Bureaucratic Corruption in the Local Government System in Nigeria

Bureaucratic Corruption in the Local Government System in Nigeria

Meaning and Concept of Bureaucratic Corruption

Bureaucratic corruption is an anti-social behavior conferring improper benefits contrary to legal and moral norms, and which undermines the ability of government to improve the living condition of the people, and also by the World Bank as the abuse of public office for private gain, which undermines governance and impede economic growth. Kaluand – Yemi (1999) his presentation assert that bureaucratic corruption refers to the conscious and well planned act by a person or group of persons to appropriate by unlawful means, the wealth of another person or government.

According to Ajoy in Onu, 2003: (155) Bureaucratic corruption is said to have taken place when bureaucratic functionaries have taken bribes from public clients and practices extortion on a regular basis, in this wise, treasury officials and indeed other category of civil servants may engage in either of the two malpractices which are identified by sheifer and Vishing (1993: 599-617) as corruption without theft or “corruption with theft.

Bureaucracy notwithstanding its qualities and differences is an administrative body of appointed officials,” the term according to Daniel Kanfmann etal (2000) bureaucracy and development, it has been primarily used to denote the apparatus consisting of professionals, full time officials subject to hierarchical supervision and carrying out their functions in a well ordered way based on rules, regulation and orders coming from above. The bureaucrats are therefore seen as actors within the form and context of bureaucratic system. Bureaucratic corruption is linked with the activities of bureaucrats. Traditionally, the concept was used to denote the practices of buying favour from bureaucrats who formulate and implement government economic and political policies. The concept however transcends the buying of favour; it refers to the violation of public duty by bureaucrats or public officials. Various explanations have been given for the pervasiveness of bureaucratic corruption as it is explained within the context of the nature and character of the bureaucratic institution, it views  that a time, bureaucracy outgrows its organizational structure and as such becomes dehumanized and monolithic, hence due to undefined structures, lack of social values, integration of selfish interest over and above that of the organization, the absence of rules and procedures, bureaucracy corruption has the likehood of evolving, persisting and spreading. Since bureaucratic corruption is viewed in this way, then it can be argued that, since bureaucracy is the engine of growth of state, the pervasiveness of bureaucratic corruption in the institution has the capacity of undermining development in the local government system. Moreso, if corruption has already permeated the bureaucracy, for any development to take place the institution must as a matter of fact be purged of all corruption practices.

2.2.    Meaning of Corruption      

Following from the above, corruption can be described or referred to as the conscious attempt or deliberate act of division of resources from the satisfaction of the general interest. It is also an act which deviates from the formal rules of conduct governing the action of someone in a position of public authority because of private – regarding motive such as wealth, power or status.

Corruption like any other concept is difficult and, some what out rightly impossible to define in a manner that is acceptable to all. Thus, it is not surprising that there is a general agreement that the phenomenan and its associated dimension, are seen as abhorrents, offensive and antithetical to justices and equity. Corruption is found in all facets and department of human and national life as well as in both the public and private spheres. Essentially, the public dimension of corruption takes forms of behavioural tendencies and act of people towards their interpersonal and, or intergroup relationship in their capacities as public individuals and or groups even though these may still have possible marginal spill over their personal realm of existence. Corruption has assumed a normal pattern of life in Nigerian local government system; it is a way of getting everything done. And norm in the land, consequently the situation has rendered the Nigeria state, (Governance) a non- delivery state.  Corruption has denied the Nigerian people the beauty of good governance. Almost all facets of the Nigerian economy are haunted by the spectre of corruption. Corruption is the most single potent impediment to the local government system. There is discernible trajectory in the mutation of corruption. The intensification and exacerbation of corruption is locatable in the unwholesome struggle amongst the elites to appropriate a larger Chunk of state resources for personal aggrandizement corruption possesses high-premum opportunity cost, while it favours those minority who have undercut the system, and tightens the noose on the generality of the people (majority) resulting in poverty, political instability, economic stagnation.

