categories of public servants.
Indeed, it is because of the corrupt practices of Nigerias public service functionaries
that, neither the landscape of Nigeria not the standard of living of its citizens has
significantly improve since independence, despite the huge monetary resources
which the government has been able to accumulate over the years. Also, at level of
political development, Nigeria remains perpetually incapable of resolving its political
crisis, including the present crisis between the legislature and the executive.

Corruption in Nigeria: A New Paradigm for Effective Control

By Victor E. Dike
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. Thus, it
is believed by many in the society that corruption is the bane of Nigeria.
Consequently, the issue keeps reoccurring in every academic and informal
discussion in Nigeria. And the issue will hardly go away!
Some writers say that corruption is endemic in all governments, and that it is not
peculiar to any continent, region and ethnic group. It cuts across faiths, religious
denominations and political systems and affects both young and old, man and
woman alike. Corruption is found in democratic and dictatorial politics; feudal,
capitalist and socialist economies. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures
are equally bedeviled by corruption. And corrupt practices did not begin today; the
history is as old as the world. Ancient civilizations have traces of widespread
illegality and corruption. Thus, corruption has been ubiquitous in complex societies
from ancient Egypt, Israel, Rome, and Greece down to the present (Lipset and Lenz
2000, pp.112-113). This does not, however, mean that the magnitude of corruption
is equal in every society Some countries are more corrupt than others! As George
Orwell notes in his widely read book, Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some
animals are more equal than others (June 1996, p.109).
Since corruption is not new, and since it is a global phenomenon, it is not peculiar to
Nigeria. However, corruption is pandemic in Nigeria (and in many other African and
Asian nations); the leaders as well as the followers are corrupt. Consequently, it has
defied all the necessary medicines. If there is a lack of control of corruption in every
sphere in the nation, it is then like the old saying: When water chokes you, what do
you take to wash it down? (The Philosophy of Aristotle, 451-ME2783, p.355).
This paper, therefore, adopts a new approach to tackle the menace of corruption in
Nigeria. And a broad definition of the phenomenon matters in the society for its
effective control.
Definitions of Corruption

Perhaps, because corruption has received an extensive attention in the

communities, and perhaps, due to the fact that it has been over-flogged in the
academic circles, corruption has received varied definitions. Corruption has broadly
been defined as a perversion or a change from good to bad. Specifically, corruption
or corrupt behavior involves the violation of established rules for personal gain and
profit (Sen 1999, p.275). 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 behavior which violates rules against the
exercise of certain types of [duties] for private [gains] - regarding influence (Nye,
1967). This definition includes such behavior 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.
Even though some of these definitions of corruption have been around for over
decades, the recent development in Nigeria where discoveries of stolen public funds
run into billions of US Dollars and Nigeria Naira, make these definitions very
adequate and appropriate. Corruption is probably the main means to accumulate
quick wealth in Nigeria. Corruption occurs in many forms, and it has contributed
immensely to the poverty and misery of a large segment of the Nigerian population.
The Nature and Characteristics of Corruption
Some studies have taken a holistic (broader) approach in the discussion of
corruption by dividing it into many forms and sub-divisions. These are:

Political Corruption (grand);


Bureaucratic Corruption (petty); and


Electoral Corruption.

Political corruption takes place at the highest levels of political authority. It occurs
when the politicians and political decision-makers, who are entitled to formulate,
establish and implement the laws in the name of the people, are themselves
corrupt. It also takes place when policy formulation and legislation is tailored to
benefit politicians and legislators. Political corruption is sometimes seen as similar

to corruption of greed as it affects the manner in which decisions are made, as it

manipulates political institutions, rules of procedure, and distorts the institutions of
government (NORAD, ch.4, Jan. 2000; The Encyclopedia Americana, 1999).
Bureaucratic corruption occurs in the public administration or the implementation
end of politics. This kind of corruption has been branded low level and street level. It
is the kind of corruption the citizens encounter daily at places like the hospitals,
schools, local licensing offices, police, taxing offices and on and on. Bureaucratic
petty corruption, which is seen as similar to corruption of need, occurs when one
obtains a business from the public sector through inappropriate procedure (see
NORAD, ch.4, 2000).
Electoral corruption includes purchase of votes with money, promises of office or
special favors, coercion, intimidation, and interference with freedom of election
[Nigeria is a good example where this practice is common. Votes are bought, people
are killed or maimed in the name of election, losers end up as the winners in
elections, and votes turn up in areas where votes were not cast]. Corruption in office
involves sales of legislative votes, administrative, or judicial decision, or
governmental appointment. Disguised payment in the form of gifts, legal fees,
employment, favors to relatives, social influence, or any relationship that sacrifices
the public interest and welfare, with or without the implied payment of money, is
usually considered corrupt (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1999).
Other forms of corruption include:
A) Bribery: The payment (in money or kind) that is taken or given in a corrupt
relationship. These include kickbacks, gratuities, pay-of, sweeteners, greasing
palms, etc. (Bayart et. al 1997, p.11).
B) Fraud: It involves some kind of trickery, swindle and deceit, counterfeiting,
racketing, smuggling and forgery (Ibid. p.11).
C) Embezzlement: This is theft of public resources by public officials. It is when a
state official steals from the public institution in which he/she is employed. In
Nigeria the embezzlement of public funds is one of the most common ways of
economic accumulation, perhaps, due to lack of strict regulatory systems.
D) Extortion: This is money and other resources extracted by the use of coercion,
violence or threats to use force. It is often seen as extraction from below [The police
and custom officers are the main culprits in Nigeria] (Bayart et. al 1997, p.11).
E) Favoritism: This is a mechanism of power abuse implying a highly biased
distribution of state resources. However, this is seen as a natural human proclivity
to favor friends, family and any body close and trusted.

F) Nepotism: This is a special form of favoritism in which an office holder prefers

his/her kinfolk and family members. Nepotism, [which is also common in Nigeria],
occurs when one is exempted from the application of certain laws or regulations or
given undue preference in the allocation of scarce resources (NORAD, ch.1, ch.2 &
ch.4, Jan. 2000; Amundsen, 1997; Girling 1997; also see Fairbanks, Jr. 1999).
For efective control of corruption in Nigeria, the society must develop a culture of
relative openness, in contrast to the current bureaucratic climate of secrecy. And a
merit system (instead of the tribal bias, state of origin and nepotism or favoritism,
which have colored the landscape) should be adopted in employment and
distribution of national resources, etc. More importantly, the leadership must muster
the political will to tackle the problem head-on (see report on Second Global Forum
on Fighting and Safeguarding Integrity, May 28-31, 1999). Regardless of where it
occurs, what causes corruption or the form it takes, the simple fact remains that
corruption is likely to have a more profound and different effects in less developed
countries, than in wealthy and developed societies. This is due to a variety of
conditions, which cannot deviate significantly from the nature of their
underdevelopment (Nye 1967). Because of the corrosive effects of corruption in
national development, and given the relative limited resources or poverty in the
region, Africa, and indeed Nigeria, can least afford to be corrupt.
The Causes of Corruption
Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had to relieve some of its
officials of their posts because they had taken bribes. And all the commissioners of
the European Union (EU), resigned because they, too, had been found to be corrupt
beyond acceptable limits. In the United States, Enron Corporation, an energy giant
and WorldCom, a telecommunication company, were charged with fraud. The
companies manipulated their balanced sheets, profit and loss account and tax
liabilities. Enrons accountant, Arthur Andersen, collapsed for greed and fraud as it
was charged with obstruction of justice in connection to the Enron probe (Reuters
June 27, 2002; The Observer (UK), June 9, 2002). These are tip of the iceberg!
Yet, analysts tend to believe that developed countries are less corruption than
developing nations. One of them points out that 'throughout the fabric of public life
in newly Independent Stateruns the scarlet thread of bribery and corruption' (Wraith
and Simpkins 1963). Another writer notes that it will probably be "difficult to secure
[by honest means] a visa to a developing country that would be the subject of a
corruption study (Nye 1967).
Why is corruption a viable enterprise in the Third World, nay, Nigeria? The causes of
corruption are myriad; and they have political and cultural variables. Some evidence
points to a link between corruption and social diversity, ethno-linguistic
fractionalization, and the proportions of countrys population adhering to different

