1.1 Background to the Study
Bureaucratic practices have existed as work systems at least since the Chinese and Assyrian cultures of some five thousand years ago. Notwithstanding the long existence of bureaucratic administration, the growth of bureaucracy can only be explained within the context of the emergence of the modern state. Bureaucracy as the notion of rationality derives its prominence, interpretation and conceptual usefulness from the works of Max Weber who presents bureaucracy as a better and efficient way by which the society can be improved. Weber made an emphatic statement or conclusion that “bureaucracy is by far the most efficient known method for the performance of complicated tasks of administration”. (Ibid ;). Taiwo (2010) specifically describes Weber’s definition as an expression of the “ideal type” bureaucracy. And that with the emergence of modern nation states in the ordinary business life of citizens, it has assumed not only an omnibus character but also a ubiquitous status.
In the view of konjoulas (2011), bureaucracy is a form of organization which is indispensable to the efficient operation of any complex structure while Hague et al. (2010) described bureaucracy as “the” institution that carries out the functions and responsibilities of the state: It is the engine room of the state”.
Bureaucracy notwithstanding its qualities and differences is an administrative body of “appointed officials”. The term has been primarily used to denote the apparatus consisting of professional, full time officials subject to hierarchical supervision and carrying out their functions in a well ordered way based on rules, regulations and orders coming from above. The bureaucrats are therefore seen as actors within the form and content of bureaucratic system.
Bureaucratic corruption is linked with the activities of bureaucrats. Traditionally, the concept was used to denote the practice of buying favour from bureaucrats who formulate and implement governments’ economic and political policies. The concept however transcends the buying of favour; it refers to the violation of public duty by bureaucrats or public officials.
Various explanations have been given for the pervasiveness of bureaucratic corruption. One school of thought holds that bureaucratic corruption can be explained within the context of the nature and character of the bureaucratic institution itself. This school holds the view that a times bureaucracy outgrows its organizational structure and as such becomes dehumanized and monolithic, hence due to undefined structure, lack of Social values, integration of selfish interest over and above that of the organization, the absence of rules and procedures, corruption has the likelihood of evolving, persisting and spreading.
If bureaucratic corruption can be viewed in this way, then it can be argued that, since bureaucracy is the engine of growth of state, the pervasiveness of corruption in the institution has the capacity of undermining development. More so, if corruption has already permeated the bureaucracy, for any development to take place the institution must as a matter of fact be purged of all corrupt practices.
Similarly, if good governance is conceived to include the capacity of a government to manage resources efficiently to improve the well being of the citizens, then bureaucratic corruption can thus be regarded as one of the main obstacles to good governance and development in Nigeria.
Corruption has assumed a normal pattern of life in Nigeria. A way of getting “everything” done. A norm in the land. Consequently, the situation has rendered the Nigerian state (Governance) – a non – delivery state. Corruption has denied the Nigerian people the beauty of good governance. Bureaucracy and other institutions have been dishonest, ineffective and highly centralized. This as a matter of fact, has already been identified with all administrations in Nigeria since independence in 1960. Each succeeding administration regime has always accused the other of corrupt practices particularly under the various military regimes. (Bureaucratic corruption and socio-economic development in sagboma local government of bayelsa state)
It has been observed that systemic corruption distorts incentives, undermines institutions and redistribute wealth and power to the undeserving. When corruption undermines property rights, the rule of law and incentive to invest, economic and political development are crippled (Klitgaard 2000). These have been the pattern of things in the Nigerian State; hence the gains of good governance and development have been eluding Nigerians. It is within this understanding and threat which bureaucratic corruption poses to good governance and development that, the present civilian administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the Anti- Corruption Bill which had since been passed by the National Assembly into law to fight corruption in the country at various levels among many other measures against corrupt practices. The entire clamour about transparency and accountability is therefore seen as the necessary step towards development.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Viewing the pattern of governance of the Nigerian State since the attainment of independence in 1960, one can rightly say that corruption has been the bane of Nigerian public administration. The cry against corrupt practices in Nigeria became disturbing under the Gowon administration as a result of the alarming rate of different forms of scandals resulting from the importation and exportation of goods particularly in relation to port cogestion:. Assessing the Gowon administration, The Nigerian Tribune asserted inter alia: Gowon’s regime was unashamedly corrupt to the macro. Everyone knew it. They did not hide it from public gaze. His pledge to enact an anticorruption decree like other promises was never fulfilled. And when an attempt was made to expose these evils, he suppressed the attempts with the very weight of his high office. (Nigerian Tribune August 1 1975).
The level of corruption under the Gowon’s regime came under public scrutiny when Muritala Mohammed became the head of state and set up Assets Investigation panel to probe the Governors that served under Gowon. The panel indicted ten (10) of the twelve (12) governors and subsequently had their assets confiscated. The total value of assets confiscated from the governor was over =N=10 million (in 1976). The anti-corruption crusade of Murtala also spread to the entire public service. The purge of the public service led to the retirement/dismissal of over 10,000 public servants nationwide. (Bureaucratic corruption and socio-economic development in sagboma local government of bayelsa state)
One would have expected that going by the efforts and energy dissipated on the cause to address corruption under the Murtala administration and ignominious ways the indicted governors that served under Gowon were treated, the politicians of the second republic would distance themselves from corrupt practices but the reverse was the case. The politicians of the second Republic engaged in different corrupt practices of different shades. The era was marked by gross abuse of power by virtually all public officers – career and political officeholders. Therefore this study seeks to investigate the bureaucratic corruption and socio-economic development in Sagboma local government of Bayelsa State.