Critical Analysis of the Effect of Political Corruption on Public Services: A Case Study of the Nigerian National Petroleum Services
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This main aim of this study was to undertake a critical analysis of the state of political corruption in Nigeria and its effects on public service delivery. Its objectives were (1) to determine the prevalence of political corruption within the NNPC; (2) to gauge the perceptions of Nigerians regarding the effect of political corruption within the NNPC on the quality and delivery of public services; and (3) to explore the extent to which political corruption within the NNPC is to account for low quality of public services delivered to Nigerians. The study used a mixed methods research design and used semi-structured interviews and questionnaire surveys to collect data from members of the public and employees of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. It was found that the NNPC is one of the most corruption institutions in Nigeria. Being a very important institution in terms of service delivery to the public, corruption therein has far-reaching implications for these public services. This is why it is found that there are many effects of political corruption within the NNPC on services. The main effects, according to interviews, are inadequate or lack of public services, poor quality services, oil shortages, and disproportionate delivery of services. According to the questionnaire surveys, the main effects of political corruption within the NNPC on public services are lower quality of public services, scarcity of public services, inequitable distribution of public services, and higher costs of public services. Others are inefficiency in service delivery, reduced access to public services, delays in delivery of public services, and reduced confidence in public services.
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Corruption is one of the major developmental challenges facing Nigeria (Agbiboa, 2012). In fact so endemic is corruption in Nigeria that the current leader of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, has termed it as the greatest form of human rights violations affecting Nigerian people (Agbiboa, 2012). Over the years, corruption in general and political corruption in particular has remained deeply entrenched at all levels of Nigerian society. Both public and private institutions as well as ordinary and public employees are engaged in different forms of corruption (Smith, 2010).
As has been noted, political corruption – the corruption involving politicians and other political leaders – is one of the most prevalent and persistent forms of corruption in Nigeria (Smith, 2010). This form of corruption has been present in Nigeria from as far back in time as the creation of Nigeria’s public administration system. Since then, cases of official misuse and/or misallocation of funds and resources have almost become the norm (Ogbeidi, 2012).
Nigeria’s discovery of huge reserves of oil and natural gas and the significant rise of public administration in the country have together worked to exacerbate the already dire and endemic problem of political corruption (Ogundiya, 2010). This is mainly because the immense oil and natural gas resources make Nigeria to be the recipient of billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas revenue every year. The immense wealth is pure temptation for corrupt Nigerian public officials. The fact that these resources are managed by the public sector means that it is very hard for proper accounting to be done. In essence, the existence of a large public sector and the existence of immense resources have acted as an incentive for political corruption to get entrenched and thrive (Azeez, 2011).
Due to endemic and persistent political corruption in Nigeria, over 33% of Nigerians lived below the poverty line by 2013 (Mohammed, 2013). This is very ironical given that Nigeria is the 8th largest exporter of oil in the world (Dauda, 2017). Moreover, Nigeria’s economy is now classified as the largest in Africa (having overtaken that of South Africa) and the 20th largest in the world. Its Human Development Index for 2016 was only 0.527, putting Nigeria at position 152 in the world (Dauda, 2017). It would therefore have been expected that Nigeria would be among the countries in Africa and the world with the highest human development indices. Unfortunately, political corruption has made this impossible because resources that would have benefitted the people and helped improve their standards of living have been diverted to benefit only a few corrupt individuals.
The fact that Nigeria still has a very low Human Development Index means that the immense resources of the country do not benefit the majority of the people, a trend attributed to political corruption. In fact it is now known that Nigerians get very poor services or no services at all because of rampant political corruption (Mohammed, 2013). In spite of the fact that there is widespread knowledge of the rampancy of political corruption in Nigeria (and especially within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)), there is no empirical data showing the effect of political corruption on service delivery. Basically, the manner in which political corruption in general and particularly within the NNPC has affected the quality and delivery of public services in Nigeria is only known in theory but has not been empirically proven. In fact whether or not political corruption has any effects on the delivery of public services in Nigeria is not an established fact and only remains to be a matter of perception with a section of Nigerians believing it has while other believing that it does not.
This study is significant and worth carrying out because its findings will help make a much stronger case for curbing political corruption within the NNPC. Part of the reason why political corruption within the NNPC may have not been fought with the vigour it deserves may be the lack of knowledge and awareness on the part of the public and policymakers on how it affects or has the potential of affecting the quality and delivery of public services. This study makes available this important knowledge based on empirical evidence and is therefore worth carrying out.
At a personal level, this study was important and therefore worth carrying out because of different reasons. First of all, I personally believe that the political corruption within the NNPC is not only among the highest in the country but also has both direct and indirect impacts on the overall welfare of the people of this country. As such, Nigerians can never make any significant progress without addressing political corruption within the NNPC. However, it is not possible to sustainably address the rampant political corruption within the NNPC without first understanding how it affects the delivery of public services. This is why I believe this study was absolutely worth carrying out.
Secondly, I am also interested in the topic because the NNPC is one of the organizations that have the potential of helping turn around the welfare of millions of Nigerians. With oil and natural gas being very important commodities in Nigeria’s economy, the manner in which they are delivered (or not delivered) to members of the public is bound to have far-reaching implications for the country’s economy and by extension the wellbeing of the people. Therefore, I believe that by investigating the effects of political corruption on the delivery of public services I will be advocating for greater transparency at NNPC in particular and other public corporations in general.
