CORRUPTION IN THE NIGERIAN CIVIL SERVICE
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with an estimated population of about 140 million and more than one-fifth of the continents total population. It is also the second largest economy in sub-Sahara Africa after South Africa with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $133 billion in 2005 (Abisoye, 2008). Potentially, Nigeria possess the human and material resources to make it one of the richest states on the African continent and a major player in the global political economy. Despite the country’s vast oil wealth and abundant human resources, endemic corruption and mismanagement of the nation’s resources have undermined Nigeria economic progress and resulted in about 60% of her population living in poverty.
Successive administration in Nigeria have succeeded in plundering the economy to the extent that as at 2007, the Transparency. International ranked Nigeria among the five most corrupt countries of the world. (T.I. Corruption Perception Index, 2007). Sadly, corruption is now a major issue in Nigeria. Its perpetrators cut across politicians, judicial officers, state security apparatus, military and police, business executives, and bureaucrats. It has worsened to a state that it is now believed that one cannot successfully carryout any transaction in Nigeria without paying bribe.
In 1996, a study conducted by Transparency International (T.I.) and Goettingen University ranked Nigeria as the most corrupt nation among 54 nations listed in the study with Pakistan as the second highest (Moore 1997:4). In the 1998 Transparency International Corruption perception Index of 85 countries, Nigeria ranked among the most corrupt countries pooled (Lipset and Lenz 2000:113). In 2007, Nigeria slipped down in CPI as it ranked 2nd among 91 countries pooled with Bangladesh coming first. In 2007, out of 120 countries pooled Nigeria with a score of 2.2 ranked 5th with countries like Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Buarus, and Congo Republic coming before it.
From the above, no observer need to be told that Nigeria has ever fared better as far as corruption is concerned. Consequently, Nigeria’s image in the international commity of nations have been greatly tarnished. This is what led to president Obasanjo juncketing the globe in an effort to create a better international image for Nigeria during his tenure as president of Nigeria.
Corruption in Nigeria is endemic and has permeated the Nigerian society such that reknown author, Chinua Achebe once said “anyone who can say that corruption in Nigeria has not yet become alarming is either a fool, a crook or does not live in this country” (Achebe 1988). The bureaucracy has not been spared of the pandemic as it has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigeria’s public service, both in low and high places in Nigeria’s public service, corruption is prevalent. From the clerk desk to the permanent secretary, everybody is corrupt. Greasing an official’s palm can get a job done with the speed of light while failure to drop something can make one’s file grow wings and disappear into thin air.
The intent of this work is to assess corruption in Nigeria’s bureaucracy using the period between 1999 and 2007 as a guide. The work has been structured into five chapters. Chapter one is the introductory chapter, chapter two reviews available literatures on the subject. Chapter three describes the methodology employed to carryout the study, chapter four subjects the data obtained to analysis as well as test the hypotheses for validation and chapter five has summary, Conclusion and Recommendations.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
With the advent of the 5th legislature in 2007, news of alleged financial impropriety of government officials between 1999 and 2007 began to fill the air. The house of representative under the leadership of speaker, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, took the bull by the horn and constituted various committees to probe alleged financial improprieties by government officials.
One of the celebrated cases was the popular power probe. As a prelude to the probe, the speaker had in a sitting of the house announced that the Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 2007 expended a huge sum of $16 billion on the power sector without any commensurate result. As the probe later revealed, a total of $13,278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while commitments that were not funded amounted to $12 billion (Newswatch, March 9, 2009).
The report according to Newswatch Magazine indicated top government officials – politicians and bureaucrats alike of “bare face looting of national treasury through the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)” (Newswatch, March 9, 2009).
That is a glaring example of how bureaucrats conive with politicians to loot Nigeria’s treasury with impunity and without recourse to accountability. Instances abound where bureaucrats have helped themselves with public treasury. In some cases, bureaucrats deliberately dip their hands into public treasury while in other cases, they inflate contract sums and help themselves to the excess. The case of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is a pointer in this direction. Media report has it that the NPA board exceeded its financial ceilings on contact awards. According to the report, the NPA board under the chairmanship of Chief Olabode George unilaterally exceeded its financial ceilings on contract awards when it awarded a contract of N60m with N40m above its N20m ceiling (Punch March 13, 2009). Staff of the Ministry of Transport who were expected to be objective in the discharge of their duty had compromised their report in flagrant disregard of official circular barring federal parastatals or boards from awarding a contract beyond N20m. Mrs. G. O. Williams and Mr. Odeleye, both of the Ministry of Transport had reportedly issued a circular which the NPA board relied upon among others in the award of the contract. (Punch, March 13, 2009).
The brazen display of wealth by public servant, the source of which they are often unable to explain, points to how bad corruption has heightened in our society. It is a known fact that in Nigeria, the welfare package of public servants in Nigeria flaunts their ill gotten wealth without fear of arrest.
Aside the issue of low wages, is also the problem of irregular payment of salary. The introduction of e-payment system into Nigeria’s public service served as an encumbrance to the payment of salaries in the first quarter of 2009. According to Dike (2003) to check bureaucratic corruption, workers should be paid as and when due, because without getting paid, they would device ways to meet their family obligations even if it means breaking the laws. “Thus, Dike (2003) argues that societies whose citizens are achievement-oriented have relatively low access to economic opportunities will witness upsurge of corrupt behaviour. Corroborating this position, Lipset and Lenz (2000) notes that “the culture of societies that stress economic success as an important goal but nevertheless strongly restricts access to opportunities and will have higher levels of corruption.”
