The relationship of Politics, Corruption, and Poverty in Nigerian Democracy is complicated and overwhelming. Politics is linked to corruption because of unfaithful political office holders. Corruption is Nigeria’s biggest challenge because a huge portion of the populace lives in abject poverty despite the country’s enormous resources. On May 10, 2016, the trending news on most medias was the comment of Rt. Hon. David Cameron, the then Prime Minister of United Kingdom, who described Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt nations” in a conversation with the Queen, as reported on BBC.

Corruption and poverty induced by politics would self-destruct the nation if not eradicated. It is undisputable that there is no moral fibre of any worth in the conduct of public affairs in Nigeria. The evil has permeated every facet of life corrupting the people. This has led to endemic poverty, social chaos, and anarchy. This paper examines the relationship between politics, corruption, and poverty. It analyses the effects and implications of corruption and poverty on the society and recommends ways to prevent corruption and reduce poverty in Nigerian democracy. The paper also outlines the various hindrances to the nation’s development and the responsibility of stakeholders. The solution lies in a total paradigm shift towards good service and transparency of public servants and political office holders.

Key Words:    Politics, Corruption, Poverty, Nigerian Democracy, Public Servant, and                              Paradigm Shift.


This paper is divided into four major portions including the Introduction. The second part examines Politics in Nigerian Democracy; the third part looks into the twin issues of Corruption and Poverty, and the fourth part identifies stakeholders’ responsibility. The Nigerian political scene today is the accurate description by Isaiah in chapter 59: 3-15 of the state of affairs in Judah before the Babylonians destroyed it about 550BC.

Nigerian politicians are like Tsunami destroying every fabric of righteousness in the society. Nigerian democracy is governed by politics of centredness, absolute selfishness, self-empowerment, and destruction of people. It is indeed necessary for medical researchers to examine the brain of an average political leader in Nigeria if it is working clockwise or anti-clockwise to determine the sanity level because most politicians seem insane by their greed and excessive ambition.

The poverty of the people in the midst of enormous resources could be linked to the prevalent corruption in the country. Most public officers are involved in stealing of resources that could have been used for infrastructural development and creating wealth for the masses. Previous studies on this topic have revealed that corruption is a major hindrance to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.[1] To address the issue of corruption in the country, anti-graft agencies were established: Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act (ICPC 2000); and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Unfortunately, these two bodies are at times used as political tools against opponents rather than fight corrupt officers. EFCC 2012 report indicated that the citizenry’s quality of life is negatively impacted on by the high rate of corruption in the country. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the percentage of people living in poverty increased from 27.2% in 1980 to 46.3% in 1985, dropped to 42.7% in 1992 and then increased to 65% in 1996. By 2010, the poverty level was at 69%, indicating that about 112.47 million Nigerians were living below the poverty line.[2] The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) programmes and initiatives have an expectation of lowering the level of poverty in Nigeria. Based on MDGs projection, the poverty is expected to fall to 37.5% against the original target of 21.35%.[3]

The standard of poverty estimated at 2010 was 62.8%,[4] but the projected estimate of 37.5% in 2015[5] was unrealizable. The macro and micro economies of Nigeria at present in the absence of any reliable data is the worst so far with Nigeria economy in a recession based on the streets observation. The International Monetary Fund projected a contraction of 1.8% for 2016. The Federal Government while not officially contesting the IMF estimates still clings to the faint hope that “the economy will show recovery in the last quarter of 2016.”[6] Alongside the high rate of poverty is a high rate of corruption. There are many instituted cases of corruption on-going in Nigerian Courts being prosecuted by the EFCC. Mega corruption has grown to a level of impunity in the last two decades, with the country being variously rated as the most corrupt in the world.[7] No arm of government including the Judiciary is free of corruption, which shows a total lack of honesty.