The study focused on the effects of political corruption on the delivery and quality of public services by the NNPC. Therefore, the study investigated political corruption within the NNPC and focused on those public services provided by the NNPC. The NNPC is the only channel through which the Nigerian government takes part in its vast petroleum industry (through regulation) (Nwokeji, 2007). Founded in 1977 with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, the NNPC’s core mandate is the management of joint ventures between the federal government of Nigeria and foreign multinational oil corporations. Through the NNPC, the government of Nigeria undertakes various petroleum-related projects with different companies (Nwokeji, 2007). In terms of organizational structure, there is the NNPC board, the Office of the Group Managing Director, and seven other operations units (divided into five autonomous business units and two corporate services units) (Nwokeji, 2007).
The main aim of the study was to undertake a critical analysis of the state of political corruption in Nigeria and its effects on public service delivery. Its objectives were as outlined here below:
- To determine the prevalence of political corruption within the NNPC.
- To gauge the perceptions of Nigerians regarding the effect of political corruption within the NNPC on the quality and delivery of public services.
- To explore the extent to which political corruption within the NNPC is to account for low quality of public services delivered to Nigerians.
In order to achieve the above objectives, these questions had to be answered:
- How prevalent is political corruption within the NNPC?
- What are the perceptions of Nigerians regarding the effect of political corruption within the NNPC on the quality and delivery of public services?
- To what extent is political corruption within the NNPC to account for the poor quality of services delivered to Nigerians?
This chapter undertakes a critical analysis of the literature pertaining to the subject of corruption in general and the impact of political corruption on public services in particular. The goal of the chapter is essentially to locate the present study in the body of knowledge. This is achieved by endeavouring to establish what has been written on the subject matter and what is yet to be written (gaps in the literature). Ultimately, the research is able to ascertain whether the present study fills gaps in the literature or makes additions to the existing knowledge on the subject.
Theorising corruption in general and corruption in Nigeria in particular has always been a controversial issue. This is because theories of corruption tend not to be very specific but to address other related issues as well. For instance, the modernization theory that was put forth in 1968 by Huntington tends to cover not just aspects of corruption but developmental issues as a whole (Mustapha, 2010). Still, it is one of the most important theories of corruption. Modernization theory’s very core tenet is that as processes of political and economic development take place, they tend to bring about three outcomes namely inequality, political instability, and corruption. Simply put, these three outcomes can be best termed as the misuse of public resources for private gain (Mustapha, 2010).
Political corruption in Nigeria is indeed largely – if not entirely – a manifestation of misuse of public resources for the gain of private individuals (Azeez, 2011). The people who are elected or hired to be the custodians of public resources and welfare instead use their very resources to enrich themselves at the very expense of the members of the public. The result is that rampant political corruption in Nigeria is leading to underdevelopment and inequality. Development only occurs to those who have the means to corruptly acquire resources while those who cannot are left wallowing in poverty (Azeez, 2011).
This skewed development has in fact been sustained by the same corruption. Those holding political office in Nigeria have learnt that the easiest way of getting back into those offices is to ensure that the common people are not empowered in any way. This includes economic and political empowerment (Azeez, 2011). Therefore, political corruption has been used as the instrument for not just stealing from the public and therefore causing rampant economic inequality but also for ensuring that the corrupt public officials can protect themselves and therefore be able to continue stealing from the public (Heidenheimer and Johnston, 2011). It may therefore be argued that political corruption in Nigeria is a kind of vicious cycle that may prove hard to break.
It is also important to add that modernization theory suits this study because in Nigeria, political corruption has been directly linked to two main issues: the country’s overreliance on a very large public sector and the discovery of immense natural resources (especially oil) (Ogbeidi, 2012). These two are clearly issues of development (and therefore of modernity) as without development they would not have been attained. It was a result of political development in Nigeria that the need for a large public sector came about. Similarly, the need for economic development led to exploration, discovery, and subsequent extraction and exportation of oil and other natural resources. Therefore, it is indeed an undeniable fact that political corruption in Nigeria is attributable to developmental issues. This is what makes the modernization theory to be most suited to this study.
It is the view of Issacharoff (2010) that when it comes to political corruption, there has been a tendency for a lot of emphasis to be placed on how holders of public officer help encourage corruption and engage in it than on how the very nature of political office encourages and breeds corrupt practices. According to him, public officials are more to blame for acting in ways that are contrary to their mandates and expectations as public officials and custodians of public resources. However, he also believes that corrupt practices are inherent within public offices such that a public officer elected or appointed to public office many not need to do anything to take part in corruption or become corrupt. For him, corruption would be fought more decisively if there was as much focus on the nature of political or public office as there is on the holders of these officers.
Issacharoff’s (2010) argument merits commendation because it is indeed often assumed that only public officers are to blame for the corruption in the public offices. However, the reality is that in many contexts corruption is often inherently associated with public offices regardless of who occupies these offices. However, this kind of reasoning may not succeed in explaining why some countries suffer from historical and endemic corruption while others do not (Heidenheimer and Johnston, 2011).
The economic impacts and consequences of corruption is a subject matter addressed by Jain (2012) who argues that corruption is nothing new and that efforts to combat it may have been in place from as way as 2,500 years ago. He adds that corruption was better fought in ancient times than it is today partly because the people who lived back then took the war on corruption seriously. Citing his study of the causes of the 1982 debt crisis, he argues further that even economists failed to link the crisis to corrupt practices. Basically, he is of the view that the most of the time, major economic crises in modern times could be attributed more to corruption than to economic policy.
It is undeniable that in modern times corruption tends to be thought of as a problem of only certain countries and not others. Developing countries have particularly been labelled as corrupt and developed ones as less corrupt (Robinson, 2012). Yet going by the arguments by Jain (2012), it may just be the opposite given that most financial and debt crises in the last fifty years have occurred in the developed or medium economies and less or none in the developing economies. In the developed world, however, the tendency has been for the malpractices of individuals (which constitute corruption) to be carefully concealed under the guise of poor economic policy even when it is clear that the said economic policies were poor in the first place because those in charge of formulating and/or implementing them had agenda other than seeking economic efficiency. Seeking other interests other than those for which the entire organization seeks constitutes a conflict of interest and may therefore be a form of corruption (Ogbeidi, 2012).
