• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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117 million bribes are paid in Nigeria annually, says NBS 

Bribes

Some estimated 117 million bribes are paid in Nigeria every year, indicating an equivalent of 1.1 bribes per adult – largely paid in cash- according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics which shows patterns and trends of Corruption in the country.

The prevalence of bribery may have decreased but the frequency of bribe-paying has not.

“Although a smaller percentage of Nigerians that had contact with public officials paid bribes, or were asked to pay bribes, those who did pay bribes continued to do so quite frequently: in 2019, Nigerian bribe-payers paid an average of 6 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 2016.

“As a result, it is estimated that some 117 million bribes are paid in Nigeria on a yearly basis, the equivalent of 1.1 bribes per adult,” the NBS reported.

Bribery in Nigeria is slightly less prevalent than three years ago, according to the NBS report, titled, “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends Second Survey on Corruption as Experienced by the Population” conducted in collaboration With The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and UK Aid.

Out of all Nigerian citizens who had at least one contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the 2019 survey, 30.2 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 moderate, yet statistically significant, decrease since 2016, when it stood at 32.3 per cent.”

Three out of the country’s six zones (North-East, North-West and South-West) have recorded decreases in the prevalence of bribery since 2016, with the North-West experiencing a considerable (and statistically significant) decline in the prevalence of bribery, from 36 to 25 per cent, while the two other zones recorded smaller decreases. By contrast, the North-Central, South-East and South-South zones recorded further increases in the prevalence of bribery from 2016 to 2019.

An increasing share of bribes are paid for speeding up procedures and for avoiding fines, according to the 2019 survey.

Almost one in two bribes, indicating about 45 per cent are paid for the purpose of speeding up or finalizing an administrative procedure.

In a large share of cases, bribes are paid for purely speeding up a procedure, about 38 per cent, while the share of bribes paid to avoid the payment of a fine reached 21 per cent in 2019.

Accounting for 26 per cent of all bribe payments, the most common service sought when paying a bribe in the 2019 survey was a public utility service, followed by the issuance of an administrative licence or permit, the NBS stated.

Other commonly sought services reported in the 2019 survey include a medical visit, exam or intervention, the issuance of an administrative certificate or document or of a tax declaration or exemption, and the import/export of goods.

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Around 3 per cent of cases were related to payments to the police for “bail from jail”, a type of payment that does not refer to the legal type of bail administered by courts, but rather to payments extracted by corrupt officials for the release of arrestees from jail prior to the formal commencement of a trial.

The proportional distribution of services was remarkably similar in both the 2019 and 2016 surveys, with rare exceptions.

“This similarity suggests the motivations and reasons for the payment of bribes remain consistent, at least in the short-term.”

Sadly, out of all citizens who had to pay a bribe, only 3.6 per cent reported their latest incident to an official institution capable of conducting an investigation or otherwise following up and acting on that report in 2019.

Although this situation has remained virtually unchanged since 2016, when the bribery reporting rate was 3.7 per cent, a significantly smaller proportion of bribery reports were made to the police in 2019 than in 2016 (out of all bribe-payers who reported the bribery incident to an authority in 2016, 56 per cent reported it to the police, versus 43 per cent in 2019) and, by contrast, reports to anti-corruption agencies increased from 4 to 8 per cent.

The low level of bribery reporting is largely explained by the fact that 51 per cent of those who reported a bribery incident experienced either no follow-up, were discouraged from reporting or suffered negative consequences.

The report also indicated that Nigerian public officials continue to meet with little resistance when requesting bribes.

It noted that when confronted with a bribe request, just one in five Nigerians – 19 per cent- refused to pay, a slight increase since 2016, about 16 per cent.

It also stressed the  power relationship between public officials and citizens which typically favours the former and that when a public official elicits a bribe, they tend to be successful and do so with impunity – an outcome that may embolden corrupt officials to make even more bribe requests.

Worse still, 48 per cent of adult Nigerians who refused to pay a bribe in the 12 months prior to the 2019 survey reported suffering negative consequences because of that refusal, although this share has decreased from the 56 per cent found in the 2016 survey.

 

Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja