Have you ever wondered how corruption works in Nigeria?

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Do we all agree that we Nigerians are corrupt? In the deepest portions of our hearts we know it. We, these people, who think of ourselves before our communities, societies and country as a whole. It still is us, these same people who go to events and taste everything on the buffet, gather as many souvenirs as we can while hiding some in our Bags. We sit in buses and spread our legs real wide so we can get more room than the next passenger. We price things at half their prices because we want it cheaper than the price and also because we know that the seller has most likely inflated the price. Corruption is part and parcel of our every day lives. We breathe, eat and drink corruption. We speak corruption. We hear corruption. We watch it on TV. It is in our schools. The typical Nigerian is corrupt.

Let’s consider highlighting how some types of corruption (for example, extortion or contract fraud) are more prevalent in some sectors than in others and also how some corruption methods are more damaging—either directly or via negative multiplier effects—than others depending on the sector in which they occur. Swiftly take this in and ask yourself if you recognize them.

BRIBERY

One of those times when you paid off your younger ones not to tell your parents as you went out at wrong times is a standard bribery case. Bribery is such a common form of corruption that the two words are used somewhat interchangeably in popular narratives. The moment you say corruption, bribery comes to mind even though bribery itself is just one of many other corruption methods. it is consensual. In fact, it is transactional—involving payments, gifts, or favors provided in exchange for an improper or illicit benefit. In the Nigerian context, these benefits range from the mundane (getting permission from a police officer to pass through a road checkpoint) to the munificent (receiving a license from the petroleum minister for a lucrative oil block).

EXTORTION

Agberos are the typical example. The way they stop bus riders, motorcyclists and keke- napep riders to pay them some particular fine or else something could happen to them is extortion. Or road safety officials who stop cars, check their licenses and particulars and tell the drivers that if they don’t settle them they will keep them there for longer periods is extortion. We have in one way or the other all experienced this.
Extortion is commonly understood as the use of threats or coercion to obtain money, property, or services. In Nigeria, abuse of power by officials―whether legislators who refuse to pass a budget unless they receive a kickback or a police officer who will not allow a motorist to pass through a checkpoint unless bribed is a common form of extortion that 9 in 10 Nigerians have experienced.

TOLL-TAKING
More times than I can remember, many women charge their husbands from little to large sums in exchange for their wifely duties. Some men pay this money out of love and others only do it for peace to reign. That right there is toll-taking. You know what you are meant to do and what you are not. But you decide to make whoever is on the receiving end pay for this because you understand that they are in need. Are you not corrupt?….

Though perhaps not as powerful as the country’s top legislators, many other federal, state, and local government officials use their positions for personal financial gain by charging a toll or demanding a quid pro quo from subordinates, superiors, and/or the general public in exchange for discharging (or not discharging) their official duties. Toll-taking by customs officers at border crossings and other ports of entry can be very lucrative. Many of us have suffered the profitability of this.

NOISEMAKING

The usual celebrity gossip we enjoy hearing is a lot of times, not just gossip. Some reporters and magazines are actually paid to defame a particular individual. Others play the job of devils incarnate and ask this individuals to pay some sort of money to avoid the stories being published.This opportunistic type of extortion occurs when an individual or organization threatens to make noise, drawing attention either by writing in the press or by sponsoring public protests with the aim of embarrassing or discrediting a political elite or government entity. By agitating them publicly, an individual can extort money from their target, who is often willing to buy their silence in exchange for averting potential reputational damage and negative press coverage.
I believe we recognize this. A little too well. The higher you go, the more impact your fall will make. That is what these fraudsters use against their victims.

MISAPPROPRIATION OF PROPERTY

Say you work in an office where you are provided with a laptop for your official use which you can take home or go about with. If your computer is not bugged by your organization to see what you’re doing with it. Then be honest. Are you not likely to put files for your entertainment. Use the system for several things in which it could come in handy at home? Does your conscience not judge you?.
We agree that officials at all levels of government are free to use government property―vehicles, computers, smartphones―for their own personal needs with impunity. After they leave office, ministers, legislators, and other top government officials often misappropriate vehicles and even official residences.
Do you think it works this way in better and more developed countries.

RE-LOOTING

Imagine yourself as an older child in your family and you are naturally meant to keep your younger ones in check. But when they steal meat from soups and you catch them, you collect the meat and eat it then clean your mouth. What is that? You just looted a loot. We know how well this happens around us. A good number of officials who are meant to confiscate stolen items tend to keep them for themselves and no one ever hears that these goods were confiscated in the first place. On the bigger and more formal side, resources and funds are being looted after the culprits submit them. Although only a small percentage of stolen public funds are ever recovered, those that are seized domestically or returned by international partners are vulnerable to being re-looted by serving officials. These stolen assets most often are not handled transparently nor are they governed by clear cut policies or laws.

Are these few situations familiar?. Do you recognize the several instances? But these are only a few out of many. This is the environment we live in. This is how corrupt we are. Corruption has been normalized in our daily ups and downs. We practice and enforce it whether directly or indirectly. Can we ever stop? Do we think we can give up the benefits of this infectious practices? Can you go to a wedding and come back empty-handed with a positive attitude? Can you squeeze yourself in transit buses to give your fellow passengers more space? Can you own up to your faults and not try to find the easy way out? Would Agberos ever stop extorting people? Would we dutifully perform our duties without taking sums in return?

Amira Jafar

With reference to a paper by Mathew Page “A New Taxonomy For Corruption In Nigeria”

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