Corruption has, unfortunately, become a household name in Nigeria. Almost everybody, including children, use the term, especially while describing Nigerian leaders. Corruption is taught in school as a social vice that should be desisted from. Religious leaders preach against it, promising everlasting sufferings for those engaging in it. The law also stands against it because it punishes those caught in the act. Despite all these, corruption is still present and has been causing havoc wherever it goes.
No matter how it is described, corruption still entails dishonest and fraudulent behaviours committed for selfish interests. It is usually attributed to people in position of authority, who abuse the privilege of their offices. Corruption manifests in different forms, such as bribery, extortion, tribalism, nepotism, money laundering, embezzlement, kickbacks, manipulation of figures or cases, fraudulent procurement of properties, exam malpractices, and any other form of fraudulent acts. Corruption can take place in both private and public sectors. Hence, corruption, as many Nigerians assume, does not only exist amongst government officials. However, its impact is felt the most in the country because it is practiced indiscriminately by public office holders.
The effects of corruption in Nigeria are felt at all corners of the country. Both the high and low, rich and poor, educated and uneducated feel the impact of corruption. It has been accused of increasing poverty and insecurity in the country. Dilapidation of social amenities and facilities, lack of infrastructure, unemployment, and poor education standard are all of its consequences. But apart from these, corruption has caused more damages than people know. For instance, it is the cause of the following:
- Unequal Distribution of Wealth: The high level income inequality in Nigeria has been attributed to the high rate of corruption in the country. Since corruption favours people in power the most, it ensures that resources barely reach the grass root. Further, the embezzling of funds meant for provision of infrastructure that will improve lives and businesses of the masses has led to the low economic growth of the poor. This causes the poor to become poorer, thereby creating a wider gap between the rich and the poor.
- Distrust for and amongst Nigerians: Many people would have noticed how some foreigners treat Nigerians with scepticism. These foreigners shouldn’t be blamed because Nigerians equally don’t trust one another. In fact, trust is a very expensive thing to give in Nigeria because many have trusted and were defrauded. One of the reasons online businesses are not yet thriving in the country is that people have been disappointed by some vendors and have, therefore, preferred to “see” what they are buying physically.
- Normalising Corruption: This is the scariest part of it. The rate Nigerians are accepting corruption and its practices is becoming worrisome. For instance, today, many people no longer see anything wrong with giving and accepting bribes. Some have become bold while demanding for it to begin to look like the norm. People even expect to be asked for bribes and when they are “disappointed”, they become suspicious. If this continues, corruption will become accepted into our culture. Then, Nigeria will be described as a corrupt country.
Remember that corruption should not be seen as the problem of the political office holders alone. It exists in every nook and cranny of the country. Anybody in a position of power, no matter how little it is, is capable of being corrupt. It also exists amongst people from all walks of life. Hence, for it to be expunged, all hands must be on deck.