Analysts view corruption as a wrongdoing perpetrated by individuals, group of persons or organisations via means that are illegitimate, immoral or incompatible with ethical standards.
On the other hand, they describe poverty as a condition where the basic needs of individuals or group of persons for food, clothing and shelter are not being met.
According to them, “good governance” centres on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses.
However, a question often tends to crop up: How can a country achieve good governance and development amid corruption and poverty?
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in its 2012 Annual Report, said that corruption in the public sector remained a sore spot in Nigeria’s quest to instill transparency and accountability in the polity.
The report also noted that the failure to deliver social services and the collapse of infrastructure, among others, could be blamed on corruption.
Expressing concern over the rate of corruption and poverty in the country, ActionAid Nigeria, an international non-governmental organisation, underscored the need for a stronger collaboration in efforts to fight corruption and poverty, insisting that the two factors were the bane of the country’s development.
Dr Hussain Abdu, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, said that the rising incidence of poverty in the midst of strong economic growth was due to the high levels of corruption in the country.
“While there may not be a causal relationship between poverty and corruption; corruption, however, constitutes a serious theft, mismanagement and a drain in resources which could have been used for national development.
“Several poverty-reduction programmes have been introduced by successive governments but they failed to provoke a significant and sustainable reduction in poverty levels because of unaddressed corruption within the system,” he said.
Abdu conceded that although there was a huge public outcry and anger against corruption, there also appeared to be a huge feeling of helplessness and dependency in the society, which sometimes encouraged corruption.
According to him, corruption denies the citizens the right to good living and remains a threat to opportunity of millions of men, women and children to enjoy freedom and wellbeing.
“Nigeria is a country that is described as having strong growth potential due to its vast resources and human capacity; reports indicate that Nigerian economy has been growing at an average of seven per cent since 2000,’’ he said.
Besides, Abdu stressed that the outcome of the ActionAid’s study indicated that “a significant proportion of Nigerians in the rural and urban areas lack access to essential goods and services’’.
Nevertheless, the country director insisted that Nigeria needed effective policies to reverse the effects of corruption and poverty on good governance, development and security in the country.
Similarly, the National Population Commission, NPC, in its 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) report, listed the common impediments to accessing health care in Nigeria as inadequate information, financial barriers and lack of access to transport, among others.
The commission said that these were important determinants of health interventions, adding that the other possible challenges included the need to obtain permission before accessing certain health facilities and the attitudes of health workers.
“In the 2013 NDHS, the majority of women, about 53 per cent, reported that at least one of these problems posed a barrier to their efforts to seek health care whenever they were sick,’’ the report said.
The survey also indicated that 11 percent of the women reported that they had to seek permission before going for treatment, 42 per cent had problems in getting funds to access health care, while 29 per cent complained of long distances to health facilities.
Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, the Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Health Care Board, said that poverty often frustrated people’s efforts to access health care or attend to their daily activities.
“Poverty is the cause of sickness; when people are sick they will not be able to go to work or do their house chores; in fact, more poverty would set in.
“ It also tends to cause problems in maternal health. Due to poverty, a pregnant woman may not be able to feed well and the development of the foetus will be consequently affected,’’ he said.
Mohammed reiterated that poverty was the root of all the problems which human beings encountered; as it kept children out of school, thereby propelling the hapless children to engage in social vices.
“This is because when there is no hope, one can do anything just to survive; in essence, poverty is very bad,” he said.
Mohammed, therefore, urged government at all levels to provide citizens with the necessary empowerment and the enabling environment that would spur good governance and development.
Saving Brains — an online news publication – said that 200 million children across the world failed to reach their full potential because their early brain development was retarded by factors such as poverty, disease and malnutrition.
Similarly, Save the Children Fund, an international NGO, said that malnutrition, which is also one of the fallouts of poverty, caused 53 per cent of under-five mortality in Nigeria.
According to the Fund, children from the poorest households are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those from the richest households.
The organisation also observed that malnutrition remained a major health and development issue in the country, which required urgent attention.
It underscored the need for all stakeholders to collaborate with the media in efforts to sensitise the government and the people to salient nutrition issues.
Besides, statistics from the Save the Children Fund indicated that nearly 800,000 Nigerian children died every year before their fifth birthday, thereby making Nigeria the country with the highest number of newborn deaths in Africa, while 50 per cent the deaths were caused by malnutrition.
On the effect of malnutrition on the child’s development, the 2013 NDHS report said that malnutrition disallowed children from attaining their full potential.
The report said that 37 per cent of children in Nigeria were stunted in growth, 18 per cent were wasted, while 29 per cent were underweight.
This scenario implies that these children will be unable to reach their full potential, in terms of physical and cognitive development.
Analysts, nonetheless, insist that corruption remains one of the underlying factors behind poverty, underscoring the need to make pragmatic efforts to tackle the menace of corruption decisively.
“If this is done, the country will be able to experience good governance and effective development,’’ they concluded. NAN

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