A new survey released by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has shown that corruption remains a serious problem in Nigeria, and affecting majority of Nigerians, despite government’s repeated commitment to fighting graft.
SERAP launched the report of its survey in Lagos entitled Nigeria: Anti-corruption Social Norms Survey on Wednesday.
It was published as part of the organisation’s implementation of the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) project funded with UK aid from the British people.
The report said 96.2 per cent of the respondents, believed that corruption remains a serious problem in Nigeria today.
“There was no significant difference in opinion on this issue across the different geo-political zones surveyed,” SERAP said in the report. “However, only 5 per cent of the respondents from the North-West viewed corruption as a problem in the Nigerian society.”
But the survey established that “84.5 per cent of Nigerians believed corruption affects them.”
The survey further shows that to successfully reach majority of Nigerians and influence behavior change; social media and the internet are the most common sources of information on corruption, according to 38 per cent and 33 per cent respectively, of the respondents surveyed.
In contrast, only 9.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent mentioned religious institutions and traditional rulers respectively, as influential to influence behavior change.
“Traditional leaders have lost their place in guiding the society on morals and ethics,” the survey revealed.
The report, however, revealed the the diminishing role of the traditional leaders which was recorded as follows: “Some of the traditional rulers are key political players. They influenced elections for politicians who in turn grant them favors. Paying traditional rulers using public money managed by politicians also dilutes their power to stand against corrupt leaders.”
SERAP in the report opined that “It is imperative that Nigerians acknowledge corruption as thievery of their own money to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility against the vice.”
It recommended that the Federal Government should respect the rule of law and obey all court orders to improve the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
“The Federal Government should ensure effective and full enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act to encourage citizens’ access to credible information about the frequency of corruption among public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies,” it said.
This, it noted, would help to gauge and change descriptive norms about corruption in Nigeria and subsequent behavior.
On its part, SERAP said the National Assembly should show leadership in the fight against corruption by publishing its spending and members’ salaries and allowances as well as bring the salaries and allowances within the requirements of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) including on members’ constitutional oaths of office.
“The National Assembly should collaborate with traditional and religious and citizens’ and community institutions to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors,” it said.
“The National Assembly should drop the Social Media Bill and Hate Speech Bill, and be more proactive in the fight against corruption including by passing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the Whistle-blowers Bill, and the Witness Protection Bill among others.”
It urged the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to hold regular public hearings into allegations of corruption in ministries, departments and agencies and encourage citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption.
“The ICPC and EFCC should collaborate with religious institutions, traditional institutions and other critical members of the civil society and community-based institutions to develop strategies on how to relieve and shift some of the social pressures that sustain corruption.”