Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) yesterday, said that an estimated 117 million bribes are paid in Nigeria on a yearly basis.
Healthcare professionals, namely doctors, nurses and midwifes, and public utility officials are the two types of public officials with whom the largest share (31 per cent each) of Nigerians had at least one contact in the 12 months prior to the 2019 survey. Police officers came a close third, with 30 per cent. The 2019 corruption survey conducted by NBS and sponsored by UNODC shows a notable increase since 2016, from 52 to 63 per cent, in the overall proportion of Nigerians who had at least one contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the survey.
This, the survey, said, can be seen as a positive sign for the provision of public services in Nigeria. Most encouragingly, the prevalence of bribery in relation to several types of public officials has decreased significantly since 2016, the report, said.
The greatest change is in relation to police officers, meaning that the share of people who paid a bribe to a police officer out of all those who had at least one contact with a police officer in the 12 months prior to the 2019 survey decreased from 46 to 33 per cent.
The prevalence of bribery in relation to prosecutors decreased from 33 to 23 per cent, judges/magistrates from 31 to 20 per cent, customs and immigration officers from 31 to 17 per cent and embassy/consulate officers from 16 to 8 per cent.
“The survey assesses the likelihood of citizens being approached for the payment of bribes as well as the frequency of such requests and actual payments. It provides insights into citizens’ attitudes towards corruption, their readiness to refuse requests for bribes and to report corruption incidents. It also provides data on bribery and nepotism in public sector recruitment as well as the phenomenon of vote buying.
“The survey found that out of all Nigerian citizens who had at least one contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the 2019 survey, 30 per cent paid a bribe to, or were asked to pay a bribe by, a public official. This means that, although still relatively high, the prevalence of bribery in Nigeria has undergone a statistically significant decrease since 2016, when it stood at 32.3 per cent.
“Although a smaller percentage of Nigerians that had contact with public officials paid bribes, or were asked to pay bribes, in 2019 than in 2016, those who did pay bribes continued to do so quite frequently: in 2019, Nigerian bribe-payers paid an average of six bribes in the 12 months prior to the survey, or one bribe every two months, which is virtually the same as the average of 5.8 bribes paid per bribe-payer in 2019” the Outreach Communications Officer of UNODC, Mr Sylvester Atere, said.
In a remark, the Statistician General of the Federation and Chief Executive of National Bureau of Statistics, Dr Yemi Kale said that this second comprehensive survey on corruption in Nigeria provides the government and the people of Nigeria an opportunity to assess, not only the achievements that have been recorded in the process of tackling corruption, but also the framework for evaluating the impact of related progress. Also, the Country Representative of UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, observed that while the prevalence of administrative, mostly low-value bribery has decreased, the survey suggests that the government’s anti-corruption agenda is yet to affect this type of bribe-seeking behaviour more fundamentally.
“Consequently, greater efforts might be needed to eradicate small scale corruption which continues to have a profound effect on the lives of Nigerians” he said.
Stolpe further expressed his hope that the survey will make an important contribution in the fight against corruption in terms of further enhancing its effectiveness and benefits for the people of Nigeria. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata, stressed that to fight corruption more effectively, there is a need to improve understanding of its different manifestations as well as to develop evidence-based anti-corruption policies and measures. “Therefore, surveys like this one and other methodologies become imperative” he noted.