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Greed: The Bane of Corruption in Nigeria

Greed: The Bane of Corruption in Nigeria 

-Dr MD Thomas

The malaise of corruption pervades in all walks of life, including governance, as ‘a way of life and it is a serious hurdle on the way of achieving progress as well as social justice, regrettably so.

Greed has become a complex construct to corruption in Nigeria, and has dominated contemporary discourse in all spheres in Nigeria. Individuals and politicians have their own views on what they consider as ‘greed’ which have shaped individuals’ political and subjective views of greed in Nigeria.

There is no single or consistent definition of greed across literature. However, the majority of scholars agree that “greed” is a human trait characterized by an intense and insatiable desire for wealth, power, possessions, or resources beyond what is necessary for one’s basic needs and well-being.

Greed is often considered the bane of corruption in Nigeria, as it plays a central role in perpetuating corrupt practices and hindering the country’s progress and development. Nigeria is considered the 150 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.

Greed has had a significant impact on corruption in Nigeria and has been a major contributing factor to the prevalence of corrupt practices in various sectors of Nigerian economy and has influenced high level of poverty and criminality. Below are factors leading to corruption due to greed:

1.   Embezzlement and Misappropriation of Funds: Greedy individuals in positions of power have often embezzled public funds meant for social welfare, and infrastructure development.  This level of misappropriation of funds has hindered Nigeria’s progress and contributed to the country’s economic backwardness.

2.   Bribery and Extortion: Greed-driven corrupt society has fostered a culture of bribery and extortion. Public officials and law enforcement agents demand bribes, kick-backs to provide services or look the other way when rules are violated.

3.   Nepotism and Favouritism: Greedy individuals/politicians use their positions of authority to favour family members, friends, or associates, even when it is clear they are not qualified or deserving. This form of corruption has undermined merit-based systems and have hindered social and economic mobility.

4.   Corporate Corruption: Greed among business leaders have led to corporate corruption, such as fraudulent practices, consistent tax evasion, and bid-rigging. This practice has negatively impact the business environment, entrepreneurship growth and development, discourages foreign investment, and distorts fair competition.

5.   Resource Theft: Nigeria’s natural resources, such as oil, have been targets of greed-driven corrupt individual. Illicit activities like illegal oil bunkering and smuggling have deprived the country of substantial revenues and contributed to environmental degradation.

6.   Inequality and Poverty: Greed-driven corrupt individuals exacerbates income inequality and perpetuates poverty. When public funds meant for social programs are siphoned by corrupt individuals, it hinders government’s ability to address the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable population.

7.   Political Patronage: Greed influences political patronage and clientelism, where politicians provide favors or compensate their supporters and loyalists in exchange for votes. This form of corruption has distorted democratic processes and undermines the integrity of elections in Nigeria.

8.   Weak Institutions: Greedy individuals within institutions have consistently obstructed the establishment of effective anti-corruption measures and undermine the independence of oversight bodies, leading to weak governance and a lack of accountability.

9.   Money Laundering and Capital Flight: Greedy individuals/politicians involved in corruption have often attempted to conceal their ill-gotten wealth through money laundering and capital flight. This have deprived the Nigerian economy of much-needed resources and contributes to illicit financial flows.  Example is the looted funds recovered from late Head of State, General Sani Abacha in the past 24 years put at $3.65 billion. The same recovered looted funds have not yet made any significant impact to alleviate the level of poverty in Nigeria.


Corruption has had a significant and detrimental impact on the Nigerian economy. The corruption/fraud triangle model, which comprises opportunity, rationalization, and pressure, provides insights into how corruption manifests and thrives in Nigeria:

1.   Misallocation of Resources: Corruption in Nigeria have caused diversion of public funds and resources away from their intended purposes. When opportunities for corruption exist, public officials take advantage and embezzle funds meant for infrastructure development, healthcare, education, and other critical sectors which have hindered economic growth and development.

2.   Stifling of Investment Opportunities: Widespread corruption in Nigeria creates an uncertain business environment and deters both domestic and foreign investments. Interested companies and investors are reluctant to invest in Nigeria due to concerns about unfair competition, bribery, and lack of transparency.

3.   Reduced Economic Growth: Corruption have hampered economic growth by hindering productivity, increasing transaction costs, and discouraging innovation and entrepreneurship development.

4.   Income Inequality: Corruption have continuously exacerbated income inequality in Nigeria. And have often favors the wealthy and well-connected, leaving the majority of the population marginalized and impoverished.

5.   Undermining Rule of Law: The rationalization of corruption has weakened the rule of law in Nigeria. Insecurity have impoverished the larger society. Individuals and politicians buy their way out of legal trouble, and have eroded confidence in the justice system.

6.   Erosion of Public Trust: Corruption have gradually eroded public trust in institutions and the government. The citizens have somehow lost faith in the government’s ability to address their needs, provide them with adequate security and essential services.


