The role of the public sector in economic development is one of the key issues of social research. The public sector is usually used in the literature to denote the institutions of the state/government that deals with the provision, ownership, sale, delivery and effective allocation of goods and services for the welfare of their citizens. It is arguably the most critical sector of society and as such the dynamics of this sector have a social engineering effect on all the other parameters of the society. This is because no country has made economic progress without positive stimulus from intelligent public sector (Arthur Lewis, 1956). Public sector is important because it is the only sector that can potentially aggregate individual preferences into national interests (Lin and Chang, 2009). As Hague (2007) observes, ‘public sector can and do help to create conditions that permit a country to become particularly good at producing certain things. Moreover, no private sector can exist outside of the public sector-regulatory context which allows it to function. Therefore, the management of the public sector has become critical to the process of social change and business development.
However, increasing powers of the public sector/state has been characterized by the inevitable abuse of such powers. Governments have been involved in expropriating the common wealth, institutions and agencies of the state have been oppressive, extortive, and ineffective in their core duties, all of which have been counterproductive to society. The scourge of corruption as a characteristic of contemporary political economy is not only very complicated and limited to African countries -it is also universally pervasive. This critical point was observed at the 1989 United Nations (UN) sponsored seminar on corruption where it was established by participants and facilitators that “the problem of corruption in government has come to be recognized universally as a major concern in public management”. The seminar also underlined the complicated nature of corruption by recognizing that there were new forms of corruption and that its effect was pervasive to all sectors of society and all aspects of public service ranging from the performance of government to the legitimacy of the state, the use of public resources as well as the general morale of public servants.
Scholarly attention towards corruption points to a link between ‘corruption and social diversity, ethno-linguistic fractionalization, and the proportions of country’s population adhering to different religious traditions’ (Lipset and Lenz, 2000). Other scholars argue that corruption is widespread in most non-democratic countries, and particularly, in countries that have been branded ‘neo-patrimonial,’ ‘kleptocratic’ and ‘prebendal’ (NORAD 2000). Yet, Lipset and Lenz (2000) argue that every country, however democratic or authoritarian harbors some form of corruption. This suggests that empirical research to date has not provided a definitive and satisfactory answer about what causes corruption to be higher in one country or sector than another.
In order to contribute to the corruption public sector debate and to offer relevant policy advice, this dissertation focuses on the Nigerian public sector. Particular attention is given to the Nigerian police force. The central research questions guiding this study are: How and why are certain public sectors more corrupt that the others? And what are the general and specific conditions/factors that encourage corruption in the Nigerian Police force? These questions are important because while numerous theories and case studies have examined the details of corruption in particular countries or regions, sectoral empirical studies are very rare. Moreover, studies on corruption have been dominated by social science theories and methods whose conclusions have been confusing. What has remained largely under-explored is the managerial perspective to the discourse of corruption in the public sector and this justifies the reason and design of this study.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The issue of endemic corruption is one that has seriously ravaged the fabric of Nigerian society. So pervasive are its tentacles that an author has quite aptly referred to it as the fundamental and objective principle of state policy. The effect of corruption in the country is such that it has rendered state institutions weak, skewed developmental priorities, undermined social and political stability, increased inequality, poor business climate, greatly distorts the macro-economic environment and increasingly perverts the hearts and minds of Nigerians, making them to harbour and indulge a corrupt consciousness. Currently, Nigeria is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International with a score of 27 out of a possible 100 and 139th position on the corruption table (Transparency International, 2012).
The challenge that corruption poses to the country becomes more threatening when the facts of its persistence in the country is disaggregated and concretely analyzed. The distortion of the economy is seen in an imbalanced macro-economic environment that is totally dependent on oil rents for state revenue. Incomes do not reflect hard-work or productivity in the country and price does not reflect utility or any form of true value. This has in turn led to reduction of productivity and with this distortion of the general price level to reflect unrealistic and exploitative measures. This trend has limited foreign investments into the country except into the corruption ridden oil and gas sector.
This economic effect of corruption is however less visible when compared to the destruction that the malaise has wrought on the institutions of the state. From the organs of government to the agencies of government the story is the same. These institutions are plagued by waste, graft, bribery, exploitation and expropriation of taxpayers, intimidation and the other several vices that characterize a corrupt system. The inefficiencies that have been displayed by these institutions have largely threatened not only the survival of ordinary Nigerians but the survival of the state. Governments, no matter how freely elected easily loose legitimacy because of their inability to serve the people through the corrupt institutions. Also , the crisis of the history of the country as a post-colonial country is further deepened by the rise of more developmental challenges such as inter-ethnic crisis, unemployment, poverty, poor health facilities, less Nutrition, Illiteracy among others social vices.
Prominent among the institutions that are deeply plagued by corrupt practices are the Nigerian Police Force, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the Ministry of Education, the Immigration/Passport office, Federal Road Safety Corps, Customs and Excise Department, the Federal Inland Revenue Service etc (Omotoye, 2011). However, this study focuses on the Nigerian Police force because it has been singled out as the most corrupt institution in Nigeria. This fact is further bolstered by the realization that the police are the main law enforcement institution and as such when it is corrupt, then it is bound to have a negative multiplier effect on the society. Furthermore, the protracted and pervasive problem of corruption that confronts Nigeria is further complicated by the fact that the understanding of the issue is still not very much understood. This study, therefore, attempts to contribute to the understanding and analysis of corruption in the Nigerian public sector with a focus on Police force.
Significance of Study
Studies on the issue of corruption have been dominated by social science theories and methods whose conclusions have been confusing. On the one hand, they assert that the root cause of corruption is poverty. Yet, there is empirical evidence that corruption increases with increase in the economy. What has remained largely under-explored is the managerial perspective to the issues raised by corruption. Since social science postulations have been largely contradictory, perhaps there is the need for a different theoretical perspective. Thus, the need for an alternative managerial perspective is the immediate motivation for this study.
The questions rose by this study aims at deepening our understanding of corruption in Nigeria and why it has remained intractable over the years. The central questions of the research are: How and why are certain public sectors more corrupt that the others? And what are the general and specific conditions/factors that encourage corruption in the Nigerian Police force? Other questions raised by the study include:
What policies have been put together to stem corruption in the police force?
How and why do some Nigerians join police force?
Do lower/higher wages for police reduce corruption?
Why have there been unsuccessful attempts to fight corruption in the police force?
Does corruption in the police force adversely affect business and economic growth in Nigeria?
What can be done to curb corruption in the public sector?
Familiarisation with the research area, reading papers, discussing with my professors and making contacts with relevant stakeholders.
By the end of June, I will be carrying out the bulk of my research or fieldwork in Nigeria. Conducting interviews/Administering questionnaires, writing implementations and drafting substantial parts of my thesis.
Completing my research work.