LAGOS, Aug 17 – Almost a third of adult Nigerians pay civil servants and other public officials bribes totalling 400 billion naira ($1.27 billion) annually, the country’s statistics office said in a survey on graft.
The poll among households shows the uphill challenge the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is facing in fighting corruption, which has undermined development in the oil exporter for decades.
Nigerians spent 400 billion naira – the equivalent of 39 percent of the combined federal and state education budget in 2016 – to bribe officials between June 2015 and May 2016, according to the office.
The survey, released on Wednesday, does not necessarily include high-profile executive corruption cases such as the theft of oil revenues, which have made headlines in the past.
It shows that despite government action to put senior officials accused of graft on trial, Nigerians still have to pay every day for basic services such as dealing with customs or police officers.
Buhari took office in May 2015 vowing to crack down on corruption, but there have been no high-profile graft convictions so far.
“The average sum paid as a cash bribe in Nigeria is approximately naira 5,300”, or the equivalent of an eighth of monthly salaries, the report said.
Some 42 percent of those polled had to pay bribes to speed up or finalize administrative work which civil servants would otherwise have delayed or refused to do. Some 18 percent of bribes were paid to avoid a fine and 13 percent to avoid cancelling of state services such as a water supply.
Passports or driving licences often cannot be obtained unless officials are paid a “dash”, as a bribe is known in the West African nation.
Police officers were the largest group of bribe takers, though – by value – customs officers topped the list followed by judges, the report said. Officers force motorists to pay bribes or receive fines for minor traffic violations.
Nigeria imports much of what it needs, from basic food to consumer goods, machines and cars. Prices are sometime double what would be paid in producing countries as firms and retailers factor in custom duties and bribes.
The survey, which was supported by a U.N. agency and the European Union, is based on 33,067 interviews with adults across Nigeria.