Corruption In Nigeria – Causes, Types, Effects, And Solutions

Causes, Types, Effects, And Solutions to Corruption In Nigeria. Overages, the country has been held hostage In shackles and coffin of corruption in Nigeria and its adverse effect on the countrymen and women, it is no longer that new corruption has become a household menace that erupts from public office holders to the floor of common man in the room, how it happens, the forms it existed and how it can be curtailed needs to be discussed which is the major and focal point of our write up.

What Is Corruption In Nigeria?

THE WORD CORRUPTION MEANS? Corruption, multi-faced cancer that had spread its tentacles into all the fabrics of the Nigeria Society, yet it’s so difficult to define in one-word because Corruption belongs to the group of social sciences concepts described by Gallie as highly contestable concepts. Thus, the definition that may be attached can be dissected and restricted, and almost all efforts had been to describe it rather than defining it.

(Agbese, 1982), said “corruption is a phenomenon so difficult to define, yet it percolates every structure of the society”. and he went on to explain corruption in clearest Nigerian terms “When we use our position in society to secure certain advantages jumping a queue, being waved off at the checkpoint or making others bend the rules to accommodate our demands, by whatever means even if it is just ‘thank you’ our action however innocent, however well-intentional, however un-threatening to others, has corrupted a system or a convention or some rules and regulations in application”. Chief Olusegun Osoba (1995), defined corruption, “as an anti-social behavior conferring improper benefits contrary to legal and moral norms, and which undermines the authorities’ capacity to secure the welfare of all citizens”. So, corruption in itself is a deadly Ebola virus avoided by all, yet is a beautiful bride courted by all even innocently.

Causes Of Corruption In Nigeria Types And Effects

But unfortunately, the definition of corruption had been restricted to the public administration as seen in The World Bank definition of corruption as the abuse of public office for private gains; (Transparency International (TI), 2008) “Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for private gains”. Except for the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which recognized Corruption as a multi-faceted, dynamic and flexible convention and therefore does not define, but describes its manifestations.

Corruption is, therefore, the phenomenon that contravened the normal legal convention and shortcuts the benefits of many entities for few individuals. To understand the concept of corruption in Nigeria we have to recourse to the Act that created the  Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offences) Commission (ICPC) Act 2000, where corrupt practices was limited to Offence of giving and accepting gratification, fraudulent acquisition of properties, and making false and misleading statement”, these limitations of the Act warranted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004,which has a broader scope that include but not limited “to investigate, prevent and prosecute offenders who engage in: Money laundering,  theft of intellectual property and piracy, embezzlement, bribery, smuggling, looting including all sort of corrupt practices, illegal mining, illegal arms deal, human trafficking, and child labor, illegal oil bunkering, tax evasion, foreign exchange malpractices including counterfeiting to currency, open market abuse, prohibited goods, wastes, and dumping of toxic “.

And on account of what the act chooses not to cover, it follows the two protocols of African Union convention on preventing and combatting corruption and the United Nation convention against corruption it aligns with. These two institutions specifically created by the Federal Government to combat the nation of this malaise are now the definer of the concept corruption to the Nation , as all Nation constitutions past and present and all the statutory criminal laws, the criminal and penal codes, do not define corruption nor give the lists of acts that amount to corrupt act or practices, a rational approach to this is to established a code of conduct for officers who are holding public positions and made it a political goal for the state to condem all corrupt practices associated with use and abuse of power.



Nigeria, despite her rich natural resources of oil and non-oil resources and boasting of been African third largest economy, is still being plagued by poverty as over 54% of her populace lives on less than a $1 daily. As her rich wealth and GDP could not transmit to sustainable living condition, and the cause of this paradox had been identified so many times as a result of corruption.


Pre-colonial Nigeria was built on strong traditional system of ethical values with recourse to spiritual to instill compliance and met out justice to defaulters, but all these was eroded by the Colonial invasion of Nigeria especially their flawed indirect rule in Southern Nigeria introduced corruption on a grand scale as they repudiate indigenous values, standards, checks and balances and their callous ways of imposing western system destabilized the well-run bureaucratic machinery which was in place and in existence across pre-colonial southern Nigeria.

Arbitrarily people were chosen as warrant officers to replace the traditional platform and many of the appointed people were of questionable character and were usually intoxicated by power, leading them to abuse and misuse their positions. These misfits turned the newly introduced consular court system into a corrupted enterprise where instead of holding power in trust for the people, they held power in trust for the colonial authorities. And these misfits in several instances demanded money in exchange for exemption from colonial aggression and the populace in order to avoid being punished for the grave crime of being citizens, the people responded with Bribery.

