American Journal of Economics, Finance and Management, Vol. 1, No. 5, October 2015 Publish Date: Jul. 3, 2015 Pages: 404-413

Pyramidal Public Corruption: Public Policyand Bad Governance -Nigerian Perspective

John N. N. Ugoani*

Department of Management Sciences, College of Management and Social Sciences, Rhema University, Aba, Nigeria


This study was designed to analyze the relationship between corruption and bad governance. The issue of corruption subsists in Nigeria since Political Independence in 1960 despite various reforms aimed at curbing it. Because of the extent of pyramidal corruption in Nigeria, some researchers tend to draw a link between corruption and bureaucratic rules, processes, and the political system due to overwhelming evidence of misuse of public resources for personal enrichment. Corruption characterized by the abuse of entrusted power for private gain lies at the heart of the categorization of Nigeria as the 144th most corrupt nation in the universe. Governance as the interplay of politics, public policy and ideology cannot be impeded by limited resources as people often say, but by lack of political will and sound ideas, and mostly, by pyramidal public corruption. Political will helps to build the popular trust toward democracy and lend the national anticorruption efforts additional credibility. The survey research design was used for the study. Data generated were coded, classified and analyzed using the Chi-Square statistical technique. The study found a strong positive relationship between public corruption and bad governance.


Entrusted Power, Private Gain, Democratic Governance, Technocratic Governance, Bureaucratic Governance, Symptomatic, Kleptomania, Good Governance, Public Corruption