Most mortals are passive or active politicians. It is in politics that human nature is chronicled and x-rayed for others to view. In Nigeria, politics is bedeviled with many lies, violence, and character assassination. It is that of opportunities and circumstances of seeking immediate advantage with little regard to principles or ultimate consequences. This has led to social chaos and anarchy known as political conflict. Political emotions are sometimes pathologically intensified when scores of the same political party experience it. And these emotions turn into violence associated with politics. Nigeria is currently divided into 36 states and Abuja, the federal capital territory. The number of Local Government Areas is 774.

Nigeria got its independence from Britain on October 1, 1960, and became the Federal Republic in 1963. Political development in Nigeria began with the annexation of Lagos in 1851 by John Beecroft on the instruction of Lord Palmerston.[8] The reason according to Dzurgba was to promote British trade in the “Niger Country.” In 1923 Herbert Macaulay founded the first political party, Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). The qualifications for contesting election into the council then were residence and income as required by the Clifford Constitution that excluded northern Nigeria from the legislative council. 21 years after NNDP, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe formed the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) in 1944. Richard Constitution of 1946 included northern Nigeria and created three regions namely western, eastern, and northern with headquarters in Ibadan, Enugu & Kaduna respectively. Seven years after NCNC, Chief Obafemi Awolowo formed the Action Group (AG) in 1951. In the same year 1951, Sir Ahmadu Bello founded the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC). Regional Houses of Assembly were established in each of the three regions. Each of the political founders became elected as a premier of his region. Federal elections were held in 1954. This was the beginning of the nationwide political mobilization that moved to the rural areas. Individuals or groups of individuals at one time or the other have formed political parties. Of recent the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) merged to become ‘All Progressives Congress {APC}’ the current ruling party and the main rival of the ‘Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)’ that ruled the country for the last sixteen years.

Overview of Political Conflicts:

The Second World War influenced the political development especially in the 1940s and 1950s, which decisively stamped both national and local affairs. The political socialization was extremely ethnicised and religionalised and produced ethnopolitical chauvinism and fanaticism. The resultant effects are ethnicity, propaganda, intolerance, and violent confrontations. In Nigeria, politics use religion as a tool of political trade and this relationship between religion and politics has become a major interest in the polity of the country.

Nigeria was divided into three regions: the north, the east, and the west on January 01, 1947 when Richard’s Constitution was put into force. The northern region got a house of representatives and a house of chiefs, while the eastern and the western regions each got a house of assembly. The three regions local populations were represented in the regional houses of the assembly that had only consultative status. Each region sent representatives to the legislative council in Lagos, which was the only body with legislative functions.[9] Richard’s Constitution was under severe attack no sooner than it was put in place because each region believed the other region obtained more power under the Constitution and each craved more influence in the legislative councils. This led to series of constitutional conferences which later produced a new constitution; the Macpherson Constitution that came into force in 1951. Under Macpherson constitution, the three regions got a higher degree of autonomy. Macpherson constitution broke down just one year after its introduction. The fundamental conflict was over Nigeria’s independence. Late Chief Anthony Enahoro from southern Nigerian, a member of the House of Representatives at the time moved a motion for independence in 1956, which pitched members against each other. The northern Nigerian members opposed this motion as they did not see themselves sufficiently equipped with the locally recruited administrative staff and therefore fear the Western-educated southern Nigerians would dominate them.[10] The breakdown of Macpherson Constitution led to two constitutional conferences in London in 1953 and in Lagos in 1954, which produced a new constitution.

The main difference between this new constitution and that of Macpherson was the distinction between the powers of the federal government and the regional assemblies. The outcome of the 1953 and 1954 conferences led to the eastern and western regions obtaining internal self-rule in August 1957. In March 1959, the northern region got self-government within the federation. The whole Federation became an independent state within the Commonwealth in October 1960, and a new constitution was passed. The northern-based party ‘Northern People’s Congress (NPC)’ gained a parliamentary majority and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the first prime minister of independent Nigeria. During the first three years after independence, the federal government was an NPC-NCNC coalition, despite the conflicting natures of the two parties. NPC was regionalist, Muslim and aristocratic; the NCNC was a bit nationalist, Christian, and populist. The three regions had dominant parties: the northern region was dominated by the NPC, the eastern region by NCNC, and the western region by Action Group (AG); however AG was weakened because of divisions within the party that reflected cleavages within the Yoruba Society. The loss of stability in one region gradually affected the political structure of the whole country and stirred violent conflicts.