2.3.    Bureaucratic Corruption in the Local Government System

It is a major factor that hinders development and administrative ethos in the system as most civil servant indulge in the act of corruption by turning their offices to an avenue of corruption practices, which depicts an act of incompetency amongs the civil servants. According to Ajoy in Onu, (2003: 155) bureaucratic corruption is said to have taken place when bureaucratic functionaries in the local government system take bribes from public clients and practices extortion on a regular basis. In this wise, treasury officials and indeed other category of civil servants may engage in either of the two malpractice which are identified by sheifer and Vishing 1993: 599-617 as corruption without thief or corruption with thief. Similarly , Nye (1967:35-39) in his elaborate study has given a comprehensive description of bureaucratic corruption as behavior, which deviates from the formal duties of civil servants or public rules because of private – regarding personal, close private clique) pecuniary of status gain, or violates rules and regulation against the exercise of certain types of private regarding influence. This according to him include such behavior as bribery (use of reward to prevent the indigent of a person in a position of trust), nepotism bastioned relationship rather than merit and misappropriation. (Illegal appropriation of public resources for private regarding uses)

Remarkably, from the above submission one sees the central massage which is pervasion of integrity of the civil servant in the local government system through bribery favour or moral depravity: use of state power to satisfy private interest: heartless manipulation of governmental machineries, direct embezzlement; skewed patronage in favour of collaboration inflation of central; over involving and other kinds of Illegal activities by a person in position of authorities by a person in position of authority Amujiri in Ezeam (2003: 184)

2.4.    Bureaucratic Corruption in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State

The issue of bureaucratic corruption in Ikot Ekpene local government area has stand a contentious among scholars, and government in particular since the year 1951 when the local government was created, till this present moment it arouse the interest of the researcher to bringing to limelight every panacea leading to bureaucratic corruption in the local government. The researcher took a comprehensive research to review, that even the past local government chairman and its staff were never faithful to bureaucratic ethols and thereby resorts to an act of bureaucratic corruption, looting the local government funds, mismanage the little at the local government disposal, civil servants no longer show proficiency in the discharge of administrative functions, for instance, abuse of authority to satisfy personal whime and caprice could in the words of Okereke in Ezeam (2003) “ tantamount to bureaucratic corruption” perhaps, it is on this basis that Barley opined that bureaucratic corruption while being tied particularly to the act of bribery, is a general term covering misuse of authority as result of consideration of personal gain, which need not be monetary (Barley 1966 in 2003: 254)

2.5.    Causes of Bureaucratic Corruption on Ikot-Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State

POVERTY: Poverty in Ikot Ekpene local government is a pervasive phenomenon characterized by low level of income and social deprivations. The federal office of statistics (2007) reports that 52.6% of the Akwa Ibom state populations  are poor. This research unfolds that the indicators for social sector development are mostly unfavourable for Akwa-Ibom state in general and worse for the poor junior public and civil servants in the local government.

  1. Direct effect of poverty on the state bureaucracy is manifested in virtual collapse of basic infrastructure and social amenities such as roads, health, educational institutions, water and other social services. Indeed, overt poverty continually; shows up among  the under –nourshed  population , particularly the average public and civil servants in the local government, Unemployment is very acute particularly in IKot Ekpene local government area where approximately 180 percent of the population lives; thus resulting to varying, degree of lobbying into the public/ government services, which of course  remains the highest employer of labour in the non industrialization state. And the negligible few lucky” public/Civil servants continually havest their last drop of energies and with to retain their position. The result continually being the perpetuation and exeroitation of bureaucratic corruption in the  local government system.
  2. Radical changes in the value –system: this means a breakdown in societal norms. That is lack of regulating norms. In this situation, the individual bureaucrats begins to act against the norms and ethics of his work or profession and this is usually exhibited in corrupt practices.

As a matter of fact, social values have continued to decline in the civil servants in Akwa-Ibom state. This so as the get-rich-quick syndrome has led to numerous cases of corruption practices in the state. The bureaucrat, no longer believe in honesty and merit.

