Nigerian public officials get N721 billion in bribes in 2023

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has reported that Nigerian public officials received N721 billion in bribes in 2023.

This is presented in the “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends” report, which was based on a survey conducted with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The N721 billion paid in bribes amounts to about 0.35% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the survey, the average cash bribe was N8,284. While the nominal average bribe increased from N5,754 in 2019, the inflation-adjusted value was 29% smaller in 2023 compared to 2019.

The report read: “According to the 2023 survey, the average cash bribe paid was 8,284 Nigerian Naira (NGN). While the nominal average cash bribe size increased since 2019 (from NGN 5,754), this does not account for inflation. The inflation-adjusted average cash bribe in 2023 was actually 29 per cent smaller than in 2019 in terms of what could be bought with the money. Overall, it is estimated that a total of roughly NGN 721 billion (US$1.26 billion) was paid in cash bribes to public officials in Nigeria in 2023, corresponding to 0.35 per cent of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.”

87 million bribes made

The report indicates that 56% of Nigerians interacted with a public official in 2023, down from 63% in 2019.

Despite this reduction, bribery remains widespread, with an average of 5.1 bribes paid per bribe payer, totaling approximately 87 million bribes nationwide. This is a decrease from the 117 million bribes estimated in 2019.

It was also disclosed that bribery is more common in rural areas, with rural residents paying an average of 5.8 bribes compared to 4.5 bribes in urban areas.

The report further noted that over 95% of bribes were paid in monetary form (cash or money transfer) in 2023.

Who takes bribes?

The report noted that public officials are more likely to demand bribes. Bribery involving private sector actors, such as doctors in private hospitals, increased from 6% in 2019 to 14% in 2023.

Despite this rise, bribery in the public sector remains about twice as high, with public sector contact rates also being twice as high as those with the private sector.

In 2023, 27% of Nigerians who interacted with a public official paid a bribe, a slight decrease from 29% in 2019. Including instances where bribes were requested but refused, over one-third of interactions between citizens and public officials involved bribery.

High refusal rate

The report shows a growing trend of Nigerians refusing to pay bribes. In 2023, 70% of those asked to pay a bribe refused at least once, with the highest refusal rates in the North-West zone at 76%. All regions recorded refusal rates above 60%. This indicates that Nigerians are increasingly standing against corruption.

According to the report, bribery is becoming less accepted in Nigeria. The percentage of citizens who view bribery requests as acceptable to expedite administrative procedures decreased from 29% in 2019 to 23% in 2023.

Fewer citizens reported suffering negative consequences after refusing bribe requests in 2023 compared to 2019. This suggests a growing empowerment among Nigerians to confront corrupt officials without fear of repercussions.

In 2023, 21% of bribe-refusers indicated they refused because they had other options. Normative concerns (42%) and cost of living pressures (23%) also played significant roles in their refusal to pay bribes.

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