1. Introduction

Public corruption has been on the rise in many nations in all parts of the world. It is the greatest manifestation of the failure of governance to establish vital inner links with the people through the provision of essential public service. The craze for the acquisition of wealth and power has made most leaders, particularly in the developing world to engage in massive looting and plundering of national treasuries directly or by using family members, foreign fronts, aides or other unknown proxies. There is today incontrovertible evidence of world leaders like the case of Nigeria, Philippines, Uganda, Liberia, Indonesia, Zaire among others who took pleasure in public corruption. There are also evidences to show that almost all top government officials in Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs)like state governors, ministers, commissioners, secretaries, directors of public enterprises, and corporations, as well as chief executive officers of tertiary institutions like the universities, etc. embezzlement of  public funds. In all cases, these top government officials conspire with their fronts and partners in the business world or precisely fraudulent business associates in the private sector or outside of government to engage in massive acts of corruption. The pervasive and high level of pyramidal public corruption in most developing countries generally and Nigeria in particular made some Nigerian leaders to conclude that "all of us are corrupt" Pyramidal Public Corruption is used to describe a form of public corruption that runs from the topmost level of public office to the bottom of public office. What can also be described as running from the "executive office to the kitchen". No corrupt society can ever deliver on public service that is a major element of good governance, because corruption is anti-development (Onuoha, 1999). In a broad sense, "public corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain". This type of behavior that undermines trust and transparency elements include payment of bribes to public officials in order to enter new markets and or to pass inspections to continue operations, payments of kickbacks for orders or government contracts, price-fixing and other forms of deception, like budget inflation and joggling of financial figures. Johnston and Doig (1999) state that public corruption is a core obstacle of good governance. Government policies that seek to promote socio economic development have frequently been undermined by public corruption. The problem of corruption in governments has come to be recognized universally as a major concern in public sector management to the extent that the United Nations was constrained to sponsor an interregional seminar on corruption in government in 1990 to discuss new forms and dimensions of corruption and its pervasive effect on government performance, the use of public resources, the general morale in the public services, and the quality of public policy. The United Nations believes that corrupt activities of public officials can destroy the potential effectiveness of all types of governmental programmes, hinder development and victimize individuals and groups. Governance and anticorruption are now more frequently discussed because studies show convincingly that poor governance typically is due to public corruption. Public corruption is often equated with grand corruption or political corruption. While these forms of corruption significantly overlap, they involve huge sums of money from commissions like 10 percent, to release of procurement contracts. Public corruption involves extra ordinary large illegal payments or favour exchanged for support, financial or otherwise, to buttress or sustain political power of individuals or groups. Public corruption also manifests in kleptocracy and cronyism.In these cases political leaders use the organs of government to enrich themselves and friends through both ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ means. Campos and Pradhan (2007) state that this phenomenon is quite wide spread in many countries and runs from the highest public official to the least. Combating public corruption goes beyond reforms and the passing of laws or the pronouncement of public policies to the establishment of good governance at all levels of society. The introduction of good governance that benefits all will prove to be a good anticorruption strategy. Public corruption is a constellation of development problems, endogenous to a situation and often symptomatic of other difficulties. The most serious cases of public corruption-entrenched political and bureaucratic corruption are equilibria. They are tightly organized and internally stable, creating and being sustained by conditions of weak political competitions, slow and uneven distribution of economic power and a weak population. Public corruption is persistent and difficult to combat not only because of its inner workings but also because it is embedded in a wider political and economic situation that helps to sustain it as an equilibrium. It creates, and depends on, institutional monopolies and the shortage of economic and political alternatives they generate (Johnston, 1986). Less corruption and good governance are a precondition for sustainable socio economic growth of any country. Governance defined as the "use of political authority and the exercise of control over society and the management of its resources for social and economic development", "encompasses the "nature of functioning of a state’s institutional and structural management decision-making processes, public policy formulation, implementation, effectiveness of leadership and the nature of the relationship between the rulers and the ruled". Governance therefore incorporates not only the integrity, efficiency and economy of government but its effectiveness as measured by the ends to which government organization and activity are directed. Every society whether democratic or autocratic harbours some forms of corruption. However, public corruption systemic corruption indicates that resources for public purposes are no longer managed effectively and are appropriated for personal gains by public officials. Pope (1996) describes corruption as a cancer. It violates public confidence in the polity and endangers social cohesion. Public corruption where millions of dollars change hands-is reported with increasing frequency in both rich and poor countries alike. According to Olowu (1993) one of the reasons why governmental corruption has grown to be pervasive in Africa today is primarily because much effort has been spent to remedy the problem rather than to understand it. To understand corruption therefore, Klitgaard (1988) explains the dynamics of corruption as: C (corruption) = M (monopoly power) +D (discretion)-A (accountability). The emphasis is that the extent of corruption depends on the amount of monopoly power and discretionary power that public officials exercise and the degree to which they are held accountable for their actions. Corruption is a disease that crystallizes in the failures of governance; and represents one of the most significant obstacles to development. According to Pelizzo (2003) corruption distorts the proper functioning of democratic institutions and that corruption is also a symptom of deeper institutional weakness. He emphasizes weak institutionalization and potential for corruption are common in many developing nations with little or no experience of democratic governance, where political parties have not been able to become fully institutionalized. This finds expression in Africa as M O Ibrahim (2014) governance survey of 52 African countries states "Governance in African nations is improving at a slower pace and economic improvements are contributing less to its progress". Corruption in African countries like stealing of pension cash, illegal movement of foreign currency across borders, abandonment of multi dollar, high profile projects, misappropriation of public funds as frequently reported in Nigeria are few manifestations of governance failures as the result of public corruption. Klitgaard (1988) insists that reducing corruption is a key to better services, just elections, regulations, and legislation, institutions, business and governance. For many years Nigerian government has wedge a futile war against public corruption through reform programmes. Obasanjo (2006) launched a reform agenda requiring public officers, ministries, and permanent secretaries, special advisers to subscribe to eight principles of sound public life such as selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, patriotism and leadership. The anticorruption approach was part of the government’s initiative to sanitize the society and rationalize the process and mechanism of governance and to ensure that all public policies in this regard such as: monetization, reduction of waste, improved service delivery, cost-effective administrative machinery, due process, and enhanced economic productivity are successfully implemented. Despite these efforts Nigeria is still in the woods. M O Ibrahim (2014) report on governance in 52 African countries ranks Nigeria 37th and states that Nigeria is still below average in governance across the continent as well as in West African region. M O Ibrahim report says though Nigeria remains African No. 1 economy, it had seen deterioration in the rule of law since 2009 as well as a set back in national security and a deep drop in personal safety due to public corruption. Due to pervasive public corruption the Nigerian Government introduced "due process". This is a component of the reform agenda as a key mechanism in the management of public resources. Its main objective is to ensure transparency, accountability, reduction of waste and quality public service delivery (Maduabum, 2006). Some stakeholders in Nigeria now believe that bad governance might make investor drive a mirage (Mohammed, 2013, Lyphart, 1988, Navayam, 1999, North, 1990, Sulaiman, 2011, Treisman, 2000, Paldhan, 1999, Ugoani, 2014, TI, 2013, Rose Ackerman 1999, Tanzi, 1998, Tirole, 1992, The World Bank, 1997, 2009, 2001, Abdulsalami, 2000, 2007, Campos, et al, 1999, Johnston, 2001, Johnston, et al, 2010, Kaufmann, et al 1999, 2005, Mauro, 1998, Williams, 1987).

