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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The general consensus among economists and policy analysts at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other international agencies is that corruption is a universal problem, but with more debilitating effects felt in emerging and developing countries, such as those found in Africa, Asia and Middle East (Oyedoyin, 2012). In light of this, Aluko (2009) opined that corruption is a global phenomenon and that, it is not the exclusive preserve of any nation, race or section of the world but transcends national boundaries and frontiers and symbolizes phenomenal universal unwholesomeness of political leadership that often promotes income inequality and endemic poverty.
In Nigeria corruption is a common word used by both adults and children because it is found in every aspect of the country. This monster called corruption has now been nick named in most Nigerian languages especially in the three major languages! Ndokwu (2004) says: the Igbos call it Igbuozu, the Yorubas call it Egunje while the Hausas call it Chuachua. People no longer frown or feel ashamed to engage in corrupt practices! Chuachua/Egunje or Igbuozu is now acceptable and it is possible to hear someone openly complaining that there is no Chuachua, Egunje or Igbuozu at his or her place of work and as such a person might quickly resign if he or she finds another work where there is opportunity for Chuachua. It is as bad as that!
This menance has led to situations like slow movement of files in offices, police exortion of toll fees, port congestion, queues at passport offices and petrol stations, ghost workers syndrome, election irregularities, unprecedented poverty in the land, economic inequality among other socio-economic vices (Dike, 2005: Ngwakwe, 2009: Aluko, 2009).
Government officials further still corruptly enrich themselves by converting Government money in their custody to their own use, force citizens to pay bribe money, and citizens also induce the officials with bribes to get whatever they want from Government or company offices. Though corruption is found in every society, it is very common in Nigeria, and no one seems to be free from it either as a doer or as a victim (Ucha, 2010).
The need to catalyze balanced development, bridge the inequality gap, reduce the rate of poverty, maximize citizen's participation, and arouse government responsiveness to the grassroot communities necessitates the creation of the local government. The local government serves as a form of political and administrative structure facilitating decentralization, national integration, efficiency in governance, and a sense of belonging at the grassroot. The local government is a unit of administration all over the world (Agagu, 2004). Although it is a universal institution, it however exists in different forms and in different political systems. Whatever the form of existence, the local government has been essentially regarded as the path to and guarantor of administrative efficiency, effective service delivery and participatory development (Arowolo, 2005). It is a critical tier of government because of its closeness to the people (Mathias & Rose, 2015). Local government appeals to both the people and government as a feedback institution that relays the opinions and demands of the grassroot to a higher government (Adejo, 2003).
The fundamental challenges battling grassroot development in Nigeria has been one of high level corruption and its twain demons of poverty and economic inequality which have continue in this 21stcentury to inflict untold hardship on the local populace. Government have often initiated and enacted policies to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. But in the face of all these the income inequality between the people at the grassroot and urban areas in Nigeria is remarkably high and thus call for answers. Hence, this study seeks to explore the effect of corruption on inequality and poverty at the grassroot levels in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Literature reveal that despite the establishment of various anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB) to wage war against corruption in Nigeria, its magnitude appears to be on the high side. As majority of our people in the towns, villages and communities continue to wallow in abject poverty and absolute economic inequality.
Corruption has impaired hard work, diligence and efficiency. It has caused incalculable damages to the social and political development of Nigeria. It subverts honest selection processes and distorts prices. Furthermore, it weakens institutions, hampers investment and retards economic development. More importantly the resources that should be used for developmental purposes are being diverted from the society to private or personal use. This accumulation of the nation’s economic resources for personal benefits had variously contributed to the leakage of capital from Nigeria for illegal deposits abroad.
The prevalence of these activities in various aspects of our lives has a tremendous adverse effect on the quality of life of this country, our living standards and national psyche. Corruption brings a nation no good. The resources meant for water supply, roads, education, health and other basic and social services that stolen by a handful of this corrupt Nigerians obviously stultify economic and social development, thereby escalating poverty across the length and breadth of the country, with the grassroot communities being the worst hit.
In other words, it has a crowding out effect on the growth and development of the grassroot and by extension the country as a whole. It’s contributing effects on standard of living, poverty and inequality is the more worrying. Nevertheless the extents of these negative effects are yet to be measured and quantified.
Many scholars and researchers on the home front like Ojo (2014), Adawo (2011), Ngara, Esebonu, Ogoh & Orokpo (2014) have at different times carried out studies on corruption, poverty and inequality; but none of these studies have attempted to bring these three variables under one single investigation. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to carefully examine the effect of corruption on inequality and poverty at the grassroot levels in Nigeria with a special reference to Agege Local Government Area (LGA).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to explore the effect of corruption on inequality and poverty at the grassroot levels in Nigeria. Other specific objectives include;
i.To find out if corruption is a predictor of poverty at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
ii.To examine the effect of corruption on income inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
iii.To explore the relationship between corruption and standard of living at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
iv.To determine the effect of corruption on provision of basic amenities at the grassroot levels in Agege LGA.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The undertaking of this research study was guided by the following research questions;
1.Is corruption a predictor of poverty at the grassroot level in Nigeria?
2.Will corruption have any effect on income inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria?
3.Is there any relationship between corruption and standard of living at the grassroot level?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
This study will be geared towards testing the following hypotheses;
Ho: Corruption is not a significant predictor of poverty at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
Hi: Corruption is a significant predictor of poverty at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
Ho: There is no significant relationship between corruption and income inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
Hi: There is a significant relationship and corruption and income inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
Ho: Corruption does not have a significant effect on standard of living at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
Hi: There is a significant relationship and corruption and income inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Previous researchers have been very divergent in their views about the correlate of corruption, inequality and poverty at the grassroot levels in Nigeria; this study will therefore be of great significance as it will add to the already existing literature.
It is anticipated that the analytical, conceptual and empirical studies will enhance the understanding of significant issues on the overlapping effects of corruption on inequality and poverty at the grassroot levels in contemporary Nigeria.
It will also be useful to university students like students of University of Lagos when doing a likely research. The study will also be beneficial to scholars and other researchers who may be interested in studying the relationship between corruption, poverty and inequality at the grassroot level in Nigeria. The findings of the study will further be significant to agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB), political administrators at the grassroot levels and other policy makers and implementers at large, as they will find the conclusion and recommendations of this result very useful.
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