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Bribery, corruption and destruction of a nation

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“The magnitude of public sector bribery in Nigeria becomes even more palpable when factoring in the frequency of those payments, as the majority of those who paid a bribe to a public official did so more than once over the course of the year.” PHOTO: BBC

The recent report of a national corruption survey published by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) that a whopping N400 billion is spent on bribes each year since 2015 is an indication that the scourge of corruption is indeed capable of killing the country if nothing is done about it.

The survey published by the NBS in conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which revealed that Nigerians have spent about N400 billion on payment of bribes between June 2015 and June 2016 should therefore wake every citizen up to the reality of how much Nigeria loses to corruption. Much of this crime takes place of course in the public-sector.

“Almost a third of Nigerian adults pay bribes when in contact with public officials. Almost a third of Nigerian adults (32.3 per cent) who had contact with a public official between June 2015 and May 2016 had to pay or were requested to pay, a bribe to that public official.

“The magnitude of public sector bribery in Nigeria becomes even more palpable when factoring in the frequency of those payments, as the majority of those who paid a bribe to a public official did so more than once over the course of the year.”

Furthermore, it was disclosed that bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months.

“On average, almost one bribe is paid by every adult Nigerian per year by combining the total number of people who paid a bribe to a public official with the frequency of those payments, it is estimated that a total of roughly 82.3 million bribes were paid in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey.

“This results in an average of 0.93 bribes paid per adult, or almost one bribe paid by every adult Nigerian per year”.

The damning report also points out that roughly N400 billion is spent on bribes each year taking into account the fact that nine out of every ten bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria are paid in cash. It is estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey was around 400 billion Nigerian Naira, the equivalent of $4.6 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP).

“This sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016,” the report stated. And no sector is without the stain of corruption.

The survey also showed that the private sector is not an innocent bystander when it comes to corruption in the country. The report has it that police officers are among the three types of public officials to whom bribes are paid most frequently.

“Although fewer people come into contact with judiciary officials than with police officers over the course of the year, when they do, the risk of bribery is considerable: at 33 per cent, the prevalence of bribery in relation to prosecutors is the second highest, closely followed by judges and magistrates.

“While money is by far the most important form of bribe payment in Nigeria, the survey shows that other forms of bribe payment, such as the provision of food and drink, the handing over of valuables or the exchange of another service or favour, also exist.

“The qualitative research analysis shows that such exchanges may sometimes include sexual services, although the actual extent of that particular form of bribe payment is unknown,” the report added.

This incredible corruption survey done by the National Bureau of Statistics, assisted by a global body, underscores the widespread belief that corruption is Nigeria’s most powerful enemy which both government and the people must defeat.

It is indeed shameful that the temple of justice, the judiciary, and the most important internal security institution, the police have been, expectedly, fingered as part of the most corrupt institutions in this connection.

The main function of the police is to detect it when laws against graft have been broken. And the judiciary is the last hope of all citizens. So, if the citadel of justice is corrupt and the police too can be cited as corrupt, where would any redemption come for the country?

Instead of raising any committee or council to examine the veracity or authenticity or timing of the report, government at all levels should brace up, close ranks to look at the implications of the message. Indeed, the NBS as a public agency has begun to garner credibility as a result of this report which holds a mirror up to Nigeria for the nation to see her ugliness.

So, NBS deserves plaudits, in the circumstances, and other instituions should borrow a leaf from it to assist goverance process in Nigeria. There is certainly a growing need for the reform of institutions to prevent the scourge of corruption. In addition to the noise over recovery from those who have corruptly enriched themselves in office, institutions must be built to prevent corruption. Loot recovery and media trials alone without a reform of porous and loose institutions may not produce lasting results in the fight against the scourge.



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