Fisman and Svensson (2007) explored whether or not corruption (and taxation) actually harm growth. Using data on estimated payments of bribes in Uganda, their study explored the correlation among taxation, payments of bribes and growth of firms. They found that there is a negative relationship between both the rate of corruption and the rate of taxation. More specifically – and this is a very important finding – they established that for every percentage-point increase in the rate of bribery there was a three percentage-point decline in firm growth. Moreover, the effects of bribery on firm growth were three times greater than the effects of taxation on firm growth. They conclude that corruption retards the development process at the firm level more than taxation.
First and foremost, this study is relevant because it is concerned about effects of corruption. This is important as the objectives of the present study pertained to effects of political corruption. While Fisman and Svensson (2007) do not focus directly on the effects of political corruption, their study still offers invaluable insights into the relationship between corruption and growth. A firm cannot be expected to effectively deliver public services if its growth is being undermined or retarded by corruption. Moreover, the study by Fisman and Svensson is based in Uganda, an African country which is not very different from Nigeria in terms of challenges associated with political corruption.
Corruption also has social effects, including effects on trust. This is why Rothstein and Eek (2009) argue that to a very large extent people’s trust in authorities is a key influencer of the people’s perceptions of the trustworthiness of others in general. In a study to explore the reasons behind the great variations observed in the level of social trust between different countries, they found that compared to people in Sweden (when corruption is less rampant), people in Romania (where corruption levels are comparatively higher) has lower levels of trust. Rothstein and Eek are therefore of the view that existence of bribes, initiators and approved assistance in the public service tend to lower people’s general level of social trust.
Rothstein and Eek’s (2009) findings reflect actual practice in that when members of the public have grown used to being required to pay bribes or to give other favors in exchange for services that would normally be freely available, they tend to become less trusting of people in general and public servants in particular. Therefore, it is to be expected that in a country with high levels of corruption, people will be less trusting of others than in countries with lower kevels of corruption. Having noted that, however, it is worth adding that the researchers relied a lot on very small sample sizes (64 and 83 Swedish and Romanian university students respectively) whose composition was also very limited. A larger and more diverse sample might possibly have yielded different results.
Just as corruption affects trust, it also affects the level of confidence. This is according to Clausen, Kraay and Nyiri (2011) who used data from the Gallup World Poll to document the correlation between corruption and level of confidence in public institutions. They found a negative correlation between corruption and confidence in public institutions that was both quantitatively large and statistically significant. It is their view that reduced confidence in public institutions may therefore be an indirect channel through which corruption may actually hinder or retard development. This study is important because it is among the few that endeavor to empirically show the effects of corruption on different developmental issues. Moreover, it focuses on not only to political corruption but also to public institutions. In a way, therefore, the findings of this particular study indicate how political corruption has the potential of affecting service delivery. After all, one of the ways through which confidence in public institutions is measured is how well the institutions deliver public services (Robinson, 2012). Although the study relied on secondary data, the data were very relevant as they were collected from primary sources.
On their part, Dal Bó and Rossi (2007) are of the view that corruption, regardless of the form in which it manifests, reduces the efficiency of the firm. They argue that corruption diverts managerial effort away from factor coordination, increasing the factor requirements by the firm. Using dataset from firm-level information on 80 electric companies in 13 different Latin American countries, they further find that the more a given country is corrupt the more inefficient its firms tended to be. This is because these firms are forced to employ more factors of production produce any given quantity of output. This study, though not directly focusing on the effects of political corruption on delivery of public service, is very relevant because it clearly depicts the link between corruption and inefficiency in firms. Indeed corruption results in wastage of resources that would have otherwise been utilized to benefit customers. As a result, corruption indirectly leads to poor service delivery by firms. Otherwise the service delivery is very inefficient. This means consumers will be forced to pay more or to get services of poorer quality (Azeez, 2011).
It is the view of Gingerich (2009) that there are two features of corruption victimization that determine the impact of corruption victimization on antigovernment protest. These are how clear the responsibility of the ruling government is to the people (the general public) and the intensity of corruption victimization. Relying on the 2004 Bolivia Democracy Audit data, he found that when the level of exposure to corruption is low, there is also reduced inclination by the people to engage in anti-government protest compared to when there is no exposure whatsoever. He finds that when the levels of exposure to corruption are high there is a large and positive impact on protest. Finally, the institutional affiliations of those who perpetrate corruption are important determinants of the manner in which citizens react to their victimization. Generally, victimization tends to produce anti-government protest when the perpetrators of corruption are associated with the ruling government than when they are not (Gingerich, 2009).
Gingerich’s (2009) arguments are very true; and this is commendable about the study. It is indeed true that citizens tend to engage in anti-government protest a lot more when corruption is perpetrated by government officials than by people outside government (Mietzner, 2007). While the actual cause of this may be unknown, it is possible that it has to do with the democratic rights of the people. Citizens of democratic countries understand that public officers are custodians of public interests – including its resources (Smith, 2010). Therefore, a corruption perpetrated by people affiliated to the ruling government attracts more protest because it results in loss or misuse of public resources. While citizens may still be concerned about corruption in the private sector involving people who are not public officers, the level of concern is usually lower as the resources involved have no direct link, if any, to public resources (Smith, 2010).
