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Corruption, An Epidemic Social Disorder In Nigeria 


MONDAY - SUNDAY, JULY 9-15, 2012

Written and Published by Dr. Mannixs Paul, PhD, MPA, Legal studies (Bsc.), L aw (ND) 


Never-ending scandals of corruption riddle Nigeria's integrity worldwide. The humiliation and scolding resulting from these scandals, if not noted by those that abused authority or privilege as an appointed agent(s) or head of an administration but causes distress to most Nigerians at Diaspora and home. The anti-corruption expert suggests that Nigeria government should provide enabling atmosphere to implement ethics-related laws, and enforce discipline among public employees that requires accountability. The administration is encouraged to ensure stiff criminal penalties for those who intentionally provide enticement or those that receive kickback based on their official responsibility or others that support the corruption process.

The rapid change of events in the nation is now beyond control, scandals –upon –scandals and the fight against corruption adds no new dimension, but corruption has reinvented itself of which unethical practices of governors, legislators, and other top government agents are uncovered in a corruption saga long before now and latest with exceptions and with no penalty. The anti-corruption community patiently watches the unending lawmaker bribery and corruption scandals, which is self-evident of the height of deviation among trustees of government. According to the news publication, “Mr. Farouk (Lawmaker) denies collection of the bribe from Mr. Otedola, but didn’t deny that money was given to him by the man.” The abused of public trust has become a standard way of living, but such a corrupt orientation is challenged by other countries of the world, considering that the lack of a nation’s integrity is injurious to trustworthiness.


The bribery and corruption scandal sagas tend to support the hypotheses that “corruption in Nigeria is practiced with impunity” and “attempts to correct the situation are difficult.” Strategist analyst would suggest that Nigeria chief problem is insecurity, but the writer argues that if a nation experiences uncontrolled level of corruption and gross mismanagement, citizens and other nations of the world would doubt the integrity of the judicial system, the law-making body, and the executive because of the collective corrupt coordination, which itself is lawlessness that increases the vulnerability of the nation’s insecurity. Nigeria has a synchronize corruption system that makes it difficult for any administration to fight insecurity, and the same time to meet the social responsibilities of government toward her citizens is tough to achieve with no strong anti-corruption mission.


The fight against corruption is unavoidable both in government and in corporations, if humanity is to be served. This battle is necessitated by the long-standing practices of corruption among public employees and the fact that the lack of Ruled-Based-Oriented Culture has destroyed the overall work ethics among public servants to the point where unethical business practices have become an acceptable phenomenon in public organizations. Nations around the globe have been astounded by the long years of Nigeria being ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Is corruption a social dysfunction or epidemic in Nigeria? What are the causes and possible remedies for the endless scandals and the get-rich-quick syndrome that have become a status quo in society? What effort is leadership making to implement proactive programs to establish a Rule-Based-Oriented Culture that fosters compliances, policies and procedures, and regulations, repair the failed judicial system, and thus tackle the pandemic ascension corruption in Nigeria has assumed? The fight against corruption is not solely for the current administration, but must be for all citizens of Nigeria. Because the compelling forces of change in society or organizations either emanate from the top to bottom or bottom to the top that alters existing corrupt practices in a nation.


Generally, the inability of a government to control corruption is harmful to both local and international business and the future generations, and promotes lawlessness, where the nation’s credibility is threatened worldwide including the nation’s security, and the well-being of her citizens. An administration that fails to make a deliberate effort to alter the existing unethical cultural practices could experience failure in implementing long-term projects, which could potentially led to anarchy, insecurity, and social dysfunction. However, the fight against corruption is a difficult task that calls for a strong transformational leader who is endowed with the political willingness to fight against corruption.


Over the years the Federal Government of Nigeria  has established various agencies and commissions to tackle corruption that include Judicial Commissions, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Public Complaint Commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other-related Offence Commission (ICPC). The establishment of these agencies is a notable milestone for the fight against corruption but after all these years, the statistical records indicate that no significant progress has been made in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The latest Transparency International worldwide report shows that Nigeria was ranked 143rd with a perception index of 2.4. Regardless, experience has also shown that each of the Federal agencies is not yet viable and they need an organizational strategy that fosters efficiency in the fight against corruption. The data exemplifies Nigeria Corruption Perception Index from 2001-2011, which calls for timely reformation, and a change of strategy for the fight against corruption.


               Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index 2001-2011 (data excluded)

Each leader and the anti-corruption community would ask the mind-troubling question: Is the Nigerian government doing enough to eradicate corruption? This question is also applicable to observers either national or international relating to the fight against corruption. The answer is not far from the truth. The nature of humanity is corrupt, which leads to the clamor for wealth and power. Thus, corruption is based on individual subjective values, but individuals do have the power to practice self-control and the willingness to uphold integrity in a depraved society.


Furthermore, there are several pragmatic views why the fight against corruption in Nigeria tends to be a myth in local, state and in the federal level of government. In the past, the Nigeria Security Adviser (Nov. 2010) stated that administrative loopholes that supports corruption, and the lack of accountability in governance are the greatest enemy of peace and security in Nigeria. Usually, the fight against corruption is multifaceted, and no one agency or arm of government can fight corruption solely but the tone for the fight against it must be set by those in leadership position. According to newspaper publications, Waziri (Oct 2011), former Chairperson of EFCC stated that the anti-corruption process was not supported by the judicial system, while Lormorde (May 2012), the current Chairman of EFCC stated that it was almost impossible for EFCC to fight corruption due to under-staffing. The Chairman added that it is difficult for only a workforce of 3,000 to handle a population of 160 million people.


In addition, the relentless conflict among competing agencies cannot be overlooked. In recent times, Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN (March 2012) ordered EFCC and ICPC to submit the list of pending graff cases. On the other hand, the head of special operation Bako (2012) stated that limited finances and logistics the key problems that affects anti-corruption in ICPC and another publication (Dec., 2011) reported how a senior solicitor aide bribed a Judge, and former ICPC Chairman expressed grief to the existing culture. Furthermore, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chief Judge ( May, 2012), indicated that Nigeria's judiciary sector ranks low in the world and also condemned the soaring level of corruption in the judiciary. According to Chief Justice of Nigeria (2012) “corrupt practices have been undermining every attempt at reforming this country” and added that  “some Judges in the country lacked integrity, honesty, knowledge of the law, wiliness  to listen, empathy, sense of fair play, patience and honesty.”


Based on these premises, how can Nigerian fight corruption without an effective judicial system and without an appropriate logistics and adequate workforce? There are logical reasons why after a decade of fight against corruption no improvements have been achieved and the efforts of these agencies cannot translate into efficiency, accountability, and transparency in society. Instead, the culture of corruptions has escalated beyond measure that affects the stronghold religious faith and academic institutions that are original considered landmarks of moral values in society. What is the future of Nigeria in the absence of patriotism and integrity for the fight against corruption? Did you think Nigeria as a nation is ready for the fight against corruption?


Corruption in Nigeria is undeniable and that the success of an administration depends on the leadership ability to tackle the problem of corruption. Recent publication indicates that an appointed committee of the President of Nigeria recommended for the abolition of anti-corruption agencies. The committee provides the rationale that anti-corruption agencies are duplication of original police functions. Reading through such a report was mind troubling, which was a clear indication that achieving a major transformation is key challenge. However, the delayed response to the implementation of the recommendation by the leadership was judicious because the police force solitarily cannot tackle the intensifying problems of corruption. Notwithstanding, a change is indispensable for non-functional strategy but must be done incrementally especially in relation to judicial matter and enforcement. For such a modification requires due diligence because of the legal implication and rapid change in techniques, where training and research are essential parts of improving the fight against corruption in organizations.


There are several schools of thought about the problem of corruption in society or organizations. It is undisputed assumption that the complete destruction of corruption humanly is not a practical option among a group of people or societies. This implies corruption has an indestructible force, which can only be suppressed and controlled, depending on the leadership style of the administration. The writer, anti-corruption specialist, and organizational behavioral scientist suggested that the corruption in Nigeria has become a social disorder. It has bred into an epidemic dimension that affects the minds and thoughts of most people, and the get-rich-quick syndrome is now an unquestionable trend in Nigerian society.


Consequently, the idea of getting rich while in power, or as an appointed agent, invested with the public trust is nothing new. It is sad to note that appointed agents are not ashamed or even afraid of the law simply because a perverted society belief that leaving position of power and being poor is the same as a living dead. Any nation that experiences such a magnitude of deviation from standard moral practices requires instantaneous government intervention, creates larger alliance both local and international, designed intentional anti-corruption programs, engage in a massive grass-root campaign, and create awareness that brings regeneration relating institutionalize corrupt practices.


