1 Dzomun E. Amua, 1 Akaazua V. Hanmikyur, 2 Patricia N. Asema
1 Department of Computer Science, College of Education, Katsina-Ala
2 Department of Social Studies, College of Education, Katsina-Ala
This paper looks at the various definitions of corruption and traces the history of corruption in Nigeria to the colonial days in 1947. It also examines the rating of Nigeria in terms of corruption where Nigeria was rated the most corrupt country in the year 2000 and the current position of 38th most corrupt nation of the world. The effects of corruption on the development of Nigeria are reviewed Anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria. Also reviewed is how ICT can be used to curb corruption in Nigeria, and the challenges of using ICT in Nigeria. The paper concludes that the bureaucratic process in governance is the major issue affecting the effective fight against corruption by the anti-corruption agencies. Though ICT has greatly improved the fight against corruption in many ways, there are challenges confronting the effective use of ICT in fighting corruption in Nigeria. The paper therefore suggests that Nigeria should invest heavily in buying the needed ICT gadgets and that there should be the political will to enact and implement laws that will encourage ICT use in fighting corruption in the country.
Most of the developing nations of the world especially in Africa and Nigeria inclusive, are presently at a very low level of development because of the high level of corruption that goes on in such countries. Frish as cited by Egwe (2012) opines that corruption kills the development spirit. Akintola (2016) observes that, until President Olusegun Obasanjo began the crusade against corruption in Nigeria through anti-corruption law “welcome to the country of corruption” would have been an appropriate inscription at Nigeria’s International airports. The anxiety of airport officials to extort money from those travelling in and out of the country be they Nigerians or foreigners was common sight.
According to Igwe (2012), most definitions of corruption describe its scope to mean any organized and independent system in which parts of the system are not performing original purpose. He explains further that, corruption embraces a broad spectrum of activities ranging from fraud (theft through misrepresentation), embezzlement, misappropriation of corporate or pubic funds) to bribery (payments made in order to gain an advantage or to avoid a disadvantage). Nomor (2014) views corruption as an action or inaction that is aimed at causing a wrongful loss or wrongful gain to a public or private establishment to the advantage of the perpetrators or any other party of his interest.
Akintola (2016) opines that corruption is the only reason why Nigeria is underdeveloped and indebted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Such corruption has tended to be on the increase with the successive governments since independence in 1960. According to Igwe (2012), the origin of corruption in Nigeria is traceable chiefly to the character of a few among players who fronted for the people as nationalists, prior to independence. These few rarely considered the after-math of the roles they played or the wider spread implication of tribal and ethnic oriented politics. They initiated the then ten percent during the 1st republic and in no time nepotism and corrupt practices weaved a systematic merger and gradually became a lifestyle by the 2nd and post 2nd republican era reaching unparalleled proportions during the subsequent military regimes that followed. According to Morris (1991), as early as 1947, commissions of inquiries were held to investigate cases of corruption in Nigeria. The purpose of these inquiries was to expose wrong doing and to punish the culprits.
Results by Transparency International, as reported by Onyilola (2011) pointed out that of 90 countries in the year 2000, Nigeria was the most corrupt country. In 2001, it was ranked second most corrupt country and the same position was maintained in 2002 and 2003 respectively. However, the ranking of 2004 showed little improvement as Nigeria was ranked the 3rd most corrupt country of the world. The results improved in 2005 as Nigeria ranked 8th out of 158 countries in 2006. Nigeria was ranked 21st most corrupt country with Hiati as the most corrupt country out of 163 countries. In 2007, Nigeria ranked 33rd most corrupt country of the world out of 180 countries. According to Ugochuwu (2013), the reports, by Transparency International (2014) ranked Nigeria 37th most corrupt country out of 176 countries surveyed in 2012 and 33rd in 2013 and 38th in 2014 respectively.
From the above view of the Transparency International, one can say that there is reasonable improvement in the level of corruption in Nigeria, as we have moved from the most corrupt country of the world in 2002 to the 38th position in 2004, as reported by the Transparency International. This may be as a result of the improved awareness on the part of the masses, through the various information dissemination media such as social media (Face book, WhatsApp, Twitter among others). ICT has continued to transform the whole world into a global village as more of the activities of government are made public, unlike the yesteryears when information about the operations of government were firmly in the hand of the key functionaries within the government circle.