religious traditions (Lipset and Lenz, 2000). And studies note also that corruption is
widespread in most non-democratic countries, and particularly, in countries that
have been branded neo-patrimonial, kleptocratic and prebendal (NORAD 2000).
Thus, the political system and the culture of a society could make the citizens more
prone to corrupt activities. However, we shall focus on the fundamental factors that
engender corrupt practices in less developed nations, including Nigeria. Some of the
factors include:

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).

The causes of corruption in Nigeria cannot deviate significantly, if at all, from the
above factors. However, obsession with materialism, compulsion for a shortcut to
affluence, glorification and approbation [of ill-gotten wealth] by the general public,
are among the reasons for the persistence of corruption in Nigeria (Ndiulor, March
17, 1999). It has been noted that one of the popular, but unfortunate indices of
good life in Nigeria, is flamboyant affluence and conspicuous consumption. Because
of this, some people get into dubious activities, including 'committing ritual murder
for money-making.' The cases of ritual murder abound in Nigeria, but a few
examples will suffice. A middle-aged woman and an SSS3 female student were
reportedly beheaded in Akure, the Ondo State capital recently (ThisDay News, July
7, 2002). Another case was that of the 1996 Clement Duru (alias 'Otokoto') ritual
killing episode at Owerri in Imo State. A well-known proprietor of 'Otokoto' hotel,
Clement Duru was reported to have been killing and selling the body parts of some
of the travelers that checked into his hotel at Owerri. And recently, another incident
of ritual killing was reported in the area (see Ogugbuaja, The Guardian, May 16,
The lack of ethical standards throughout the agencies of government and business
organizations in Nigeria is a serious drawback. According to Bowman, ethics is
action, the way we practice our values; it is a guidance system to be used in making
decisions. The issue of ethics in public sector [and in private life] encompasses a
broad range, including a stress on obedience to authority, on the necessity of logic
in moral reasoning, and on the necessity of putting moral judgement into practice
(Bowman 1991). Unfortunately, many officeholders in Nigeria (appointed or elected)
do not unfortunately, have clear conceptions 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.
Other factors are poor reward system and greed; Nigerias reward system is,
perhaps, the poorest in the world. Nigeria is a society where national priorities are
turned upside down; hard work is not rewarded, but rogues are often glorified in
Nigeria. As Authur Schlesinger said of America in the 60s, Our [the] trouble [with
Nigeria] is not that our capabilities are inadequate. It is that our priorities - which
means our values are wrong (Howard (ed.) 1982). And peer community and
extended family pressures, and polygamous household are other reasons (Onalaja &
Onalaja, 1997). The influence of extended family system and pressure to meet
family obligations are more in less developed societies. Lawrence Harrison
acknowledged that the extended family system is an effective institution for
survival, but notes that it posses a big obstacle for development (1985, p.7).
According to Edward Lotterman, bad rules and ineffective taxing system, which
makes it difficult to track down peoples financial activities, breed corruption
(Pioneer Press, April 25, 2002). Ineffective taxing system is a serious problem for
Nigeria. The society should institute appropriate and effective taxing system where
everyone is made to explain his or her sources of income, through end-of-the-year
income tax filing. The recent ban on importation of Tokumbo (used car) over five
years of manufacture, is in our opinion, an example of a bad policy that could breed
corruption. If this anti-business ban is not reviewed or discarded completely, it will,
as many critics have noted affect the economy, as those making a living in the
business will be exposed to poverty, and subsequently, corruption. Businessmen
would be forced to bribe the corrupt custom officials (to allow the cars in), causing
the state to lose the needed tax revenue. In addition, the policy will divert business
to other neighboring countries (The Vanguard, June 4, 2002). To tame corruption,
the society should try to get rid of regulations that serve little or no purposes.
The lukewarm attitude of those who are supposed to enforce the laws of the land
(judges, police officers and public officials) could lead to people engaging in corrupt
behavior, knowing fully well that they would get away with it. Some cultural and
institutional factors lead to corruption. For instance, Nepotism and the strength of
family values are linked to the feeling of obligation. The work of Robert K. Merton
has demonstrated the relationship between culture and corruption (1968). His
means-ends schema implies that corruption is at times a motivated behavior
responding to social pressures to violate the norms, so as to meet the set goals and
objectives of a social system.
Lipset and Lenze note that those going through corrupt means (through the back
door, so to say), to achieve their objectives have little or no access to opportunity
structure. The hindrance to economic opportunity, according to the study, could be
a result of their race, ethnicity, lack of skills, capital, material and other human

resources. They note that cultures that stress economic success as an important
goal but nevertheless strongly restricts access to opportunities will have higher
levels of corruption (2000, pp. 112-117). This probably explains the high incidence
of corrupt behaviors in Nigeria. Many Nigerians are highly achievement oriented,
but they have relatively low access to economic opportunities. For example many
civil servants work for months without getting paid (ThisDay, July 7, 2002; Daily
Trust, July 9, 2002). Yet, the society expects them to be honest and productive.
Many of those civil servants working without pay are parents, who are expected to
train their children in schools with empty wallet. How can they do that? Are they
magicians? No! Under this condition, many citizens would reject the rule of the
game (societal norms) and criminally innovate to make ends meet.
The brazen display of wealth by public officials, which they are unable to explain the
source, points to how bad corruption has reached in the society. Many of these
officials before being elected or appointed into offices had little or modest income.
But now, they are owners of many properties around the world (ThisDay Online,
June 24, 2002). In contrast with the United States, many of the elected officials are
known to be modest in living (There are some bad eggs in their midst, but they face
the laws when they are found wanting). The 2000 financial disclosure forms
released in 2001, which is required annually for all 535 members of Congress
(House and Senate members), show that many of them live relatively modest. (The
financial forms show sources of outside income, assets, liabilities, speech honoraria
donated to charity and travel paid by private interests; by law, honoraria are
donated to charity). The main asset of the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle (the
nations highest-ranking Democrat, with direct influence over billions of federal
dollars), is a one-half share in a house in Aberdeen, South Dakota, given by his
mother and worth between $50,000 and $100,000 in income (CNN News, June 14,
2001). If he were a Nigerian, he could have owned many million-dollar homes in
beautiful areas in London and the United States (all over Nigeria too), and decorated
himself with countless traditional titles.
The work of Edward Banfield shows a relationship corruption and strong family
orientation. The study, which helped to explain high levels of corruption in southern
Italy and Sicily, notes that corruption is linked to the strong family values involving
intense feelings of obligation. That was the case with the Mafia in Italy where some
people were seen to have the attitude of anything goes that advances the interests
of ones self and family (1958). All these, including bad practices of non-payment or
late payment of workers, bad business culture of delays and refusal, or late
payment for services executed by business establishments in Nigeria are forms of
corruption. These kinds of behaviors have the tendency to scare away foreign and
local investors, with tremendous negative efects on the economy (Daily Trust, July
9, 2002).
The Effects of Corruption