1.1. Statement of the Problem

Public corruption is a phenomenon that permeates all spheres of human endeavor, particularly in HIPCs like politics, commence, education, religion, judiciary, traditional, military and even the civil society organizations. Corruption in public life typically occurs in key areas regardless of a country’s political structure or level of social, economic and political development. In most cases public corruption is most likely to occur where the public and private sectors meet, and especially where there is a direct responsibility for the provision of desired public services or the applications of specific regulations or levies. This includes for example, public procurement, heavy contracts, granting of import or export permits, land allocations, customs duties collections or public revenue, budget appropriation, among others. Public corruption also finds expression in the appointment of family members, relatives, and friends to public organizations without due regard to qualifications and capacity. At a more petty level, public corruption happens where government officials who award the contracts or procure goods and services  demand bribes, kickbacks, percentage, or other "gifts" or "favours" from those seeking government businesses. Others involve greedy public servants who inflate government payrolls through "ghost workers" and those who share surplus workers’ salaries and pension cash. These are among the public corrupt activities that lead to poor governance in corrupt countries like Nigeria. Corruption is one of Nigeria’s most publicized evils since political independence in 1960.Public corruption was cited as the major reason for the military takeover of government in Nigeria in 1966.Subsequentmilitary coups also cited massive public corruption as reasons for counter coups in Nigeria. Corruption debases good governance because it sacrifices merit, enthrones mediocrity and fosters injustice in various areas of public life. Public corruption in Nigeria is characterized by bribery, embezzlement, inflation of bills, abuse of office, abandonment of projects, nepotism, looting of public property, undue influence, "man-know-man", "woman-know-woman" syndrome, ghost workers syndrome, forgery, quackery, obtaining-by-trick (OBT), advance-fee-fraud (419) buying and selling of voters cards, as well as manipulation of votes by electoral returning officials. Corruption in Nigeria is like a stream, it flows from top to bottom (Ugorji, 2008).Today public corruption has seemingly become the most challenging obstacle to good governance in most nations of the world, and more recent studies show that corruption distorts the allocation of resources by diverting budgetary funds for private gains to the detriment of socio-economic growth and the institutionalization of good governance. To tame the tide of public corruption in Nigeria requires political will on the part of government. Political will is a critical starting point for effective and sustainable anticorruption war because no single legislative, administrative or other reform pregrammes can ever be effective unless there is profound commitment at all levels of government.

1.2. Objective of the Study

The study was designed to examine the relationship between corruption and bad governance, and make necessary recommendations.

1.3. Scope of the Study

The study was delimited to Aba Zone. The choice of Aba is based on the fact that Aba is highly populated with representation of people from all parts of Nigeria. It is therefore expected that the views of the people in Aba is a good representation of the views of the people of Nigeria.

1.4. Limitation of the Study

The study was constrained by lack of research grant. However, this serious impediment did not dilute the academic quality of the study.

1.5. Hypotheses

A great deal of work has been done by previous scholars involving corruption and governance. Based on the objective of the present study therefore, two hypotheses were formulated and tasted at 0.05 level of significance to guide the study.

Ho: There is no relationship between public corruption and bad governance.

Hi: There is relationship between public corruption and bad governance.

