May 19th, 2010
Across the one hundred and four universities in Nigeria,
future generations of leaders are being planted with various
seeds of knowledge in the areas of arts and sciences. They
have already passed through the basic levels of 6 years of
elementary, 3 years of lower secondary and 3 years of upper
secondary education. This they have done through the mounts
and hands of many teachers who themselves did not have the
specific training to enable them impact the knowledge of
anti-corruption principles and mindset, as no such subject
matter existed in terms of curriculum planning.
As a matter of specificity, many Nigerian teachers, tutors,
lecturers, administrators and faculty members, basically
have no direct or indirect taste of a class in the
psychology of corruption , at least within the context of
Could this be the critical missing part in the psyche of
some educated Nigerians who for several years have occupied
various leadership positions in both public and private
If this were to be the case, then the obvious mentality of
corruption in the population, and in the leadership in
particular, becomes more vivid or clearer to comprehend.
Taking a course in the area of the psychology of corruption
does not mean the beneficiary will be free of corruption
mentality, however for many in Nigeria; it will be a social
plus! Yes it will be, just look at what we have become and
the current reality in the society.
At the present moment, the nation is in a better position to
seek for a bottom up approach to reduce this psycho-social
ailment that remains a core reason for poor governance and
the main responsible factor for the endangered image that
Nigeria currently portrays on minute by minute bases.
It is a fact that Nigeria is not different from other
nations that struggle with the vice of corruption but in
Nigeria this vice is openly a normality, a standard and a
continuous way of life as well as a part of the cultural
The universities with the assistance of curriculum
specialists should see that every first year student in the
university (and other higher institutions) take a core
course which could be described as the “Psychology of
Corruption”. The working definition of the course must be
defined within the traditional, social, cultural and public
context of Nigeria.
As a new and developing course, it should be operated as an
“Attitude”. As a standard course, it should be viewed as a
learned act with predisposed non-biological formations but
with a pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that
could result into Corrupt Personality tendencies or
By virtue of these defining features, the psychology of
corruption should be viewed as subjective in nature and in
practice, and as such, requires therapeutic principles in
its approach. In other words it is a mindset.
It should be thought both as a theory and hands-on subject.
The activities in the course should involve experiential,
field work and outside class room learning. The course as a
psycho-social subject is situation-driven, as such; students
must play all roles (e.g. for and against), involved in the
act of corruption. As in the following; the giver, the
perpetrator, the interested, the on looker, the
self-persuader, the receiver, the sufferer, the one making
nod, the inviting face, the go-between, the fool, the daring
and others. These simulated behaviors should done under
supervision and followed by some form of debriefing to avoid
unintended feelings or behaviors.
At no time should the course be taught or presented as a
class or curriculum in the area of religious morality as in
so doing it could generate a customary or religious
response—“ everybody de duam or everyone does it, God go
forgive me or God will forgive me”
The psychology of corruption, as a course should become
familiar to students as a subject with layers and levels as
in graft of minuscule and massive scale; local and regional
scale; national and global scale; and hidden and wide-open
scale. These bi-polar characteristics should be demonstrated
with Nigerian examples.
The learners of the course should become familiar with a
course like introductory Psychology to enable them fully
understand corruption-laced attitude with specific features
like: justifying, expecting, accepting, rewarding, and
originating (rootedness) as frames of mind in an actual
participant in corruption matters.
The students should learn about the various terminologies,
jargons and vernaculars that represent behaviors of
corruption. They include but not limited to likes of
bribery, inducement, kickback, and other colloquial and
conversational expressions specific to the Nigerian psyche.
The axis of corruption in Nigeria comes in form of a
hierarchy, dimension and impression, as such students should
become familiar with ways to reduce, manage or curtail the
problem of corruption—they include leaning to play the
“games” of: altruistic behavior, non- selfishness, common
interest, self award, self-obedience, clean leader, helping
behavior, self-freedom, self-control, internalized
discipline, positive world, and other likes.
The time is now for this form of training across all
Nigerian universities to begin. This recommendation which
should be put to study and practice now, comes at a time
when the Nigerian Psychological Association (NPA) is posed
to hold its yearly national conference between the 18th and
21st of may, 2010, at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi,
Nigeria. Furthermore, it is hoped that the proposed course
receive swift support from the Nigeria Universities
Commission, the various Ministries of Education, as well of
any one that wishes the nation well.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is a practicing Forensic
/Clinical Psychologist, and the Interim Associate Dean of
Behavioral Science at the North Campus of the Broward
College, Coconut Creek, Florida.