  1. The inter play of politics: This is when politics comes into the realm of bureaucracy. Then, the bureaucrats begins to bend the rules and jump protocols in order to achieve some political purpose. Investigation reveals that for most Akwa-Ibom state public/civil servants, development has been synonymous with personal enrichment, and they have theoretically accepted the use of state power for the process. As a matter fact, virtually all the high offices in the state have been tuned into avenues and means for personal enrichment.
  2. Tribalism: Here the bureaucratic rules are bent as well and some procedures jumped in other to achieve some parochial of sectional interest. In Akwa-Ibom state public service system, investigation shows that this is mostly common during personal selection exercise, falsification of certificates and the likes.
  3. Poor rewards system and unfovourable socio-economic environment which usually leads to increase in the cost of living and, a corresponding fall in the standard of living among the civil servant in the state, on the long run bureaucrats begin to engage in all forms of corrupt practices in order to make both ends meet.
  4. social-culture Trends: this arose from the pressures arising from the extended families. And as such, little or nothing is left for the worker (civil servant) after taking care of this extended family. Traditionally, and customarily people give offer or “Kola” as a form of incentive to others in the society. This has now been passed to bureaucratic settings in Ikot Ekpene local government and Akwa-Ibom in general, (again the researcher gathered), thus leading to corruption, coupled with this, is the “get – rich –attitude” of most or average Nigerians precisely Akwa-Ibomice and the strong commitment to materialism. This has inevitably, made most of the serving bureaucrats in the state to engage in corrupt practices
  5. Bureaucratic corruption is said to flourish and thrives best in an atmosphere where people believe that the risk of its discovery is low or virtually non-existent; or that even when discovered, the punishment is little or minimal or can be evaded. Investigation shows that this is true in Akwa-Ibom state; where it is quite easy to “settle” the law enforcement agents and thus escape prosecution.

2.6.    A Critical Survey of the Dimension of Bureaucratic Corruption in Ikot Ekpene Local Government System of Akwa-Ibom State

The growing incidence of bureaucratic corruption in Ikot Ekpene local government system has elicited the interest of researchers on the causes and consequences of this dangerous phenomenon on the socio economic development of the state.

Generally, the word bureaucratic corruption, according to Hornby (quoted in Ezeam 2003), Conjures a pictures of dishonest, immorality, depravity or related vices especially through taking bribe. Nevertheless, not all cases of bureaucratic corruption involves giving out or taking bribe.

For instance, abuse of authority to satisfy personal whime and caprices, could in the words of Okeke (200). This perhaps. Is what Klaven (quoted in Ikejimi, (1995:139) “a corruption Civil Servant regards his public office  as a business, the income become what he will seek to maximize. The office then become a maximizing unit”. The size of his income depends upon the market situation and his talents for finding the points of maximal gain on public demand curve. According to Ajoy in Onu, 2003: (155) bureaucratic corruption is said to have taken place when bureaucrats or civil servant indulge in dishonest that leads to the taken of bribes from public clients; and practice extortion on a regular basis. Lending credence to the afore-highlighted dimension of bureaucratic corrupting in Ikot Ekpene local government system of Akwa-Ibom state, Ajayi K in Onu (2003: 157)  observed that bureaucratic corruption (ie corruption in civil service in Akwa Ibom state manifest in various forms, which include.

  1. Taking monetary and gift bribes for favors
  2. Fraud and falsification of public account
  3. Collaboration with contractors lending to over-valuation of government contracts in return for kickbacks
  4. Printing of private receipts by treasure official and consequent diversion of public funds to private account
  5. Over involving
  6. Payment of unawarded contracts and supplies or full payment and contracts not completed.
  7. Extortion and taking of bribes by law-enforcer
  8. Nepotism
  9. Abusive employment patronage
  10. Trading with capital votes by liking public funds in private fixed account with interest accruable credit to the private account.