For instance, in a recent news publication, senior member of the Nigeria Police Force states bribery and corruption is pronounced among serving members due to the fear of leaving the service or dying without leaving a legacy for family. This would suggest that poor remuneration is an apparent issue of police corruption. Comparatively, decades of salary disparity between the police force and the other arm forces is long due for examination. For decent wages and incentive is a potential force of building a modern police force that stresses a culture of discipline, pride, patriotism, and professionalism. The shortfall of good incentive and assured protection for the police force cannot be ignored, if current leadership aspires to repair the nation's credibility, and to succeed in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Why the salary disparity gap is so much even today? Does it possibly mean that the long years of military leadership could be a probable cause of the salary disparity? For such a bold public statement from enforcement agent requires the nation's leadership and lawmakers to review the impact of remuneration disparity between the police force and the other arm forces, and reckon the effect of wages and the war against corruption. This is a puzzle for the fight against corruption and that current administration responding to the root causes of corruption in the police force, and the judiciary is a promising landmark and cannot be undermined.


It was quite inspiring when the President of Nigeria declares in a broadcast that the “war against corruption would begin from the centre.” The most vulnerable in society eager to see a change, but the usual catchphrase echoes “others have done it and there is no ramifications or just minimal prison time if caught, why not me?” After all, how many people the anti-corruption agencies have successfully charged and sentenced to prison terms for corruption. Even those who at one time incarcerated for the reason of corruption, released after just a short jail term and presently the king makers in political parties, authority of power, wealthy and continuous to influence the political process. These activities have set wrong precedent for the next generation that is detrimental for the existence of the nation. The voices of the helpless whispers, what a tragedy and continues to asked questions that mankind has no answer, how long will this corruption continues, forever if founded on falsehood that fails to  promote the patriotism of her citizens.


In addition, the existing cultural orientation supports acts of dishonesty, which has influenced how individuals think, and unfortunately, most people see it as a fair game, encouraged by closed associates and alliances for it is deemed as an opportunity. Government needs a comprehensive reform to address the remote causes of corruption to tackle the lapses that bring ridicule for the fight against corruption. Nonetheless, relating to unethical practices, individual motives are diverged, and this understanding helps a reformer to re-evaluate why people do what they do while in power to provide an enduring solution to a social problem in community or organization.


Additionally, the fight against corruption could always be a fairytale except current administration must put into operation an enduring mechanism that lives longer than the current tenure of the administration and implement laws that prevent incoming administration from creating any obstruction of investigation process relating to mitigate corruption. As well, steps must be taken to increase the sharing of information, to implement complex data structure that makes changes difficult, to set case timelines with a legal penalty, and to establish an independent superintending agency that comprises local, state, and federal structures, and ensures compliance in enforcement agencies, including police, anti-corruption agencies, and the judiciary.


After a careful evaluation of the applicable anti-corruption laws and the justice system in Nigerian society, one would easily argue that Community-Based-Oriented Cultures are very moderate in relation to anti-corruption laws and penalties in comparison to societies that operate Ruled-Based-Oriented Cultures. Presumably, the fear of the unknown or the grip of corruption among lawmakers or their associates might be a remote reason why there are no stiff laws against corruption and the enforcement of anti-corruption laws in Nigeria. If there are no stiff penalties, where the consequences do no exceed the tenure of the ruling party or government, why do you think the existing laws could deter corruption? The fight against corruption cannot transcend beyond administrations and be far-reaching, if it is political motivated, while the outcome is not paralleled with equity, justice and fairness, which includes not just forfeiting the proceeds of corruption but commensurate incarceration.


Furthermore, the ranking data makes it self-evident that Nigeria as a nation has much to do regarding corruption. In addition, a recent report of Country Human Rights Practices of the United States of America, also indicates that, “Nigeria's law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.” The anti-corruption community wonders if the non-implementation of anti-corruption laws in Nigeria is a violation of the United Nation Convention against Corruption Chapter 8, and Article 71? For the United Nation Convention against Corruption obliges its member States to implement a wide and detailed range of anti-corruption measures affecting their laws, institutions, and practices.


Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index Ranking 2001 – 2011 (data excluded)

Legal practitioners would probably argue that enforcement of anti-corruption laws could result in double jeopardy. This is based on the argument that a convicted individual must serve a prison term as well as forfeiting the ill-gotten wealth. The legality of this matter would have to be examined on a case-by-case basis, based on the applicable laws. Nonetheless, a society that has a universally corrupt culture would probably prefer a jail term rather than forfeit the ill-gotten wealth. The question is, if a jail term does not deter corruption, what is the remedy? However, statistical evidence indicates that most people who are arrested and charged for corruption are not convicted because there is always a price for one’s freedom in a corrupt society. This could imply that effective government would rethink a more pragmatic approach in addressing the problem of corruption as a social epidemic that affects the overall value system in our society. For the fight against corruption cannot be successful if there is no practical example of honesty and integrity in leadership or appointed agent or those in authority. This is simply based on the common maxim that stipulates that those chosen to lead must do so with clean hands.  

The fact remains that crusaders of reformation who hide or withhold damaging information at the expense of others lose the moral authority to make notable changes and should expect to meet real opposition and indignation from honest reformers. Can Leadership succeed in the fight against corruption with the absence of people of impeccable integrity? Then what happens next? The question that precedes integrity is whether the appointed leader has the legal mandate to make a difference in society. Experience and literature indicate that search for a perfect leadership in a perverted and politically impaired world of corruption is probably doomed to failure. However, if any leader does a turnaround and makes a change for the common good of the people, it would be better if society becomes supportive of that repented leader and helps to achieve the progressive agenda for the administration. This is based on the premise that history will speak of everyone according to his or her works, whether good or bad.  


Furthermore, if a person has the experience, intelligence, political connection, and wealth the outcome can easily be predicated. The prevailing practice of corruption in a society or an organization that deviates from accepted values is a signpost of lawlessness, where fewer people enjoy the wealth at the expense of others. An opportunitist would prefer such a perverted culture because of its easy ways that provides great opportunities to influences his or her selfish agenda. The current level of corruption in Nigeria has no exceptions of the profession. These include the following: the poor, rich, politicians, educationist, law enforcement agents, religious organizations and leaders, traditional leaders, Judges, lawmakers, teachers, professors, professionals, students, bureaucrats, lawyers , leaders, and others, which is a clear evidence of a dysfunction society that promotes a state of anarchy. Therefore, the issue of the eradication of corruption in organizations or in any administration is important and crucial for the well-being of the people, not just an allegory.

In conclusion, the inability for management and leaders to eradicate corruption in society or organizations does not mean that management and leaders cannot minimize corrupt practices among public employees and appointed agents. For abuse of authority or the inclination to get rich while in power is equivalent to an obsession. Government or organizations must methodically provide anti-corruption enabling environment, overseers to ensure check and balance between agents of authority and activities of law enforcement agencies, implement stringent compliance's rules, promote positive work ethics culture that could systematically and significantly demobilize employees and citizens’ impulsive desire to get-rich-quick that has metamorphosed to a societal syndrome. Therefore, the fight against corruption needs a systematic approach, which requires the implementation of internal control strategies and effective management and leadership that reinforces transparency and accountability to ensure organization integrity. The writer argues that the problem of corruption in Nigeria is promoted by a get-rich-quick syndrome, and should be treated as part of social dysfunction. Therefore, government should develop ethical cultural orientation programs as an added tool in the fight against corruption.


Additionally, the Anti-corruption Specialist and Organizational Behavioral Scientist suggest that the lapse in the judiciary system is major impediment for the fight against corruption. Nigeria should redirect the fight against corruption more in deterrence and early detection of fraud, the high network techniques of the bribery and corruption rather than using the limited resources for unsuccessful legal battles through a failed court system for trials of white-collars or corruption crimes. The writer points out that it is more effective and less expensive for the implementation of corruption preventive programs rather than fighting the crime of white-collar or corruption.


According to the anti-corruption expert, the prosecution of a white-collar crime requires a great deal, and that it is risky for the prosecution process  for an administration inability to provide the needed expertise in white-collar crime, competent legal practitioners who are passionate for equity, justice and fairness, due diligence of the process, a supportive criminal justice system, logistics, technology, resourceful workforce, and establishing strong alliance with anti-corruption community worldwide. These include free investigation process with no political attachment and motivation, development of a ruled-based oriented culture in organizations or agencies; training, and finance to support the commissioned agencies and such inadequacies would always impose an excusable responsibility on the nation’s anti-corruption agencies for the unattainable mission of those agencies. Is corruption truly an epidemic social disorder in Nigeria's content?


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