Countering public sector corruption in Nigeria
: development, good governance and reform

  • Musa Bala Zakari

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Since independence, corruption in the public sector has remained a recurring issue with limited research focusing on its forms and effects. Thus, the aim of the research is to explore the nature and characteristics of public sector corruption in Nigeria. The research attempts to devise and suggest effective anticorruption reforms to control systemic corruption in Nigeria, towards the establishment of sustainable development and good governance framework.
The research is based on mixed methods - of semi-structured interviews with selected stakeholders, a review of cases and document analysis. The research analyses two types of public sector corruption as it relates to Nigeria and the workings of its inefficient governance system. It discusses how corruption influences negatively on the development of the Nigerian state in terms of its growth and capability to deliver public goods and services to the citizens.
The research identified a number of findings which are primarily issues of institutional weaknesses – lack of systems, processes, structures (good governance) in the public agencies are some of the factors that have promoted public sector corruption. Internal control systems within the agencies are also weak and these create opportunities for corrupt conducts to take place. The regulatory authorities that supervises these institutions are also ineffective and anaemic, thus the triplicity of internal weaknesses of these agencies, the ineffectiveness of external regulatory authorities,’ sustained by defective cultural values creates a systemically corrupt system in Nigeria. There are issues of a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government that do not have standard operating procedures on how they conduct their key functions, wide discretion and noncompliance with extant rules. There is an absence of social infrastructure – such as schools, hospitals, housing etc. to support the public servants (leading to incentives for corruption). And an inadequate reward system. Therefore, this thesis makes significant recommendations – corruption in Nigeria, is systemic (embedded in the social, political and economic milieu), this requires a holistic approach to countering it, with the three-pronged strategy – of prevention, enforcement public education and enlightenment applied simultaneously to all the segments of the society (it is everyone’s responsibility).
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMark Button (Supervisor) & Dean Robert Blackbourn (Supervisor)

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