Pellegrini and Gerlagh (2014) used a survey of empirical literature to determine the causes of corruption across different countries. They argue that contrary to common assumptions, corruption is not caused past British colonial rule or belonging to the Common Law system. Instead, it is caused by exposure to democracy, political situation, and access to information. They argue that countries that have been exposed to uninterrupted democracy for longer tend to experience less corruption compared to countries that have not been exposed to democracy for a limited period of time or not at all. They argue further that political instability tends to raise the levels of corruption while high rates of diffusion of newspapers lower corruption.
It is indeed true that democracy, political stability, and greater awareness may be associated with lower corruption. However, this does not apply across all countries. Pellegrini and Gerlagh’s (2014) arguments are shallow as they classify corruption between developed and developing countries and therefore falsely assume that being associated with more underdevelopment, lack of democracy, and political instability always means higher levels of corruption. While this may be true, it is usually an attempt by the developed world to escape the realities of what colonial rule did to reduce development in other countries and how corruption was used to advance colonial rule. Moreover, such an argument fails to take into consideration the fact that there is rampant corruption in the developed world except that it often manifests in ways that are different from corruption in the developing world. Finally, many undemocratic countries have very high levels of intolerance against corruption and may not therefore be expected to have high levels of corruption.
Mohammed (2013) uses available literature to examine the corruption as a challenge to the sustainable development of the Nigeria’s fourth republic. His core argument is that sustainable development in Nigeria’s forth republic was hindered by lack of good governance and accountability especially among public officials. According to him, corruption in Nigeria is often perpetrated with a lot of impunity as most public officials disregard the rule of law. Subsequently, not even the various anti-corruption commissions have helped address the problem. He argues that this endemic corruption can be linked to cultural and historical factors that make up Nigeria. According to him, colonial masters divided Nigerians on the basis of ethnicity, giving economic and political advantages to the majority and undermining the minority ethnic groups. Therefore, he concludes, corruption is largely used as a way of trying to deal with these economic and political inequalities.
Mohammed’s (2013) study, including its findings, has many weaknesses. First, it is not entirely true that corruption in Nigeria is a historical and cultural problem. On the contrary, it may be a representation of Nigerians’ greed. Greed and obsession with personal enrichment at the expense of national values and interests is a key driver of corruption in Nigeria. History and culture only exacerbate corruption (Mustapha, 2010). Furthermore, there are many nations in the world that were colonized and that have many ethnic groups but experience high levels of transparency. The fact that this study’s findings are based on a review of past literature and not primary data compounds its weaknesses. The findings would have been more reliable had the researcher used corruption victimization measures to determine causes of corruption. Still, the study contributes to the understanding of the subject of political corruption in Nigeria as it is partly in knowing the causes of corruption that its effects can be better understood.
Olarinmoye (2008) differs sharply with Mohammed (2013) when it comes to the causes of corruption in Nigeria. Unlike Mohammed who blames history and culture, Olarinmoye argues that (electoral) corruption is largely caused by the existence of ‘godfathers,’ political parties, and voters. It is his view that just as the avariciousness of political parties and godfathers cause corruption, the very logic of political competition also contributes to or at least exacerbates corruption. He argues further that since most political parties in Nigeria are far-removed from the people and cannot marshal enough support to win elections, they resort to using godfathers (people who can command followership in certain regions or localities and therefore easily win votes).
The main strength of Olarinmoye’s (2008) study is that it focuses on just one form of corruption (electoral-related corruption) which it explores in-depth. It cannot be denied that cronyism dominates electoral process in Nigeria. It fact it is almost impossible for a person to win elections in Nigeria without perverting the rule of law by engaging in electoral malpractices. The gist of the argument is that the same people who corruptly get elected end up being in charge of critical state corporations such as the NNPC. Since they corrupted their way into corruption, they have to use corruption to remain in public office. Unfortunately, this inevitably affects the delivery of public services to the citizens.
From the literature review, it is evident that corruption as a general subject matter has attracted a lot of interests among scholars and practitioners in different fields. In fact corruption is a multidisciplinary issue because its effects are felt across all disciplines. There is scantier literature on specific aspects of corruption, including its causes and effects/impacts. In the Nigerian context, there is a lot more scholarly literature on corruption; underscoring the gravity of the problem in the country. However, there is very limited scholarly literature on the effects of a specific type or form of corruption (such as political corruption) on a specific organization on a specific aspect of life. In essence, most scholars have tended to approach the subject from a broader perspective. When it comes to political corruption within the NNPC and its effects on delivery of public services, no literature, scholarly or otherwise, is available. This is the gap that the present study was committed to filling.
One of the most important aspects in any research is the research methodology (Bryman, 2015). In view of this, this study had to make the most careful and considered choice of the various research methods and methodologies. Choice of these methods was in turn based on the study’s aim and objectives. In this chapter, the various research methodologies and methods adopted in the study are discussed and their choices justified. They include the research philosophy, research approach, research choices, research strategy, the research approach, and the methods used to collect and analyse data.
Figure 1: The Research Onion. Source: Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012)
For every research, there are underlying beliefs that guide the manner in which the study is undertaken and that constitute the study’s philosophical paradigm (Creswell, 2013). For this study, the most appropriate research philosophy was determined to be pragmatism. The core assumption was that the research concepts are only relevant, acceptable, and therefore worth consideration for use in any study if they are capable of supporting action (Creswell, 2013). It was also recognized that the world is absolutely capable of being interpreted in different ways just as many ways exist through which one can undertake research. Therefore, there can be single viewpoint that is capable of giving the whole picture; and realities are can actually be multiple (Saunders, 2011).
