By Victor Ahiuma-Young
UNITED Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, yesterday described Wednesday report by National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, that public officials in the country took N400 billion bribe in one year, as embarrassing and untrue.
President of ULC, Mr. Joe Ajaero, contended that since bribe was not receipted, it was not possible to give an exact figure of bribes offered or received within a given period even though offering and receiving of bribes were common knowledge.
According to him: “It is embarrassing and cannot be true . It cannot be true in the sense that bribes are not receipted and if these ones were receipted, that means the figure is more than that because bribes are not things that are done in the open. For anybody to quote exact figure as bribe taken within a period of time, it means the person is trying to make bribe an open thing or something that is illegal. I know that bribe is inducement, tips, gratification or whatever name it is called. But I do not think that there are records of it.
“My contention is that it is not because the figure is high or less, it is something nobody can say on his or her honour that this is the amount I spent on bribe. Unless there is a bribe monitoring unit in every room, in every bus stop and everywhere that is taking records of how much bribes were given and accepted. But I agree that bribes take place every minute of the day, but the extent and degree is something nobody cannot ascertain.
“Without sounding as encouraging workers on things that are not right, if workers received inducement to do some jobs many things are involved. One, that the workers are corrupt and two, that the workers are not properly taken care of. This means where they are working, there is no proper motivation and maybe they are poorly paid and need to do one or two things to make up. If the workers are corrupt, that is to say the environment that they are working is also a corrupt environment because the same workers are being supervised by their bosses. It then means that their bosses encourage or use them to commit such crime because, at the end of the day, it is not the workers in most cases who will act on the files. They still take the files to their bosses.
“The workers may be like a conduit pipe being used to receive bribes and other inducement. So, there may be other scenario you may paint around this, but remember it is equally an offence to give and to receive bribe. The person offering that bribe, may even be more guilty than the person receiving. Why do people offer bribes in most cases? If they suspect that they are not qualified or may not get what they want, they go extra mile to get what they want since they know they will not get it by merit. Bribe is already becoming a culture to the person offering or the person receiving.”
On whether big salary can be used to arrest corruption in public service, he said: “People who have imbibed the culture of bribe, even if they get billions of Naira as wage, they will still receive bribe. The thing about amassing wealth is that, more wealth means more. It will not stop. There are some that are done in minimal scale, that are taken as subsistence corruption. There are workers who may not have transport money, no matter the level of morality, they need something to take them home or survive. But they are different from those who, even if they receive more than the highest paid president in the world, they will still ask for and receive bribe.”