The effects of corruption on a nations socio-political and economic development are

myriad. The negative effects impact economic growth as it, among other things,
reduces public spending on education (Mauro, 1997; and 1995). Lipset and Lenz
note that the effect on growth, is in part, a result of reduced level of investment, as
it adds to investment risk (2000). The effect of corruption on education comes from
the fact that the government spends relatively more on items to make room for
graft (Shleifer & Vishny, 1993; Lipset & Lenz, 2002). And corrupt government
officials would shift government expenditures to areas in which they can collect
bribes easily. Large and hard-to-manage projects, such as airports or highways,
make fraud easy. In addition, poverty and income inequalities are tied to corruption
(Lipset & Lenz 2000). Development projects are often made unnecessarily complex
in Nigeria to justify the corrupt and huge expense on it. The new national stadium in
Abuja, which is said to have gulped millions of Naira more than necessary, is a case
in point.
Despite the immoral aspect and pernicious effects of corruption, some scholars
have argued that corruption can be beneficial to political development or "political
modernization" (Pye, March 1965). Political modernization or development means
growth in the capacity of a society's governmental structures and processes to
maintain their legitimacy over time (presumably in time of social change) by
contributing to economic development, national integration and administrative
capacity, and so on (Nye 1967). We would not get entangled with the different
scales used for measuring political development. Nevertheless, Max Gluckman
opined that scandals associated with corruption sometimes have the effect of
strengthening a value system of a society as a whole (1955). This is probably true in
relation to Nigeria. The scandals associated with the Abacha era (looting of the
treasury and human rights violations) have given the nation some food for thought.
Nigeria is still perplexed and reoccupied with the issues of how to strengthen the
nations essential governmental structures to avoid the reoccurrence of these kinds
of looting and atrocities in future.
In addition, some writers have noted that corruption may help to ease the transition
from traditional life to a modern political life. Some have argued that the vast gap
between literate official and illiterate peasant, which is often characteristic of the
countryside, may be bridged if the peasant approaches the official bearing
traditional gifts or their (corrupt) money equivalent. In this respect, McMullan points
out that "a degree of low-level corruption" can 'soften relations of officials and
people' (July 1961). And Shils notes that corruption can 'humanize government and
make it less awesome' (1962). These observations are common occurrences in
Nigeria where communities pay political visits to their Governors, Commissioners
and top civil servants with cows, wines, cola nuts and money stuffed in Ghana must
go (bags) in other to get them attend to their local problems.

The apparent benefits of corruption notwithstanding, we are here mainly concerned

with the evils of corruption. Any right thinking person in Nigeria where ubiquitous
corruption has ravaged the society will find it impossible to agree that corruption is
beneficial, no matter how plausible it may be.
The Evils of Corruption
Many studies have been conducted that show the evils or consequences of
corruption. And corruption has taught the Nigeria a dangerous and wrong lesson
that it does not pay to be honest, hardworking and law-abiding. Through corrupt
means many political office holders acquire wealth and properties in and outside
Nigeria; and many display their wealth (which is beyond the means), but the society
does not blink. This has made politics a big business in Nigeria, because anything
spent to secure a political office is regarded as an investment, which matures
immediately one gets into office (The Guardian, July 14, 2002).
Corruption wastes skills as precious time is often wasted to set up unending
committees to fight corruption, and to monitor public projects. It also leads to aid
forgone. Some foreign donors do not give aid to corrupt nations. For instance, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has withdrawn development support from some
nations that are notoriously corrupt. And the World Bank has introduced tougher
anti-corruption standards into its lending policies to corrupt countries. Similarly,
other organizations such as the Council of Europe and the Organization of American
States are taking tough measures against international corruption (OECD,
December 1997). Corruption is politically destabilizing, as it leads to social
revolution and military takeovers. Most "post-coup rationalizations" in less
developed worlds point to corruption. The General Buhari's post-coup broadcast to
Nigerians in 1983 is a case in point (Welch, Jr., 1987). But hiding under the excuse of
corruption to topple a legitimate government in Nigeria will seize to be a credible
reason for the involvement of the military in Nigerian politics in future. This is
because many of the previous military leaders in Nigeria were as corrupt, if not
more corrupt than the civilian politicians they replaced. Corruption was even blamed
for the first 1966 military coup in Nigeria (and that in Ghana too). However, the
post-electoral crisis in the Western region and the fear of northern domination of the
affairs of Nigeria were other reasons (Wallerstein, March 14, 1966; & Kilson, Jan. 31,
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
effects investment, economic growth, and govern-ment expenditure choices; it also
reduces private investment (Mauro 1997). Bribery and corruption, the culture of late
payment, delays or refusal of payment for services already done, are according to
the Lord Bishop of Guilford, David Peck, scaring away British investors from Nigeria.
He notes that those who fail to pay companies for services done seem to forget that

the life blood of any company is its cash flow. And rightly points out that the price of
corruption is poverty (Daily Trust, July 9, 2002). Because of the widespread of
"petty" and "grand" the international business community regard the whole of Africa
as a "sinkhole that swallows their money with little or no return" (Callaghy 1994).
With the recent changes in the political economy of East Europe, the attention of
the business world has been turned to this area where they may reap quicker
results from their investments.
One African diplomat could not say it any better: "Eastern Europe is [now] the most
sexy beautiful girl, and we [Africa] are an old tattered lady. People are tired of Africa.
So many countries, so many wars" (Newsweek Education Program - Fall/1994,
'conflict in Africa'). As we have seen, what is happening in Africa is a blueprint of the
problem facing Nigeria. The nations "unworkable economic policies, blatant
corruption" in fact, the "fossilized system" of government has brought almost
everything to a halt (Adams, May/June, 1995). Thus, corruption discourages honest
effort and valuable economic activities; and it breeds inefficiency and nepotism.
Corruption leads to possible information distortion as it cooks the books; and a high
level of corruption can make public policies ineffective (Sen 1999, p.135; also see
Reuters Jessica Hall on WorldCom, June 27, 2002). Above all, corruption can tarnish
the image of a country. As we have seen, Nigeria suffers more than most nations
from an appalling international image created by its inability to deal with corruption
and bribery.
According to one who has lived in Nigeria, becoming corrupt in Nigeria is almost
unavoidable, as morality is relaxed, because to survive people have to make money.
The 1996 Study of Corruption by Transparency International and Goettingen
University ranked Nigeria as the most corrupt nation, among 54 nations listed in the
study, with Pakistan as the second highest (Moore 1997, p.4). As this was not too
bad enough, the 1998 Transparency International corruption perception index (CPI)
of 85 countries, Nigeria was 81 out of the 85 countries pooled (Table A); (Lipset &
Lenz 2000; p.113). And in the 2001 corruption perception index (CPI), the image of
Nigeria slipped further down south (ranked 90, out of 91 countries pooled), with
second position as most corrupt nation, with Bangladesh coming first (Table B).
(Table A)
Corruption Perception Index (The top 10 and bottom 10 countries)


















New Zealand












































































Source (s):

