It is true that corruption is ubiquitous in Nigeria, yet this ubiquity makes for relativity and variations in types and causes of corruption in the country. Thus, the causes of corruption vary from time to time, from place to place, from dimension to dimension, from degree to degree, from relative to universal, etc.

Apart from these variations, there are some general causes of the phenomenon. They include: Weak government institutions, poverty, poor pay incentives, illiteracy, ineffective political processes, greed, poor (character and cognitive) education, lack of openness and transparency in public service, drug trafficking, absence of key anti-corruption tools, societal mindset and perception of corruption, cultural dispositions to corrupt practices and public misconducts, ethnic skirmishes and religious rivalry, geopolitical resource scramble, etc.

The general causes of corruption in Nigeria are central to the predominant misconducts seen in various types of frauds (electoral, financial, service, etc), scandals (project and contract, financial, political, etc), scams (contract, pension funds, job and recruitment, black-marketing, etc), sharp antics (lobbying, “sorting”, political grafts, abuse of discretion, favouritism, clientelism, nepotism, “runs”, professional courtesy, etc), various forms of misappropriations (embezzlement, theft, diversion of funds, etc), extortions of sundry types (blackmail, extortions, kickbacks, etc), bribery of various sorts (financial grafts, backhands, bid-rigging, contract-inflations, enticement to win contracts or competitions and match-fixing, lobbying, way-paving to meet or obtain favours from apex leaders or to get inside information, influence-peddling, gifts-giving and reception, etc).

Among these predominant misconducts, it has been argued that there are some that are major causes of corruption in Nigeria. In this article, we will embark on an excursus on the phenomenal causes of corruption in Nigeria, and thus take an expository presentation of scholars’ views on the causes and negative effects of corruption in the country.

These scholars’ views that are assembled and appraised, aim at having a wide-spread spectrum on the causes and negative effects of corruption in Nigeria. This wide-spread spectrum conversely enables the reader to add his/her own opinion on the causes of corruption in one sector or the other, making the presented views an extreme opinion, perhaps complementary to his/her opinion or opposite as the case may. These include: Corruption as Lapses from The Judiciary The judiciary is the law enforcement head of the country. For Sowunmi (2010), a weak enforcement mechanism (e.g. lack of judicial independence; weak prosecutorial institutions) is another major cause of corruption in Nigeria. The forces, which deter corruption, are often weak as some, if not most, of the law enforcement agencies are themselves corrupt. In addition, rulers, politicians and civil servants are highly corrupt, and professional organizations may be incapable of sanctioning their members.

According to CICP, some of the possible causes of judicial corruption include low remuneration and the administrative nature of the roles of judges, far reaching discretionary powers and weak monitoring of the execution of those powers. Factors which engender judicial abuse of power also create an environment where whistle blowing is unlikely, given the extensive power and authority of the individuals involved.

The lack of transparency and the absence of comprehensive and regularly updated databases further worsen the effects of corruption in the judiciary. Such situations easily lend themselves to inconsistencies in the application of the law and make it much more difficult to identify patterns, trends or individual cases in which incorrect or anomalous results suggest the possibility of corruption. Inconsistencies might arise not only with regard to the substance of court decisions, but also with respect to court delays, fostered by the absence of time standards and their close monitoring.

However, indicators of judicial corruption as perceived by the public, include: Delay in the execution of court orders; unjustifiable issuance of summons and granting of bails; prisoners not being brought to court; lack of public access to records of court proceedings; disappearance of files; unusual variations in sentencing; delays in delivery of judgments; high acquittal rates; conflict of interest; prejudices for or against a party witness or lawyer (individually or as member of a particular group); prolonged service in a particular judicial station; high rates of decisions in favour of the executive; appointments perceived as resulting from political patronage; preferential or hostile treatments by the executive or legislature; frequent socialising with particular members of the legal profession, executive or legislature (with litigants or potential litigants); and postretirement placements. One other major causes of corruption in Nigeria is, Leadership Instigated Corruption.

Leadership styles are also causative of corruption. Leadership styles can also encourage corruption at all levels, making it a game of everyone; especially when the political environment reserves apex favours for its elites, aristocrats and oligarchs, it is possible for these elites to employ sleaze in order to gain power and protect their interest. One of the features of bad leadership in Nigeria is unaccountability. Unaccountability is generally weak in Nigeria, both in its bureaucratic operations and public services, (Dahida and Akangbe, 2013:1).

Also, it is a veritable fact that poor development of laws and principles of ethics in government, and under-equipment of the legal institutions charged with enforcing them, are also contributory to the causes of corruption in Nigeria (Dahida and Akangbe, 2013). According to Dahida and Akangbe, it is also true that corruption in a country is indicative of the failure of its government. It reveals that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the market place and that rules and regulations are vague and constantly changing. It indicates the fact that public policies are implemented inefficiently and incompetently. These conditions make it easier for unscrupulous private citizens and public officials to benefit personally.

Similarly, Jimo et al (2001) attributed corruption within the public administrations to over-centralization of power, lack of media freedom to expose scandals, the impunity of well connected officials, and absence of transparency in public fund management, clientalism and low salaries.

In political leadership style, Johnston (1997) identified weak political competition as a strong factor that helps to sustain corrupt practices. He opined that this has generally played a role in sustaining most serious cases of entrenched political and bureaucratic corruption. He submitted that stronger political and economic competition could enhance accountability, open up alternatives to dealing with corrupt networks, and create incentives for political leaders to move against corruption.

Poor leadership is another factor contributing heavily to corruption in this country. This is so because our leaders are full of deceits, insincerity, and double standards. In this stance, the position and offices of our leaders have always been used to cover their corrupt practices in their respective positions. Olayiwola (2013:60-61). Accordingly, one finds reasons with Iba Jacob Omenka (2013) who remarked that the major causes of corruption in Nigeria are: Poverty, cultural foundations, inability of governance to sanction corruption, weak institutions of government, and lack of exemplary leadership.

Another aspect to look into is, Ethnic Strives Instigated Corruption. Ethnic skirmishes and tribalism, which results in nepotism, favouritism, cronyism, etc., is also one of the major causes of corruption in Nigeria. Wraith and Simpkins (1983) remarked that in Nigeria, it is common to see friends and kinsmen seek favours from their comrades and relatives that are officials in positions of authority, and pestering on them, they impose difficult strains on the ethical dispositions of the official. Some of them see their kinsman-government-official as holding necessary avenues for their personal survival or gain. These pressures for the use of official resources for private gain in Nigeria often lead to further pressures on incoming officials from other kinsmen to hearken to their peoples yearning and thus favour them, which lead the country into a vicious circle and catena malum (Varda Eccker, 1981).

Customary practices induced corruption is another mayor cause of corruption. In a society where open competition for wealth is customary, the populace tend to be extremely materialist and mercantile (Okeyimi et al, 2013:29), this further leads to the devising of apertures to make money big and fast. Also, in a society that values wealth and “making it” to genuine success, it is certain that those that did not “make it” even at all costs are mocked and cajoled especially when they are serving or retired public officials whose official positions give the possibility of “making it” magnificently. Thus, with societal rejection and castigation of those that failed to use their official positions to enrich themselves, it becomes psychologically challenging to “make it” by all means.

So, there is also the psychological needs satisfaction angle to why corruption thrives in Nigeria. Every human being seeks social acceptance and the Nigerian society today, including churches, accepts the rich unconditionally and accord them special preferential treatments. Consequently, the psychological trauma of being seen as a failure and unsuccessful is one of the motivational bases of corruption in Nigeria.


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