The level of development of a country sometimes does not depend solely on the abundance of human and material resources that are available in the country. Development goes beyond endowment. If a country is blessed with human resources and greatly endowed with abundant natural resources, one would expect that such a country is highly developed. Such is not the case with Nigeria in spite of her human and material resources. It is generally acknowledged that Nigeria is blessed with human and natural resources. It is also a truism that Nigeria is among the least developed countries in the world. What are the factors responsible for this low level of development in Nigeria? This is the concern of this research work.
The Nigerian State is a victim of high-level corruption, bad governance, political instability and a cyclical legitimacy crisis. Consequently, national development is retarded, and the political environment uncertain. The country’s authoritarian leadership faced a legitimacy crisis, political intrigues, in an ethnically – differentiated polity, where ethnic competition for resources drove much of the pervasive corruption and profligacy. While the political gladiators constantly manipulated the people and the political processes to advance their own selfish agenda, the society remained pauperized, and the people wallowed in abject poverty. This invariably led to weak legitimacy, as the citizens lacked faith in their political leaders and by extension, the political system. Participation in government was low because citizens perceived it as irrelevant to their lives. In the absence of support from civil society, the effective power of government was eroded. Patron – client relationships took a prime role over the formal aspects of politics, such as the rule of law, well-functioning political parties,and a credible electoral system. In order to break this cycle and ensure good governance,accountability and transparency must be guaranteed.
Key Words: Leadership, Corruption, Governance, and Development
It was Ake (1995) who painted a gloomy picture of the African continent saying: “Most of Africa is not developing.” This apt description of the decline in nearly all African countries underscores the depth of underdevelopment ravaging the people in the midst of abundant natural resources. While most of these countries gained independence in the 1960s, the struggle to ensure national development and political stability proved negative. According to Ake (1995).
“Decades of efforts have yielded largely stagnation, regression or worse. The tragic consequences of this are increasingly clear: a rising tide of poverty, decaying public utilities and infrastructures, social tensions and political turmoil, and now, premonition of inevitable drive into conflict and violence”.
Several factors have been identified for this dysfunctional state of the African state and the third world. Kesselman et al. (1996), blamed this on three principal factors- scarce resources, weak legitimacy and patron-client or what is commonly known in Nigeria as “godfather” politics. Scarce resources engender poverty, inequality and aweak position in the international economic system. State control of the limited resources provide the leeway for officers, political and bureaucratic, to manipulate government spending to advance their personal fortunes. This led to weak legitimacy, as the citizens lack faith in their political leaders, and, by extension, the political system.Participation in government is low because the citizens perceive it as irrelevant to their lives. In the absence of the support of the civil society, the effective power of government is eroded. Patron-client relationships take the primacy over the formal aspects of politics such as the rule of law, well-functioning political parties, and a credible electoral system. Ake (1995) locates the genesis of this problem in the inclement political and social conditions in the developing countries. This manifests in poor planning and implementation, lack of entrepreneurial abilities,the stifling of market forces, falling commodity prices and unfavourable terms of trade, poverty of ideas,the dependency syndrome, corruption and indiscipline.
There is no doubt that some of our dreams have been shattered-the dream that Nigeria would become a developed country that would be influential within Africa and in the rest of the world. We were excited at the time of independence that the potential of Nigeria were such that, given 20 to 25 years, Nigeria would be one of the countries to be reckoned with internationally we are nowhere near what we thought at that time (of independence) that Nigeria would be at this time.(Anyaoku: 2013, 48-49)
The lamentation of Anyaoku is a good starting point of our discussion, because, it is premised upon the view that Nigeria is naturally and humanly endowed. It is usually believed that if a country is endowed with natural and economic resources, and is blessed with human resources, such a country has what it takes to be great and developed. However, the case of Nigeria breaks this rule of simple logic, which can be expressed in this manner:
Nigeria is blessed with human resources.
Nigeria is endowed with natural resources
Therefore, Nigeria is underdeveloped.
