Global Resources

The youth and education sector corruption in Nigeria

Author: D. U. Enweremadu
Publisher: University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Publication Date: Nov 2015

Corruption is by far the greatest threat facing Nigeria today. That is the view of Dr. David Enweremadu, who, in this paper delivered at the National Conference on Youth against Corruption in 2015, focuses on corruption in the education sector. Corruption, he says, is responsible for Nigeria’s bad roads, unstable electricity supply, and the poor standard of public schools because contractors and public officials find ways to divert part of the money into their private pockets. Yet despite years of government attempts to control corruption through legislation and new laws, the problem persists. What must change is the idea that tackling corruption is the purview of the government alone. Instead, we must see this issue as being the responsibility of all citizens, which in turn necessitates everyone getting onto the same page about what actually constitutes corruption, so that all may tackle it together.

The author explains early in the piece what he means by corruption, defining it as “any act which deviates from the rules of conduct, including normative values, governing the actions of an individual in a position of authority or trust, whether in the private or public domain, because of private-regarding motives such as wealth, power, status etc" (Khan, 1996). Using this definition allows for judgement-free, empirically verifiable criteria to identify acts of corruption, making it useful for analysing corruption in Nigeria in this study. Such corruption can come in many forms, namely: bribery, which represents the most common form of corruption in developing countries such as Nigeria; extortion, which is similar to bribery except in that it uses threats rather than positive inducements; embezzlement; fraud; nepotism; election malpractices; judiciary corruption; and corruption specific to academia, such as plagiarism, falsification of research results, doctoring of academic records, examination malpractices, and bribes offered either to non-teaching staff to bypass bureaucratic procedures, and/or to faculty for a higher grade.

Next, the paper discusses the causes of corruption in Nigeria. For instance, it appears the country has more of a problem with social exchange corruption (rather than simply economic), in form of nepotism, tribalism and clientelism, due to the prevalent status of primary group relations in Nigeria’s cultural practices. Institutional causes are cited, with some scholars blaming party politics, federalism, and other aspects of Nigeria’s political system for promoting such divisiveness and tribalism. Laws also are another type of institution that are said to predispose people to corruption, depending on whether the laws are sufficient in number and strength.

Unfortunately, the youth (defined here as being between the ages of 18-35) of Nigeria are not immune to these influences, something commonly noted in the education sector. Both the media and researchers have recorded the prevalence of not just academic corruption in colleges, polytechnics, and universities, but of all of the aforementioned types of corruption also. Ignorance, lack of adequate orientation, widespread poverty, the absence of empowerment for youths to tackle corruption, increasing materialism, poor leadership, and the corrupting influence of politicians are all cited as causes, and all must be addressed in order to rectify it. To work toward this goal, the author proposes five recommendation for the government of Nigeria:


  • Design and implement programmes that will inculcate in youths the virtues of honesty, integrity and transparency as early as possible in their academic career.

  • Design policy that will encourage youths to participate more actively in the ongoing campaign against corruption, especially in the area of advocacy, public enlightenment and whistle-blowing.

  • Institute an efficient scholarships/grants/loans scheme to support students from poor backgrounds, and address the issue of inadequate funding of the educational sector.

  • Take concrete steps to check the corrupt practices being perpetrated by the heads of educational institutions.

  • Design a policy to regulate the relationship between students in the higher institutions and politicians, in order to insulate the students from the corrupting influence of politicians.