The main causes of corruption in Nigeria

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causes of corruption in Nigeria

The forceful loss of ethnic-cum-private resource control ranks high among the causes of corruption in Nigeria. Whenever different people are made to UNWILLINGLY surrender their property to be shared with others, cheating becomes inevitable. Some people will gain from the arrangement, even when they have not contributed much. As long as there is a pool where everyone’s resources are heaped, like a bank, there will be corruption. Even ANGELS with access to the heap of other people’s resources are exposed to irresistible temptations of helping themselves.


nothing to loseAround 1995, many Nigerian societies were still communal, and preparation for ceremonies were handled unprofessionally. Children gathered to help clean the place, fetch water and set chairs. Eventually, the hosts of the ceremony bring some packets of biscuits for the children who assisted in the preparation. They hand these packets of biscuits to the most grownup person among the children to share to other ones. The grown-up child often begins sharing by settling his fellow ‘big boys’ with sizeable portions of the biscuits. At the end, he gives the remaining to the smaller boys to fight and struggle as they share among themselves.


The Land Use Act and the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act seem to be the major causes of corruption in Nigeria. These Acts were used to strip the people, ethnic communities and individuals, off their ancestral lands and resources; and in turn hand over all these lands and mineral resources to the post-colonial government. Dictates from these Acts are unambiguous in their intention of total land and resource grabbing:

“… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”[1] “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.[2]The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”[3]


Secondly, the land use act is a military decree which was used…


“… to vest all land comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state and to organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes while similar powers with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on local government.”[4]


The Nigerian government and advocates of the total resource-heaping style insist that this method serves the common good. They imply that the common ownership of all the resources by the “Nigerian state” will help to develop and distribute resources properly. This is because the land and resources of about 170 million people, and above 250 ethnic communities will be held “in trust for the people”.[5] And the different ethnic communities may not be able to manage their resources properly without ‘help’, though forced, from outside.


On the other hand, if there were no total resource-heaping style, there may not be any heap of money to pay the huge national assembly allowances. There will not be any heap of resources from which the so-called looters will be looting. If there were no total resource-heaping, each ethnic community will be eager to explore their lands for self-sustenance. If there were no total resource-heaping, there will be more development “because of the greater care an individual owner would take, because of the greater industry that would be exer­cised, and because it reduced friction among members of the community.”[6]


jobless Nigerians
Militants fighting for their resources

Common ownership of resources breeds not only laziness, unproductivity, conflicts and violence, but ranks high among the causes of corruption in Nigeria. The federal ownership of all resources in Nigeria is tantamount to the end of freedom and industrial productivity. “Every would-be tyrant excoriates private property, not because communism would be great for the people but because private ownership is a barrier to the tyrant’s power and control. In its absence, power rules and there is nothing like freedom”.[7]


This is why true democratic associations respect people’s rights to their lands and resources. And if the people want, they can decide to collaborate with one another for greater productivity. Aristotle maintains: “I do not think that property ought to be common, as some maintain, but only that by friendly consent there should be a common use of it; and that no citizen should be in want of subsistence.”[8] “Where there is not this arrangement, some of them are too ready to come to blows with their neighbors, while others are so cautious that they quite lose the sense of honor.”[9]


Until the ethnic communities and individuals take back the ownership and management of their lands and resources, there may be no true solution to the causes of corruption in Nigeria.


[1] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[2] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[3] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[4] Land use act. 29th March 1978, P7

[5] Ibid

[6] Zera, retrieved 31-08-2017

[7] Jeffrey A. Tucker, In Defense of Private Property: Aristotle and Mises. May 26, 2015 retrieved 31-08-2017

[8] Aristotle, Politics, Book 7, Part 10

[9] Aristotle, Politics, Book 7, Part 10