The leadership of the AG that formed the official opposition in the federal parliament split in 1962 due to the escalated rift between AG leader, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo and Chief S. L. A. Akintola, the prime minister of the western region. There are variants of actual causes of the rift, but the clear ‘cause’ was that Awolowo favoured the adoption of democratic socialism as party policy that will transform AG into the inter-regional party and would draw support across the country from educated younger voters, whose expectations were frustrated by the unemployment and rising cost of living. But Akintola preferred to retain the support of conservative party elements who were disturbed by Awolowo’s rhetoric by calling for better relations with the NPC and an all federal party coalition that would remove AG as the official opposition. The supporters of Awolowo that were obviously the majority expelled Akintola from the party. The governor of the western region demanded Akintola’s resignation and named a successor recommended by AG to head the government. Akintola immediately organized a new party, the United People’s Party, which pursued a policy of collaboration with the NPC/NCNC government in the federal Parliament. Akintola’s expulsion in May 1962 sparked bloody riots in the western region called with e meaning ‘burn everything in sight, humans, property and so on’; street protesters killed many people and property were destroyed. This brought the government to an end as rival legislators introduced violence to the floor of the regional legislature. The federal government declared a state of emergency, dissolved the legislature, and named a federal administrator for the western region; the administrator placed many Action group leaders under house arrest. Balewa, who also reinstated Akintola as prime minister of the western region, lifted the state of emergency later. The Action Group contested the legality of this action in the courts, but a retroactive amendment to the western region’s constitution was quickly enacted to validate Akintola’s re-appointment. Balewa told parliament, events had overtaken the legalities of the case.

Meanwhile, Awolowo with all sorts of trump-up accusations including evidence linking him to a conspiracy to overthrow the federal government and some Action Group leaders were put on trial for treason. Awolowo was found guilty and along with seventeen others sentenced to ten years in prison. Anthony Enahoro, Awolowo’s chief lieutenant who had been in Britain, was extradited, convicted of treason and was also imprisoned. The creation of the mid-western region re-opened the agitation for the internal restructuring of Nigeria. The attitudes of the major parties were geared towards the formation of new states with the pretext that such creation will cater for minority aspirations. The NCNC advocated self-determination for ethnic minorities but within a unitary state. The AG supported multi-state, federal Nigeria and wanted the restoration of the northern Yoruba in Ilorin to the western region. The NPC opposed separatism in the north region and reached out to the minorities in the middle belt region. The United Middle Belt Congress promoted the separation of the middle belt from the north of the country. There were serious riots in Tivland in 1960 and 1964 as a result of this agitation. Also, the Ijaw and Efik-Ibibio ethnic groups proposed that the coast between the Niger Delta and Calabar should become a new region to end Igbo dominance in that area. With all the agitations only the mid-western region achieved formal approval, and a plebiscite in 1963 confirmed the creation of the region. A new political coalition, the Midwest Democratic Front (MDF) was formed by leaders of the Action Group and the United People’s Party (UPP) to contest the mid-western region election with the NCNC. During the campaign, the UPP accepted support from the NPC, and this angered many AG workers that they withdrew their support from MDF in protest and some of them joined the NCNC. In the 1964 elections, the NCNC won with a landslide victory. The power of regional sentiment manifested itself in elections by restricting political discourse to local issues, discouraged regional compromises and granted the region with larger population more political power. The political rivalry of Nigeria’s regional parties was accentuated by ethnic competition for control of the political machinery and the economy as the presence of British was receding.

