By Nicholas Ibekwe, Bassey Udo and Oladeinde Olawoyin
An overwhelming percentage of Nigerians will accept a bribe when offered or pay a bribe when demanded the Nigerian Corruption Survey 2017 published by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) has revealed.
The survey published on Wednesday showed that only 5.3 per cent of Nigerians will either refuse to pay a bribe when asked to or refuse to accept when a bribe is offered to them.
The Nigerian Corruption Survey, which revealed how different forms of corruption affect daily life of the average Nigerian citizen is being published for the first time.
In May 2016, the NBS announced that it was collaborating with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union to conduct a survey on the quality and integrity of public services in Nigeria and the impact of corruption on daily life in Nigeria.
According to the NBS, other objectives of the survey would include “direct experiences of corruption events as victims by citizens, opinion and perception of citizens about recent trends, patterns and policies on corruption, experience of reporting corruption and other crimes to public authorities and access to justice”.
The result of the survey which has now been published, revealed only 20 out of 100 people who were to pay bribe refused to comply. It also showed that majority of Nigerians (56 per cent) experience negative consequences after refusing to pay a requested bribe. However, only 3.7 percent of those who who were asked to pay bribes reported their experience to an official authority.
Interestingly, only a small percentage (9.1 percent) of those who reported to an official authority faced negative consequence for reporting a bribery incident.
The survey revealed that mainly pay bribes to either speed up procedure, receive preferential treatments avoid the cancellation of public utilities.
Bribery in Public Sector
According to the NBS, the estimated value of bribe paid to public officials by Nigerians in a year is N400 billion.
“Taking into account the fact that nine out of every 10 bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria are paid in cash and the size of the payments made, it is estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months was around N400bn, the equivalent of $4.6bn in purchasing power parity,” the report stated.
“This sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016. The average sum paid as a cash bribe in Nigeria is approximately N5,300.
“This means that every time a Nigerian pays a cash bribe, he or she spends an average of 28.2 per cent of the average monthly salary of N18,900,” the NBS added.
According to the survey, in a year at least 82 million bribes were paid to public official. Furthermore, it revealed that of the 52 percent of Nigerians that had contact with public officials in that period, no fewer than 32 per cent of them paid or were asked to pay a bribe.
The study also revealed that cash is overwhelmingly the preferred form of bribe with 97.3 percent of respondents saying official made direct request for cash. Food and drinks comes in distant second with 1.4. per cent followed byexchange of other services of favour (1.1 per cent)and valuables (0.8 per cent).
According to the NBS, 94.2 per cent of those who made direct request for bribe asked for cash, 4.2 per cent asked for food and drinks, 1.7 per cent requested for exchange of other favours, while 0.9 per cent asked for valuables.
The Nigerian Police is by far the most corrupt public institution, according to the survey. The survey revealed that that the frequency of bribery was more among police officers (46.4 percent). Incident of bribery in the judiciary comes at a close second after the police with prosecutors and judges flagged as being among the most corrupt. Prevalence of bribery among prosecutors is put at 33.6 per cent, and judges/magistrates at 31.5 per cent.
Other public agencies with high prevalence of corruption are the immigration services (30.7 per cent), car registration. Driving licensing agency (28.5 per cent), tax/revenue agencies (27.3 per cent) and customs (26.5 per cent).
The survey further revealed that the perception of the Nigerian government’s commitment and effectiveness in the fight against corruption is heavily laced by political undertones. Data published in the survey shows that the perception that government is committed and effective in the fight to tackle corruption, is highest in the geo-political zones where the President Muhammadu Buhari enjoys much support and lowest where the president is least popular.
According to the report, the perception of the government’s commitment and effectiveness to tackle corruption is highest in the North-west region (Mr. Buhari’s home region) with 90 per cent of the respondents saying government is either very committed or committed in the fight against corruption and 90.2 per cent agreeing that it has been either very effective or effective in fighting corruption.
The North-east zone where Mr. Buhari scored his second largest votes during the 2015 presidential election unsurprisingly has the second highest perception of the government’s commitment (89.6 percent) and effectiveness (88.4 percent) to confront corruption. The North-central region comes a close third with 77.9 per cent of the respondents saying the government is committed to the fight against corruption and 72.6 per cent saying it is has been effective. Also, vast majority of the respondents in the South-west zone (72.4 per cent) say the government is committed to its anti-corruption fight while 68.9 percent say it has been effective.
The perception of the government’s commitment and effectiveness on corruption are lowest in the South-east and the South-south zones. About 45 per cent of respondents in the South-east agreed the the government is committed to the fight of eradicating corruption while 41.2 per cent agree that it has been effective. Similarly, 47.5 per cent of respondents in the South-south say the government is committed while a mere 41.3 per cent believe it has been effective. This is unsurprising because the president enjoys the least support from both of these geo-political zones.
Bribery in the Private Sector
Apart from looking at corruption and bribery in the public sector, the report also showed that bribery is a problem in the private sector. According to the survey, the prevalence of bribery is biggest among officials of private Insurance companies (6 per cent) followed by teachers in private schools (5.9 per cent) and doctors in private hospitals (3.7 per cent).