The Transparency International Corruption Index, 1998; and

Lipset, Seymour & Salman Lenz, "Corruption, Culture, and Markets," (2000),In Culture
Matters, Harrission & Huntington (eds.), 2000, p.113

The Transparency International Corruption Index, 2001; pp. 234-236

Corruption upsets ethnic balance, and exacerbates problems of national integration

in developing countries. For instance, if a corrupt but popular ethnic leader is
replaced in his or her position, it 'may upset ethnic arithmetic' and the cohorts may
revolt. The social brawl that followed the Moshood Abiola's 1993 elections rebuff is
one of the many cases dotting Nigeria's political landscape. Southerners (mainly
Yorubas from his ethnic Southwest) rioted, as they felt they were mistreated by the
northern oligarchy. Similarly, some politicians from the northern part of the country
seem to have forgotten the atrocities committed by Generals Buhari, Babangida,
and Abubakar during their regime (they even refused to testify before the Oputa
Panel), because they are their home boys. Any attempt to bring them to justice
would lead their cronies to ethnic and social conflicts and possible loss of innocent

Corruption is also destructive of governmental structures and capacity. TheNEWS, in

its July 11, 1999 issue The Face of a Liar, broke the news of forgery and perjury
committed by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ibrahim
Salisu Buhari. Through corrupt means, Alhaji Ibrahim Salisu Buhari amassed wealth
(he made millions working for NEPA), and bribed his way to the fourth highest
position in the land. This scandal dominated the political agenda of Nigeria for some
time. It is a national shame that a crook was in-charge of the House of
Representatives the body that makes the laws of the land. What type of laws could
he have made for Nigeria? President Olusegun Obasanjo disappointed the world by
granting Alhaji Salisu Buhari a state pardon, despite his apparent campaign to
transform Nigeria into a corruption-free society (Obasanjo's Inaugural Speech, May
29, 1999). The Buharigate, as the scandal was later called, nearly destroyed
Nigerias democracy-experiment.
Corruption can destroy the legitimacy of a government. The Shehu Shagari
administration was written off as inept because of the magnitude of corruption in
the administration, and its lack of policy direction (Suberu 1994). Corruption may
alienate modern-oriented civil servants and may cause them to reduce or withdraw
their service or to leave the country. Corruption is one the reasons for the 'brain
drain' phenomenon in Nigeria (talented professionals leaving the country in search
of employment some where else). In Nigeria, you can hardly enter an office and get
your 'file signed except you drop' some money. Even the security personnel at the
door of every office will ask for (bribe) tips? In other words, corruption leads to slow
moving files that get through the desk of officers once the interested parties have
compromised themselves. It also leads to missing files that [would] resurface
immediately the desk officer is settled, unnecessary bureaucracy and delays until
fees are paid (Oloja; The Guardian, April 21, 2002).
By dolling out money to politicians, General Abacha got many of the nation's
political class to commit political suicide in 1998. Many of them lined up en masse
to proclaim him as a 'dynamic leader' and the only person qualified to lead Nigeria.
Similarly, recently many politicians from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
recently trooped to President Obasanjos Ota Farm in Ogun State to beg him to run
for a second term. Even General Abubakar's visible timidity to address the issue of
corruption in Nigeria was alarming and discouraging, as he retained the military
officers of accused of looting the national treasury with General Abacha.
However, corrupt military is not peculiar to Nigeria. Juan D. Peron of Argentina and
Batista of Cuba, among others, were also known to have deposited their ill
accumulated wealth in Swiss banks and other foreign financial institutions, instead
of investing the loots in their local economy (Sklar 1965; Lewis, May/June, 1994;
Adams 1995). And with brute force Augusto Pinochet of Chile bastardized the
nations economy, and killed many of the people who opposed his regime. During his
Inaugural Speech on May 29, 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo vowed to tackle the menace

of corruption in Nigeria. He said: "Corruption will be tackled head-on. No society can

achieve its full potential if it allows corruption to become the full-blown cancer it has
in Nigeria." And he vowed that "there will be no sacred cows in his process to stamp
out corruption in the society (Inaugural Speech, May 29, 1999). But it is self evident
that the corrupt big cows are still walking freely on the streets of Nigeria.
In summary, corruption diverts scarce public resources into private pockets, literally
undermines effective governance, endangers democracy and erodes the social and
moral fabric of nations. As it has been noted the lust for power and corruption (and
dash) as gift known in Nigeria, is not strictly a Nigerian problem. Corruption is a
global phenomenon and manifest in both Petty and Grand forms. Will it be possible
for Nigeria to effectively tame the scourge of corruption in the society?
For Effective Control of Corruption
Some human ailments could require many doses of medicines to be treated.
Similarly, the menace of corruption, which has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria,
would require all the necessary medicines to effectively control it. In other words, no
single and simple remedies will do it; and the problem cannot be solved overnight,
because, as we have noted, corruption has been ingrained into the fabric of the
society. Nigeria has, in theory, the solutions in the book to tackle corruption; but like
other issues (poverty, etc) bedeviling the nation, implementations of the laws are
the Achilles heel (a vulnerable point) of the society (The Guardian, July 10, 2002).
Similarly, Robert A. Dahl notes that the Achilles hell of the small state is its military
weakness in the face of a large state (1998, p.112).
One of the authors whose work we reviewed noted (and rightly, we might add), that
one of the reasons why the measures against corruption have not been fruitful in
Nigeria is that they have operated at a level [of mere] symbolism (Osoba 1996). Yes,
corruption has defied all measures adopted to combat it in Nigeria, apparently,
because those wagging the corruption-wars are themselves corrupt. In the name of
turning Nigeria into a corruption-free society, the nation has experimented with
many policies. It has tried the judicial commissions of enquiry, the Code of Conduct
Bureau. It had wrestled with the Public Complaints Commission to no avail. Also it
fiddled with the Mass Mobilization for Social Justice and Economic Recovery
(MAMSER), and the National Open Apprenticeship (NOA), but corruption instead
blossomed. Then, General Buhari clobbered Nigerians with his horsewhip branded
the War Against Indiscipline Council (WAIC), without success. Now the current
civilian administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo has instituted an
Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), which seems to have power only
over the corrupt poor.
Any society faced with the challenges of corruption will continue to find ways to
break the circle. This author has argued elsewhere that Nigeria cannot effectively