Managing greed to reduce corruption in Nigeria requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach which involves addressing both the individual and systemic factors that contribute to corrupt practices:

1. Strengthening Institutions: Reinforcing strong and independent institutions in Nigeria is crucial in curbing corruption. This includes effective law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and anti-corruption bodies with the power to investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals, regardless of their status.

2. Promoting Transparency and Accountability: Enhancing transparency in government operations, public finances, and business transactions can reduce opportunities for corruption in Nigeria.  Implementing open data control and encouraging public oversight function can create an environment to expose and deter corrupt practices.

3. Whistle-blower Protection: Encouraging individuals to come forward with information about corrupt practices without fear of retaliation can be an effective tool to expose corruption. Creating a robust system to protect whistle blowers who report corruption is essential.

4. Promoting a Culture of Integrity: Promoting culture of integrity and ethical behaviour can help change the public’s attitudes and reduce the acceptance of corrupt practices in the society.

5. Fair and Competitive Economic Policies: Fair and competitive economic policies can discourage rent-seeking behaviours and reduce opportunities for corruption. Implementing measures that promote a level playing field for businesses and discourage monopolistic practices can help combat corruption in the public and private sector.

6. Improving Socioeconomic Conditions: Improving living conditions, reducing poverty and providing opportunities for economic advancement, will encourage people to be less tempted in corrupt practices.

7. Political Will and Leadership: Government officials and leaders in Nigeria must show strong political will and leadership against corruption by demonstrating commitment to combating corruption through their actions and policies.

8. Citizen Participation and Civil Society: Engaging and encouraging civil society and citizen participation in governance can increase accountability and address corruption effectively.

9. Legislative Reforms: Implementing comprehensive legislative reforms that addresses legal loopholes and strengthen anti-corruption laws can provide a more robust framework for combating corruption in Nigeria.

10. International Collaboration: Corruption often involves transnational networks, money laundering, and cross-border transactions. International collaboration and information sharing are essential to combatting corruption effectively in Nigeria.

Greed is ‘an intense and selfish desire for something, wealth, power, food’, etc. ‘More than required’ is its essential character. It is inordinately selfish and has hardly any thought left for others. It is a sentiment that can never get satiated. ‘More the merrier’ is its principle. It is an uncontrollable drive and is pathological to its core. All the lofty ideals of the world are bound to collapse, when greed is at the helm of affairs. Obviously, greed is geared towards crossing all the courtesy limits of life.

Greed for wealth ends up in corruption. ‘Corruption’ is a dishonest, unethical, immoral and unprincipled behaviour’. It is a ‘criminal offense’, by way of an abuse of power for one’s illicit personal fiscal gain, which is appropriated by an individual or organization. Corruption includes diverse forms, like bribery, lobbying, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and misappropriation. It is a state of affairs that ultimately lands up the concerned party in an endless doom.

Corruption, preceded by an insatiable greed, is the most compelling concern of our country. It eats up into the entire fabric of human life, both individual and social. The intellectual, emotional, spiritual and cultural assets of the humans are rendered fruitless. It raises a question mark on the evolutional accomplishments of the ‘homo sapiens’, like digital precision, artificial intelligence and higher consciousness.

Religion is traditionally considered a great motivator for righteous action, under the auspices of God. It should have been all the more so, given the battalion of major and minor traditions of faith present in India. Being so would have justified the common notion of India, both inside and across the borders, as a ‘religious country’, too. In that case, the world would have found in India a species of people that are ethically sound and spiritually elevated, as well.

But, as a matter of fact, religions in India are very much a heap of superstitions, empty theological abstractions and fruitless rituals, notoriously so. They are seats of and tools for the foul game of money and power, very much as an ally of the political and the corporate sectors. They fail hugely to produce the moral fruits that can make good, humane and upright human beings. The un-satiable greed and the resultant corruption is a proof positive for the prickly pickle in question.

Besides, it is more than true that our country is making a ‘hop, step and jump’ in the various arenas of ‘development’. The technological gadgets, along with varieties of amenities of life, have made human lives on the whole highly convenient as well as advanced, which could not even have been imagined a few decades ago. But, ‘the insatiable greed’, along with ‘corruption’, as the top court rightly noted, creates an unfathomable vacuum of principles and ideals, which makes all the merits of development null and void, tragically so.

As far as ‘greed’ and ‘corruption’ are concerned, ‘sifting the grain from the chaff’, no doubt, is an onerous task, no wonder, for that reason, if it sounds even utopian. The state of affairs has reached Himalayan proportions, in the wake of the modern day demands, complexities and problems of life, along with the naive and plan-less increase of population, like rats and rabbits, especially in the lower strata of the society.

At any rate, the effort has to keep going, incessantly so, in view of better times, not only for maintaining ethical standards but also for the wellbeing of the people of the country and of the larger society.

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