Pervasive corruption was a major stumbling block to the People’s Democratic Party’s 16-year rule in Nigeria. Nigerians expressed their dissatisfaction by voting for Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the 2015 general election. Buhari campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption, defeating terrorism, and repairing the economy.
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Two years into the second term of Buhari’s presidency, corruption remains intractable. Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign is built on three pillars: the Treasury Single Account, Biometric Verification Number (BVN), and the policy of “Whistle Blowing.” These have received commendations as seen in increased savings. However, issues such as the “politicisation of the anti-corruption fight” and the refusal to investigate allegations have tainted the fight.
Boko Haram terrorists continue to wreak havoc while bandits kidnap for ransom and herdsmen clash with farming communities, threatening food security and national unity. Unable to grow the economy, Nigerians are now poorer.
Some examples include the suspension of Ibrahim Magu, the acting head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on corruption charges, and the alleged double standards in Buhari’s treatment of his supporters.
The prosecution of people who are loyal to power corridors is shielded by party politics. Adams Oshiomole, Buhari’s former party chair, had urged opposition party defectors to join the ruling party and have their “sins” forgiven.
Nigeria had dropped to 146 by the end of 2019, when President Buhari was re-elected, and would be ranked 149 by 2020, according to Transparency International.
(Ranking for 2020.)
Transparency International assigns a score to each country based on how experts and business executives view the country’s government. The rankings are described by Transparency International as a composite index that combines 13 surveys and assessments of corruption from a variety of reputable institutions.
While the Buhari government has described the rating “as senseless and baseless” data from the National Bureau of Statistics unveils the experiences of corruption by Nigerians when they encounter public officials. The data on public corruption encounters confirms that corruption is still a major issue.
The bureau collects data from Nigerians on:
citizens’ direct experiences of corruption events, as victims, the experience of reporting corruption and other crimes to public authorities citizens’ opinions and perceptions of recent trends, patterns, and state responses to corruption
One of my studies looked into the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption crusade, which included whistleblowing, biometric data verification, and the creation of a Treasury Single Account. The study shows how politically exposed persons looted the treasury and adopted different mechanisms to hide their loots in cemetery, isolated shops, septic tanks and abandoned some in airport.
The other paper looks at Nigeria’s corruption problem. It uses National Bureau of Statistics data from a study conducted between May and June 2019 involving 33,000 households. According to the bureau’s research, three of the six regions (the North-East, North-West, and South-West) saw a small decrease in the prevalence of bribery. However, between 2016 and 2019, the prevalence of bribery increased more in the North-Central, South-East, and South-South zones.
Bribery can take two forms, according to the bureau’s data. In the first, public officials ask for bribes both directly and indirectly. The second type involves citizens bribing officials to process their requests for government services. Public officials were responsible for 67 percent of the bribery acts investigated in the study. The majority of the requests (93 percent) were for cash payments. Non-cash payments accounted for less than 6% of total payments.
Who are those that accepts bribes?
Between 2016 and 2019, male Nigerian police officers, judges, Federal Road Safety Officers (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), teachers, and lecturers received the majority of the bribes. Because they are more likely to be encountered on the roads than their female counterparts, male officials in the police, vehicle inspection, and federal road safety offices take more bribes than their female counterparts.
Bribe payments are influenced by two factors. To begin, citizens pay bribes to have their requests processed faster. The number of people who paid bribes to speed up the process of getting the services they required increased from 32% in 2016 to 38% in 2019.
The second factor is the payment of a bribe in exchange for not having to pay a fine. This frequently occurs when individuals are to be sanctioned for breaking a specific rule, but the public official in charge may choose to circumvent the procedure in order to avoid paying the sanction.
Participants said they were approached by public officials who asked for bribes to perform services for which they were officially compensated. For example, 34% of immigration officers took bribes in order to expedite the issuance of international passports and other immigration procedures. In the health sector, 60 percent of employees were allegedly paid bribes to speed up procedures, such as getting a health consultation.
The police (67%), judges and prosecutors (67%), and customs and immigration officers (67%) were the public officials who directly requested bribes (67 percent ). The implication here is that bribes to these public officials undermine the rule of law.
In 2019, the average bribe paid for a government contract or public procurement was N31,955 ($68), up from N17,136 ($36) the previous year. People also paid more bribes for a promotion in the public sector, medical visit and examinations.
The crusade of Buhari
Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade has had some achievements. Looted funds have been recovered, treasury leakages have been stopped through the Treasury Single Account, and some corrupt former governors have been imprisoned.
Where the anti-corruption crusade has failed to produce results, it is due to the government’s failure to delegate corruption-fighting authority to independent institutions. As a result, genuine anti-corruption cases will be distinguished from political cases.
What ought to be done?
To reduce the chances of corruption, mechanisms must be put in place. Increased direct contact between government officials and the general public ensures that the bribe-taking and-paying culture persists. As a result, the government should make greater use of technology to reduce direct contact between government officials and the general public.
Strong institutions are also required in the fight against corruption. These must be free of interference from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. More teeth are needed for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. A good place to start would be to increase the budget. The commission would be able to hire more people as a result of this. It must also be free of political meddling so that it can fight corruption without fear of reprisal. This is significant due to the role of politically exposed individuals in corruption.
Furthermore, the government should establish specialised anti-corruption courts to expedite the prosecution of corruption cases. To reduce judicial corruption, judges assigned to the specialised court should be properly compensated. Corruption punishment must be certain and proportional to the severity of the crime committed.
Source : www.ejesgist.com and theconversation
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