Corruption is a permanent feature of a persistently underdeveloped country (PUC) because the pressures of its Western economy remain strong and unrelenting, while the means for addressing the pressures are weak, on the decline, or nonexistent. These pressures include inflation, consumerism, rising expectations, financial needs, growing population, and so on. Persistent underdevelopment means that even though their needs, desires and ambitions are contemporary and mostly “Westernized,” they are not fulfilled for the vast majority.
On the other hand, the inadequate means for addressing the pressures of its Western economy define a PUC, and include, low and unstable wages, economic instability, extreme inequality, institutional instability or decay, poor governance, political and social instability, and so forth. The same pressures that led to “uprisings” in some countries exists in every PUC, whether or not it is a dictatorship. In many PUCs, a similar potential exists for the social and political framework to explode. But in all PUCs, revolution will not bring about lasting change for the better, because the requirement for development does not exist. (chapter 7)
In the meantime, people have to survive and deal with hopelessness, a future that is uncertain, financial desperation, the permanent threat of destitution, and other pressures. Making a living to supply or afford at least basic needs is a primary concern for people in a Western economy, whether the economy is operating properly or not. When there is no alternative, when there is no hope for change, corruption becomes a requirement for survival. The situation is made worse when the perception exists that members of an ethnic group, religion, class, or race are getting more in the economy than others do. This may intensify rivalry, the erosion of loyalty to institutions or sense of professional duty, and a sense of “every man for himself.” When these factors combine with the underlying need for corruption, the weakness of institutional checks and balances, and the low level of accountability that is typical of a PUC, corruption that involves the embezzlement of millions or billions of dollars is just waiting to happen, and frequently does. (chapter 7)
The rate or incidence of corruption in a PUC will reduce as the rate and spread of real development increases. (Inverse relationship). The level of corruption in a PUC will begin to diminish as the country rises to meet the developed countries as an economic equal.
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.