Corruption is not just financial like bribery, embezzlement, graft or extortion. In our case cronyism, patronage and nepotism actually do more damage than financial corruption.
Corruption can be either systemic or sporadic. Systemic corruption is ‘when corruption is an integrated and essential aspect of the economic, social and political system, when it is embedded in a wider situation that helps sustain it.’
Sporadic corruption, on the other hand, occurs irregularly and thus is not a big threat to national security. Corruption can also be understood as being grand, petty or political. Grand corruption takes place at the top levels where policy formulation takes place. Petty corruption, on the other hand, is ‘small scale, everyday corruption that takes place at the implementation end of politics.’ Political corruption ‘sometimes used interchangeably with grand corruption’ is any transaction through which ‘public goods are illegitimately converted into private’. Political corruption almost always involves the highest levels of political decision-makers. Now consider the ‘Three gaps theory’. This theory asserts that systemic and political corruption give rise to three gaps’ legitimacy, security and capacity. Legitimacy gap comes up when the occupants of high public offices exercise authority which is not in accordance with ‘people’s wishes, choices and expectations.’ Security gap is when a government fails to provide security of life, limb and property to its citizens. Capacity gap comes into play when a government fails to provide essential public goods like dispensation of justice, provision of gas, electricity or critical municipal services. The three gaps put together become a potent threat to the internal dimension of national security.
Corruption, to be sure, is a national security issue. The worst case scenario takes roots if corruption manages to seep into the state apparatus that itself is responsible for national security. A state-any state-whereby an incremental number of its citizens begin to fall below the line of poverty owing largely to political corruption is bound to become incrementally more insecure. And no army’ any army’ can safeguard a state’s external security when internal security is under threat by systemic, grand or political corruption.