This is a 2017 list of the most corrupt States in Nigeria. Corruption, as well all know, is endemic to Nigeria. It has affected every nook and cranny of the nation so much that you find it in government, schools, markets, homes, sports, business, religion, and virtually every aspect of Nigerian life. The current Nigerian President has expressed his devotion towards the fight against corruption in the country. However, corruption is so endemic that it may take years, decades even, for it to be eradicated from the psyches of Nigerians. As it stands now, the average Nigerian always looks for ways to cut corners, make things faster, get special consideration, etc, and these amount to various corrupt practices. Let’s not even talk of massive looting of public funds, nepotism, bribery, and other massive forms of corruption that occurs at the governmental levels. In this list, I present the most corrupt States in Nigeria with a view to exposing them for all to see so that the people in the States, as well as their leaders, can assess themselves and rebuild their States for the better. In making this list, I considered the various strands of corruption and their density per State, based on available data from the internet and other sources. I am not eulogising the act of corruption but condemning it through an expose of corrupt States, as a shame to the leaders. It is also to be noted that no Nigerian State or the Federal Government, for that matter, is totally free of corrupt practices. The Federal Civil Service has some of Nigeria’s most corrupt individuals. However, the States presented below are so corrupt that they dwarf the combined corrupt practices of other Nigerian States, put together.
1. Delta State
This should come as no surprise to keen observers. Delta State is officially the most corrupt Nigerian State. Since the return of democracy in 1999, this State has been plagued by corrupt leaders who have amassed wealth for themselves at the expense of the masses. In fact, corruption is so ingrained in the psyche of Deltans that corrupt leaders that build one or two roads and bridges are seen as heroes!!! In Delta State, corruption occurs at all levels. In governance, corruption manifests through the awards of phantom contracts, inflation of prices of contracts, amassment of public wealth for personal use, diversion of public funds, electoral malpractice, and so much more. The State Civil Service is very corrupt and civil servants are known to collect bribes for little things as vehicle license registration, among others. In terms of Education, corruption is rife as obvious in the high amount of “miracle centres” in the State where monies are collected from students to enable them to pass their examinations. This trend extends to the State University at Abraka. In fact, the average Deltan sees corruption as nothing. Internet fraud is high in cities such as Warri, Asaba, Ughelli, Sapele, Abraka, and other towns across the State. “Yahoo-Yahoo” or “Gee” as it is called, it socially acceptable in this State. The average Waffarian wants to defraud you (yes, it’s true! I am one)! For over 25 years of the state, there has been no true development whatsoever and the irony is that this is an Oil Producing State and one of the richest in Nigeria! Even employment is done on the basis of nepotism and bribery! Delta State is floating in a sea of corruption and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not shone its light there for a long time.
2. Rivers State
This state has always ranked high in corruption in Nigeria. Since the outset of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Rivers State has been transformed into a haven of corruption. Corruption exists in various forms and across all levels of governance. The most corrupt public office holders in this state are the House of Assembly members, Local Government Chairmen, Councillors and Civil Servants, including Permanent Secretaries. Corruption manifests in the award of phantom contracts, inflation of prices of contracts, misuse of funds for constituency projects, amassment of public wealth, fraud, bribery, electoral malpractice, Godfatherism, and much more. Often taunted as the Rivers of Blood, violence is rife in this State and violence occurs because the leaders are not willing to let go of the perks of power. This is also one of the richest States in Nigeria, as well as an Oil Producing State. However, funds meant for the development of communities, towns, and cities, are diverted to personal use. From corrupt schools and idle youths to corrupt governmental agencies and workers, Rivers State doesn’t show a lack of corruption.
3. Bayelsa State
Bayelsa State is also one of the Oil Producing States in Nigeria where corruption has become endemic. Bayelsa is a small state of only 8 Local Government Areas. However, there are no signs of development and human capital development despite the large amount of money that this State receives every month. The State capital is in a ramshackle state, the riverine areas are an eyesore. With constant gas flares and other forms of environmental pollution, fishing and farming are almost impossible for the people and the government virtually does nothing to ameliorate the plight of the people. Corruption in this State is endemic to the government but still manifests in other sectors. Secondary schools extort students of thousands in the name of “miracle centres”. Local Government Chairmen, Councillors, and House of Assembly Members, only care for their pockets and nothing else. Contract awards are hijacked, monies are eaten, jobs are undone, public wealth amassed, etc. This is a State that has all it takes to become the Dubai of Nigeria if only corruption can be eradicated.
4. Kwara State
This is a State in Nigeria’s predominantly conservative North, specifically North Central region. For a very long time now, this State has been under the control of a powerful cabal whose leader acts as a Godfather to all politicians in the State and therefore, is the de facto leader of the State. The Godfatherism may not have been too much of a problem if other indices of corruption are not accompanied with it. In Kwara State, development is at a standstill due to massive looting of public funds and the inability of the government to do anything without permission from the State’s ultimate leader. Religion plays a huge role in this State’s corruption as one cannot aspire far in politics without being in a particular religion. Religion comes to play in employment, appointment and other perks of government. Monies meant for contracts and other infrastructural developments are amassed and put to personal use as well as for political patronage. House of Assembly members, Local Government Chairmen, Councillors, and other leaders, are virtually pawns and do nothing other than what they are told to do. Corruption in this State has eaten so deep that there are no roads, good schools, bridges, infrastructure, and other indices of development. The gap between the political elite and the honest salary earner is so big and poverty is rife. This is a state where the ruling cabal live their lives like kings while the voters suffer in silence!
5. Imo State
Imo State is at the heart of the very vibrant Nigerian South-East. It is an Oil Producing State and also counted as one of the Niger Deltan States in Nigeria. This is a State with lots of potentials yet virtually nothing exists to show for it. The various administrations in the State since the return of democracy have turned the State into a potpourri of corruption. Corruption is so endemic that it manifests in virtually all aspects of the society. Political corruption manifests in the form of inflation of contracts, abandonment of contracts, amassment of wealth by public office holders, award of phantom projects, etc. Fraud is also rife in this State, with the youths taking to it as if it is an official engagement. Civil servants are known to collect bribes, schools extort students, and so much more. A serious re-orientation is needed if corruption is to be honestly fought in this state.
The list above comprises the most corrupt States in Nigeria. I have explained the reason behind my choice of the States and the nature of corrupt practices found in the States. I will now proceed to simply list 5 other States in the nation where corruption is endemic but not as rife as those found in the top 5 States aforementioned.
6. Abia State (second only to Imo State in the South-East in terms of corruption)
7. Ebonyi State
8. Kogi State
9. Kaduna State
10. Lagos State (corruption in this state is not really of a political nature but of other dimensions)
Corruption is not normal and shouldn’t be seen as a part of life. As Nigerians, we have to change our mindsets and educate the younger generation as well as our peers. There are little things that we do that are tantamount to corruption but we see these things as normal and this is the mindset that some of us take to government if the opportunity comes. We have to build the nation and join in the fight against corruption. If your State is listed here, it means you have a sanctimonious duty as a patriotic citizen to educate those in the State on the need to resist corruption at all levels. While we wait for legislations that will stiffen the punishment for corruption to be made, it behoves us to report corruption and corrupt practices wherever we encounter them. With a change in orientation and a renewed sense of patriotism, we will surely defeat corruption, at least, on the personal level. From there, Nigeria’s greatness shall be made manifest!