Furthermore, the overall impacts of bureaucratic corruption in all its ramification in Akwa Ibom state has been quite debilitating perilous and destructive this is so clearly evident in the gross social, political and economic underdevelopment of the state, country at larga. This underdevelopment, mass illiteracy, extrem insecurity or both life and property deprivation and marginalization ; Africa journal for political and administrative studies (AJPAS) vol, (No.1 2004: 27)

2.7.    Implications of Bureaucratic Corruption in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State

This research indicates that, definitely, sustainable development of any sort cannot take place or thrive in any social-political formation where the incidence of bureaucratic corruption reigns prominently. The effects of bureaucratic corruption in Akwa Ibom state are captured in this study, succinctly and wholly from their economic, social, political and even cultural ramifications.

Socially: the incidence of bureaucratic corruption often points an inglorious image on any polity where it thrives. Akwa Ibom State is fastly assuming the dirty and repugnant status due to bureaucratic corruption that is almost running riot in their local government system.

On this effect bureaucratic corruption weakens accountability system, it bends the wheel of administration in favour of  those who “grease” the administrative structure, And, as the National Association of sociology and Anthropology students noted as far back as 1983, that bureaucratic corruption have crippled the important institution like civil service of all states in Nigeria, thereby preventing them from promoting economic development, and that bureaucratic corruption has promoted inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the Civil service system in various way by sapping legitimacy of the Civil services in the eyes of the people.

Indeed bureaucratic corruption causes financial incapacitation of the government in providing the required or desire social infrastructure or basic amenities to the Citizens, this mainly because, the bureaucrats whose shoulders rest on task of implementing the desirable policies when caught in the web of corruption become heavily incapacitated in this regard. Moreso, if public funds needed to be executed for the people oriented policies and programmes are carted away or misappropriated, it becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to execute the policies and programmes of the government. Another possible effect of bureaucratic corruption can be analyzed from these perspective ie. Political, economic & socio-culture

From the economic perspectives, bureaucratic corruptio is no doubt an enemy of economic development.  this scene, it give the state and her people a poor image in interpersonal and business relationship.

Moreso, a state or local system that condones bureaucratic corruption is often besieged with a lot of economic and social vices. Economic and social infrastructural facilities are vandalized to create room for unnecessary replacement and purchase or conversion to personal use. Trade and commerce cannot strive as investors will be unwilling to invest in any trade business in this state.

Contracts and projects will be indiscriminately awarded knowing fully well that, they will be poorly executed or not executed at all. The overall resulting effects of all these malpractices will increase in the rate of inflation, unemployment, decline in output, foreign reserves and deterioration in the standard of living of the people. Viewed from the political perspective, bureaucratic corruption has the capacity of endengering political and administrative instability, breakdown of law and order, brain drain inefficiency of the public and civil service system among others.

In the socio-cultural context, bureaucratic corruption apart from endengering poverty, has the capacity of changing the social values of a good and progressive society dramatically to nothing else than the crazy pursuit of personal wealth, affluence, power and societal recognition, people no longer appreciate the virtues of good morale, conduct and practices in the dischange of their duties. They believed.

Summary of Literature Review

This chapter have assessed bureaucratic corruption in all its entities, the cause of bureaucratic corruption in local government system especially against the study of this  research in Ikot Ekpene local government area of Akwa Ibom State

Hence bureaucratic corruption is an anti social behavior confering improper benefits contrary to legal and moral norms, and which undermines the ability of government to improve the living condition of the people, however, bureaucratic corruption in the local government system is a major factor that hinders development and administrative ethos in the local government.

Furthermore, bureaucratic corruption  affects all local government system across board in which Ikot Ekpene local government is not an exemption, these are the causes , such as poverty, radical changes in the value system i.e breakdown in societal norms, the inter play of politics, tribalism, poor reward system and unfavourable socio-economic environment, social cultural trends and among others.

However, its implication of bureaucratic corruption in Ikot Ekpene local government surrounds economic, social, political and even cultural ramifications, so to speak, which means that bureaucratic corruption hinders accountability, economic development in the local government system respectively.

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