Corruption headlines in Nigeria have long been dominated by the large illicit payments made by multinational companies to Nigerian public officials. However, bureaucratic and administrative bribery is perhaps the most familiar and widespread form of corruption (NBS, 31.07.2017). It is this everyday abuse of power by low-level public officials that largely feeds Nigeria’s corruption perception and has the potential to significantly impact day to day in-country operations (BusinessDay, 03.08.2017).

Transparency International has consistently ranked Nigeria among the world's most corrupt countries, and corruption remains prevalent throughout society, from government agencies and departments to basic service providers such as schools and hospitals. A 2017 survey carried out by Afrobarometer – a non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys across Africa – revealed that access to certain public services in Nigeria remains extremely difficult. For example, to receive police assistance, 68% of respondents claimed that they had to pay a bribe, give a gift, or do a favour.

While the culture of petty police corruption has become the norm for many Nigerians, these same expectations have extended to both foreign workers and organisations. Moreover, it is smaller-scale incidents of bribery that have the potential to further discourage foreign investors from entering into Nigeria’s markets.

Ultimately, there is a high probability that companies operating or investing in Nigeria will encounter bribery and other corrupt practices across the police; as such, it is important these trends are understood (GAN, 03.04.2018).

Impact Points

  • Corruption in Nigeria is deeply entrenched in almost every area of the public sector, and with petty bribery and extortion seemingly institutionalised in public processes, this culture of corruption is extended to the operations of foreign companies.
  • Corruption – or even the perception of – contributes to weak foreign investment, as it makes it harder for potential investors to predict the costs of doing business.
  • In the case of police corruption, not only can it generate unforeseen business costs – through the use of bribes and extortion – but it also compromises the police force’s reputation and undermines the security environment, thus further damaging Nigeria’s efforts to position itself as an attractive investment environment.