2. Literature Review

Research suggests that an inadequate frame work for government accountability can facilitate corruption. A lack of transparency, inadequate oversight function, weak enforcement, and ineffective electoral systems reduce the likelihood of exposure and censure for wrong doing and push the cost-benefit calculus in favour of public corruption (World Bank, 1997). According to Mauro (1995) corruption can weaken economic growth through many channels. unsound public policies, unpredictable processes and distorted public expenditure resulting from vested interests lead to governance failures. Moreover public corruption undermines the delivery of public services such as good road network, health care and education on which the majority of the people depend. Low government revenue generation, a diversion of public funds through corruption by public officials to areas that benefit the ruling class like large road and telecommunications contracts, and leakage of funds and supplies in defense spending contribute to deteriorating public services and governance failures. Corruption jeopardizes efforts to the formulation or implementation of effective public policies. In politics, corruption undermines the legitimacy of political leaders and leads to public disaffection with the government. Generally, public corruption facilitates money laundering, and organized crimes. Public corruption not only contributes to weak economies, inequality, environmental degradation, illegitimate leadership, and public waste, it also increases social polarization, insecurity and in extreme cases, can trigger social and political upheaval. Stapenhurst and Kpundeh (1999) argue that public corruption affects the making of public policies like economic policy, and stress the negative influence of government corruption on the prospects of growth and development. According to Toyo (2012) "Corruption is killing Nigeria." He insists that the woes plaguing Nigeria is because of high level public corruption that has eaten deep into all facets of national life. (Alli, at al, 2012, Omotoso, 2011, Alli, 2012, Agbonuwa, 2011, Omokhunu, 2012).

2.1. Public Policy and Public Corruption

Public policy corruption involves corrupt influence on the design of government policies, as well as the enactment of laws and taxes in a manner intended to provide political or personal gains at the public expense. Legal corruption of public policy design may result from carefully cultivated close relationships between policy makers or legislators and special interest groups. The revolving door is just one aspect of legal corruption in exchange for public policy. The government-corruption spectrum in the public sector illustrates the close nexus between public policy corruption at national, state and local government levels, a range of governance failures at all levels. Governance failure is the broadest level of analysis and action, covering all corrupt activities as well as non corrupt but inefficient processes and systems. Corruption is a world wide scourge that affects both developed and developing counties alike that requires constant attention to keep it in check. The African Union estimates that approximately one quarter of Africa’s GDP is lost to corruption each year. Globally, at least US$400billion a year is lost to bribery and public corruption. In an increasingly unequal world economy, many developing countries at present experience limited economic growth due to public corruption and bad governance. For example, in the early 1980s in Nigeria, the downward spiral caused by economic mismanagement and public corruption promoted introduction of an economic reform programme with substantial support from the IMF and World Bank. Starting in 1986, a structural adjustment programme was geared toward correcting structural imbalances in public policy and governance in order to reduce public corruption so as to engender healthy economic growth. Unfortunately however, public corruption was very high in Nigeria in the late 1980s through 1990s and 2000s. According to Campos and Pradhan (2007) over US$1.3billion was lost to corruption in Nigeria between 1996 and 2000. The contractor – controlled political machinery, primitive lust for power and wealth are among the factors that help to provide explanation for high level public corruption in Nigeria. Nigeria is ranked as one of the most corrupt nations with a ranking of 121 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and government wants to improve the ranking on the CPI to 60 by 2015 and 40 by 2020. To achieve this, government is evolving a public policy that recognizes the socio-economic circumstances that foster corruption and provides response strategy. Such a public policy would involve the need to create wealth and employment opportunities, reduce poverty and ensure social security of millions of Nigerians living below the poverty benchmark (Nigeria Vision 20:2020)