Interpretivism was used as the most preferred theory because the study needed to be founded on philosophical foundations and assumptions best able to help the researcher the study achieve its objectives. This is because the researcher started with research questions and believed that these research questions alone ought to be the determinants of the research philosophy that is adopted (Bryman and Bell, 2015). Since the research questions outlined in Chapter One were such an open-ended approach to the study was required, it became necessary use pragmatism as opposed to any other philosophy of research. Based on the research questions, there was the need to use both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Such a combination would essentially not have been possible with any philosophy other than pragmatism (Collis and Hussey, 2013).
This was a mixed methods study, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Qualitative research methods were useful in dealing with descriptive aspects of the study while quantitative research methods helped in addressing the numerical aspects of the study (Bryman and Bell, 2015). The qualitative research aspects pertained to the effects of political corruption and the perceptions of Nigerians of these effects. Qualitative research was mainly concerned with the investigating of issues, understanding phenomenon, and answering questions pertaining to the phenomenon (Collis and Hussey, 2013).
On the other hand, quantitative research helped capture the numerical aspects of the study, including correlations among and relations between two or variables (Creswell, 2013). This specifically pertained to the relationship between levels of political corruption in Nigeria and public service delivery. Therefore, mixed methods research was preferred because the study phenomenon needed to be investigated from both a numerical and descriptive point of view (Saunders, 2011).
The study used a combination of induction and deduction. There was need to use induction because the study effectively started with research questions and ended with a theory (Bajpai, 2011). The research questions were used as the basis for collecting the required data; and after the data was analysed the necessary theory was developed to explain the effects of political corruption on the delivery and quality of services offered by the NNPC. Only an inductive approach could therefore enable the researcher to effectively use the available research questions for the collection of data and subsequently generating the appropriate theory (Silverman, 2016).
On the other hand, the researcher also needed to test available theories to determine their applicability to the present phenomenon. This could only be achieved through a deductive research approach where the starting point is a theory and the end point is data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). The deductive research approach was also used because it works best with quantitative studies while the inductive research approach was used because it works best with qualitative studies (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). Where qualitative and quantitative researches are combined (as was the case in this study) it therefore becomes imperative for the researcher to use both approaches.
This study needed to be narrowed down as much as much so that it would be possible to make it as specific as possible (Blumberg, Cooper and Schindler, 2011). This is why a case study strategy was adopted. This was therefore a case study of the NNPC. A case study is a way of carrying a very detailed or in-depth investigation on just a single person, thing, or situation (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). It may also be regarded as a report about the group, person, or situation which has been the subject of a given study. The emphasis in this regard is the ‘case’ and it may also include actions, events, organizations, and individuals existing within a specific place and time (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
For the present study, the ‘case’ used was both an individual organization (NNPC) and the ongoing practices t the NNPC (political corruption). A case study strategy was adopted because it was possible for the researcher to collect a more data from just one single ‘case’ (Silverman, 2016). This was important in helping expedite the research process. Moreover, the case study was mostly likely to work best with a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods (Bryman and Bell, 2015).
This study used two different (but complementary) methods to collect data: questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews. These are discussed in detail next:
A total of 200 questionnaire surveys were conducted on consumers of public services offered by the NNPC. This was in order to gauge their views and perceptions regarding the effects of political corruption on public services. The questionnaires were designed by compiling various questions which would help provide answers to the research questions. The questions were formulated by the researcher based on findings in the literature review. The questionnaire consisted of both open-ended ended and close-ended questions. This ensured that the researcher could get specific answers based on available theory as well as detailed responses based on perceptions and views of the respondents. Therefore, the questionnaires were also semi-structured. This means that some questions posed to the respondents were derived from theory and required respondents to choose a response from multiples provided while others were formulated by the researcher. The questions formulated by the researcher were similar to those posed to interviewees.
Owing to the fairly large sample size vis-à-vis the limited time-frame within which the study had to be conducted, preference was given to online questionnaires. In this regard, Surveymonkey.com was used to design the appropriate questions and have them send to the respondents. Respondents were given 7 days to fill the questions after which they were required to return them electronically using the same address from which they had received the questionnaires.
Other than helping expedite the research process, questionnaire surveys were used because they could collect a large volume of data from a large sample within a very short period of time (Blumberg, Cooper and Schindler, 2011). Moreover, the researcher did not need to expend a lot of energy as most of the questionnaires could be easily and expediently designed using online tools. They could also be easily distributed using online platforms (Silverman, 2016).
Ten semi-structured interviews were also conducted on senior employees of NNPC. They involved the researcher directly posing questions to selected respondents, obtaining their feedback, and recording responses on interview protocols. The questions posed had been pre-designed by the researcher and were meant to help gauge the interviewees’ views and perceptions regarding the effects of political corruption on the public services. Still, the researcher could alter the questions as deemed necessary to ensure that as detailed responses as possible were obtained. However, the original themes were maintained at all times. The questions were open-ended to permit the interviewees to add as much detail to their responses as possible.
Interviews lasted between seven and fifteen minutes to ensure that interviewees did not get bored (and compromise the reliability of the data). The interviews took place at venues and times agreed upon between individual interviewees and the researcher. This was in turn based on the convenience of the interviewees. Interviews were used in the study because they have are the most suitable instruments for collecting detailed and highly descriptive primary data (Kothari, 2011). Even though they are less objective compared to questionnaire surveys, semi-structured interviewees made it possible for a lot of data to be collected from respondents. This was because the researcher could interact with respondents and therefore encourage them to speak freely (Kothari, 2011).
Purposive sampling was used to select the 200 respondents who took part in the questionnaire surveys. Purposive sampling was necessary to ensure that those sampled were adult users of the public services provided by the NNPC. In essence, participants had to have used NNPC services and therefore understood how those services may have been affected by political corruption within the NNPC. They were mostly members of the public. The researcher waited outside the offices of the NNPC in Abuja and randomly approached people as they went in and out to seek different services. They were informed about the study and requested to take part if they indeed had received services from the NNPC before. Those who agreed to take part in the study had questionnaires sent to them electronically (online).
