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This study basically assesses the phenomenal rise of corruption in Nigeria. While the study recognizes the varying perspectives of the causes of corruption among developing nations, the study asserts that the dramatic rise of corruption to the present level of impurity is caused by bad leadership and institutional failure. In every nation-state system, the constitution of the country clearly establishes certain institutions and clearly spells out their functions. Thus, the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and political parties are saddled with statutory obligations to see to the proper functioning of society. Upon these political institutions is also bestowed with the duty of checks and balances aimed at preventing corruption and perpetration of other social vices in society. However, these institutions particularly in Nigeria is weak, soft and corrupt thus are ineffective, inefficient and lacks the moral and legal authority to provide check on one another. Against this background, the study advances the view that the high level of corruption in Nigeria is as a result of the weakness of institutions. However, institutional failure is closely related to leadership failure. The study thus opined that there is a significant relationship between leadership and institutional failure and rise of corruption in Nigeria. The study adopted the ‘soft state’ analysis as an explanatory framework for the failure of these prescriptive institutions and relied on secondary data for its information.
Keywords: Corruption, leadership, institutional failure, soft state, militarism and colonialism