An estimated N675 billion was paid in cash as bribes to Nigerian public officials in 2019, an anti-corruption survey on Nigerians who had encounters with public officers has shown.
The survey was conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS). It was funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). It was unveiled Friday in Abuja.
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.
In the 2019 report, entitled, ‘’Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends’ which covered over 33,000 households, 33,067 Nigerian respondents across the 36 states and the FCT said they estimated that some 117 million bribes are paid in Nigeria on a yearly basis, an equivalent of 1.1 bribes per adult.
The survey also 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 decreased since 2016, when it stood at 32.3 per cent.
According to the survey, the average cash bribe paid by a Nigerian is N5,754. Also, about 57 per cent of the cash bribes that were paid are below N1,500 while more than 93 per cent of all bribes paid in 2019 were paid in cash.
The Anti-Corruption Index also showed that an average Nigerian paid six bribes in the 12 months, or one bribe every two months, which was virtually the same as 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.”
For the six geopolitical zones, the report revealed that the North West, North East, and the South West regions recorded a decrease in the prevalence of bribery between 2016 and 2019. The North-West alone experienced a considerable decline in bribery from 36 per cent in 2016 to 25 per cent in 2019.
North-Central, South-East and South-South zone all recorded increases in the prevalence of bribery within the three-year space. The North-Central zone recorded the highest increase where the prevalence of bribery rose from 29.1 to 32.6 per cent
The North-West and South-East were the zones with the lowest prevalence of bribery at 25 and 26 per cent respectively.
The report also showed that bribe payment was more prevalent in urban areas (34 per cent) than in rural areas (28 per cent).
State of State Bribery
Of the 37 states including the FCT, nine states – Abia, Borno, Taraba, Kano, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Ondo and Kebbi – recorded a decrease in the prevalence of bribery from 2016 to 2019.
Eight states – Gombe, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Osun, Enugu, Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom – experienced an increase in bribery.
The states with a more or less insignificant change in the prevalence of bribery compared with 2016 data include: Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, Plateau, Adamawa, Benue, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Delta, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, FCT, Edo, Anambra and Yobe.
The states with the lowest prevalence of bribery include Imo at 17.6 per cent, Jigawa 18.5 per cent, Kano 18.9 per cent, and Plateau at 20.6 per cent.
Corruption in Nigeria
The fight against corruption has remained a constant priority for the current administration of President Muhammdu Buhari since its inception in 2015. Corruption in Nigeria has unarguably remained one of the spoilers of Nigeria’s target to lift over 100 million people out of poverty in the next decade.
Most encouragingly, the prevalence of bribery in relation to several types of public officials decreased significantly since 2016. The number of persons 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 Statistician-General, Yemi Kale of the National Bureau of Statistics, remarked 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.
Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative, 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 fundamentally affect this type of bribe-seeking behaviour.