Corruption in Nigeria is largely upheld by the state and its institutions, all the way from the police force, to the federal and state executive councils. National officials believe the source of corruption lies in the economy of Nigeria’s natural resources, specifically oil and natural gas. Addressing the source of corruption is integral to both the political stabilization and economic growth of Nigeria. Here are 10 important facts about corruption in Nigeria.
10 Facts About Corruption in Nigeria
- Corruption in Nigeria is persecuted via the Criminal Code and the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Act. Bribes, embezzlement and money laundering are punishable with prison terms between seven and 15 years. However, according to Transparency International, “nearly half of Nigerians perceive the judicial system to be corrupt… plagued by understaffing, underfunding, inefficiency and corruption.”
- In 2007, the Nigerian government passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which seeks to increase transparency within the country’s economic transactions. However, to date, there is no available data on the Act’s direct impact on minimizing corruption in Nigeria. To combat this shortcoming, civil society organizations have been working to assess the adequacy and legality of major Nigerian institutions suspected of corruption.
- The Public Procurement Act of 2007 works in conjunction with the FRA to eradicate corruption within government procurement of goods, a practice which is regulated very strictly internationally. During Goodluck Jonathan’s five year term as President, the Presidential Committee on Arms Procurement discovered that more $15 billion were diverted from the state treasury under fraudulent weapon exchanges.
- The Nigerian judiciary system has rather comprehensive laws against corruption, but its officials are often primary targets for bribes. In the fall of 2016, Supreme Court Justice Sylvester Ngwuta was persecuted on 15 different counts of fraud. In October of that year, the Nigerian government also uncovered a conspiracy including other Supreme Court justices involving more than $800,000.
- Government officials are also often bribed by companies seeking to evade corporate laws. The GAN Business Anti-Corruption Portal estimates that one in four companies “give gifts in order to obtain an operating license.” Standardizing the licensing process would likely result in a decrease in bribery at this level.
- Oil companies specifically have been closely monitored for both economic and political corruption. In 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan was accused of funding his reelection campaign with more than $2 billion from Excess Crude Oil.
- Tax evasion is also a common practice among big companies. In 2016, the Nigerian government discovered 700,000 businesses that had never paid taxes. Studies estimate Nigeria’s tax revenue at 8 percent of the country’s GDP, which is low in comparison countries of similar size, demographics and economy.
- Acquiring property in Nigeria can be difficult, given the competitiveness of owning land that is rich with natural resources. As such, businesses often bribe state governors to be given preferential construction permits. The Federal Capital Development Authority, located in Abuja, Nigeria, oversees this.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, estimates that the state of corruption in Nigeria “could cost up to 37 percent of GDP by 2030” without immediate intervention. While there have been a handful of legislative efforts to address these issues the past two decades, the World Bank’s report on Fiscal Governance and Institution also stresses the importance of developing data collecting methods to facilitate the implementation of more statistical evidence-based policies. Increasing the resources allocated to the National Bureau of Statistics and the National Population Commission seems like a promising solution for identifying more clearly consequences of corruption and minimizing its instances.
- The Federal Ministry of Finance Whistleblowing provides an anonymous online reporting service which provides between 2-5 percent compensation for that tips that recover funds from fraudulent transactions. More than $180 million worth of funds have has been recovered since its opening in 2016.
These 10 facts about corruption in Nigeria only paint a small picture of the country’s sociopolitical landscape. While identifying these issues is important, understanding and celebrating Nigerian history and culture is similarly integral to supporting this West African nation today.
– Jordan Powell
Photo: Carnegie Endowment