control the menace of corruption in the nation by merely instituting probe panels. It
was suggested that the to tame the surge of corruption in Nigeria, the general
population should be re-orientated to a better value system. This is because
Nigerians have for long been living on the survival of the fittest and grab-whatevercomes-your-way mentality (Dike, October 6, 1999; Dike, February 5, 2002). The reorientation of the youth in Nigeria to a good value system could help in the war
against corruption. The World Values Surveys of 1990-1993 has a lot of attitudes
and values information, which notes a relationship between values and corruption
(World Values Study Group, 1994). Preaching the gospel and practice of virtue is the
ultimate solution to behavioral change and reduction in corruption. Their
productivity could increase, which would mean enough goods and services,
prosperity and economic growth, and which would in turn allow the citizens the
freedoms to live a meaningful life.
However, while the Justice Oputa Panel and the Justice Akambi commission were
cruising the cities interrogating the poor corrupt individuals involved in petty thefts,
the politicians and the known corrupt ex-military Generals have been busy
politicking around the nation with money stuffed in their Ghana-must go (bag)
unperturbed. But to win the apparent war on corruption in Nigeria, the Obasanjos
slogan of there must be no sacred cows should not be a mere political rhetoric. It
should be put into practice by prosecuting all the known corrupt political heavy
weights in the society, as they contribute in making the nations inchoate laws
inoperable. As Kanu Agabi, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice noted at a
meeting with state commissioners of police,
Some of our leaders are doing everything they can to make the work of the police
impossible. Big men are the greatest criminals and except you go after the big
criminals and bring them to book, the rate of crime may not reduce. [But] If you
bring three or four of these big men to book, the rate of criminal activities would
reduce. He declared, Arrest ministers, arrest [the] big people and others would fear
(The Vanguard, 30th March 2002).
But why has President Obasanjo made a deal with the Abacha family if his chief law
enforcement officer has such a wonderful idea? He should have used the
opportunity afforded by the Abacha saga to show the world that he is serious with
his avowed war on corruption. The agreement made by civilian administration with
the Abacha family would allow them to keep $100 million (of the money stolen by
the late General), so that they could return about $1 billion of the loot to the federal
government (Dan-Ali, BBC News, May 20, 2002). As many critics have noted, this
deal would encourage the many economic opportunists (the die-hards hanging on
the fence waiting) to grab whatever government funds they can lay hands on, since
the federal government would allow them to keep a part of the money, if and when,
they are apprehended.

To win the war on corruption, adherence to ethical standards in decision-making

must be the foundation of the nations policies. Without ethics (set of moral
principles or values or principles of conducts governing an individual or a group) Websters New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980, p.389, in the conduct of the affairs of the
nation (public and business), the apparent wars on corruption in Nigeria will not be
successful. In other words, without ethics, any money budgeted toward fighting
corruption in Nigeria is a thing cast to the wild cat. Nigeria has to make laws and
implement them to the letters. As Aristotle insists, the aim of ethical philosophy is
practical - to make us better men - (The Philosophy of Aristotle, Bambrough (ed.),
p.280; ThisDay, May 26, 2002). And to win the war on corruption Nigeria has to
fortify the institutional checks and balances among the countrys major social forces
and the separation of powers within the government (Dahl 1998). The nation has to
make sure that those entrusted to execute the war on corruption are men and
women of virtue - those who recognize and always do what is right. For MacIntyre,
virtue is an acquired human quality, the possession and exercise of which enables
us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices, and the lack of which
effectively prevents us from achieving any of such goods. Virtuous leaders [in
government and business] are persons of honesty, integrity and trust (MacIntyre
1981; Liebig 1990; Frankena 1963; Dike 2001, pp.103-104).
Armed with ethics and virtue, the nation should then set out to reduce personal
gains to corrupt behavior with tough penalties on the culprits. Making tough rules
with vigorous enforcement can deter corrupt behavior. The nation should not grant
too much discretionary powers to officers who are in position to grant favor to
others (businessmen in particular), such as officer who issue out licenses and
passports (These officers often create artificial scarcity to attract bribes from the
desperate public). There is the temptation to be corrupt when the officials who have
a lot of power are themselves poor (Sen 2000, pp. 275-276).
One of the reasons for the upsurge of corrupt activities in Nigeria is that many
Nigerians have not had the chance to live under the rule law, as the society has
since independence from Britain in 1960, been under the claws of the military. As
Edward De Bono notes in his book, Future Positive, Law and order are a basic part of
the fabric of society. Society needs to give a high priority to this aspect of life,
because poor quality here downgrades everything else" (1990). The Nigerian police
should be upgraded in status, and be well trained, well equipped and well paid (and
on time too). The police should become an elite profession, which would be open
only to those with good moral character. If the police and other security agents (for
instance, customs and the military), will learn and understand their limits (not to
harass and kill innocent citizens) and follow the rules, things might improve in
This is not to suggest that upper level officers could not be corrupt. Top bureaucrats
with excessive powers could abuse them. Cases abound, but the cases of Generals

Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha are well documented. The effects of power on
those who wield it are well stated in 1887 by Lord Acton, who noted that Power
tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely (Dahl 1998, p. 73). Before this
time a British statesman, William Pitt, observed in a speech that Unlimited power, is
apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it (Ibid. p. 73).
The mass media has a crucial role to play in the campaign to educate the people of
their rights as citizens, and in exposing the rogues. Nothing chills nonsense more
than exposure to thin air. The nation should erect permanent structures in the
society to constantly tackle corruption, instead of setting up ad-hoc corruptionpanels here and there. The citizens have a role to play in the war against corruption:
they should always try to resist the temptation to offer bribes to corrupt
government officials, as it takes two to tango.
To deal with corruption in ancient, many bureaucrats were paid a corruptionpreventing allowance yang lien- as incentive to remain clean and law-abiding
(Alatas, 1980; & Klitgaard, 1988). To Amartya Sen a payment system of this kind
can help reduce corruption through what he calls its income effect, as the officer
who gets this payment may be less in need of making a quick buck. This type of
payment will also have what he calls substitution effect. The officer receiving the
payment would know that corrupt behavior may involve serious loss of a high-salary
employment if things were to go bad (that is, if he or she is caught with his or her
hand in the cookie jar) (Sen 2000). In some cases, how people behave in a society
depends on how they see and perceive others behave. If the prevailing behavior in
a country is bad, others could imitate the behavior. However, the lousy argument
would be that others do the same. This was one of the cited reasons for corrupt
behavior when the Italian parliament investigated the linkage between corruption
and the Mafia in 1993. Thus, corrupt behavior encourages other corrupt behavior,
moreover when the culprits go unpunished. But respect for rules, honest and
upright behavior are certainly bulwark against corruption in many societies (Sen,
2000, p.277).
Sadly, corruption is now a high-profile issue in Nigeria; and those in political power
are the main culprits.
News of corruption always oozes out from the National Assembly, but nobody has
been prosecuted. And many of them often engage in frivolous oversea trips (with
hordes of cronies and praise-singers) while civil servants in their states go for
months without getting paid their salary (the President is also guilty of this). And
some are known to have acquired landed properties in the United States and
However, an Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), presided over by
Justice Mustapha Akanbi, has been instituted in Nigeria to fish out those whose

hands were tainted while in office in the society. Members of the Commission
include, Alhaji Zubairu Mohammed, Hairat Ade Balogun, Pro. Sayeed Hamzat Malik,
Alhaji Muhammed Mahmud Maishanu, Alphonso Olufunmilayo Fadaka, Mrs. Salome
Audu Jakanda, Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu, Prof. (Mrs.) Uche Modum, Dr. Asikpo
Essien-Ibok, Ms. Adeline Elemechi Uwanaka, Gabriel Taimu Aduda, with Peter
Eyiamenkue Odili as secretary (Thisday News, June 24, 2002). Now the commission
has its bait in the water, but so far it has not landed any big fish. Or, has it caught
any fish at all? How far this commission can go to sanitize the already corrupt
society remains to be seen.
It is appropriate to emphasis the importance of good and enforceable policies
toward controlling corrupt behavior. And policies should be reviewed periodically to
close any loophole and to catch-up with events in the society. Toward this, Robert S.
McNamara, former presidents of the World Bank and Ford Motor Corporation, has
argued that for any campaign against corruption to be successful in Sub-Saharan
Africa, certain characteristics should be common in the plans against corruption. His
suggestions on how to control corruption in the region include to:
1) Require direct, clear and forceful support of the highest political authority: the
president or prime minister;


Introduce transparency and accountability in government functions,

particularly in all financial transactions;


Encourage a free press and electronic media to forcefully report to the

public on corrupt practices in the society;


Organize civil society to address the problems of corruption brought to light

by the process of transparency and the activity of the media;


Introduce into government watch-dog agencies - anti-corruption bureaus;

inspectors general; auditors general and ombudsmen [government official
appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against
abuses or capricious acts of public officials, etc] - which will identify
corruption practices and bring them to public attention;


Minimize and simplify government regulations, particularly those involving

the issuance of licenses, permits and preferential positions, thereby
restricting opportunities for rent seeking by corrupt means.