The political jockeying for political supremacy in Nigeria by the major ethnic groups intensified political agitation by the minority ethnic groups to end political domination. The political tensions between ethnic groups did not subside in spite of elections. Elections did not offer solutions to the problems of Nigerians because the wholesale importation of the concept of the Western political system based on the majoritarian democracy did not guarantee the protection of ethnic identities, avoidance of political domination and deterrence of economic marginalization.[11] In January of 1966, young army officers mostly of Igbo ethnic group overthrew the northern dominated government of Nigeria, killed the prime minister, a northerner, and took control of the government. In July 1966, a group of northern army officers’ revolted against the new administration headed by an Igbo and appointed the army chief of staff, a northerner as the head of new military government. In 1967, the military government split the existing four regions of Nigeria into 12 states. The military governor of the eastern region refused to accept the division of the eastern region and declared the region an independent republic of Biafra. This led to a civil war between eastern region and the rest of Nigeria. The war started in June 1967 and ended on January 15, 1970, when Biafra surrendered after over one million people had died. The discovery of Oil in Nigeria exacerbated political tensions in Nigeria as minority ethnic groups, endowed with natural resources, intensified their political agitation to enable them to share equally in the resources of their land. 300,000 Ogoni People in 1993 marched peacefully to demand a share in oil revenues and some form of political autonomy. The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, ‘MOSOP’ asked the oil companies to start paying compensation for oil spills and damages (environmental remediation). Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of the Ogoni People, the then Nigerian government executed nine leaders of the group on November 10, 1995. In spite of the executions of the nine Ogoni people including Saro-Wiwa, the agitations for meaningful political autonomy and meaningful resource control have not abated.

The political situation indicates that the political structure and the political system of Nigeria are not conducive to the political and economic aspirations of Nigerians. The inappropriate political structure and the improper political system continue to fuel ethnocentric ideologies in Nigeria. Political tension and religious competition mostly between Muslims and Christians continue to be intense under successive military governments until 1993 when the third republic was aborted with the cancellation of the presidential elections by the army president, Ibrahim Babangida. The annulled 1993 election of the southern candidate Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (MKO) though a Muslim led to a regrouping and mobilization of people under prodemocracy led by the Afenifere Yoruba Leaders opposing the annulment and military government. This political conflict fueled ethnic politics. Babangida stepped aside, left an interim government headed by Abiola’s Yoruba kinsman from the same state but barely three months after; General Sani Abacha toppled him, another military man. Abacha seized power in 1993 and jailed Moshood Abiola, a businessman who won the nullified presidential elections. New elections that would have returned the country to civilian government in 1996 never materialized as he stretched his rule until the end of 1998.

Abacha spent his time in government manipulating election transition process and intimidating any perceived opponents; the tenure of Abacha was tyrannical. He oppressed all opponents and crushed dissents as he repeatedly puts off ceding power to civilians. In May 1998, Abacha called religious leaders of all Faiths to Abuja imploring them to pray for three days so that God will hear the nation’s prayer and moved the country forward. Abacha died mysteriously about two weeks later on a Monday after he had called upon God to help Nigeria. His military successor, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, a major general and defense chief of staff relinquished power to the civilian government of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. The Obasanjo’s administration presided over another constitution (1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria), which is the ninth since Clifford Constitution of 1922. Till today the ambiguous constitution is in force and receiving attention in the National Assembly for amendments. Nigeria has sustained democratic rule since then, and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the 3rd elected democratic president after the Abubakar’s military government. The last democratic election held in April 2015 produced the 4th elected Democratic president Muhammed Buhari the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC). Power is a great source of political conflict in Nigeria. Political Campaigns are expensive and require solid financial backing for success. The structure of representative democracy that we have in place in Nigeria is complicated; the sheer size and number of our citizens and the nation exerts a high price on its political participants. The system starts at the ward level of about 8,814 wards in 774 local governments in Nigeria. Each party has a ward, a local government, senatorial, state, and zonal executive as well as a national executive, which may include vice chairmen for zones. All of these are supposed to be elected by the party members at various congresses at each level. At all of these levels, candidates for various positions, including local councils and state and federal legislatures, gubernatorial and presidential seats are subjected to internal party elections; for elections as party representatives for different positions. Internal party elections are held to elect delegates to various congresses and conventions, both state and national. While there are minor variations from party to party, the electoral laws and individual party constitutions all reflect this rigorous, very expensive and time-consuming process to ensure representation takes place. This process breeds political corruption.


