A survey released by Transparency International showing that the police, legislature and the judiciary are among the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria is receiving mixed reactions.
The TI, in the publication of the 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa, on Thursday, said corruption in African countries was hindering economic, political and social development.
In Nigeria, the organization partnered Practical Sampling International for the survey, sampling 1,600 people from April 26 to May 10, 2017.
The data showed that the police topped the list of most corrupt institutions in the country at 69 per cent, followed by ‘Members of Parliament (60) and local government officials (55).
Others were government officials (54), judges and magistrates (51), business executives (44), presidency (43), non-governmental organizations (40), traditional leaders (35) and religious leaders (20).
The survey indicated that 47 per cent public service users had paid a bribe to the police in the previous 12 months, while 44 per cent had contributed to overall bribery rate in that period.
Others were IDs (38), utilities (34), public schools (32), public clinics and health centres (20).
Asked if the government was doing a good or bad job of fighting corruption, 59 per cent indicated ‘good’, 40 per cent said ‘bad’ and one per cent said ‘don’t know.’
On whether ordinary people could make a difference in the fight against corruption, 54 per cent said ‘yes’, 41 per cent said ‘no’, four per cent said ‘neither yes nor no’, and one per cent did not know or refused to answer.
The survey added that 43 per cent thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months.
TI said, “Corruption is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech or citizens right to hold governments to account. More than this, corruption affects the well-being of individuals, families and communities.
“The 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa reveals that, while most people in Africa feel corruption increased in their country, a majority also feel optimistic that they, as citizens, can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
“The report also found more than one in four people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year. This is equivalent to approximately 130 million citizens in the 35 countries surveyed.”
According to TI, the survey is the largest, most detailed survey of citizens views on corruption and their direct experiences of bribery in Africa, incorporating the views of more than 47,000 citizens from 35 countries across Africa.”
CACOL + Afenifere in their separate reactions, the Coalition Against Corruption, a Yoruba group, Afenifere, supported the TI, saying the report was a true reflection of Nigeria.
The founder/Chief Executive Officer of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, told one of our correspondents that the outcome of the survey was not surprising.
Adeniran stated that recent events in the judiciary and police had shown that the level of corruption in the country was alarming.
He said, “It is obvious; even from our experience, the police, the customs and the judiciary are the cesspools of procedural corruption in Nigeria. You don’t get anything free out of those institutions. We don’t need Transparency International to tell us.
The CACOL boss criticized the practices of policemen, who popularly declare that bail is free.
He added, “Just this week, the commissioner of police in Lagos says those policemen that take bribes before they grant bail are worse than kidnappers. We also know that they hold people hostage; they go raiding people without evidence that such people raided have committed any offence.
“They get them detained, asking them to call their relatives to bail them and that bail is like a ransom that they take for their hostages.
“When you look at customs, too, you can’t clear any goods, even officially, at the ports without greasing the palms of several customs officials. All the smuggling that has been experienced in Nigeria is with the connivance of these people and several companies are not paying excise duties because some of these customs officials have reached out to them to ask for gratification.”
The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also decried the level of corruption in the country, adding that the report was an accurate reflection of the reality of governance.
Odumakin said, “What that means is that the government in Nigeria is about corruption.
I think the report cannot be faulted because every now and then, we hear of stories of stealing and corruption from all these institutions but the bottom line is that corruption is the defining act of governance in Nigeria at the moment.
“After four years of fighting corruption, we are at number 44. That tells you how endemic and deep-rooted corruption is in Nigeria. It is the foundation and the building block on which everything rests and that is why we have to address it holistically in this country.”
Reacting to the TI report, Deputy Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said the report confirmed that the fight against corruption had yet to be won in Nigeria.
He said, “This again confirms that the fight against corruption has yet to be won. This shouldn’t be an indictment though. More work needs to be done by all – government and citizens.”
But in their separate reactions, both chambers of the National Assembly faulted the report.
Reps dismiss allegations
The House of Representatives dismissed the allegations as lacking details to prove the corruption claim. A member of the ad hoc committee on media and public affairs, Mr Bamidele Salam, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, argued that the TI report mentioned ‘parliament’ and not ‘National Assembly,’ stressing that state Houses of Assembly could also be referred to as ‘parliament.’
Salam, however, said, “We cannot take issue with TI, they are a respected organisation and they have their own methods and means of assessing institutions and organizations, some of which may not be very applicable to all systems. But I must say that wherever there are issues about corruption and transparency, they provide an opportunity for institutions to self-examine.
“So, if there are specifics that TI is bringing up – specific areas where they believe that there is no transparency or there are corrupt practices, then it will be easier for the parliament to look inwards and see what can be done to improve on its rating in that regard. In the absence of specifics, it will be difficult to just give a blanket judgment or comment about corruption. It is very easy to say that. And the specifics have to be measurable. They have to let us know what particular areas of the operations of the parliament have tendencies of corruption, so that we can then do internal assessment and if need be, cleanse it.”
Report based on perception – Senate
The Chairman, Senate ad hoc commitee on media and public affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said the report of the TI was based on perception.
He said the opinion did not represent the reality on the ground because no scientific investigation was carried out by the body before arriving at its conclusion.
He said, “The TI report was merely the opinion expressed by some people out of all population of over 200 million citizens of this country.
“They did not use any scientific method neither did they carry out any forensic investigation.”
He said the 9th Senate was doing everything possible to change the negative perception of the people towards the parliament.
He insisted that the parliament as an institution was not corrupt and that Nigerians would soon know the importance of parliamentarians through the 9th National Assembly.