Insert anti-bribery clauses into all major procurement contracts and with the
assistance of both international financial institutions and bilateral aid
agencies insist that international corporations, bidding on African

procurement contracts, accept such clauses and the penalties associated

with their violation.


Introduce similar anti-bribery clauses into contracts relating to privatization

of government enterprises, and the development of natural resources.
Ensure that enforcement is predictable and forceful; and

10) To criminalize the acts of bribery; prohibit the deduction of bribes for tax
purposes; and erect barriers to transfer to western financial institutions of
financial gains derived from corrupt practices (United States Information
Agency, Nov 17, 1997).
Other steps authorities could take to control corruption include:
11) Declaration of Assets: The state should require that all high-level Nigerian
officials (Presidents, Ministers, Legislative officers, Central bank governors,
Police and Customs Chiefs, Military Generals), 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, it
has been argued, is crucial if assets declarations are to be verified and
accountability enforced (Diamond, 1992);
12) Withholding of Aid: International donors (the IMF and World Bank) can be
helpful by cutting off completely distribution of assistance to any country
marked for high-level corruption;
13) Scrutiny for sources of income: As was pointed out above, scrutinizing
individual depositors of huge sum of money, by financial institutions for
sources, would go along way to curbing looting of national treasury by civil
It has been reported that the Commonwealth of Nations have started work on a
program that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for banks and other financial
institutions to accept monies looted from the national treasury of a Commonwealth
member nations. The former scribe of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka
Anyaoku, disclosed this at Obosi (Anambra State) in January 1999 (The Guardian,
Jan. 2, 1999). The Organization of African Unity (OAU), which recently changed its
name to African Union (AU), should emulate other international organizations to
work toward stamping out corrupt and dictatorship from its midst. Merely changing
its name without a change in ideology is just like putting an old wine into a new

Many laws are already on the book to fight corruption in Nigeria (including those
crafted by the international organizations). But what is important now, as Peter
Eigen, chairman of the watchdog group, Transparency International has noted, is
the political will to fight corruption at home countries. And as Robert McNamara
remarked at the end of the Second Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and
Safeguarding Integrity at The Hague May 31, 2001, Every country has to determine
it own priorities on the war against corruption. But each society should focus on
concrete actions that can yield measurable results, and publicly report whether
results are being achieved (see Odessey, Washington File Staf Writer, May 31,
Above all, Nigeria cannot be seen as secure and free until the people's human rights
are respected and protected by the government. As Mikhail Gorbachev points out,
"the world cannot be considered secure if human rights are being violated." And
more importantly, the world cannot be considered secure if a many people lack the
elementary condition for life worthy of man. Similarly, Nigeria cannot be considered
secure if millions of people go hungry, do not have a roof over their heads and to be
jobless and sick indefinitely, with the most basic human right, the right to life is
disregarded" (Morrison 1988). Through it all, to tame corruption, Nigeria has to use
words as well as actions a multifaceted approach. However, has Nigeria been
monitoring the effectiveness of her many (but not serious) anti-corruption
strategies? Finally, good governance, transparency, accountability and the rule of
law are the keys to tackling corruption in the society, as corrupt leaders cannot
wage an efective war against corruption.
Victor E. Dike, who lives in Sacramento, California, is the author of Democracy
and Political Life in Nigeria [Zaria, Nigeria: Ahmadu Bello Univeristy Press] 2001,
and The Osu Caste System in Igboland: A Challenge for Nigerian
Democracy [Kearney, NE: Morris Publishing] March 2002.
His new book - Nigeria and the Politics of Unreason: A Study of the Obasanjo
Regime , is published by Adonis & Abbey Publishers, London (Nov 20, 2003).


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Causes And Consequences Of Corruption: The Nigerian Experience

Posted by olasope01 in NEWS, OPINION, POLITICS, PRESS STATEMENT on July 23, 2013
10:02 am / 1 comment
By Kayode Oladele
One of the reasons why we are meeting here this evening is to exchange ideas on our
experiences, challenges, progress so far made in our fight against corruption and discuss current
developments in corruption prevention in relation to institutional techniques, investigation,
enforcement, practice and procedure and to recommend appropriate strategies for combating
corruption. The international community has finally appreciated and come to terms with the
reality of the cancer of corruption and its ubiquitous nature; hence, we are all in agreement that
being a persistent feature of human existence worldwide, its solution lies in the collective action
of key global institutions with organized international joint efforts against corruption. These
efforts have produced a lot of anti-corruption measures including bi-lateral and multilateral
agreements, enactment of national anti-corruption laws such as the Nigerias Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004, the designing of international framework and strategies
for the prevention of corruption and the making of an all important United Nations Convention
Against Corruption which has now become the reference point for anti-corruption fight all over
the world.
Nonetheless, the need to study corruption and anti-corruption has continued to generate
passionate commentaries and academic interests. While it is obvious that this interest has made
the subject matter better understood to an extent, the hundreds of information being incorporated
into its study, research data and the diversity of some of the findings have sometimes established
some levels of complications too. Apart from the fact that some have attempted to
mischaracterize corruption as a tool for development under such labels as grease the wheels
arguments or the efficiency grease, the question still persists, for instance, on how corruption
should be situated, whether within the context of the moralists, developmentalists, or
functionalists definitions. More directly, should the definition be public-office centred,
market-centred or public-interest centred?
Meanwhile, the definition of corruption becomes more complicated when viewed in terms of
such classification as supportive corruption, transactional corruption, extortive corruption,
defensive corruption, investive corruption, personal and institutional corruption, traditional and
modern corruption, local, national or international corruption, or representational corruption,
grand and petty corruption. Or simply put, should corruption be viewed as corruption and
nothing more? Many questions continue to arise in our experience and engagement of corruption
and corrupt practices.

To this extent and with a focus on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria, this presentation engages two questions: What are the causes
and consequences of corruption in Nigeria and how has EFCC responded to the scourge? To
engage these questions, the rest of this paper is divided into four parts that involve the causes of
corruption in Nigeria, its consequences, the role of the EFCC and a conclusion laced with a
recommendation that focus on the need for a Special Anti-corruption Court.
What are the Causes of Corruption in Nigeria?
The causes of corruption are multiple and have been discussed by scholars under numerous
headings but I will briefly discuss some of the major causes that we have identified as
investigators as some of the common causes of corruption in a political economy.