2.2. Corruption and Public Policy in Contemporary Nigeria

Corruption in Nigeria is as old as Nigeria itself, in recent years the situation has become so bad that Nigeria is now classified as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. According to Adewole, et al (2011) despite the echoing conviction about the negative effects of corruption on Nigeria, cases of illegal acquisition of wealth through political offices, favoritism, fraud, electoral rigging, looting of public funds, gratification, etc, continue to be on the sharp rise. According to them corruption erodes governmental legitimacy by hampering effective delivery of public goods and services. Corruption limits economic growth and development because it reduces the amount of public resources, discourages private investment and savings and impedes the efficient use of government revenue and development assistance funds. Corruption has been responsible for the instability of successive governments in Nigeria. Public corruption has contributed extensively to stealing of public funds and this fact has almost turned Nigeria into the land of poverty and starvation despite the huge natural resources, like oil. In Nigeria public corruption is responsible for massive unemployment as a result of which over 67 million youths are unemployed and many who do not have any legitimate means of livelihood as a last resort make politics a vocation and source of livelihood (Aluko, 2002). Nigeria at all levels has the problem of bad leadership, bad government and lack of political will on the part of political institutions to eradicate the social problem. Nigeria has been living with public corruption for many years. For example, according to Anyim and Akanwa (2002) the nation’s N1.2 trillion oil wind fall realized from the GulfWar could not be accounted for. The government and all its agencies have become thoroughly corrupt and reckless. Adebimpe (2011) provides evidence of contemporary public corruption in Nigeria including the embezzlement of Christmas and Sallah gifts worth N49.9m by a senate president and his deputy, National Identity Card fraud by a minister, stealing of N17.7 billion by an Inspector General of Police, impeachment of three state governors on the account of public corruption, federal housing deal involving a minister of housing, among a catalogue of high profile public corruption. Because of public corruption some people now see Nigeria as an "abandoned project. According to Omotoso,(2011) the statistics of abandoned projects by the Federal Government, foreign donors, and state governments are huge and describes Nigeria as the junk yard of abandoned projects in the world. According to him, in 1993 there were 4000 federal government abandoned projects all over Nigeria worth about N300 billion, and that it would take 30 years from 1993 for the projects to be completed. He opines that such abandoned projects scattered all over Nigeria were as a result of public corruption. Jeyifo (2013) laments that N2.8 billion missing from a federal ministry since 1984 and the more recent N2.58trillion oil subsidy mega-scam are among the issues of public corruption yet to be resolved. Nigeria seems to have mistaken bureaucracy for public corruption. Bureaucracy means different things to different people in time and place. In the classic Weberian Model of bureaucracy, it is characterized by a relationship between legally installed authorities and their respective subordinate officials, defined rights and duties, written rules and regulations, a hierarchy of authority with systematically ordered positions, strict separation of office and incumbent, full-time administrative work, capable of ensuring good governance. But to the agents of corruption, bureaucracy would mean narrow outlook, red tape, high handedness, rigid rules and regulations, buck-passing, duplication, wastefulness of public resources, kleptocracy, inflexibility and insensitivity to the elements of good governance. Corruption has a long history, but research and analysis about its causes and effects have erupted over recent years. According to Uniamikogbo (2007) corruption consists of over pricing, illegally expediting payments, facilitating contracts, rigging public bidding for contracts, manipulating regulations and selling information and illegal fund raising. He insists that the misunderstanding of the true meaning of public bureaucracy in national development has resulted in opportunities for public corruption in Nigeria. According to Agwunobi (2005) corruption was cited as the major reason for the first military takeover of government in Nigeria in 1966. The coup bearers had stated: "Our enemies are the political profiteers, swindlers the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand ten percent. Those that keep the country divided so that they can remain in office as ministers and VIPs of waste". Because of corruption democracy in Nigeria is described as cabalcracy – a government by a Cabal (Nwaorgu 2014) Campos and Pradhan (2007) report the looting at the Nigerian presidency in excess of US$1.3billion between 1996 and 2000 alone, as a result of which Nigeria is now classified as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Apart from sharing cash meant for police pension payment, public officers are also involved in corruptive activities like falsification of their personal data. For example. Sowe (2013) reports that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arrested 41 officials of the National Identify Management Commission (NIMC) for allegedly presenting fake credentials during a promotion exercise in Abuja, the federal capital city. Boniface and Shaibu (2013) report that the ICPC and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR) uncovered many corrupt practices which include the demand for bribes and the collection of sundry illegal fees during a corruption risk assessment tour, of four major ports in Nigeria. For example, it was revealed that about 74 signatures were required before a ship could berth in Port Harcourt Port, while 142 signatures were required before a ship could berth in Lagos Port. The report says that only one signature is required in Denmark for a ship to berth. In a recent action, the ICPC seized 61 houses and over one thousand hectares of land from a staff of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) who was deeply involved in multiple acts of public corruption(Osehobo, 2012, Onogu& Oji Abor, 2012, Sultan, 1993, Morris, 1991, Amalu, 2011, Hope, 1987, Paldhan, 1999, Stapenhurst&Kpundeh, 1999, Stepenhurst, et al, 2006). Corruption is very endemic in Nigeria, to the extent that the US notes: "corruption is a Nigerian problem and it does not only have its impact on Nigerians because there are also American companies here. The US government will continue to support Nigerian efforts on transparency issues and engage civil society groups, anti-graft agencies and other stakeholders in stemming the tide of corruption in the country".(Famutimi, 2012)

