Corruption is derived from the Latin adjective “corruptus” which means spoiled, broken or destroyed. To understand corruption from an etymological approach, one can use its linguistic origin from the native languages of English and Dutch which means to be spoiled, expired, decayed or corruptible. Thus, corruption can also be said to amount to moral, ethical and virtuous deterioration (Hodgson & Jiang, 2007). Nothing in this definition narrows corruption to a sector of the society. Thus, corruption can be practiced by anyone. Therefore, one can define corruption as actions that spoil, break or destroy a society’s from its naturally sound circumstance.
Definition and Conceptualisation of Corruption
Tanzi (1998) acknowledges the common use of the world bank definition of corruption, as the abuse of public power for personal gains. This definition for him does not cover the corrupt practices present in private institutions. Another dimension for him in defining corruption is that it might not be just for one’s personal gain, but for the gain of one’s class, tribe, friends and family.
Gerring & Thacker (2004) agree with this area of conceptualising corruption. They define corruption as “an act that subverts the public’s good for private or particularised gain. With this definition, there is no particular attention given to a certain sector of the society. Corruption can be carried out by any member of the society as long as the action does not bring about the public’s good.
Contrarily, Jain (2001) however follows the course of the World Bank definition and defines corruption as the use of public office power to ensure personal gain. In his opinion, money laundering, fraud, drug trade and black market operations do not constitute corruption on its own unless there is the use of public power.
The working definition for this paper will deviate from the common definition given by the World Bank to describe corruption as immoral and unethical actions that can cause harm to people in a society. These actions also have to be ones that will deprive people of their basic human rights.
Causes of corruption
Poverty: corruption is fueled when the basic need of man is not met. Human beings are pushed to provide for themselves when they become desperate to meet their basic needs like food, shelter, education etc.
Greed: Greed involves the desire to accumulate wealth and power. Political positions are a source of that due to high income allocation for the people in the positions. Therefore, the greedy individual will continue to desire to hold that position so as to sustain the wealth and power. They will do this by any means possible and this breeds corruption.
Weak government institutions: There are institutions in place to ensure that people do not engage in corrupt practices. However, the downside is that these institutions are not checked and so are not answerable to anyone. Also, with the knowledge that no one is watching, people will keep engaging in corrupt practices with the mind that no one will call them to order. Also, when there is a delay in passing a budget for example, people begin to find alternative means to substitute their income and this paves way for corruption.
Poor education and illiteracy: the country is facing a decline in education as years pass by. The basic knowledge for making decisions is not known to an average Nigerian. This can breed exploitation and ultimately corruption.
Acceptance of corruption by the populace: The public have become more acceptable to corrupt practices. It has become a norm in our society that even those with prospects of attaining a position look forward to having a piece of the resources meant for then nation.
Effects of corruption on the country
Corruption has an immense effect on the society, thus the need to eradicate it. Some of these effects include the following
At the fore front of excessive corruption in a country is the decline of the image of the country. People from all over the world will become naturally inclined to treat people from a country ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world with caution. This is because the do not want to fall victim of corrupt practices like 419 and Yahoo yahoo.
With the tarnished image of the country, it can also result to a reduction in profitable foreign investments and an increase in bad investments in the country. This will in turn cause slow economic growth, reduction in the gross domestic products and an increase in unemployment. This is because with more companies springing up in the country, more jobs and created and revenue is gotten. This will also encourage Nigerian entrepreneurs.
Since some citizens of the country are not able to meet their basic needs, they will result to alternative means to do so. Hence, one can identify thieves that just may go into home just to steal food stuff. Contrarily, when this people find some individuals in the society that they feel are better off, these individuals tend to be targets of heinous crimes. All this done to meet the basic living needs such as food, shelter, health and clothing.
Since the resources and wealth meant for the entire masses are amassed by a few, the greater number of people are left with little or nothing to take care of their needs.
Standard of Living
An effect of collecting wealth meant for a large part of the population is that there is a reduction in the standard of living. This means that a large number of the population is unable to meet his basic needs. While there is a small number with overwhelming wealth.
With the showcase of fancy lifestyles, people tend to result to corrupt practices in other to live up to the high standards they have set for themselves. With this, some individuals do not mind doing atrocious things as long as they can get material wealth.
It will have a negative impact on social infrastructures and public service. This is due to the fact that resources meant for the common good is diverted for private gain.
Levels of corruption
Due to the scope of the seminar, the paper will explain that corruption can be actualised in different forms through different facets. Hence, the media can play a role in curbing corruption through identifying them at these different levels. They include:
Individual: This is possibly the most common form of corruption. Individual corruption births all other form of corruption. Corruption often starts with an individual before spreading to other pillars of the society.
Family: The family is the core of every society. Through the family, good values and virtues can be taught. This will ensure a better society at large. Given that corruption is a break from morals, ethics and virtues by anyone in the society, the right values can be instilled in citizen to curb the spread and prominence of corruption. For example, in a home, is a child is taught to be fair and just in sharing of food among his or her sibling, that child can in future inculcate the habit of not amassing wealth meant for people to himself or herself.
Society: corruption can be recognised in the society through these institutions.
Educational institutions: corruption can be actualised in this through unethical ways of gaining admission, passing exams and so many other ways actualised in the educational institutions.
Religious institutions: corruption is recognised in religious institutions through celebration of people that have being involved in corrupt practices because they donate to the well-being of the church. It is also seen in deceit and collecting of material things from people in a church under false reasons. For example, a woman looking for a husband and is deceived by the pastor or preacher to bring an outrageous amount of money to God, and that will ensure that she has a husband in weeks. Also, pastors that take advantage of women sexually for them to get favour of pregnancy or anointing as seen in the case of Pastor King. That is corruption.
Media: The media is the watchdog of the society but is not out of reach from corruption. This can also be attributed to ownership. However, some ethical conducts like the ‘brown envelope’ is a form of corruption.
Private institutions: Private institutions also have cases of corruption and this is actualised through fraud, bribe and so on. Also, in private organisations, corruption can be actualised through lackadaisical attitude towards one’s work. For a work place to function well, everyone is expected to do their bit. When an individual try to push his responsibility to others, then he is being corrupt. A person is expected to find dignity in whatever kind of work he or she is engaged in.
Government: This is the most prominent area of corruption because it involves abuse of public power for personal gain. Persistent corrupt practices in the government is seen through bribery, fraud, misappropriation of funds and scams through public policies.