3.1.      CORRUPTION

Corruption in Nigeria is endemic; it is found in every sector of the society. In the year 2000, Transparency International carried out a survey on the corruption levels of 90 countries, including Kenya, Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria, Côte-d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, India, Venezuela, Moldova, and others. At the end of the ranking, Nigeria was found to be the most corrupt. In 2001, Nigeria was ranked the second-most corrupt nation in the world out of 91 countries, falling only to Bangladesh. This shows that corruption in Nigeria improved by one step when compared with that of 2000. From the same source, in the year 2002, Nigeria has again ranked the second-most corrupt country in the world, after the organization surveyed 102 countries. Nigeria was seen at the bottom, occupying the 101st position regarding Confidence Interval (CI). In 2003, Nigeria received the same ranking, making no improvements from 2003. 2004’s ranking showed a little improvement when compared to the past four years. Nigeria was ranked the third most corrupt country in the world in that year, performing better than Bangladesh and Haiti. That year, 146 nations were surveyed.

The record on the corruption in Nigeria improved in 2005. The number of countries surveyed by the Transparency International was 158. Nigeria was ranked eighth most corrupt. Transparency International surveyed 163 countries in 2006. The results showed some improvement, and Nigeria was ranked the 21st most corrupt country in the world. Among the 180 countries surveyed in 2007, Nigeria ranked 147 on the table along side with Angola and Guinea-Bissau. This result shows that Nigeria was 33rd most corrupt country in the world. An analysis of the anti-graft/anti-corruption laws in Nigeria shows that corruption will continue in spite of the law because the perpetrators do not fear any consequences.[12] In 2012, Transparency International again deemed Nigeria one of the most corrupt nations in the world again.[13] In that year, the country ranked 139th out of the 176 surveyed countries, making Nigeria the 37th most corrupt nation. In 2013, Nigeria ranked 144 out of 177 surveyed countries regarding transparency. The score made Nigeria 33rd most corrupt country in the world that year. The result published by the organization also showed that Nigeria scored 25% out of 100 regarding transparency. In the 2014 ranking, Nigeria is ranked 136 out 174 surveyed countries.[14] The result shows Nigeria was the 38th most corrupt country in the world. With the emergence of a new government in the year 2015, many Nigerians had great faith that corruption in the country will be minimized. In that year, power left the hands of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressive Congress (APC). One of the campaign promises made by President Muhammed Buhari was the massive eradication of corruption in the country. Irrespective of the campaign promises, Nigeria ranked low in transparency and high in corruption in that year. In the year 2015, out of the 168 countries surveyed, Nigeria was seen at the bottom of the table in the category of number 136. This implies that Nigeria was the 32nd most corrupt country in the world in 2015. Nigeria failed when it came to transparency. Corruption in Nigeria has many faces.

There is an on-going trial of about $2.1 billion arms deal. The money, which was budgeted for the purchase of arms in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, is being investigated with claims of non-utilization. The various forms of corruption include Political corruption; Public Service Corruption; Corruption in the Judiciary, Corruption in Universities and Colleges; Corruption in Police Force; Corruption in Nigerian Football; Corruption in Churches; Internet Fraud Corruption; and Corruption in Custom Services, and Corruption in almost all Parastatals/Institutions. Corruption involves stealing, embezzlement, encroachment, covetousness, conversion, sheer greed, bribery, and so on.

The presidency, national assembly, ministers, state governors, state legislators, local government officers, other public servants including civil servants, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) at national, state and local government levels, are all involved in the mismanagement of public funds. The private sector, which has carried out capital projects on contract basis at national, state and local government levels, has also been involved in corruption, in the form of kickbacks, non-performance, or over bloated/loaded contract sums. Money laundering is the dominant means through which looted money from Nigeria is taken out to other countries and unknown destinations. The anti-corruption agencies have not been able to win the war against corruption through effective and diligent prosecution of people accused of corruption, thus weakening public confidence and support for the agencies and their efforts. There are legal impediments that frustrate the trial of corruption cases in the country, such as the perpetual injunction granted corrupt politicians against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). There is also a lack of political will at the highest levels of government to reduce corruption. In its Annual Report for 2012, the EFCC observed that:

Corruption in the public sector remains a sore spot in Nigeria’s quest to instill transparency and accountability in the polity. The failure to deliver social services, the endemic problem of power supply and the collapse of infrastructure are all linked with corruption … Unfortunately, the will to combat corruption in all tiers of government is still very weak. In some cases, especially in the states and local governments, the political will to fight corruption is non-existent, as the workings of the polity are intricately connected with corruption activities … It is no surprise therefore that most of the predicate offences to money laundering are connected with corruption within the officialdom. (2012: 10)

Some of the key drivers of corruption in the country are:

  • Officials in the Executive Arm of Government (National, State, and Local)
  • The legislature (National, State, and Local)
  • The judiciary (At all Levels)
  • The law enforcement agency (especially Police Force, and Customs)
  • Civil servants/public officers
  • Federal and State Parastatals
  • Politicians and political parties
  • Private sector
  • The oil and gas sector, and
  • The banking sector

3.2.      POVERTY

According to international standards of poverty, a person is said to be poor when he lives under $1.25 per day. According to World Bank Group, in 2004, 63.1% of Nigerians were poor. In 2010, 68% of the Nigerian population was estimated to be poor. Massive corruption has diverted funds from wealth and employment generation sectors of the Nigerian economy, making poverty reduction difficult to achieve. Many proactive youths remain unemployed. Poverty levels where state governors were found to be guilty of misusing and converting public funds to private use is higher than in states where governors were judicious in the use of public funds. This suggests that if stolen resources were deployed to address the various poverty challenges in these states, the poverty rates would have declined below their present levels. Poverty is highest in situations where Nigerians have the worst education and health indicators – both on service uptake and outcomes. In Nigeria, we have had top-to-bottom programmes like the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), the Peoples’ Bank, Family Support Programme (FSP) and so on to stop poverty but were not sufficient to eradicate poverty.

Link Between Corruption and Poverty:

The relationship between corruption and poverty has received extensive coverage in academic literature. Researchers from several disciplines, particularly economics, sociology, political science and development studies, have tried to establish the impact of corruption on different aspects of development and human welfare. The World Bank, in its 2010 Report, stated that corruption has a negative impact on economic performance, employment opportunities, poverty reduction, and access to public health and police services. Further, the World Bank[15] observed in a report published in 2001 that corruption affects the lives of the poor through several channels, including the diverting of resources from vital social services that benefit the poor, such as education and health sectors. According to the World Bank, “Poverty is an outcome not only of economic processes – it is an outcome of interacting economic, social, and politics.” According to statistics, the incidence of poverty has significantly increased in Nigeria since 1980. The major indicators of poverty, according to the World Bank, are: lack of freedom of action and choice; lack of adequate food, shelter, education, and health; vulnerabilities to ill health; economic dislocation; maltreatment by public agencies; and exclusion from key decision-making processes and resources in each other and frequently reinforce each other in ways that exacerbate the deprivation in which people live”


Nigerians are all stakeholders and have responsibilities to eradicate corruption and poverty in the land. Specific elected and constituted institutions have specific responsibilities. These systems include Executive Arm of Government, the National Assembly, Anti-Corruption Agencies, Civil Society, Anti-Poverty Agencies, and Development Partners. Most importantly individual Nigerians must be determined for a positive paradigm shift from corrupt practices. ActionAid did extensive research in 2015 on corruption and poverty and reiterated some of these responsibilities in their publication.