Types Of Corruption In Nigeria – History

The imposition of  flat-rate taxes known as hut tax on the colonies to run the colonial offices and maintain the expensive lifestyle of the officers without recourse to the personal income of the individual and the district commissioners or warrant chiefs were empowered to arrest any defaulter yet the taxes were not for providing social services to the tax payers, therefore the evolution of a corrupt governance system devoid of transparency, the issue of tax related resistances that was a common feature of the colonial intervention in Colonial Nigeria led to the formation of  police and military to crush the resistance of the people to colonial rule thus the transformation of the military and police to government watchdogs who are to brutalized, oppressed and extort the populace at  the end of the colonial rule, as the people see giving of gratification as a means of avoiding the excesses of these government institutions.

The value of hard work that was common to the pre-colonial Nigeria invasion was destroyed as able Youth and average men were displaced from the farms to work for the white man in their farmland as miners, houseboys, clerks and in other menial capacities. The monetization occasioned by this exercise introduced a form of greed as the white men living large on the hut taxes becomes the society model rather than hardworking and morally upright fellows and the prevailing culture of acquisition of foreign tastes, introduced a culture of consumerism rather than production.

Thus the weak government institution Nigeria with her culture of affluence which has become part and parcel of public officials coupled with the extended family pressure, village and ethnic loyalties and, unbridled competition between and among the ethnic groups and a dysfunctional legal system and enforcers of the law (police, judges etc.) forced some officials to be corrupt because they believe they could go unpunished and get away with their unwholesome acts further escalate the menace of corruption. The poor reward system, low remuneration for public servants, unemployment, and poverty further compounded with man instinctual greed further fueled corruption related behavior or actions. Corruption in Nigeria never stops on this but find its way down to public officials as elected public officers is further aided corrupt practices by the protection they enjoyed by the “Official Secrecy Act‟ and “Immunity Clause‟ strategically embodied in the Nigerian Constitution of 1999.And when they are out of office, they buy their way out.


To know and identify the types of corruption is to remove the veil that shroud corruption in mystery. There are seven(7) identified types of corruption, and these are:

  1. SYSTEMIC/ENDEMIC CORRUPTION: This is the corruption that is integrated into the structure of the society, as all the society aspect had been compromised with the state major institutions and processes as a willing tool. this form of corruption is at the level of the system.
  2. SPORADIC/INDIVIDUAL CORRUPTION: This form of corruption is not wide-spread but occur irregularly as it is at the level of individual and not the system. The exposure of the individual cleanses the rot.’
  3. POLITICAL CORRUPTION: This is the form of corruption that involves unwholesome transactions between private and public-sector actors as collective wealth is hijacked and converted to personal wealth. This form of corruption is at the level of political decision makers.
  4. GRAND/ HIGH-LEVEL CORRUPTION: This is the form of corruption that is not materialistic as it is in ideas as it exists in the sphere of policymaking. It can be synonymous with Political corruption but not limited to it.
  5. PETTY CORRUPTION: This form of corruption is bureaucratic and on a small-scale level as it exists in the implementation state where the public officials meet with the public. It can be seen on the street, in government hospitals, in schools. and many more.
  6. LEGAL CORRUPTION: This is the corruption that is as a result of the breaking of a well-stated law, no matter how unethical it appears, as long as the law does not explicitly condemn it, it is not legal corruption.
  7. MORAL CORRUPTION: This is the corruption that is in the sphere of emotions and moral discretion, this is where religion and traditional societies play a role as they are the determinants in this jurisdiction.



The effects of corruption can be seen in multiple fronts which can be political, economic, and social in the country, On the first point raised which is on the political front, corruption act as a major constraint and obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a system that is democratic, institution and offices lose their legitimacy when they are misused for personal advantage. and thus, endangers Our democracy, and even provoked the intrusion of the military in the political space to clean up the rot as it has always been the norms.

Solutions To Corruption In Nigeria Causes And Effects

Economically, corruption leads to the depletion of our national wealth by embezzlement, as money is being taken out of the economy and stored up somewhere or in another country thus improvising our country to enrich the other country. This has hindered the development of fair market structures which has led to job losses and also affects investment. Corruption also diverts public expenditure from sectors that benefit the poor the most, away to the sectors and white elephant projects where kick-backs can readily be obtained by public officials. In effect, distorted priorities of public policies and diversion of public resources which could have been productively employed to increase productivity bring about effectiveness and efficiency of government performance become the order of the day.