Effects of Corrupt on Development in Nigeria
According to Nomor (2014), the backward state of most African countries in general and Nigeria in particular, to a large extent is the consequence of the plunder of their wealth by their leaders. Igwe (2012) affirms that it is easier for a developed country to weather through the storms of corruption than an emerging economy. This is the reason growth cannot be expected from Nigeria as it is enmeshed in corruption. The sum total of the menace on the state is that the economy crumbles, leading to untold hardships for the masses of that state. Development theories infer that foreign investment is critical either to finance technological innovation or to absorb excess labour.
As corruption engenders lower levels of investments both domestic and foreign, growth is adversely affected which in turn expresses itself in the mass poverty all over the nation with the poor who have no resources to influence the allocation of public resources as primary victims.
Aikins (2009) opines that corruption bears negativity on the African economics in a multiplicity of ways. The world Bank Development report (1997), lent credence to this when it reported that bribes are not only disincentives to further investments because of the immediate costs, but also because they entangle business in a web of time-consuming and economically unproductive relations which informs the fact that corruption undermines efficiency as time and money are wasted through corruption activities, at the expense of productive activities and which all together discourages prospective investigation.
Chaba (2009) opines that, corruption in superficial terms is an efficient way of negotiating over regulated, cumbersome and ineffective legal systems. He advances following from his study of the impact of corruption in developing countries that:
- Corruption simply reflects misadministration of government in general, a way to get around inefficient and cumbersome government bureaucracies.
- Corruption leads to economic inefficiency and waste because of its effects on the allocation of funds on production and on consumption as scarce resources are squandered on uneconomic projects because of their potential to generate lucrative payoffs at the expense of priority areas like education and health which suffer disproportionately.
- Political corruption enthrones leaders without leadership pedigree, especially in nascent democracies and authoritarian regimes. In a bid to obtain legitimacy, such leaders resort to the use of thugs and other unlawful means to sustain themselves on the thrones, since they were imposed on the people against their wish.
- Corruption also encourages competition in bribery, rather than in quality and this inhibits the rise of potential investors, while giving rise to an unhealthy market place as the cost of bribes are included in the price of the goods produced. For example the cost of goods sold in Katsina-Ala township and its environs are most times higher compared to what is obtainable in other parts of the state, because the high rate of illegal taxation in the place.
Anti-corruption Crusade in Nigeria
In a bid to curb the menace of corruption in Nigeria, a public complaints commission was established in 1975 to investigate complaints of administrative wrong-doing by public officials. In the same year, a decree establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau was enacted and later incorporated into the 1978 and 1979 constitutions respectively. Abah (2006), outlines the anti-corruption agencies we have today to include, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), The Nigerian Extractive Industrial Transparency Initiative (NEIT), The Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR) and Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU) which later transformed into Bureau for Public Procurement with the mandate to curb the menace of corruption, protect national and foreign investments in the country and identify illegally acquired wealth and to confiscate same.
However, in spite of these initiatives, corruption remains unabated, and the failure of these attempts clearly illustrates that there are no quick fixes for minimizing, let alone eradicating corruption. They also illustrate that what is at stake in Nigerian politics and public service is not just power but wealth, and that corruption is intertwined with the politics of power and accumulation. Uneke (2010) outlines the following reasons for unsuccessful achievement of the policies of government against the fight for a corruption-free country.
- Much of the large–scale corruption largely involves politicians themselves and senior bureaucrats, who are part and parcel of the government in power.
- Inducement from foreign enterprise seeking business opportunities is often too enticing to resist for the elites who make decision on those matters.
- The nature of governance has basically remained undemocratic, unaccountable and patrimonial. It is futile to complain bitterly about corruption and keep intact the very system that breeds it.
How ICT tools can be used to curb corruption in Nigeria
ICT, an acronym for information and communication technology is the use of computers and computer software to convert, store, process, transmit and retrieve information. ICTs are personal computers, the internet, mobile technology and different electronic applications. A confluence of these technologies eases the flow of information, its accessibility and delivery. ICT enhances transparency while offering opportunities for easier access to public records and establishing linkage among geographically separated systems for accountability.
