18 Aug

The week ahead – Confirmation of common knowledge does not bring succour

An overwhelming number of Nigerians will accept a bribe when offered or pay a bribe when demanded, the first ever Nigerian Corruption Survey 2017 published by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) has revealed. The survey published on 16 June, showed only 5.3 percent of Nigerians will either refuse to pay a bribe when asked to or refuse to accept when a bribe is offered to them. The result of the survey which has now been published, revealed only 20 out of 100 people who were to pay bribe refused to comply. It also showed that a majority of Nigerians (56 percent) experience negative consequences after refusing to pay a requested bribe. However, only 3.7 percent of those who were asked to pay bribes reported their experience to an official authority. Curiously, only a small proportion (9.1 percent) of those who reported to an official authority faced negative consequences for reporting a bribery incident. The survey revealed that bribes were paid mainly to either speed up procedure, receive preferential treatment or avoid the cancellation of access to public utilities.

NEITI has announced that its ongoing independent audit of the oil and gas industry covering 2015 recorded a 94 percent compliance rate by companies and relevant government agencies. According to the audit report, while 14 out of the 65 companies that participated in the exercise topped the ranking table with a maximum score of 100 percent, 15 others scored between the 51st and the 62nd positions. Two subsidiaries of the NNPC, namely: the NPDC and the Crude Oil Marketing Division of the NNPC, as well as the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Total Exploration and Production Nigeria, amongst others, were listed among the 15 firms occupying the bottom positions in the ranking. Some of the 14 companies that topped the ranking table included Chevron Nigeria, Consolidated, Continental, Eroton, Esso Exploration, Mobil Producing Nigeria, and Niger Delta Petroleum Resources. NEITI said 20 companies scored between 80 percent and 88 percent while 12 others recorded between 72 and 75 percent.

Protesters on Tuesday dragged the shutdown of a Shell crude oil facility in the Niger Delta into its fifth day, after storming the flow station demanding jobs and infrastructure development last week. Echoing a common complaint in the region that produces most of Nigeria’s oil, the protesters said they were not benefiting from the region’s oil wealth and wanted an end to the oil pollution that has ruined much of the land. Protesters still numbered around 800 people, praying and cooking under canopies set up at the Belema Flow Station in Rivers state as security personnel watched. Shell had evacuated staff late on Thursday, the day before the protest, and shut the facility when it became clear the demonstrators were on their way there, the company has said.

A bomb explosion in Konduga, a town in Borno State killed 16 people and injured 83 others, according to the Borno State Police Command. The police said the injured are receiving treatment in hospitals around Maiduguri. The State Specialist Hospital says it was able to accommodate only 43 persons while others were taken to the University Teaching Hospital and other hospitals within the state capital. The Medical Director of the Specialist Hospital, Dr. Laraba Bello, said some of the patients have undergone surgery while those with minor injuries have been treated and discharged. The attack took place on Tuesday night after two girls and their male accomplice carried out a suicide attack in the town. One of the survivors also said, “We were at Yandari, it was around 5pm that the bomb exploded when we were in the market. I don’t know what exactly happened, all I know is that a bomb exploded and I saw myself here”.

Suggestions

  • The National Corruption Survey illustrates, in stark relief, how different forms of corruption affect the daily life of the average Nigerian. According to the NBS, the estimated value of bribes paid to public officials by Nigerians in a typical year is about ₦400 billion, a “sum is equivalent to 39 percent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016.” Bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months. The average sum paid as a cash bribe in the country is about ₦5,300, which means every time a Nigerian pays a cash bribe, he or she spends 28.2 percent of the national minimum wage of ₦18,900. Perhaps, the most jarring number of all is the number of bribes paid to a public official: 82 million. The size of the Nigerian public service, including federal and state civil servants, the military and the police force? Not more than 3 million. Finally, the dangerous part – the perception of corruption in the various regions of the country, show just how deeply divided Nigerians actually are.
  • From the NEITI report, the transparency levels graduate from 100% compliance in many of the non-public institutions to low ranks for key public institutions. This is particularly worrisome for the Bureau of Public Enterprises which should be a model of transparency. Clearly, the BPE has fallen from the heights at its inception and it requires an urgent intervention. The NPDC’s low rank surprises no one – it has consistently been one of the least transparent areas of the NNPC. And as long as key government players in the Oil and Gas industry remain opaque, hopes of fighting corruption will continue to be just that; hopes.
  • Protests have become a common occurrence in the Niger Delta region. The exploitation of the region’s oil resources has been going on for more than half a century, and before that, the oil palm from the region created a bad relationship between the region and the colonial government. Since the 1950s, Nigeria has pumped hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil from the region leaving behind pollution, corruption and social unrest. This episode of protests will likely end as others have – government and oil company representatives will be sent to address the people and pacify them with promises and perhaps money but things will go back to the norm. But should it end like that? We have always argued that community part ownership of mineral resources will make for a safe and stable Niger Delta. These issues will to continue to occur until there is an honest move to carry the region along. Once the people see that there is a genuine move, they will buy into it.
  • The Konduga attack is a continuation of the intensifying of attacks by Boko Haram through ambushes and the sadly familiar use of suicide bombers in rural areas that are poorly policed, and outlying communities of huge population centres. The attack reinforces the need for the Nigerian military to increase, not just the numbers of personnel on the ground in Borno, but also their spread. There is also the need for more reconnaissance and air support for the army. The recent announcement by the army that it will create a mobile strike force to make it easier to attack the terrorists comes as a welcome development. We hope that the strike force will bring a badly-needed turnaround in the campaign against the insurgents.