Purposive sampling was also used to select the 10 lower-ranking employees of who took part in the semi-structured interviews. They were interviewed anonymously due to the sensitive nature of the issue of political corruption within the NNPC. The interviewees were approached individually as they left their work stations and requested to take part in the study. Those who agreed to be interviewed had an appropriate time and venue arranged.
Thematic analysis was used to analyse the collected qualitative data. This involved analysing the data based on the emerging themes; and by having patterns or themes in the data pointed out, examined, and recorded (Joffe, 2012). These themes were patterns across datasets that were valuable in describing the phenomenon and had an association with specific research questions (Joffe, 2012). It took six different phases for the researcher to fully undertake thematic analysis; and the all of them involved coding. These were familiarizing oneself with the data, generation of initial codes, conducting a search for themes within the codes, theme reviewing, definition and naming of themes, and production of final report (Guest, MacQueen and Namey, 2011). At the end of the six phases the researcher was able to create established and meaningful patterns (Guest, MacQueen and Namey, 2011). Descriptive statistics were used in the analysis of quantitative data. These included measures of central tendency, percentages, and means.
Reliability pertained to the ability to produce results that were stable and consistent (Saunders, 2011). Reliability was ensured by using sample sizes that were large enough to act as representative samples. This means that the findings of the study could be easily generalized. On the other hand, validity is a measure of how well the research methods and methodologies adopted were able to measure what they were supposed to measure (Saunders, 2011). Validity in this study was enhanced by ensuring that there was total alignment between the study objectives and the different methodologies. Moreover, the researcher ensured that the data were collected using instruments that maximized both the amount and depth of the data.
The researcher adhered to two main ethical issues. The first was to ensure that appropriate permissions were sought and obtained from participants prior to the study. This ensured that no one took part in the study out of compulsion or coercion but out of their own volition and free will. Moreover, all participants were informed beforehand of the nature of the study, their responsibilities as participants, and their rights. This ensured that they known very well what was expected of them in the study and what they could and could not do.
The second ethical issue pertained to protection of the participants. In this regard, names, positions, and other identifying information were not made public. Instead, participants remained anonymous throughout the study to help protect them from potential harm especially given the sensitive nature of the issue under investigation (political corruption).
This chapter presents the findings of the study as well as a discussion of the findings. These results are organized on the basis of theme, focusing mainly on the effects of political corruption on the delivery of public services within the NNPC. Qualitative findings (from both interviews and questionnaire surveys) are presented in the form of quotes and then discussed, while quantitative results (from questionnaire surveys) are presented in the form of tables analysed.
The participants in the interviews were as illustrated in table 1 below:
Table 1: Interviewees’ gender
|55 years and above||5||50.00|
Table 2: Interviewees’ age
From the very outset, it is important to note that there was near-consensus among participants that the NNPC is one of the most corrupt state corporations in Nigeria. This could be attributed to the fact that the NNPC is responsible for Nigeria’s oil and gas revenue is that are the mainstay of the country’s economy (Nwokeji, 2007). It is largely due to the NNPC’s organizational structure and its handling of many may petroleum-related transactions that it has become extremely corrupt (Nwokeji, 2007).
It is also to be noted that beginning in 2002 the NNPC entered the retail market of Nigeria as part of its strategy to become more competitive in the market and be better able to regulate the vast petroleum industry in Nigeria. As such, the corporation has a presence at every level of the market; and Nigerians rely on it to a very large extent to get their services associated with petroleum and allied products (Nwokeji, 2007). More importantly, though is the fact that the political corruption within the NNPC has had far-reaching effects on the delivery of public services at all levels. These effects are presented in this section.
Rampant corruption within the NNPC was also blamed for actually reducing the quantity of available public services. According to one of the interviewees, the more NNPC’s resources are diverted to private use by mostly employees of the NNPC the fewer the services the NNPC is actually able to provide. He said, “For every naira that is stolen from the NNPC and by extension the government coffers, there is a reduction in the services provided to the people unless there is additional funding provided by the government. Since it takes a year for any extra budgetary allocation for the NPC to be granted, the money lost through corruption inevitably results in a reduction of services provided.” The views expressed here support findings in the literature where one of the effects of corruption is cited as diversion of public resources (Heidenheimer and Johnston, 2011).
One of the most notable effects of political corruption in the NNPC on service delivery has been with regard to the quality of services delivered to the people. As was noted before, to a very large extent some essential services do not get delivered to the people at all because of political corruption. Where they are delivered, they are often of very low quality. As one of the employees of the NNPC put it, “The services we offer to the people are increasingly becoming of poor quality even when it is clear more resources are being allocated to us to boost service delivery. For instance, it is almost impossible for a customer to get as simple a service as license within the stipulated time-frame. They will keep being asked to come back the next day until they pay some form of bribe.” This comment underscores the findings in the literature that corruption diverts resources from what they are meant for to private gain (Smith, 2010). This inevitably means that the organization concerned cannot provide the same level of quality with reduced resources.
All the interviews were in agreement that operational inefficiency is a major challenge facing the NNPC as a result of rampant corruption within the organization. One of them said, “We cannot seem to be able to stop using so much public resources and delivering far less. One would expect that our bloated workforce would enable NNPC to deliver a lot more output. Unfortunately, it seems that the larger the NNPC becomes in terms of workforce the less the output it generates.”
