A public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed a decline in Nigerian government anti-corruption fight rating after strong gains in 2017, as most citizens fear retaliation or other negative consequences if they report incidents of corruption to the authorities.
According to the survey, majority of Nigerians say the level of corruption in the country has increased and the government is doing a poor job of fighting it causing a stark reversal from positive assessments three years ago.
Key findings in the Afrobarometer NOIPolls survey on corruption in Nigeria show that a majority (56%) of Nigerians say the level of corruption in the country increased “somewhat” or “a lot” during the past year.
Six in 10 respondents (61%) say “most” or “all” police officials are corrupt, although this reflects continued improvement since 2012 (78%). About four in 10 citizens see widespread corruption among elected officials and judges, while traditional and religious leaders are least commonly seen as corrupt (by 26% and 30%, respectively).
Among Nigerians who had contact with selected public services during the past year, substantial proportions say they had to pay a bribe to obtain the services they needed as most frequent experience of paying a bribe was among citizens who sought assistance from the police.
A large majority, about 76% say they had to bribe the police at least once to get help while 68% paid bribes to avoid a problem.
Some 40% say they paid a bribe to obtain a government document, while 25% or fewer paid a bribe for school services (25%) or medical care (21%).
Eight in 10 Nigerians (83%) say ordinary citizens risk retaliation or other negative consequences if they report incidents of corruption to the authorities, up from 77% in 2017.
“ About four in 10 citizens see widespread corruption among elected officials and judges, while traditional and religious leaders are least commonly seen as corrupt,” NOIPolls said in the report sent out on Thursday.
In addition to negative reviews of the government’s anti-corruption efforts, a large majority of citizens say they do not feel safe reporting corrupt acts to the authorities.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experience and evaluations of democracy, governance and a quality of life.
According to the report, the Afrobarometer team in Nigeria, led by NOIPolls, interviewed 1,599 adult citizens of Nigeria in January-February 2020.
Since assuming office in May 2015, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has taken several measures to curb corruption, including the establishment of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), prosecution of high-profile corruption cases, suspension of top government officials alleged to be involved in corrupt practices, adoption of a whistleblower protection policy, and enhanced capacity building programs for officers of anti-corruption agencies.
But according to the new survey, Nigerians say distrust in the government’s anti-corruption campaign, abuse of the whistleblower policy, institutional weaknesses, perceived discrimination and lack of transparency in government have impeded the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“Fewer than three in 10 citizens (28%) say the government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” in fighting corruption, half the proportion who approved of the government’s performance in 2017”.