In view of the above, the study is confronted with myriads of problems just as many questions calls for answers. It therefore becomes pertinent to ask, what is the relationship between corruption and the dearth in the public service? Was the bureaucracy more corrupt between 1999 and 2007 than in previous years? Is the government sincere in its effort to tackle corruption in the country?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study is carried out with the following objectives in mind.
- To critically examine the role of Nigeria’s bureaucracy in Nigeria developmental stride with a view to suggesting ways to reposition it for the challenges of democratic governance.
- To identify those factors besetting members of the public from accusing public services.
- To identify corruption as a major factor militating against the bureaucracy functioning in its capacity as an agent of good governance.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This work coming at time when public outcry against corruption is on the increase, will serve to further enlighten the public on the loopholes of bureaucracy in Nigeria. It will be beneficial to government anti corruption agencies, development organisations whose thematic interest encapsulate good governance and public accountability, researchers, academics, students and the general public.
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The theoretical postulation on which this work will be situated will be the Political Culture Theory Political culture theory is the postulation of the duo of Gabriel Almond and Sydney verba. In their work the civil culture Almond and Verba (1963) described political culture as consisting of the system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols, attitudes and values which defined the situation or context in which political action takes place. In other words, it means
“widely-held beliefs, symbols, attitudes and values concerning what government should try to do or refrain from doing, how government should operate or conduct their affairs, and the relationship between the citizen and the government (e.g. the role which individuals should play in the governmental process)” (Eminue, 2001:92).
Similarly, in comparative politics: A Developmental Approach, Almond and Powel (1966) conceived the political culture as “the citizens orientations, attitudes and sentiments towards the political system and comprising the cognitive, affective and evaluative / judgmental orientations”.
Essentially, three types of political culture have been identified. They are the subject culture, parochial culture and the participant culture. In a parochial culture, “citizens have little or no awareness or orientation towards the political system as a whole, the input and output processes and the citizen as a political participant (Eminue, 2001:94). The parochial expect nothing from the system and do not feel obliged to participate in it.
In a subject political culture, the citizen is marginalized and therefore remains essentially passive or apathetic towards the political system. According to Eminue (2001) “they may be conscious of the multifarious functions of government such as tax collection, policy making, law and order maintenance, but he has little awareness of the input processes or of himself as a participant or initiator of demands.” Citizens in the subject political culture often become aware of policies at the implementation stage and then, make desperate attempts to change them if they are unfavourable to them.
In a participant culture which is found among the developed nations, citizens have a positive orientation to the political system, its input and output processes. The people are highly politically conscious. It is characterized by meaningful and active participation in politics.
Those are pure political cultures which are unlikely to be found in modern political system. A mixture of different orientations or a blend of different types is what we have in the real world. Nigeria reflects a mixture of parochial subject culture where the majority of the people show little or no attention to issues. Those who are orientated towards the system do so to seek their own end.
Little wonder then that corrupt officials get pats on their back. It is a norm in Nigeria to sing the praises of corrupt officials and rain abuses on honest ones. Hence, the attitude of the people towards corrupt leaders tends to encourage rather than discourage corruption.
Political culture theory best explains the situation in Nigeria because nobody frowns at corruption. Nigerians seems to show no concern that is why the phenomenon has grown to become endemic.
The following hypothesis will guide this research work.
- There is significant relationship between the dearth of quality delivery of service in the public service and corruption in the service.
- There is lack of the will power on the part of government to check abuse of power tends to enhance the prevalence of corruption in the service.
This work will take a scientific form. As such, primary and secondary date will be gathered through the aid of questionnaire, books, journals, magazines and newspapers, for the primary data, questionnaire as a tool for data collection will be employed to collect opinion of willing respondents on the subject matter. For secondary data, this work will rely extensively on existing works, expert opinions presented in seminar papers, books or academic journals. Newspapers and magazine articles to the work. Data collected will be subjected to empirical analysis and the hypothesis will be tested with a view to either validate or reject it.
1.8 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Corruption is a wide area in political discourse. In point of fact, there are various forms. For the purpose of this work, corruption as it affects the bureaucracy (public service) is the focal point. Though attempt will be made (for clarification) to distinguish between bureaucratic and other forms of corruption, the scope of this work will be restricted to bureaucratic corruption.
Certain constraints confront this work. For instance, it is difficult to get any civil servant who will admit that the service is corrupt even in the face of glaring evidence. Hence when one approaches an office for materials that points at corruption in the service, he is turned down. Then the unavailability of up to date information also present a limitation to the study.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Corruption: Dishonest behaviour, seeking, taking or offering bribe.
Bureaucracy: The public service (civil service)
Bureaucrats: Staff of the civil service (civil servants)
Bribe: Kick backs given to civil servants to obtain favour.
Impunity: without restrainst
Compromise: a lax attitude towards rules
Political Culture: The values, attitudes and beliefs of a people towards politics
Apathetic: Not being politically inclined
Endemic: Spread across
Pervasive Spreading gradually
Sectionalism: being favourably biased towards a set of people and against others.
Abisoye, O (2008) The National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS): A critical Assessment. All Academic Journal.
Achebe, Chinua (1988) The Trouble with Nigeria: Enugu Fourth Dimension Publishers.
Dike, V. (2003) Corruption in Nigeria: A Paradigm for Effective Control. Africa Economic Analysis.
Eminue, Okon (2001) Introduction to Political Science. Calabar, Clear line Publications.
Lipset, S. M. and Lenz G. S. (2000) Corruption, Culture and markets in culture matters. In Lawrence E. H. and Huntington S. (ed) New York Basic Book.
Moore, S. (1997) Power and Corruption Vision Paperback
Newswatch March 9:2009: Power Crises. The 20 Men to blame pg. 15
Transparency International, (2007) Corruption Perception Index 2007.