By Cecilia Ologunagba
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said roughly N400 billion is spent on bribes each year in Nigeria, taking into account that nine of every 10 bribes are paid in cash.
The NBS stated this in “Corruption in Nigeria, Bribery: Public Experience and Response 2017 Survey’’, posted on the bureau’s website in Abuja.
The bureau stated that it was estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey was around N400 billion.
The survey was conducted in April/May 2016 in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.
It said that the amount was equivalent to 4.6 billion dollars in purchasing power parity (PPP); the sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016.
The NBS said that bribe-payers in Nigeria spent an eighth of their salary on bribes. On average, the report stated that almost one bribe was paid by every adult Nigerian per year.
It stated that by combining the total number of people who paid a bribe to a public official with the frequency of those payments, it was estimated that a total of roughly 82.3 million bribes were paid.
It added that roughly 82.3 million bribes were paid in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey.
According to the report, this results in an average of 0.93 bribes paid per adult, or almost one bribe paid by every adult Nigerian per year.
The report further revealed that almost a third of Nigerian adults paid bribes when in contact with public officials.
It stated that 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 bureau, however, stated that the magnitude of public sector bribery in Nigeria became even more palpable when factoring in the frequency of those payments.
It stated that it became more palpable when factoring in the frequency in 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.
According to the bureau, bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months.
In addition, the report revealed that Nigerians considered bribery the third most important problem facing the country.
It stated that the findings could explain why, after the high cost of living and unemployment, Nigerians considered corruption to be the third most important problem affecting the country.
The report stated that corruption was the third most important problem facing the country well ahead of the state of the country’s infrastructure and health service.
It stated that public sector bribery was not the only form of corruption affecting Nigeria, the prevalence of bribery in relation to selected employees of private companies was 5.5 per cent.
The report stated that the 5.5 per cent denoted that bribery was also significant in the private sector in Nigeria.
It, however, stated that the payment of bribes to public officials was the most familiar and widespread form of corruption directly experienced by the population and the one that most affects the lives of ordinary citizens.
The survey was based on data collected in a large-scale household survey (33,067 households) on corruption conducted in April/May 2016 in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.
The survey was conducted as part of a technical assistance project on corruption funded by the European Union (Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria) and was implemented by the NBS in partnership with UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Its however reports that the Federal Government’s front line anti-corruption agencies, the EFCC, ICPC, CCB and CCT, have been revitalized and made more proactive in the pursuit of perpetrators of corrupt practices, irrespective of their social status and political persuasion. This is a radical departure from the past.
The government says the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) whereby all Federal Government revenue goes into one account now makes it impossible for public officers to divert public funds to private accounts as was the practice before.
“Through the effective application of TSA and the Bank Verification Number (BVN), we have been able to remove 23,000 ghost workers from our pay roll, thereby saving billions that would have been stolen.
“We are also reviewing our anti-corruption laws and have developed a national anti-corruption strategy document that will guide our policies in the next three years, and possibly beyond, ” according to Acting president Yemi Osinbajo.