Unveiling menace of corruption

In Nigeria, an oil-rich country, the World Bank stated in 2019 that more than 50 percent of the population live in extreme poverty.  With rampant corruption, a country’s wealth is redirected away from the most-needy people. Poor families are hit hardest by demands for bribes. 

Corruption, if unchecked and left to fester, will turn a country into a quagmire. Besides the issues of legality, ethics and morality, corruption poses a significant threat to the economy, and perpetuates crimes. The damages from corruption are severe. Overall, corruption can lead to both economic and social damage, as well as undermine democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. A big part of the population will feel the consequences but especially the youth. 

The future of a country depends on the young generation and it will be disastrous if they feel corruption is holding their country back, and that corruption is causing lost opportunities for them. 

The majority of young people may go abroad to seek a better future and for those that are not able to, they may develop a sense of hopelessness. When people believe the system is rigged against them, they are less likely to consume and invest in their skills, education or future. This can perpetuate a cycle of poverty that limits economic growth in the long-run. Needless to say, both scenarios do not bode well for the country.

Actual and even perceived corruption will determine how attractive a country is to investors. Corruption reduces foreign investments as foreign investors normally look for predictable, transparent, and laws-based environments before investing. When they perceive corruption is rife in a country, this can dissuade them from investing, fearing the unscrupulous individuals are more likely to receive the benefits of any investment. This can thus prevent the creation of jobs, the growth of businesses, and the overall development of the economy.

Corruption creates uncertainties and distort market conditions, which can discourage investment both domestic and foreign. Companies that engage in corrupt activities reap benefits and unfair advantage that their competitors cannot match because they don’t bribe officials or engage in other illicit activities. This can create an uneven playing field that stifles competition and reduces investor confidence. Investors also are reluctant to invest in a corrupt environment, as it can lead to legal and reputational risks. 

Corruption creates an environment that fosters criminal activity by allowing individuals or groups to operate outside the law. This can lead to an increase in financial crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud, as well as violent crimes such as extortion, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. 

Additionally, corruption weakens law enforcement and legal institutions, making it harder to detect and prosecute criminal activities. In turn, high levels of crime can create an environment that fosters corruption as criminals may try to bribe officials to avoid punishment. Therefore, the relationship between corruption and crime can often be a vicious cycle, where one leads to the other.

Corruption erodes public trust in government institutions and their ability to function effectively. When people lose faith in the government, they may be less or not willing to invest, innovate, pay their taxes and comply with other types of regulations. This lack of trust can lead to the government’s ability to stimulate economic growth.

Corruption diverts money to personal benefits such as private pockets and luxurious lifestyles. Instead of channeling these funds to development projects for the good of the public such as healthcare, education and infrastructure, they are used to the detriment of the economy, creating high levels of income and social inequality because there is a concentration of resources and opportunities in the hands of a few individuals or groups.

Corruption plagues countries all around the world

According to a World Bank’s estimate in December 2022, more than US$2.6 trillion, or five percent of global GDP, is lost to corruption annually around the world. There is a need for a concerted effort by all stakeholders to address corruption in all its forms, and this should be backed up by effective legislation that can hold corrupt individuals accountable for their actions. 

The voices of the young generation are important. They do not want to become part of a corrupt system, and are not interested in maintaining the status quo.  However, they do want the government to change it and create a society who value meritocracy over nepotism. Therefore, efforts to end corruption and achieve sustainable development must have the full participation and involvement of the youth.

Battle against corruption

The battle against corruption is a complex long-term process that requires sustained commitment and effort. But this fight is essential if we want to achieve sustainable economic and social development. 

A strong framework of laws and regulations is essential, including anti-corruption laws that impose severe penalties against the perpetrators of corrupt acts. These laws should be coupled with effective enforcement mechanisms that ensure that corrupt individuals are held accountable for their actions. Such actions will serve as a deterrent to others who might be contemplating engaging in corrupt activities.

Transparency and accountability are essential to creating an environment in which corruption is less likely to occur. This includes measures such as implementing open procurement processes, declaring assets and income by public officials, and publishing information on government budgets, expenditures, and tenders. This will increase transparency and accountability, making it easier for citizens to scrutinize government activities.

The media and civil society play a vital role in exposing instances of corruption. They act as watchdogs, scrutinizing government activities and reporting instances of corruption to the public. Therefore, it is essential to protect their rights to freedom of expression, information, and association. This could include creating a conducive environment that allows civil society and the media to carry out their functions.

Fostering a culture of integrity is a key to fighting corruption. This means promoting ethical values, such as honesty, responsibility and accountability. This can be achieved by educating citizens on the detrimental effects of corruption and encouraging them to be responsible for their actions.

Whistleblowing is a powerful tool. Whistleblowers come forward to expose corrupt activities, often at great risk to their own lives and livelihoods. Therefore, governments should implement laws and mechanisms that protect whistleblowers from retaliation and victimization.

The use of technology can help to fight corruption effectively. For example, the use of online platforms for the submission of complaints and feedback could help to increase transparency and accountability. Advanced analytical tools and algorithms can also be used to analyze data, identify patterns, and detect anomalies that could be indicative of corruption.

Corruption is a transnational problem that transcends borders. Therefore, it is essential to encourage international cooperation and collaboration in the fight against corruption. Governments should cooperate in strengthening legal frameworks, sharing information on corrupt activities, and coordinating their efforts to prosecute and penalize corrupt actors.

Photo credit: iStock/SPmemory

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