It is very easy to talk about corruption, but like many other complex phenomena, it is difficult to define corruption in concise and concrete terms.
Not surprising, there is often a consensus as to what exactly constitutes this concept. There is always a danger as well that several people may engage in a discussion about corruption while each is talking about a different thing completely.
Corruption is like cancer, retarding economic development.
Corruption is defined as the behavior of public and private officers who improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and or those closely related to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed.
A public official is corrupt if he accepts money for doing something that he is under duty to do or that he is under duty not to do.
Recently, there was bad air spreading centred on scandal involving journalists and a government official. The scandal has acted as an instrument to open people’s minds to reflect corruption in a broader sense.
Corruption is also an effort to secure wealth or power through illegal means for private gain at public expense or misuse of public power for private benefit. Like any other thing, it has coexisted with human society for a long time and remains as one of the problems in many of the world’s developing economies with devastating consequences.
Corruption as a phenomenon, is a global problem, and exists in varying degrees in different countries. It should be noted that corruption is not only found in democratic and dictatorial politics, but also in feudal, capitalist and socialist economies. Corrupt practices are not an issue that just begins today but the history is as old as the world.
People have always lived with a longing heart and mind, which keeps them thinking that what they earn at the end of the day cannot be sufficient in their day today life. They only want to satisfy themselves at the expense of the state.
Some say the value is in the spirit of the giving, not the material worth. But the gift is made in open for all to see, never in secret. Where the gift is excessive, it becomes an embarrassment.
It is said that people engage in corrupt practices in the country as a result of high levels of poverty, high unemployment rate, under-remuneration of workers, financial hardship, persuasion by friends and colleagues in public offices, desire to please kinsmen, late payment of contractors by government, over-concentration of power and resources at the centre, unregulated informal economy, nepotism, tribalism in the administration of justice and lack of honest leaders.
It’s very absurd for leaders to be involved in such sick practices which affect the country’s development. In the contrary those leaders should serve with an aim of being exemplary to their subordinates.
The biggest challenge for the country therefore, is not to just punish corrupt behaviour or go into bargaining plea. The country must reverse the prevailing culture in which corruption is viewed as permissible. People should be educated about the dangers of excessive materialism and the culture of ‘get rich quick’.
The vice should be approached from the point of view of the effects it has on development because long professional experience has indicated that corruption is one of the major obstacles to progress, and that its effects on development are disastrous.