Is Corruption an excuse?


A couple of weeks ago i taught my students about Corruption and its effects on economic development and I thought to share the main points of our discussion. Let us start by stating the facts about corruption. Corruption, commonly defined as an illicit transfer of funds, is everywhere. Corruption exists in every single corner of the globe and is born out of the fact that ALL human beings prefer more to less and at some point will be willing to sacrifice the rules to get more. Secondly, Corruption is bad. Countries that are less corrupt seem to perform better than countries that are more corrupt. That being said are we (Nigerians) poor because of corruption? Have we failed to develop as a country because somebody somewhere stole all the funds that should have been used for development?A look at some other countries who have historically been just as corrupt as Nigeria might help answer that question

Indonesia, commonly used as an example of a properly developing country, was at par with Nigeria in the 70’s and 80’s and also known to be just as corrupt. They have however grown a lot faster than Nigeria over the last two decades despite still being just as corrupt. It seems we are so eager to blame corruption for every possible problem we have in Nigeria. If we spent $16bn on electricity over the past 10 years and still have no electricity then it must be corruption. Remember, even good people make bad decisions sometimes.

Is Corruption an excuse?


  1. Corruption is an excuse for under development but there are also other factors that contribute to it. In the caseof Nigeria corruption is deeply rooted in the socio-political and economic establishment such that its virus infiltrates into the system. For example corruption in the educational system has helped to produce half baked professionals or better yet denied the brightest the chance to a good education. We know that development comes from the decision making and innovative minds of the citizens/leaders.

  2. I am glad that you are exploring this issue as actually CORRUPTION is at the core of underdevelopment.

    As you rightly point out, CORRUPTION is something that we will never go away, simply as a result of human nature.

    I am in Detroit and we suffer from it as well. For instance, a school board official stole 57 Million dollars from the school system, which actually is ripping off the future of our young people. Until we stop being short sighted and greedy these cycles will continue. We are actually developing a paper on the Social Cost of Corruption as it is more than the dollar amount, it infects the culture, values and becomes a way of life, that fuels EXODUS from cities and countries as people are locked out if they don't know the right people, look a certain way etc…

    It boggles the mind that we allow our lower natures to destroy our youth, our socieities and our communities.

    When one truly understans the dangers of Corruption and their origins….the individual…the teaching of Dr. MLK become more relevant and easier to understand as he emphasized the CONTENT OF ONES CHARACTER.

    We have a lot of BAD CHARACTER and until we address that, no amount of money, no amount of aid, no amount of anything can overcome a BAD SEED, and you know what they say, and its true, one bad apples SPOILS the whole bunch. And we have dozens of bad apples so when one extrapolates the underdevelopment and poverty in Africa, and Detroit and other areas is put in its context.

    I could go on, if I hear from you I will. But for now, keep talking about CORRUPTION but break it down to where it comes from, the values held by the individual.

  3. I disagree that corruption is an excuse for underdevelopment it is actually at the core of underdevelopment.

    People I don't seem to grasp the breadth of corruption, I know I didn't until fairly recently.

    And it does seem that people are inherently corrupt, and without making a concerted effort this corruption is present, festers and grows to the point where it becames a cancer and destructive force…think about it…

    Corruption is…

    -hiring someone because they are light skin

    -hiring someone because they are from your tribe

    -hiring them because they are your friend

    -using your position to get sex (Teachers having sex with their students, dangling contracts in exchange for sex)

    -skewing a project to favor your chosen group

    -not ensuring that your cronies who you have given contracts to actually perform

    -paying yourself an exorbitant salary rather than it reaching the ground

    -taking money to buy fancy cars when people live in squalor

    -being more concerned for your personal comfort than for the whole

    Corruption is not

    being scientific in all your decisions

    evaluating people whether they are ugly as sin in your eyes on the content of their character

    Ofcourse they are corrupt in western countries but as with everything, it becomes a question of degree. I find that in Africa (and the Diaspora) are myopic, short sighted and selfish. From our pastors to our politicians we want can't get enough material, we can't get enough mercedes benz, versace clothing, jewlry while our people starve and not develp to their fullest potential.

    There also is another cost of corruption, I will share with you paper I am working on entitled "The Social Cost of Corruption", in this paper I not only look at the financial loss to a country but ALSO the flight of their young briliant minds that may not be in the 'right clique', the apathy that develops towards effort, excellence and education for those that remain, as they feel helpless and only seek entry to the 'clique' as they know that their brilliance will not be rewarded otherwise.

    Corrupt cultures and leaders set off a whole chain of 'costs' and the end result is that the majority loses, I said myopic because are people so selfish that they will allow their personal whims and wants destroy cities, countries, organizations…we have seen the answer is YES.

    Ask your students to monitor the corruption within, I did this with myself, and I now check myself…things like being more respectful, patient towards people whom we like their appearance, and being irritable, short, dismissive towards people whose appearance we don't like..this is a form of corruption.

    When we can rise above pettiness and preferences and be more scientific in our thinking, contextualized within a framework of good character, when we can agree on what we are working towards in our churches, cities, countries…personal weatlh accumulation vs literacy (which is threatening to those who are really after selfish desires, and there are many)

    dominance vs. truly wanting people to reach their potential (there are many insecure people threathened by the idea of this as they simply want power)

    We we really reach a consensus as to what we are even working towards and go forth without unconstrained corruption we will thrive in our communties and our countries. I have sadly has to accept that there are many who have very dark, secret agendas and that is why we must judge people by their actions and not their words and be fearless in putting in power those who truly have the people's best interest at heart.

    My father used to always tell me that the cream rises to the top..meaning the best…but in my life I have seen there there are certain forms of shit that rises to the top as well and you keep flushing and flushing and it is relentless in staying afloat…on top. May the best rise to the top!

    • But even with these selections, if they did their job roles then it would not matter if there was favouritism.

      e.g. Who cares if they were hired because of their skin colour, as long as they brought results.

      Of course, as you go further down the scale, things like that matter and influence the livelihood of individuals, but I don't believe those are the reasons for most of Nigeria's epic failures e.g. electricity, clean water, infrastructure.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here