First, we have identified weak institutions as a major cause of corruption. Corruption has a high
propensity to thrive when legal and political institutions are weak and government policies
generate economic rents. In most climes, there are so many incentives in the public sector,
particular administrative and legal institutions that leave public officials with wide unrestricted
authority and powers to create avenues for unjust enrichment or use the discretionary powers at
their disposal to manipulate the system. According to the World Bank Report; the normal
motivation of public sector employees to work productively may be undermined by many
factors, including low and declining civil service salaries and promotion unconnected to
performance. Dysfunctional government budgets, inadequate supplies and equipment, delays in
the release of budget funds (including pay), and a loss of organizational purpose also may
demoralize staff. The motivation to remain honest may be further weakened if senior officials
and political leaders use public office for private gain or if those who resist corruption lack
protection. Or the public service may have long been dominated by patron-client relationships, in
which the sharing of bribes and favours has become entrenched. In some countries pay levels
may always have been low, with the informal understanding that staff will find their own ways to
supplement inadequate pay. Sometimes these conditions are exacerbated by closed political
systems dominated by narrow vested interests and by international sources of corruption
associated with major projects or equipment purchases.

Closely related to the issue of weak institutions is the role of formal rules and the criminal justice
system. There is hardly any country where corruption is legalized; to the contrary, there are
several formal rules and laws prohibiting corruption and corrupt practices with appropriate
sanctions and punishments. In addition to organic laws, several public institutions such as the
Police, Customs and Immigration, Road Safety Corps, Fire Marshals, the Armed Forces ,

internal revenue agents, and other institutions including the judiciary have comprehensive codes
of conduct to regulate their behaviours which also prohibit the receiving or accepting of bribes,
gifts, gratifications etc. However, in a political economy that is laced with corruption, such
formal rules are usually supplanted by informal rules or customs that allow corruption to
flourish. For instance, the law may criminalize the giving and taking of bribes but in practice,
one can hardly get anything done without gratification or in Nigerian parlance, settling
someone. In Nigeria until the establishment of the EFCC, the laws were hardly enforced and the
informal rules prevailed. The EFCC was thus established to strengthen the institutions and to
shift emphasis back to the recognition and enforcement of formal rules. In addition to the
formation of the EFCC, the government of Nigeria, recognizing the need to have a strong formal
rules, had also enacted various other laws such as The Money Laundering Act, the Advance Free
Fraud Related Offences Act and the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial
Malpractices in Banks Act and several other appropriate legal frameworks to control corruption
and strengthen the legal and economic institutions including the criminal justice administration.
The Act also made the EFCC the designated Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Nigeria, which
is charged with the responsibility of co-coordinating the various institutions involved in the fight
against money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial
crimes in Nigeria. Essentially however, the incentive to engage in corruption and corrupt
practice is stronger where the probability of being discovered or prosecuted is remote or nonexistent.
Another cause of corruption is public perception. Corruption is supported when some/few
societal culture promotes corruption. Why should a convicted corrupt individual be offered a
chieftaincy title by traditional rulers? Why do governors, some of whom have been fingered in
corruption be given awards or be elected into the senate? There are also other instances where
religious institutions have ordained corrupt public officials and sometimes organized
thanksgiving services for corrupt ex-convicts who are just being release from prisons.
The nature of the economy is also a crucial factor. It has been argued that rent-seeking or rentbased systems tend to promote corruption. If this view holds, then, because the Nigerian
economy is based on rents from crude oil and gas, it follows that there would be a number of
leakages that would allow for the easy flow of cash and favours, sometimes in illegal ways.
Until recently in Nigeria, public officers would deliberately delay the implementation of national
budget with the hope that at the end of the financial year, any unspent budget would become
largesse to be shared by the senior civil servants. This is why it is often said by experts that for
corruption in public sector to flourish, public officials must possess the authority to design or
administer regulations and policies in a discretionary manner. However, with the passage of
new government policies which have made it mandatory for any unspent budget heads at the end
of the financial year to be returned to the federation account and the passage of the Freedom of
Information Act which is aimed at promoting transparency and accountability in government
finance among others, this practice has also become a thing of the past in Nigeria.

Other identified causes of corruption in Nigeria include poverty, poor remuneration or incentive
Consequences of Corruption in Nigeria
The consequences of corruption are universal even if there could be variations in the level of
state and non-state responses to these consequences. Simply put: massive corruption in the
Nigeria has reduced the amount of money needed for development just as it does in any other
political economy.
First, corruption promotes poverty. A simple example could be made with the corruption in the
management of pension funds in Nigeria. The theft of pensions means that retired Nigerians
would not have access to their pensions as at when due. This means that those that have
dependants to care for would be deprived of the needed funds. Some pensioners eventually died
because of the rising expectations that often end in frustrations sometimes occasioned by
standing for hours on long queues. What happens to the dependants of a pensioner when he or
she is deprived of his pensions? Will such dependants be able to attend qualitative schools or will
they be forced out of schools to fend for themselves? If education remains one of the main routes
leading to a good life and national development, without education, what would be the future of
these dependants and the country?
Another consequence of corruption is that it creates the condition for political instability. This is
because unrestricted corruption makes the state an unlimited allocator of wealth to individuals
and groups. This character of the state makes it possible for the politics of do-or-die to take root,
with politicians struggling to out-compete one another sometimes in violent manner. It must be
recalled that the various military regimes that took over power from democratically elected
representatives of the people had always justified their intervention on the ground of grand
corruption and looting of state treasury by political state actors
Third, corruption contributes to the blanket criminalisation of Nigerians, especially the youths.
With its capacity to generate poverty and instability, the youth have been systematically hijacked
for selfish ends by unscrupulous politicians and ideologues. Some of those that were not
hijacked have found interest in advanced fee fraud popularly referred to as Yahoo-yahoo or 419
in local parlance. While corruption cannot, and should not, be the singular cause of this
systematic criminalisation, it contributes to it.
Four, corruption promotes the existence of underground/illegal economy. The possibility of
bribes infiltrating the security systems have made it easy for underground economies in
counterfeit, adulterated and substandard products, especially drugs. Though these underground
economies worth billions of dollars, the government do not benefit from taxes nor are the people
benefiting from the dangerous effects of adulterated drugs.

Five, corruption also has other social costs apart from poverty. As rightly noted by Myint (2000:
50), in any society, there are laws and regulations to serve social objectives and to protect the
public interest, such as building codes, environmental controls, traffic laws and prudential
banking regulations. Violating these laws for economic gain through corrupt means can cause
serious social harm. The frequent use of substandard materials and violation of building
regulations have led to several buildings collapsing and killing innocent occupiers have become
a recurrent decimal in Nigeria while large scale oil spills with catastrophic effects have continued
in some part of the country.
Lastly, and consequent upon the aforementioned is that corruption is antidevelopment to the
extent that it reduces the amount of funds available to be used for developmental purposes.
Monies that should have been used to better education, health, infrastructure and other items
needed to encourage a good life of Nigerians are stolen by a microscopic few. But how has the
EFCC responded? What has been done so far?
The EFCC and Anti-corruption
In discussing the responses of the EFCC to corruption in Nigeria, it is pertinent to briefly have a
grasp of what the agency represents and its origin. The emergence of the countrys Fourth
Republic was marked with the election of retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military
ruler between 1976 and 1979 as Nigerias President on May 29 1999. Prior to that time, it had
been estimated that about US$400 billion was stolen between 1960 and 1999. Based on his
conviction that corruption remains a major challenge of the country, two distinct anti-corruption
agencies were created: the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related
Offences Commission (ICPC).
The EFCC was created and empowered to prevent, investigate and prosecute economic and
financial crimes as entailed in the Banks and Financial Institutions Act 1991, Miscellaneous
Offences Act, the Money Laundering Act 1995, the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and
Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994, the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related
Offences Act 1995, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (2004), and the Money
Laundering and (Prohibition) Act 2004.
A lot has changed in Nigeria since the establishment of the Commission ten years ago.
Increasingly, accountability is gaining centre stage in our governance system as senior
government officials are now being called upon to give account of public resources under their
watch. Several public officers who are found wanting have been indicted and many are today
facing criminal trials on allegation of corruption and breach of trust. The same goes for the
private sector; chief executives of Banks have been investigated, prosecuted and convicted with
assets worth billions of Naira forfeited to the government and other victims of crime.