Before the advent of ICT in governance, many administration and heads of government at various levels were employing people illegally and most times tagged ghost workers and salaries were paid to the people concerned with ease because of table payments. The special adviser to the President on the Media reported on 28th December, 2016 that the Federal government of Nigeria saved over 200 Billion Naira in 2016 from 50,000 ghost workers. The introduction of ICT in governance and financial transaction like e-mail, e-verification of payments, e-transfers, Bank verification number (BVN) eliminated corrupt Practices bordering on the following of files and cheques from one desk to another and from one accounting officer to another.
According to Danfulani (2013), it has been established that, the unfortunate culture of physical following of files, and other contract papers breeds unholy and corrupt practices between the contractors, internal monitors and banks. ICT measures ended some of these practices and cleansed the system to some level of decency as public officers were left with working on papers and publishing their assessments without knowing owners or seeing them.
The introduction of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) has helped immensely because people transfer or withdraw cash without necessarily going through the ritual of cheques and queuing for long hours in bank branches. Such long queues often make people corrupt the process by cutting corners, using bank staff who are products of the same corrupt system.
Recruitments and examination in schools, ministries, departments and Parastatals are electronically done. Candidates apply online, write exams only through buying of scratch cards and the scripts are marked and results released within days and candidates are made to know their results. This practice has eliminated the hitherto slow process that was manipulated by the people in authority for personal reasons. This process has also nipped in the bud associated with candidates’ inconsistencies with age and other claims.
ICT has helped EFCC and ICPC in tracking financial fraudsters and international money launders, by sending immediate alerts and photos of individual withdrawals of N500,000 and above and N1,000,000 and above for cooperate bodies. This measure results in the massive arrests of fraudsters before they even leave the bank premises. Those who escape arrests from banks, thanks to clues received, are arrested and prosecuted.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), by introducing biometric registration of voters and compilation of results with the aid of electronic media has also helped in curbing electoral malpractices. Before the initiative of using ICT tools in the electoral process, registers were compiled manually and results also counted and recorded on result sheets. This gave room for massive rigging and manipulation of elections by those in authority, at various levels of government.
Many states’ Boards of Internal Revenue Services have developed functional data bases for monitoring individuals and corporate taxes by knowing when they are due for payment. Corrupt ways of declaring profits and losses at the end of financial years, just to evade taxes or get tax holidays have been drastically reduced. Recklessness associated with revenue collectors, whose trade mark was siphoning monies because of improper records has made way for a more transparent collection and remittance procedure.
The Treasury Single Account adopted by the Federal government and some state governments that linked accounts of all Parastatals and Ministries to a single alarming system that alerts withdrawals and deposits of monies is also an anti-corruption measure. This has made fraudsters within the civil service to deter from their usual style of open-day robbery of treasury in league with top brass of the civil service.
Challenges of using ICT for anti-corruption in Nigeria
ICT has no doubt helped in curbing corruption in both public and private sectors in Nigeria. Through this remarkable improvement, confidence is gradually returning and local and international investors are taking the risk of investing and doing business in the country. This, by no means, implies that the cancer of corruption has been eradicated through ICT.
Danfulani (2013) reports that, despite the tremendous boom in ICT in the country, a commending sizeable number of people are not in the ICT world. They include people without western education, highly-placed people in government without any knowledge of operating a personal computer, the best they can do is to operate a phone. This low knowledge of ICT is giving criminals some room to wangle through their heinous schemes due to the gullibility of the people.
Most times, the websites of ministries and parastatals are dead zones with outdated information. This is not only associated with lack of gadgets and latest equipment, but simple knowledge of ICT by some people managing such sensitive areas. There are cases of criminals manipulating sites who break into the control systems of government sites and manipulate information for personal gains.
Nigeria is a great nation with a wide geographical area and people of different cultures. The net coverage in Nigeria is so poor that there are some Local government headquarters without any of the networks operational in such areas and as a result, have no means of having access to any of the ICT gadgets. This is a very big challenge, as the people resident in such areas where there is no single net -work coverage will turn to be doing things in the traditional way that encourages a high level of corruption.