Another one, underscoring the high level of inefficiency at NNPC, noted that, “For the same factors of production we have employed here at NNPC, we ought to be producing far more output per unit time. Unfortunately, this corporation has become a master of wastage.” Still another one said, “Corruption has ensured that no matter how much of the public resources the NNPC is allocated each financial year, there is no real value for money. Although some blame it on bureaucracy and the corporation’s highly hierarchical structure, I believe it is because of endemic corruption. Resources are just being swindledaway.”
These statements underscore arguments that corruption leads to reduced efficiency. This is because corruption diverts managerial effort away from factor coordination, increasing the factor requirements by the firm (Dal Bó and Rossi, 2007).
The other effect of corruption within the NNPC was found to be reduced supply of public services. Interviewees expressed their reservations with the rampant corruption in the NNPC by saying that high levels of corruption had led to the diversion of as important services to the people as supply of oil. One interviewee noted, “It is a pity that Nigerians, with vast amounts of oil, can go without oil for weeks or that there can be queues at gas stations. The reason is that the oil meant for the Nigerian domestic market is mostly diverted as a result of corruption involving NNPC officials and oil marketers.”
Another one said, “Before any oil can get to the Nigerian market and therefore be used by the ordinary Nigerian, the oil cartels operating in the oil sector will have gotten their share. For a few thousand naira handed over to the corrupt NNPC officials, these oil cartels, who are smugglers of oil, can divert thousands of litres meant for the Nigerian market and have it sold elsewhere.” Still, another interviewee said, “There comes a time when everyone in Abuja is rushing to fill up their tanks with fuel because there is no telling when the oil will run out. The reality is that oil in Nigeria never runs out, it just gets diverted to those who can pay to either hoard it or sell it on the black market at exorbitant prices.”
Oil shortages in Nigeria are common. However, the literature did not find any link between corruption and shortages of oil. The closest link was that corruption leads to reduced supply of resources because money meant for the provision of the resources are diverted to private gain (Agbiboa, 2012). Therefore, it is possible that indeed rampant corruption could lead to shortages of oil.
It also emerged that one of the effects of corruption within the NNPC on public service delivery was the tendency for services to be distributed inequitably. While every Nigerian is entitled to certain public services, not all people get all the services when they need to. Instead, priority is given to those who are willing and ready to give bribes. One of the interviewees, a businessman, best captured this state of affairs when he said: “I have been trying to get a license as a distributor of petroleum products from the NNPC for the last one month. Every time I come, I am told to wait. Otherwise I find empty desks with no personnel to serve me. When I offered to pay some money, I was given the license immediately.” Another said, “This country seems to be for the rich and the well-off, those who can pay their way to get what they want quickly. Our part of town that is not very wealthy often gets oil supplies the last. The wealthier parts hardly ever run out of their supplies as they are being re-supplied by the NNPC very promptly.”
This is one of the most common causes of corruption. Nigeria is one of the most unequal countries in the world; and this is because those who are well off can afford to get whatever they want (Mohammed, 2013). On the contrary, the poor cannot access even the most basic resources. By bribing their way, the rich mostly get better services than the poor (Agbiboa, 2012).
From the very outset, it is important to note that although a total of 200 questionnaires were sent out, only 169 were received back. Of these, a further 19 could not be used because of different reasons (such as have been only partially filled or having clearly irrelevant answers to the questions). Therefore, only 150 questions were used. This represented a 75% return rate which was deemed good enough. It also indicated a general interest in the subject by the participants.
The 150 participants were distributed as shown in tables 3 and 4:
Table 3: Respondents’ gender
|55 years and above||14||9.33|
Table 4: Respondents’ age
Use of NNPC services
|Less than once a month||5||3.33|
|1-6 times a month||27||18.00|
|7-11 times a month||44||29.33|
|12-17 times a month||14||9.33|
|18-21 times a month||20||13.33|
|More than 21 times a month||40||26.67|
Table 5: How often do you use services offered by NNPC?
As table 5 above shows, all participants were users of services provided by the NNPC. This can in turn be attributed to the fact that petroleum services are quite important for Nigerians. In fact they are indispensable. This is especially so given that there is no other provider of such public services in the country other than the NNPC. This makes people’s dependence on the NNPC and its service even greater.
The survey uncovered more or less the same kinds of effects of political corruption as those uncovered by interviews. However, surveys were more important as they involved people who have been directly affected. Some of the effects include:
Lower quality services were cited as one of the most common effects of political corruption in the NNPC. Respondents indicated that the quality of the services had declined significantly. Asked whether corruption lowered quality of services, the responses were as shown in table 6. This could be attributed to the fact that public resources’ are diverted to private use, leaving essential services without adequate funding. As long as funding is inadequate, the quality of services has to decline.
Table 6: Corruption in the NNPC has lowered quality of public services
A large majority of respondents also indicated that corruption had led to scarcity of public services. Their responses are recorded in table 7. One of them said, “We no longer get services when we want them. Sometimes you have to wait for so long to get a service.” This finding is in line with the literature where corruption causes a decline in available services. This happens because either service providers are inefficient or because there are no resources to facilitate service provision (Robinson, 2012).
Table 7: Corruption in the NNPC has reduced affordability of public services
As shown in table 8, most respondents agreed that corruption in the NNPC had led inequitable distribution of resources. Most of them noted that only the rich who could offer bribes tended to get the services but the poorer could not. This is also a confirmation of theory where one of the effects of corruption is creation of economic and social inequalities.
Table 8: Corruption within the NNPC has led to inequitable distribution of public services
It was also found that political corruption within the NNPC has contributed to the rising cost of most public services, including those not directly provided by the NNPC. The responses are indicated in table 9. Since the NNPC exercises monopoly over all petroleum-related services within Nigeria, consumers of its services have no available alternative or substitute. As with all other monopolies, the costs associated with its services are generally higher compared to the market price. Unfortunately, corruption has worsened this situation by pushing prices of essential services even higher. This has happened because corruption within the NNPC has resulted in losses of millions or even billions of naira every year. As a result, the NNPC is forced to find other ways of compensating for the lost money; and this happens mostly by charging more for its services.
