With the release of the 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) on the 20th October 2004, the whole world stood still, Nigeria was ranked 144th out of 146 countries. From the rear, our beloved nation, Nigeria came third, an improvement over the nation’s first and second position in 2000 and 2002 respectively. This generated a lot of heated debates; with the government especially the presidency, denying the corruption level in the country while at the same time questioning the Transparency International’s perception index methodology.
The fact still remains that Nigeria is a corrupt nation. Corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria that almost all facets of human life have been affected by one form of corruption or the other including houses of God and the educational sector lowering quality of skills and competitiveness in the labor market.
Corruption is endemic in the Nigeria context. It has really undermined development over the years. It has denied people the full benefit of the huge amount of resources available for development. It has also retarded economic growth, distorted economic and political programme and has undermined every effort to create a just and free society. It has consistently undermined social and political order in the country. It has also destroyed good governance.
The attitude of citizens to corruption has been problematic. Although the negative impact of corruption on a larger scale is widely accepted, its effect on everyday life often remains obscured. Where it is recognized, people are generally pessimistic about the prospects of fighting corruption successfully. The government has now renewed its effort in the fight against corruption especially with the arrest of top government officials. But the battle against corruption cannot be fought and won by the Anti-Corruption Commissions alone or by continuing to deal with the older leadership that we say is corrupt. It also needs the new ideas from those who will run economies and the state in the years to come, it needs the fresh blood of the youth who possess both the capability and will to shape a prescribed path for their own future.
Consequently, there is an urgent need for awareness-raising campaigns that draw attention to the everyday effects of corruption and the effective means to curb corruption. This increased awareness is vital for success and the mobilization of young people is especially crucial in this regard.
It is against this background that teaching integrity becomes germane as everyone, including youngsters, is capable of contributing to the establishment of a corrupt-free society by being a responsible and honest individual.
Ethics education is central to preventing corruption. Even clear laws, regulations and well-designed institutions will not prevent corruption, unless citizens actively demand accountability and transparency from governments and their institutions.
Ethics education for young people can help to break the cycle of corruption, as today’s youth will be the potential leaders of tomorrow.
However, anti-corruption education does not work in isolation. The environment in which children grow up plays a decisive role in shaping their attitudes. Ethics education must be part of a broader effort to improve governance and reduce corruption. Within this framework, children must have an appropriate and conducive learning environment that values integrity.
Anti-corruption teaching must relate to the daily lives of the students and address real life ethical dilemmas, conflicts of interest and corruption cases learners can relate to.