Responsibility of Executive Arm of Government:

  1. To organize public enlightenment, education, and training for both public office holders and citizens to reduce the inclination to be involved in corruption.
  2. To pay attention to social provisions especially infrastructural development: Light, Road, Water, and other welfare amenities.
  3. To enact necessary laws and ensure effective implementation.
  4. To ensure the autonomous status of Anti-Corruption agencies and mobilize the institutions with necessary resources to discharge their mandates.
  5. To strengthen the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to enable it to discharge its mandate in the area of ensuring accountability in the extractive industry.
  6. The Federal Government must have the ‘political will’ to prosecute offenders and eradicate corruption decrease poverty level.

Responsibility of National Assembly:

  1. To streamline, reform, and strengthen the corruption-fighting agencies, in order to avoid administrative conflicts from similar agencies; be cost effective; free from executive and other forms of control; and facilitate optimum performance. Some of the actions to be taken should include merging the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the EFCC and harmonize their activities.
  2. To grant the agencies relative autonomy from the executive and legislature, and funding the agencies adequately.
  3. To remove the immunity clause from the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in order to deny public office holders the opportunity to engage in corruption and other forms of impunity and escape unsanctioned, and to serve as a deterrent to public officers from engaging in corruption. The specific action to be taken is the review of the 1999 Constitution to make it mandatory for the president, governors, and chairmen of local government councils and other political office holders to be tried in the court of law for criminal offences committed while in office.
  4. To review the extant laws in the Penal Code to increase penalties, which will serve as a deterrent to public officers from engaging in corrupt behaviours.
  5. To review and reform the current tax system as a way of reducing corruption. Many government agencies, especially the gateway agencies, collect money that never gets to the treasury.

Responsibility of Anti-Corruption Agencies:

Many of the corruption-related offences created by the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act are similar to those under the Criminal Code. These include:

  • Gratification by an official
  • Corrupt offers to public officers
  • Corrupt demand by persons
  • Fraudulent acquisition of property
  • Fraudulent receipt of property
  • Making false statement or return
  • Gratification by and through agents
  • Bribery of public officers
  • Using office or position for gratification
  • Bribery in relation to auction
  • Bribery for giving assistance, etc. in regard to contracts
  • Duty to report bribery transactions
  • Dealing with, using, holding, receiving or concealing gratification

EFCC was originally set up to tackle the problems of financial crimes. However, the Commission is also responsible for:

  • The co-ordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws and enforcement functions conferred on any other person or authority;
  • The collection of all reports relating to suspicious financial transactions, analyse and disseminate to all relevant government agencies;
  • Taking charge of, supervising, controlling, coordinating all the responsibilities, functions and activities relating to the current investigation and prosecution of all offences connected with or relating to economic and financial crimes;
  • The coordination of all existing, economic and financial crimes investigating units in Nigeria.

These provisions, together with the powers conferred by section 7, give the EFCC investigative powers and make it the coordinating agency for the enforcement of the provisions of:

  • Money Laundering Act
  • Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act
  • Failed Banks (Recovery of Debt and Financial Malpractices in Banks) Act
  • Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act
  • Miscellaneous Offences Act; and
  • Any other law or regulation relating to economic and financial crimes, including the

Criminal Code and Penal Code.