3. Methodology

The hypotheses of the study guided the choice of an analytical methodology. The survey research design was chosen because surveys are particularly helpful in describing the characteristics of a population or a subset of the population such as the government or business community. Also, measuring corruption entails the identification of vulnerable areas and signs of high level misconduct. Depending on the setting being studied and whether corruption is to be analyzed comparatively or otherwise different approaches to data collection and analyses are at the disposal of the investigator, including surveys. The sample was based on a cross-section of the population in Aba, Nigeria. The 483 respondents were selected using the Simple Random Sampling technique. Data were gathered through primary and secondary sources. Primary data were gathered through a questionnaire designed along a 5 – Point Likert-type scale with numeric values ranging from 1 – 5. The data collection instrument was validated by experts in the areas of management and social sciences. Reliability of the instrument was checked through the Test-Retest technique. Data were analyzed through descriptive and the Chi-square statistical methods using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS)

4. Presentation of Data and Result

Table 1. Population Distribution of the Study.

S/No. Areas of study Government employers Self-employed Others Total
1 Aba North 406 320 505 1231
2 Aba South 175 190 350 715
3 Obingwa 157 249 301 707
4 Osisioma 260 180 170 610
5 Ugwunagbo 190 175 206 571
6 Ukwa East 160 130 130 420
7 Ukwa West 207 155 215 576
  Total 1555 1399 1876 4830

Source: Ugoani, 2014

Table 2. Characteristics of Respondents (n=483).

Variables Measuring group Frequency Percentages
Gender Male 328 66.87
Female 160 33.13
Total 483 100
Education No of eduction 62 12.84
Up to FSLC 121 25.84
Up to WASC 154 31.88
Up to Tertiary 146 30.23
Total 483 100
Age 20 – 35 111 22.98
36 – 50 238 49.28
50 – above 134 27.74
Total 483 100
Dependents No of children 56 11.59
1 – 3 98 20.29
1 – 10 124 25.68
Others 205 42.44
Total 483 100
Business group Self employed 217 44.93
Govt. employed 165 34.16
Others 101 20.91
Total (n=) 483 100

Source: Ugoani, 2014

Table 3. Frequencies.

  Observed N Expected N Residual
37.00 37 96.6 -59.6
58.00 58 96.6  
91.00 91 96.6 -38.6
108.00 108 96.6 -5.6
189.00 189 96.6 11.4
Total 483   92.4

Table 4. Test Statistics.

Chi-Square 334.802
df 4
Asymp. Sig. .000

0 cells (.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 71.8.

4.1. Interpretation of Result

The test result in table 4 showed that the calculated value of Chi-Square at approximately 335 was significantly greater than the table value of about 9 at 0.05 level of significance with 4 degrees of freedom. This result technically means that public corruption has a strong positive relationship with bad governance. This is the objective of the study. This result is sound and not an exaggeration to the extent that it supports the strong views of Onuoha (1999) that: "Corruption is the greatest manifestation of the failure of rulers". It also agrees with the conclusions of Mauro, (1995) Knack & Keefer, (1995) that. "Corruption engenders low confidence and widespread cynicism about the performance of government and has pernicious consequences, including undermining democratic institutions and public policy.