In 2012 for instance, a total of 7,737 petitions were received and processed by the Commission.
This represents 6% increase over petitions received in the preceding year. Out of these, 2,606
were assigned for investigation, 2,385 were referred to other security agencies for necessary
action and 2,746 were rejected for lack of merit. A total of 97 criminal convictions bordering on
money laundering, illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, bank fraud, forgery and criminal
breach of trust, etc. were also secured.

In the same way, a combined total asset worth N 9,755,924,635.69 was also recovered and
forfeited to various victims of crimes which included government agencies and departments,
private individuals, institutions and organisations. This is besides the recovery of a total of the
over $170million between 2010 and 2011 made through settlements (jointly with the Honourable
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice) from foreign multinationals involved
in the Halliburton bribery scandal and custom duty violation, etc.
In addition, in the first quarter of 2013, the Commission recorded 33 convictions. Five of the
convictions were on illegal transportation of foreign currency contrary to the Money Laundering
(Prohibition) Act. The sum of $144,214.5 and N2, 705,000.00 were ordered forfeited to the
Federal Government of Nigeria treasury. The remaining 28 were convictions for offences of
obtaining money by false pretence, forgery, illegal dealing on petroleum products etc. Similarly
within the same period, the Commission filed a total of 108 criminal charges. The Commission
has also secured five interim forfeiture Orders and 3 freezing Orders.
Moreover, within the same period, the Commission assisted the Metropolitan Police in the
investigation, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of Mr. James Ibori, a former governor of
Delta state by the Crown Court at Southwark. London on February 27, 2012, to 13 years
imprison for money laundering and fraud. The same goes for the case involving the former
Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank PLC, Mr. Ereastus Akingbola before the Royal
Commercial Court in London on 31 July 2012 in which the Court ordered the forfeiture of a total
sum of approximately N165billion in favour of Access Bank plc (formerly Intercontinental Bank
plc). The EFCC played a vital role in the prosecution of the case providing the UK authorities
with critical assistance during the course of the investigation. The EFCCs partnership with the
UK authorities in these cases represents best practices in international cooperation as provided
by the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
The criminal prosecution of top Politically Exposed Person (PEPs) also continues to receive
priority attention of the Commission. This is consistent with its top down approach to
combating corruption. To this effect, five former state governors and a former speaker of House
of Representatives including a cabinet Minister were accordingly charged to court between 2011

and 2012 for corrupt practices bordering on contract fraud and/or abuse of office. The trials of
these cases are pending and will be concluded soon.
Likewise, in what perhaps can be described as one of the biggest public sector frauds in Nigerian
history, some dishonest marketers of petroleum products swindled the Federal government of
over N1.71 trillion under the petroleum Support Fund (PSE) Scheme. The sheer magnitude of
this monumental fraud ignited and fuelled national protests led by labour unions and civil society
organization in January 2012 against the federal governments proposal to completely remove
the fuel subsidy scheme. Even though, further investigation continues, the EFCC has so far
investigated and arraigned 13 companies including their management staff and directors in court
with a combined sum of N12.4 billion involved. Of this amount, the Commission has so far
recovered over N3 billion.
With the efforts of the Commission and its partners, Nigeria was delisted from the infamous list
of non cooperative nations in the fight against corruption and money laundering by the Financial
Action Task Force (FATF), the organization responsible for combating money laundering and
financing of terrorism.
However, while the EFCC does not have all the powers to eliminate all the conditions that cause
corruption, it has been involved in activities that would help eliminate some of the conditions for
causing corruption. Apart from its declared goal of arresting and prosecuting corrupt individuals,
the current leadership of the Commission aims to expand the fight against corruption beyond the
EFCC to what can be described as the private sphere, though with normal interface with the
public sphere.
Three such areas are worth mentioning. First are the Commission efforts at public enlightenment
of youths and young adults. Considering that one of the focal principles of the current leadership
of the EFCC is that the fight against corruption can only be won when the society becomes a
partner, the Commission has become active in schools to encourage youths to shun corrupt
activities. Second is a periodic engagement with the media with the aim of publicising some of
the achievements of the EFCC and its challenges. The Commission, with the help of its
Directorate for Media and Public Affairs, is currently in the process of fine-tuning a system that
would encourage a continuous reportage of corruption and its manifestations in the Nigerian
Press. A good number of journalists have been key to the fight against corruption and have been
agents of anti-corruption beyond the rituals of reporting the activities of the Commission alone.
Third is its partnership with other key actors in society such the bureaucracy, religious
institutions and other private organisations.
At this juncture however, I would like to use this opportunity to discuss a fallacy that has
continued to be a feature of the critique of the EFCC by some national and a few international
actors in the anti-corruption struggles. It is sometimes assumed that the success of the EFCC

should be located only in terms of the number of individuals serving jail terms. This is true and
logical but it assumes that the EFCC is the only agency that would determine the incarceration of
corrupt individuals. For instance, in spite of the fact that the EFCC did all in its powers to
prosecute a former governor of Delta State in Nigeria, Mr. James Ibori in a Nigerian Court, the
Commissions efforts were frustrated by the inherent weakness in the Nigerian criminal justice
administration and the Nigerian legal system Fortunately, the EFCC shares the victory with the
London court in the prosecution and imprisonment of Mr. Ibori who is now serving jail term in
UK owing to the partnership of the Commission with the UK authorities in the case within the
context of the best practices espoused in international cooperation provided for by the United
Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Ipso facto, even when the Commission would
have preferred to jail corrupt individuals to long prison terms for their crimes against humanity,
in the final analysis, it is the judiciary that has the ultimate powers to determine such punishment
and conviction.
Concluding Remark: Towards Supporting EFCCs Anti-corruption War
Anti-corruption should not be the preserve of one agency. It is a societal responsibility and it is
this understanding that has propelled the new approach of the EFCC in advocating for more
action by the civil society in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. While the EFCC is
determined to continue to pursue its goals and objectives, it would simultaneously push the anticorruption agenda on Nigerians through its current programmes and emerging partnership with
key players, particularly the judiciary, the civil society organizations and the media. There must
be informal rules to discourage corruption and the building of public awareness on the need to
prevent corruption. This would mean more monitoring and evaluation function, educational
function, media support and active participation of the public in the creation of anti-corruption
However, the support of the judiciary is particularly important to the work of the Commission. It
is also in this context that the establishment of anti-corruption Courts becomes very germane in
order to expedite the trial and effective prosecution of corruption cases. Relevant laws should
also be passed to limit or prohibit interlocutory appeals that tend to unduly delay the trial of
substantive cases. For instance, according to Section 40 of the EFCC Act, an application for stay
of proceedings in respect of any criminal matter brought by the Commission before the High
Court shall not be entertained until judgment is delivered by the High Court. Unfortunately,
several Judges have refused to uphold this law but instead have continued to grant stay of
proceedings of criminal cases which on many occasions have led to frustrate witnesses and
speedy trial of cases.
Thanks for listening.