In addition to these duties, this paper recommends as further responsibility for the anti corruption agencies the followings:

  1. Building a reliable database on corruption and institute a programme of robust documentation.
  2. Instituting a process of monitoring corruption to facilitate the taking of proactive measures, rather than wait for people to make complaints.
  3. The Code of Conduct Bureau should ensure the compliance of the law with respect to the declaration of assets by public officials and promptly prosecute defaulters.
  4. Mobilising various stakeholders around strategic programmes of fighting corruption in the country.

Responsibility of Civil Society

  1. To strengthen local level accountability; citizens should be at the centre of demanding for transparency and accountability in the conduct of public and corporate affairs.
  2. Civil society organisations (CSOs) should scale up the education of citizens to facilitate the understanding that public funds are not resources for government officials
    but resources for the provision of public good. CSOs should partake in continued advocacy for the passage of all anti-corruption related legislations at all levels.
  3. To advocate for the full and effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.
  4. To monitor the compliance with all anti-corruption laws, including the Freedom of Information and Public Procurement Acts, should be undertaken by CSOs.
  5. To undertake advocacy to ensure that states fully implement the Freedom of Information Act.
  6. To engage in systematic monitoring and reporting of advocacy activities.
  7. To drive the campaign against corruption to the grassroots level to ensure that the critical mass needs to achieve traction in the campaign is possible.
  8. To extend sensitization and advocacy efforts related to corruption to the private sector.

Responsibility of Anti-Poverty Agencies:

  1. To introduce social protection programmes and expand social services most especially education (both academic and vocational) and health care programmes.
  2. To establish appropriate economic policies that will promote sustainable growth in vital sectors capable of reducing poverty, inequality and expand employment and entrepreneurship opportunities should be introduced.

Responsibility of Development Partners:

  1. To encourage international support for the fight against corruption in the country using the instrumentality of bilateral and multilateral structures.
  2. There should be adherence to the highest standards of openness and transparency in the granting of aid to the nation and the transfer of resources to agencies.
  3. To support the works of civil society groups, particularly those directed at fighting corruption, impunity and poverty.


There is no doubt about the widespread nature of corruption in Nigeria and that it contributes immensely to the poverty level of Nigerians. There is a hardy pivotal relationship between politics, corruption, and poverty. Therefore a decline in corruption will automatically reduce the level of poverty. It is also a fact that all citizens are stakeholders and are expected to play different roles in eradicating corruption and lowering poverty level. The desired change needs a total paradigm shift in the attitude of individuals and public officers, service delivery, and proactive monitoring and social justice.


[1] Transparency International, 2010; World Bank, 2010

[2] NBS, 2010

[3] FGN, 2010

[4] NBS, 2010

[5] Abdu, 2014

[6] Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance; Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/08/nigeriaseconomic-outlook-rest-2016/

[7] ActionAid, Concept Paper 2014, http://www.info.nigeria@actionaid.org

[8] Akpenpuun Dzurgba, Case Studies of Conflict and Democracy in Nigeria, Ibadan: John Archers publishers limited, 2008, 14, 17,                                                                                                   Gadsby, a. et al (eds), Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 140.

[9] Ezera, 1960, pp.64-81; Dudley, 1968, pp.21-2; Okpu, 1977, pp.145-7 cited in Kastfelt, Niels, Religion   and Politics in Nigeria: A study in Middle Belt Christianity , (London: British Academic Press,    1994), 70.

[10] Dudley, 1968, pp. 22-4; Okpu, 1977, pp. 147-50 cited in Kastfelt, Niels, Religion and Politics in                     Nigeria: A study in Middle Belt Christianity, (London: British Academic Press, 1994), 70.

[11] Nigeriaworld Feature Article – Crisis in Nigeria: The solution is… The United Africa  htpp://www.nigeraworld.com/articles/2006/jan/194.html

[12] O. A. Oyinola, Corruption Eradication in Nigeria: An Appraisal. Library Philosophy and Practice, 2011

[13] M. O. Uzochukwu, Challenges in Nigeria and Solutions on how to resolve them, 2013

[14] Transparency International 2014

[15] World Bank Report (2001: 102)




























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