4.2. Recommendations

i.     People at the top echelon of government in Nigeria have wide discretionary powers. This should be reviewed downwards to curb the incentive for public corruption.

ii.   Lack of committed leadership gives room for public corruption and bad governance. Nigeria should elect only credible people based on their past performance records instead of falling for the glamour of emergency billionaires without credibility.

iii.  Anti corruption legislation in Nigeria should be strengthened. A situation where people loot public funds and frequently freed by the courts on "technical grounds of law does provide the necessary disincentive for public corruption that perpetuates bad governance. There may be no better "evidence beyond reasonable doubt" that an Inspector General of Police stole N17bn than the level of his acceptance of stealing the cash.

iv. Minimizing pyramidal public corruption should focus on problem identification, prevention, public awareness, enforcement, and nation building. The aim in each case would be to make corruption a high-risk, low-profit venture.

v.   Political leaders and public officers should exhibit high ethical standards, act with honesty, compassion and candour. The present situation, particularly in Nigeria where political and public office holders are identified with vehicular convey and number of houses around the world does not make any sense for people who are required to serve the people.

4.3. Scope for Further Study

Further study should examine the relationship between corruption and leadership to see if there will be a change in attitude of political leaders in Nigeria.

5. Discussion

The term pyramidal public corruption is introduced to describe a prevailing endemic public corruption that starts from the highest levels of governance and cascades to the lowest levels in public office. For example in a country like Nigeria there is multiple evidences of public corruption originating from the highest seat of political power and of those involving domestic servants in the public service. It suggests reactionary tendencies and proneness to corruption, an inordinate quest for power, and money, a state of kleptomania. Public corruption is frequently both a cause and an effect of bad governances. Public corruption diverts funds away from prosocial projects involving public health, education, housing, and other public infrastructures. In some places like in Nigeria, high profile public roads like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway with an initial cost implication of about N89billion could not be delivered on time. Public corruption is the principal reason why both domestic funds and external assistance in a country may largely be wasted on fraudulent technocratic governmental reforms. Fluctuations in government funding due to public corruption can adversely affect service delivery in the public sector. A corrupt public service in most cases is responsible for bad service delivery which is a crucial step to assess the ways in which corruption and bad governance manifest. Governance as the interplay of politics, public policy and ideology cannot be impeded by limited resources as people often say, but by lack of political will and sound ideas, and mostly, by pyramidal public corruption. Political will is required for institutionalizing political parties, strengthening and reforming them from within and goes hand in hand with the fight against corruption by other political institutions. Such reforms increase the legitimacy and representational value of parties, build the popular trust toward democracy and lend the national anti-corruption efforts additional credibility.

6. Conclusion

Despite government reforms bad governance persists in Nigeria due to pyramidal public corruption. Pyramidal corruption in Nigeria is characterized by serious lack of moral capital, driven by privative intelligence. This leads to the desire for primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of good governance. Studies linking corruption with bad governance suggest that high levels of corruption contributes to high levels of bad governance. Experts on corruption and bad governance analysis lament corruption episodes like the allegations of the N2.58trillion loot in the oil subsidy- mega-scam. In most corruption endemic countries like Nigeria, poor transportation system and bad roads also help in the advertisement of the levels of bad government. This study found significant evidence linking corruption and bad governance and the objective of the study was achieved by the statistical result strongly linking pyramidal public corruption positively with bad governance.


No grant of any kind was received from any quarters for this research. The work is the intellectual property of the sole author.


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Dr. Ugoani is a Senior lecturer and Coordinator, College of Management and Social Sciences, Rhema University, Aba. He teaches courses on business, management, production management, human resource management, psychology, industrial psychology, and industrial relations. He supervised the development of his College’s curriculum through NUC- National Universities Commission’s accreditation in 2013. John is recongized for presenting the first best PhD Dissertation in Management at the Faculty of Business Administration, Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria. He has some scholarly publications with full  paper readership downloads and abstract views over 1000 and 5000 respectively and listed among Ten Top Authors by SSRN.

MA 02210, USA
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