Another big challenge of ICT is the power supply in the country. All the ICT gadgets are only effective with the use of electricity and the power supply in the nation even in towns is epileptic in nature. There are areas in this nation that are not connected to electricity. This has in no small measure affected the efficiency of ICT use in the nation as most of the times crimes and corruption cases are supposed to be reported but the absence of adequate supply of electricity affects this process, to a great extent.
There is no doubt, Nigeria is one of Africa’s strongest economies and the continents’ market due to her population. However, protracted corruption in the public and private sectors, policy vacillation and misplaced priorities have rendered the country financially weak. This has denied the country the needed capacity to install the needed ICT, training of personnel to man the equipment and the political will to implement laws enacted by parliaments in response to ICT use in the country.
Corruption is the cancer that has greatly affected the development of the African continent and Nigeria in particular. The Transparency International rated Nigeria as the most corrupt country of the world by the year 2000 and despite efforts through Anti-corruption agencies, Nigeria was rated the 38th most corrupt country of the world by the year 2014. The anti-corruption agencies are also always faced with the bureaucratic processes in the workings of the government which is always headed by the corrupt people, who are ready to protect their pals in corruption in order to avoid being caught by such agencies. This is therefore making the fight against corruption a very difficult task and it is also greatly affecting the pace of development in Nigeria.
ICT has greatly improved the fight against corruption, as the information that was held strictly within government circles is now circulated through various ICT gadgets for the consumption of the masses. That has helped the fight against corruption, which has taken a new dimension. The use of Biometric registers and the involvement of ICT gadgets in the election process has caused three serving African President to lose out in the presidential elections (i.e. in Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia) which clearly shows that ICT has gone a long way to improve the rate of development in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
In the financial institutions and processes too, ICT seems to be very effective in curbing corruption. The e-banking, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) have also checked the long queues in the banking sector and other stressful conditions that were associated with the clearing of cheque for payments. The recently-introduced Bank Verification Number (BVN) which has linked all the accounts of individuals to a single code, which can be used to trace the financial statistics and sources of any body at any given time has also deterred corrupt people in positions of authority, who used many account numbers and names to siphon the finances of the nation. This can be seen in the recent statement by the Special Adviser to President Muhamadu Buhari on media that Nigeria saved over N200 Billion Naira in 2016 from 50,000 ghost workers. The State Boards of Internal Revenue services are not left out as the data base generated for the purpose of checking taxes of individuals and corporate bodies is yielding positive results.
Examination bodies, ministries, parastatals and departments, are also benefiting greatly from the use of ICT tools in the fight against corruption, as practices such as impersonation, falsification of age and manipulations of results are checked since exams are always marked within days and results given to the candidates without the intervention of concerned persons.
Despite the tremendous boom in ICT, a lot of people lack knowledge of the ICT. We also have the problem of poor network facilities, poor power supply, weak financial muscle to support ICT and the political will to implement laws that will respond to the ICT use in Nigeria.
Based on the challenges affecting the effective use of ICT in the total fight against corruption in Nigeria for the development of the nation, the following suggestions are made;
- The government should harmonise the biometric data of her citizens which are generated from various agencies such as examination bodies, institutions of learning, banks, network operators in the Nation, through SIM card registration, registration at point of purchase of some vital goods and national I.D. card so that all the information about her citizens will be in one data base and information about any citizen can be gathered through a thumb print at any point.
- Government should encourage in-service training in ICT and adequate ICT knowledge should be a pre-condition for appointment in some key areas that have to deal with information dissemination offices
- Nigeria should also launch a satellite that will supply powerful network all through the country at a lower cost, to encourage her citizens to be ICT-compliant.
- Nigeria should take the issue of power as a major priority so as to improve on the quality of power supply and also link other places to power so as to facilitate ICT use in the Nation.
- Nigeria should invest heavily in ICT by buying current ICT gadgets and mounting in places where they are needed.
- There should be the political will to implement laws that will encourage ICT use in the country.
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