by Bunmi Ibigbami

NBS Rates Imo State as Least Corrupt State[1]

Policy Issue: Institutions and Democracy

The  by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with other partner international agencies, has rated Imo State as the least corrupt state with 17.6%, followed by Jigawa and Plateau States in the country. It was disclosed that the data was collected from a total of 33,067 persons in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The purpose of the survey is to serve as a tool (for stakeholders and the general public) to evaluate the impact of the measures put in place by states in fighting corruption. The report of the survey revealed a state-by-state record of the corruption index in Nigeria, stating Kogi State as the most corrupt state at 48%, followed by Gombe at 43%.

Is the Second Corruption Survey Report in Nigeria Dependable?

Corruption remains a prevalent issue in Nigeria, impairing her public finances, deterring business investments, increasing inequality and weakening the standard of living. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ recent report on the impact of corruption on Nigeria’s economy cautioned that corruption could cost Nigeria up to 37% of GDP by 2030. Corruption has a long run negative impact on growth, it is explained in the Infographic from PwC’s Impact of Corruption on Nigeria’s Economy. See in fig 1[2] below:

Following the present administration’s claims that it has made progress on its war on corruption, it has indeed prosecuted two former governors and implemented some reforms, such as a single Treasury account. ‘It also claims it has recovered almost $550 million by removing ghost workers from the civil public payroll, a total of $370 million has been returned since the launch of a whistleblower policy, and $2.9 billion of embezzled assets have been returned’.[3] However, some claimed that Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign has been selective, ineffective and has no credibility. The corruption survey was therefore developed as ‘a tool to assess the impact of the measures put in place by states in fighting corruption since after the 2019 elections’[4] in Nigeria. Based on the report from the survey, which rated Imo State as the least corrupt state (this suggested that there is a remarkable decrease in the prevalence of corruption in Imo State), can it be said that the corruption fight in Nigeria has yielded a positive result?

According to Browne and Keeley [5], ‘one form of authority that relies a great deal on observation and often carries special weight is the research study. But how dependable are research findings? The dependability of research findings cannot be ascertained until questions are asked. Can corruption be measured? If yes, how can corruption be correctly measured and defined in Nigeria? How viable is the survey methodology for corruption in 2019? Then, how dependable is the report from the survey?

The scale of corruption is difficult to measure with complete accuracy due to its nature. However, there are informed surveys and indices which measure corruption.[6] Corruption surveys have been seen to be carried out in the following indices: Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey; Voice of the People Survey (VOPS); Business International Index; Corruption Experience Index, Open Budget Survey; Bribery Perception Index (BPI); Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) and Corruption Perceptions Index.[7] Which of these surveys was employed by NBS before arriving at the corruption report?

From the methodological Annex of NBS report on Corruption in Nigeria: patterns and trends Second survey on corruption as experienced by the population 2019[8], the main survey was conducted in May and June 2019, and it covered a total of 33,000 households across the country. A total of 33,000 interviews were conducted across the 37 states (36 states and the Federal Capital Territory) with people aged 18 and above. The first stage entailed the selection of primary sampling units, which in the case of Nigeria were the Enumeration Areas. A total of 60 EAs were randomly selected in each of the 37 states – for a total of 2,220 EAs nationwide that cover both rural and urban areas. The second stage involved the selection of secondary sampling units, which were the households. ‘At this point, 15 households were randomly selected from each of the initially selected Enumeration Areas making a total of 900 households that were covered in each state. In each selected household, the interviewer then randomly selected one individual respondent’.[9] This methodology is questionable. ‘It should be noted that the fact that a research has been applied to a problem does not necessarily mean that the research evidence is dependable evidence or that the interpretations of the meaning of the evidence are accurate’.[10] Why just 33,000 households in a country with a population of 200 million? 33,000 may be too small a number to arrive at reliable and convincing conclusions. The 33,000 selected households could be justified because when conducting research about the number of corrupt persons for example, it is impractical, to collect data from all of the people in Nigeria. Instead, a sample of the people of interest is taken for the research. However, it is well known, that the larger the sample size, the more reliable the information available, as uncertainty tends to reduce and the confidence level[11] increases.[12] Also, random selection is meant to avoid the likelihood of bias. Therefore, a higher number should have been used in the survey. Why just 900 households in each state? The respondents are aged 18 years and above, does this mean people under the 18 years cannot answer the question of corruption? Could this mean the questionnaires were biased? Were the alleged corrupt officials part of the respondents? If yes, will their responses be biased? How reliable are these findings? Yet, it is true that there are research constraints, such as funding and time and the more reason the government and relevant stakeholders need to invest more in research.

As we have seen, the National Bureau of Statistics conducted the survey with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, in collaboration with other partner international agencies. It is high time for our government to see data as a bedrock of good governance in Nigeria. There is need for national support and funding in carrying out quality surveys. In addition, the meaning of corruption is specific to countries and societies, the influence of international bodies in defining what corruption means to Nigeria might not yield an appropriate data.

 

[1]NBS Rates Imo State as Least Corrupt State by Segun James on the 10th of December 2019 in Thisday Newspaper (Online version). Available at: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/12/10/nbs-rates-imo-state-as-least-corrupt-state/. Date accessed: 10/12/2019.

[2]Impact of Corruption on Nigeria’s Economy by PWC. Available at: https://www.pwc.com/ng/en/assets/pdf/impact-of-corruption-on-nigerias-economy.pdf. Date accessed: 10/12/2019.

[3]Overcoming Nigeria’s Crippling Threat of Corruption by Ryan Musser on the 14th of February, 2019 in the center for international private enterprise website. Available at: https://www.cipe.org/blog/2019/02/14/overcoming-nigerias-crippling-threat-of-corruption/. Date accessed: 10/12/2019.

[4]Op.cit. NBS Rates Imo State as Least Corrupt State by Segun James on the 10th of December 2019 in Thisday Newspaper (Online version).

[5]M. Neil Browne, Stuart M. Keeley (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458. Page 124.

[6]Measuring Corruption. On Transparency International UKwebsite. Available at: https://www.transparency.org.uk/corruption/measuring-corruption/. Date accessed: 10/12/2019.

[7]Malito, Debora (2014). Measuring Corruption Indicators and Indices. Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.2393335. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273939061_Measuring_Corruption_Indicators_and_Indices/citation/download. Date accessed: 10/12/2019.

 

[8]Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends Second Survey on Corruption as Experienced by the Population (DECEMBER 2019) In collaboration with The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and UK Aid. National Bureau of Statistics.

[9]Ibid. Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends Second Survey on Corruption as Experienced by the Population (DECEMBER 2019) In collaboration with The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and UK Aid. National Bureau of Statistics.

[10]M. Neil Browne, Stuart M. Keeley (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458. Page 125.

[11]the confidence level represents the frequency (i.e. the proportion) of possible confidence intervals that contain the true value of the unknown population parameter.

[12] The Importance and Effect of Sample Size by Sarah Littler on the Select Statistical Services blog. Available at:  https://select-statistics.co.uk/blog/importance-effect-sample-size/. Date accessed: 11/12/2019.