This also endangers the fiscal viability of the state as substantial portions of government revenues do not reach government coffers. Because the system creates an avenue for leakages. Corruption, it is averred, can bring about skewing of the composition of public expenditure from social services that are important to the poor. Corruptions can also cause a reduction in quality of goods and services available to the public, as some companies could cut corners (thereby pro Corruption is a cause of low investment with a resultant effect of reduced economic growth both at foreign and at the domestic level. An economy undermined by corruption has the effect of discouraging foreign investment and public donors. The resultant effect of this is the shortage of fund for productive investment. Simply put, corruption hinders direct foreign investment.


On the social ladder, the people have lost their trust in the political system, in its institutions and leadership, as, they have developed nonchallant attitude towards government policies resulting in a weak civil society. causing sub-standard goods to increase profit margins. Corruption also impacts negatively on efficient mobilization and management of human and material resources. It can also alienate modernity–oriented civil servants and cause them to reduce (or withdraw) their service and to leave the country for greener pasture



The following recommendations are some of the probable solutions to eradicate this scourge of corruption in Nigeria:


The citizens need to be re-orientated to cultivate positive values and dropping  negative values and this program must be a holistic program that starts with the government who shows passionate political will, also to be resolute in eradicating any form of corruption, as political will is what has been deficient and lack of orientation programs from citizens to National Orientation Agency to War Against Indiscipline, the people will definitely fall in tune when the government herself shows integrity in dealing with the systemic corruption that is blighting the nation by first removing the controversial immunity clause and government secrecy clause. The traditional institutions should be involved in the value re-orientation as they are to de-emphasize the place of money or wealth for recognition and relevance and Chieftaincy conferment. Religious leaders’ consistency and vigor in their campaign against corruption must be intensified, encouraged and promoted as they have great influence on their followers especially in a religious country as ours.


The media must also play a big role in advocating hard-work among the society through the promotion of positive values especially in their contents and not the open celebration of values that supports corruption, as moneybags with compromised status are given the media space to horrendously flaunts their ill-gotten wealth. The indispensability of the role of the following agents of socialization, in this regard, should not be underplayed. This is because they are the vehicle for mobilization of potential human resources and agent of change of behavior and value re-orientation in Nigeria.

  • 2.

The government must introduce an equitable wages and incentive system and improve other conditions of work so that the level of poverty could be reduced and the quality of life improved. This will inevitably reduce civil servants’ vulnerability and susceptibility to corruption. This must go hand in hand with prompt payment of the worker’s monthly wages and salaries and prevent the brain drain currently going on in the country.

  • 3.

Strengthening of the graft agencies set up to fight corruption–e.g. Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Public Complaints Commission, EFCC, and ICPC. This may require amendment of the enabling acts and make their existence relevant and proactive and, operations effective, efficient and result oriented. With this, their existence and public resources expended on them could be justified.

  • 4.

Strengthening of the judicial system to Prosecute erring individuals or people found to be culpable in any corrupt practice and because justice delayed is justice denied, the judicial system must be strengthened to expedite the court prosecution and guilty parties must pay dearly and not the back of the hand slap presently going on This goes with forfeiture of assets and property acquired illegally. If deemed expedient by the court, anybody convicted must be also be given long-term imprisonment. This will serve as a deterrent to others. The constitutional lacuna that these corrupt individuals had been operating with also be removed.

  • 5.

The monetization of our political system must be discouraged as this will make only service-oriented people to seek political responsibilities and not the business-oriented individuals that pervade the political space of the country.

  • 6.

The people should be given the right sense of values which should be inculcated in the people so that they could respect others for their honesty and not just for their wealth. This will help to develop a positive social attitude and enforcing a code of public ethics.

In summary, the country needs committed leadership, a re-oriented public service, a vibrant judiciary and an organized and vocal civil society and there must be a synergy between and amongst these structures of the state. The need for collaboration requires that institutions, departments, groups, and individuals whose activities border on the fight against corruption work closely together. and thus, defeat the technicalities that have been the escape route of this corrupt induvial. This calls for a complex web of interrelated institutional remedies.



We can see corruption has eaten deep to the bone and marrow of the nation, it has become a norm for getting things done in many public places, it has become a right and dues to pay to get elected to certain public positions, it has become a cultural values among youths and able mind, we have outline practices to adopt to get rid of corruption in the society.


Tags: What Is Corruption In Nigeria – Causes, Types, Effects, And Solutions