A sound argument is more important than a valid one. The one above is a sound argument because the two premises and the conclusion are true. It is however an invalid argument because the conclusion does not follow from the premises. That is, the conclusion is not supported by the premises. Awolowo (1984) noted that: “The greatness of a nation (national development) does not consist in the abundance of its resources but the quality of its people.” If a country like ours is blessed in terms of human and economic resources but remains underdeveloped, then, some factors must have been responsible for this illogical and ugly situation. This research work finds these factors in bad leadership and corruption, which it intends to discuss, beginning with conceptual analysis.
Definition of Corruption
Etymologically, the word “corruption” comes from the Greek word “corruptus” meaning an aberration or we may say a misnomer. The United Nations Global Programme against Corruption (GPAC) defines it as “abuse of power for private gain”. Transparency International has chosen a clear and focused definition of the term as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. It can also be defined simply as a perversion or change from the general accepted rules or laws for selfish gain.
An objective analysis and application of these definitions to the Nigerian situation clearly reveals that corruption has become almost an acceptable way of life and has indeed found itself into every sphere of our national existence. Indeed, a survey of our homes, offices, corporate organizations, ministries, institutions, organizations, leadership positions, even the commercial and banking sectors as revealed by the stock market crash and the ongoing bank investigations all go to show that corruption has become a living and breathing cancer which has unfortunately come to be justified by the average man as “the need to survive.”
Conceptual Definition of Corruption
Like every other social concept, corruption is a difficult term to define, and, maybe that explains why it is difficult to curb. A few of the definitions given by scholars and organizations are: according to the Transparency International, corruption is defined as:” the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” For Nye, J. S:”corruption is a behavior which deviates from formal duties of a public role, because of private (gain) – regarding(personal, close family, private clique, pecuniary or status gain.) It is a behaviour which violates rules against the exercise of certain types of (duties) for private (gains) regarding influence.” For Bello- Imam, (2004), “corruption is a dishonest or illegal behaviour, especially of people in authority.” Encyclopedia Americana, (2005) defines corruption as “a general term for the misuse of a public position of trust for private gain.”Lipset & Lenz, (2000), say: “corruption is effort to secure wealth or power through illegal means- private gain at public expense, or a misuse of public power for private benefit.” Oladimeji and Oladimeji, (2011; 183-185), identify some form of corruption to include: Political corruption, Bureaucratic corruption, Electoral corruption and Financial corruption.
Conceptual Definition of Governance
The term governance has also become an important topic to scholars in political science. As expected, it is highly contentious like other terms. We now have bad governance and good governance. Ojameruaye, for instance defines governance as;
The process by which governments are elected, monitored and replaced; the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them
Ajayi (2010: 27) defines governance thus:
The process and practices through which an entity organized itself to achieve its mandate. It is concerned with the structures and procedures for decision-making, accountability, control and code of conduct. It is expressed through legislation, policies and by-laws and informal norms.
Agagu (2010: 39) sees governance as the means through which “public institutions manage public affairs to ensure effective use of resources to achieve the good life expected of citizens in a given state.” Tiamiyu & Olaleye (2011: 4) define governance as: “general adherence to rule of law, transparency, productivity and accountability in government decision making that constantly achieve effective and efficient outcome for society.” There seems to be a general meeting point among these scholars as to what governance is all about, and if there is any conflict at all, is a matter of semantic. Governance is all about how the yearning and the aspirations of the people of a state are met. If, for instance, the resources of a state are managed for the benefits of all or the majority, we can talk of good governance but if it is the few that enjoy the benefits thereof, or if the state is unable to harness her human and material resources to the fullest, as in the case of Nigeria, we have bad governance, It is however important to know that governance is bigger and wider than government. Accordingly, Denis Venter(2006) submits that:
Governance has a strong normative overtone: It is the practice of good government, and it remains essentially a fragile process that depends on the restraint of the ruler and the tolerance of the ruled…Certainly, ‘governance’is a more useful concept than ‘government’ or ‘leadership’, mainly because it does not prejudice the locus or character of real decision-making: for example it does not imply, as ‘government ’does, that real political authority is vested somewhere in the formal-legal institutions of the state: nor does it imply, as leadership does, that a particular control necessarily rest with the head of state and government or the official political elite.
Governance includes both the government and the governed and there can hardly be good governance in the absence of a good government and good people. As a matter of fact, without good government, there is no good governance just as the presence of a good government does not imply good governance if the people are bad or fail to do their own part of the social contract.