One respondent, a regular customer of the NNPC, said “Every other day prices are going up. This includes the prices of services offered as well as the prices of the products provided. One day you will buy a litre of petrol at $50 and the next week it will be $60. Yet nothing will have changed in the meantime in terms of market dynamics. Another said, “Every day I have to carry extra money for my bus fare as there is no telling how much more I will be charged. Fares keep changing, and when you ask the bus conductor he will tell you it is the price of oil that has gone up.”
Corruption has also affected service delivery in less direct ways or in other industries. Since the oil sector in general and petroleum and gas in particular are the backbone of the Nigerian economy, so many other sectors depend on them. Anything that happens in the petroleum industry of affects other industries. As a result of having to charge higher prices for services delivered to customers, the NNPC ends up causing a spiral effect across the economy. Higher petroleum prices, for instance, have always led to an increase in transportation costs. Everyone in Nigeria needs transport; and this means that transporters have had to pass on to the consumers the additional cost. Ultimately, the prices of consumer goods and services have increased due to corruption in the NNPC.
Table 9: Corruption within the NNPC has made public services more costly
Inefficiency in the delivery of public services was also noted to be a major effect of political corruption within the NNPC as table 10 shows. In this regard, although the NNPC has many employees, they seem to never do their duties as required and hardly deliver services on time. This is largely because corruption diverts managerial effort away from factor coordination, increasing the factor requirements by the firm (Dal Bó and Rossi, 2007).
Table 10: Corruption within the NNPC has made delivery of public services very inefficient
Accessibility to public services is also hindered by corruption. As table 11 shows, most respondents were of the view that corruption had made accessing even important ser vices difficult or even impossible. This is because of a culture that has developed where to get services one has to part with a bribe or to ‘know’ someone (cronyism). As a result, public services are there but they are harder to access. This makes it especially difficult for the poorer people who cannot pay their way to the services they need.
Table 11: Corruption within the NNPC has reduced access to public services
The most common effect of political corruption within the NNPC was delayed service delivery. Nearly all respondents, as shown in table 12, agreed that there were so many delays due to corruption. This is a reflection of the literature where many public servants only deliver services to people who can pay bribes of offer certain favours. Other than there being inefficiency, delays are caused because service providers want to frustrate people so they can compel them into offering bribes (Robinson, 2012).
Table 12: Corruption within the NNPC has caused delays in delivery of public services
Finally, it was found that as a result of rampant corruption in the NNPC, people were less trusting of all public services. This is illustrated by table 13 below where a large majority indicated loss of confidence in public services. This finding supports theory where corruption is presented as having the effect of reducing public confidence not just in the institution concerned but in the people as well (Clausen, Kraay and Nyiri, 2011).
Table 13: Corruption within the NNPC has lowered citizens’ confidence in public services
There were variations in the level of importance associated with different effects of political corruption within the NNPC on public service delivery. This is illustrated in the following table:
|Scarcity of public services||150||1.00||5.00||3.7318||0.80564|
|Inefficiency in service delivery||150||1.00||5.00||3.3324||1.51153|
|Higher cost of public services||150||1.00||5.00||3.8523||1.11372|
|Reduced access to public services||150||1.00||5.00||4.0110||1.18723|
|Lower quality of public services||150||1.00||5.00||4.1542||1.3311|
|Inequitable distribution of public services||150||1.00||5.00||4.3182||0.9987|
|Delays in provision of public services||150||1.00||5.00||3.1255||1.2137|
|Reduced confidence in public services||150||1.00||5.00||4.7288||0.81175|
Table 14: Descriptive statistics showing the relative importance of different effects of political corruption within the NNPC on public services
It is undeniable that political corruption is a very major developmental challenge facing Nigeria. In fact so endemic is corruption in Nigeria that the current leader of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, has termed it as the greatest form of human rights violations affecting Nigerian people. Over the years, corruption in general and political corruption in particular has remained deeply entrenched at all levels of Nigerian society. Both public and private institutions as well as ordinary and public employees are engaged in different forms of corruption.
The NNPC is one of the most corruption institutions in Nigeria. Being a very important institution in terms of service delivery to the public, corruption therein has far-reaching implications for these public services. This is why it is found in this study that there are many effects of political corruption within the NNPC on services. This includes different aspects of services such as service delivery and service quality. The main effects, according to interviews, are inadequate or lack of public services, poor quality services, oil shortages, and disproportionate delivery of services.
According to the questionnaire surveys, the main effects of political corruption within the NNPC on public services are lower quality of public services, scarcity of public services, inequitable distribution of public services, and higher costs of public services. Others are inefficiency in service delivery, reduced access to public services, delays in delivery of public services, and reduced confidence in public services.
This study was limited by the fact the sample used was relatively small. As such, it may not be a representative sample. The results may also be hard to generalize owing to this small sample size. The findings of the study would have been more valid and reliable if a larger sample had been used.
Therefore, it would be important if future studies focus on investigating the effects of political corruption on services using a larger and therefore more representative sample. Moreover, future studies may need to use a more econometric approach to the phenomenon. Rather than a qualitative approach, a quantities approach would be desirable to be able to better prove the relationship, if any, between political corruption and quality of service delivery by the NNPC.
It is recommended that the NNPC takes urgent measures to address corruption among its employees. This would help it to improve overall service delivery to the people. Otherwise it will continue to remain inefficient.
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