How Corruption Can be Controlled through Intervention, Says  NISER Boss

Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

The Director General of Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Professor Antonia Taiye Simbine,  has remarked that corruption has remained prevalent and affecting governance and businesses in Nigeria despite previous efforts to combat the menace through legal means.

Speaking yesterday at November 2023 Edition of the Actualizing Behaviour Change [ABC] series, Simbine , who was represented by Professor Adesoji Adesanya,  noted that controlling corruption would require a systemic approach that is based on both rules and values with a comprehensive strategy and messaging that would address the public and private sectors and all Nigerian citizens. 

The director general, who spoke on a theme: “Corrupt Behaviour in Nigeria’s Public Sector: Simplifying a Complex Phenomenon.” stressed that the paper attempted to simplify the complex phenomenon of corruption by examining the various channels through which behaviour interacts with systemic factors in  order to enable the public to understand the dynamics of corruption in Nigeria.

She said: “The emergent patterns of interaction provide possible pathways through which corrupt behaviour can be tracked and controlled in Nigeria.

“This paper delves into the complexity of corruption in Nigeria, employing a complexity scientific approach to unravel the factors driving corrupt behavior.

“The output is one of several that has emerged from a project tagged ‘Research Support for Corruption Control through Behaviour Change,’ that is funded by Macarthur Foundation. Qualitative data for the complexity mapping were collected from both citizens and public officials across the country using the SenseMaker tool.” 

She emphasised that the study explored the psychosocial constructs underlying corruption and identified pathways for mitigation.

“The survey (conducted in the form of structured conversations) captured lived experiences of respondents on corrupt behaviour. While citizens shared their story based on their experience engaging with a public official where a corrupt behaviour played out, public officials were asked to share an experience where they experienced a corrupt act or were pressured to engage in corrupt behavior,” she said.

The director general made it clear that the two surveys enabled exploration of citizens and institutional perspectives as well as patterns of corrupt behaviour.

 “The data was distilled using factors such as the demographic characteristics of respondents, the agency involved in the story, the kind of corrupt behavior that took place, feelings evoked by the behavior, and the effect of the corrupt behavior. The data presented here pertains to the institutional survey.

“Based on the data extracted from the SenseMaker survey, a system dynamics modeling tool (Vensim) was used to build causal feedback loop models of corruption which showed desirable and undesirable behavioural attributes influencing corruption levels.

“The models were calibrated using the probability weights generated from the distributional frequencies obtained from the SenseMaker survey data. An ex-ante simulation, which is a forward-looking projection of corruption control over a 10-year period was considered. We proposed a scenario of 25 per cent change across some selected desirable attributes and undesirable attributes.

“The result of the simulation analyses showed that corruption can be controlled by considering intervention that strengthen ‘desirable attributes’, while simultaneously providing levers to engender positive changes across undesirable attributes. However, the changes in undesirable attributes must be significant before the level of corruption can reduce, otherwise the corruption phenomenon will remain unchanged or even worsen.”

However, presenters at the event included Research Fellow, Economic and Business Policy Department, NISER, Dr. Iyabo Olanrele and the Research Fellow II, Economic and Business Policy Department, NISER, Dr. Sebil Olalekan. 

While the Panelists included Spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Mrs. Azuka Ogugua; President and Senior Researcher, Policy Dynamics, Inc., Ontario, Canada, Dr. Ivan Taylor, and the Executive Director of People Centred Development Initiative (PCDI), Abuja, Barth Feese.

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