I am going to discuss the pervasive issue of corruption in the civil service through the lens of a story, illustrating how it has insidiously overtaken the system and affected the entire fabric of our nation.

Ahmed’s Story: A Journey Through Corruption

Ahmed was a young, idealistic man who secured a job in the civil service. He was ecstatic about his new role and vowed to be an outstanding and conscientious employee. Ahmed was assigned to the tax department, where he and his colleagues were responsible for ensuring that tax defaulters were fined and compelled to pay up.

Initially, Ahmed believed that his salary of ₦85,000, based on the minimum wage, would be sufficient to support his wife and family. However, the rising inflation soon made it clear that this amount was grossly inadequate.

Monthly Expenses: The Reality Check

To understand Ahmed’s predicament, let’s take a closer look at his monthly expenses:

Transportation: Ahmed lives about four kilometers from his office. His daily commute costs him ₦2,000. Over the course of a month, he spends more than ₦40,000 just on commuting. Including other transport-related expenses, this amount easily exceeds ₦50,000.

Utilities: The family’s power bill is ₦20,000 per month.

Daily Living Expenses: Ahmed’s family of four needs approximately ₦5,000 per day for food and other essentials, totaling around ₦150,000 per month.

Other Expenses: Costs for clothing, education of his children, housing, and miscellaneous expenses add up significantly.

In total, Ahmed’s monthly expenses amount to approximately ₦350,000 to ₦400,000. His salary, however, remains at ₦85,000, leaving a substantial shortfall.

The Descent into Corruption

Faced with this financial gap, Ahmed began to look for ways to supplement his income. In his role at the tax department, the average fine for tax defaulters is ₦25,000. Ahmed saw an opportunity to bridge his financial shortfall by soliciting bribes. Instead of requiring defaulters to pay the official fine, he would demand ₦5,000 to be paid into his personal account. On an average day, Ahmed handles between 10 and 20 cases, making a minimum of ₦50,000 daily. This translates to over a million naira every month, all siphoned from the government.

The Broader Implications

While it’s easy to vilify Ahmed, his story is reflective of a much larger issue within the civil service. Ahmed represents the average civil servant who, faced with insufficient wages and rising living costs, resorts to corruption to make ends meet. This systemic problem underscores the need for significant reforms to address wage inadequacies and to establish robust anti-corruption mechanisms.

To combat the monster of corruption in the civil service, there must be a concerted effort to improve wages, implement stringent anti-corruption policies, and promote a culture of integrity and accountability. By addressing these root causes, we can begin to dismantle the systemic corruption that undermines our institutions and the trust of the public.

Addressing Corruption and Low Wages in the Civil Service

In Nigeria, many civil servants find themselves in a difficult situation where the minimum wage is insufficient to meet their basic needs. As a result, some, like Ahmed in our narrative, resort to unethical means to supplement their income. This unfortunate reality reveals a deeper systemic issue within our government and leadership structures.

The Dilemma of Civil Servants

The average civil servant, faced with financial hardship, often resorts to leveraging their office to generate additional income. This may include misusing office resources or even working another job during office hours. The minimum wage, currently set by the government, fails to provide a livable income, pushing individuals to find alternative ways to make ends meet.

Impact of Government Policies

The root of this problem can be traced back to our leaders and government policies. By not providing adequate wages, the government indirectly fosters an environment where civil servants feel compelled to engage in corrupt activities. Jobs such as those in the police force, customs, immigration, and revenue collection are particularly susceptible. If these individuals are not compensated fairly, they will inevitably find other means to cover their expenses, often through unethical practices.

The Necessity of Adequate Compensation

For real change to occur, the government must create an environment that includes fair wages sufficient to cover the average expenses of civil servants. This is a crucial step towards reducing corruption. Adequate compensation would not only reduce the temptation for civil servants to seek alternative, often dubious, sources of income but would also allow them to focus on their primary duties.

The Cost of Underpayment

The government should carefully analyze the financial losses incurred due to corruption and inefficiency stemming from inadequate pay. An underpaid employee is more likely to steal or find ways to supplement their income at the expense of their primary job. Many civil servants, after marking their presence in the morning, leave their posts to engage in other income-generating activities, such as transportation or farming. This not only affects their productivity but also undermines the integrity of the civil service.

Leadership and Integrity

Furthermore, our leaders must set an example by avoiding the temptation of embezzlement and theft. Funds that are misappropriated could significantly improve the lives of civil servants. By demonstrating integrity and prioritizing the welfare of their employees, leaders can foster a more ethical and effective civil service.


The journey to curbing corruption begins with ensuring fair remuneration for civil servants. By paying employees appropriately and fostering a culture of integrity, the government can significantly reduce the prevalence of corruption and enhance the overall effectiveness of the civil service. It is essential for the leaders to take proactive steps in this direction to ensure a just and prosperous society for all.

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