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Background to study
Corruption undermines the legitimacy of government, democratic values, human rights and respect for the rule of law (Nigerian experience 2003). The effects of corruption on development have left many African states grappling with what is today regarded as an international problem (Columbia Journal of Asian Law 2013). Indeed, corruption is viewed as an impediment to good governance and the rule of law in Africa.
Good governance entails accountability, transparency, enhanced public participation in decision making, strengthened public sector and civil society institutions and greater adherence to the rule of law (NEPAD 2005). Corruption results in grave violations of socio economic rights, condemns people to extreme levels of poverty and often leads to social unrest (Mboya, 2004). Curbing corruption is therefore critical to the achievement of good governance and the rule of law in many countries such as Nigeria. Although most legal systems in Africa prohibit corruption, the practice is significantly different as is exhibited in this dissertation.
Some of these countries have even ratified international and regional conventions against corruption. Nigeria for example, which will be the main subject of this dissertation, was the first country to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption in December 2003. The country has also signed the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption but has ‘unreasonably’ hesitated to ratify it (East African Convention 2006). The two Conventions seek to promote and strengthen the development of anti-corruption mechanisms. The observance of these Conventions entails that the principles of the rule of law and good governance be upheld. However, the extent to which the standards envisaged by these conventions are adhered to, remain a mirage for most countries in Africa.
In Nigeria, corruption has been a major social, political and economic stumbling block such that in 1998 corruption was said to have permeated the institutional beacon of democracy- the judiciary. Indeed, in October 2003, there was a major purge of members of the judiciary on allegations of endemic corruption.6 Other high-profile corruption cases in Nigeria include the infamous Goldenberg scandal and recently the Anglo-Leasing scandal. The Goldenberg scandal ‘involved a fictitious export compensation scheme allegedly to export gold and diamonds while the most intriguing aspect of the matter is that Nigeria has little or no gold mines and diamond fields’ (Anassi 2003). The Anglo leasing scandal hinges on a government tender involving amounts in excess of 90 million Nigeria shillings allegedly awarded to a non-existent company..
Statement of problem
Nigeria is rich in natural and human resources, with a population of over 150 million people; the most populous country in Africa. At the time of her political independence, on 1st October 1960, Nigeria excelled in production of agricultural produce such as groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, cotton, beans, timber and hides and skins
Then, during the oil boom period of the seventies Nigeria made headlines with her oil wealth, as a country richly endowed with oil and natural gas resources capable of financing a number of important projects to meet basic consumption and development needs (Salisu, 200:2). With per capital income of around $1,100 during the late 1970’s Nigeria was regarded as the fastest growing country in SubSahara Africa (Salisu, Ibid). Yet it remains predominantly underdeveloped due to the scourge of corruption that has corroded it.
Corruption denies the ordinary citizen the basic means of livelihood, it worsen unemployment and erodes our image as a nation and as individual (Danjuma Goje 2010:1). It has undermined Nigeria’s economic growth and development potential, with a per capital income of $340, Nigeria now ranks amongst the least developed countries in the World Bank League table (Salusi, op.cit). Nigeria’s higher education system once regarded as the best in Sub-Sahara Africa is in deep crisis. Health services are woefully inadequate, graduate unemployment is rising and so too is crime rate (Salisu, Ibid).
This culture of corruption which is rampant at national level constitutes a threatening force to development at grassroots level. It has been a significant factor leading to the general failure of local government as well as an excuse for suspending representative institution (Humes and Ola, N.D:104).
Corrupt practices have been deleterious not only because they divert funds from public purposes to private purses but also they undermine the vitality of local government (Ibid).
Objective of the study
This research therefore, examines the crisis of corruption in Nigerian local government administration. The research seeks to Explain the causes, effects and manifestation and finally suggest ways forward.
Significance of the study
Drawing experiences from Nigeria among other African countries, the study explores the contention that although the rule of law is a casualty of corruption, it can also be a significant factor in reducing opportunities of corruption. The study aims to explore the potential of the rule of law in combating corruption. A comparative analysis of the facets of good governance and the rule of law as a strategy to combat corruption, and recommendations from the analysis can contribute to an anti-corruption strategy and policies in Nigeria as well as other African countries.
This study is particularly significant since it seeks to explore and outline, by drawing experiences from other jurisdictions, on how upholding the rule of law can be employed to combat corruption. It is envisaged that this study will contribute to the development of African jurisprudence on this seemingly chronic issue of governance from a human rights perspective.
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