Nigeria and Africa's Struggle Against Corruption: A Decade of Stagnation

Nigerian Youths Protesting Against Police Brutality and Corruption at the 2020 End SARS Protests Credit: Ayanfe Olarinde

The latest edition of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International highlights the ongoing battle against corruption in Nigeria. The country has received a score of 24 out of 100, with 100 being the most clean. This score reflects the perception of public sector corruption in the country, and Nigeria has received the same score for the past two years.

However, this score is a decline from the country's score of 28 in 2016, and highlights the lack of progress made in the fight against corruption. Over the past decade, Nigeria's score has fluctuated between 25 and 28, with no significant improvement in sight.


Nigeria has only been able to climb out the "Very Corrupt" category ranking only a handful of times, with the last score placing it firmly in that category. Many reasons have been putting forward for the continued struggled against corruption and include:

  1. Weak institutions: Nigeria's institutions are often characterized by a lack of independence, transparency, and accountability, which creates opportunities for corruption. This can be seen in the weak enforcement of anti-corruption laws, limited transparency in government transactions, and a lack of checks and balances on the powers of elected officials.

  2. Poverty and inequality: Nigeria is a country with a high level of poverty and inequality, and this can create conditions that foster corruption. When people are desperate for survival, they may be more likely to engage in corrupt activities or turn a blind eye to corruption around them.

  3. Political culture: Corruption has been deeply ingrained in Nigeria's political culture, and it is often seen as a means to an end for political and business interests. This culture of corruption can be difficult to change and requires a concerted effort to address the underlying values and norms that support it.

  4. Lack of transparency in government transactions: Nigeria lacks transparency in government transactions, which makes it difficult for citizens to hold elected officials accountable and monitor the use of public funds. This lack of transparency creates opportunities for corruption to thrive and makes it difficult to prosecute corrupt officials.

  5. Lack of political will: There has often been a lack of political will to address corruption in Nigeria, as corrupt individuals and networks have significant political power and influence. This makes it difficult to implement effective anti-corruption policies and prosecute corrupt officials, even in cases where evidence of corruption is strong.

In order for Nigeria to make progress and achieve a cleaner public sector, it must focus on implementing strong anti-corruption measures, improving transparency, and ensuring accountability for those who engage in corrupt activities. The CPI scores have important implications for all African countries, as it affects investment and economic growth, as well as the well-being of citizens. 

The 2022 average global score remains unchanged for over a decade at just 43 out of 100, with the African average score being even lower at 32. It is however encouraging to see countries such as Rwanda, Botswana and Seychelles with higher scores of 51, 60 and 70 respectively, as they serve as examples of what can be achieved through sustained efforts to stamp out corruption. That said, of particular concern are the countries with the lowest scores, such as Somalia with just 12, South Sudan with 13, and Libya with 17. These countries have a long way to go in terms of improving their public sector transparency and accountability.

Moreover many African countries have seen a decline in their scores over the past decade, with an average rate of change of -4%. Out of the 55 African countries ranked, only 11 have seen an improvement in their scores since 2012, while 44 have either seen no significant progress or have declined. Some countries, such as Seychelles, Angola and Cote d'Ivoire, have managed to make gains in their fight against corruption, but others, such as Liberia and Comoros, have seen their scores drop significantly. The results of the index are a clear call to action for governments and organizations to ramp up their efforts to stamp out corruption. While some countries have made hard-won gains, it is imperative that more be done to tackle this widespread issue.