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OPINION: Ijebu And Their Ojude Oba

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By Lasisi Olagunju

Persons who answer Ijebu typically party as hard as they work. They sweat out their heart to make money; they rock their money in ways that add value to their personal and group existence. Their pitch could be high, it could be mid or low; what they choose depends on what point they want to prove. In doing these, they skillfully walk the thin line of balanced responsibility. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo transited to immortality in May 1987, Fuji mega star, Kollington Ayinla, sang about Ijebu’s unmatchable ability to balance their acts. He said “the yams of the Ijebu are six. They sell two; they eat two. The remaining two they give to their gods (Isu méfà ni’su Ìjèbú/ Wón nta méjì; wón nje méji sí’kùn ara won/ Ó l’Órìsà tí wón nfi méjì t’ókù bo…”).

I find them a fascination. I am writing this not because I am Ijebu; I am not one of them. I am a proper Òyó-Yoòbá. Never poor players too; but we are a people who can be loud and subtle at the same time. My lineage is Ìlòkó, Erúmosá omo aj’óbalólele/ Tètù o j’óba l’óhùn èrò (offspring of forebears who never answered the king softly). If you think not speaking softly to the king should have consequences, it means you’ve not heard Oyo say: Màá wí, màá wí/ oba kìí mú òkorin (speak out, the king does not arrest the bard).

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Malawians say “life is when you are together, alone you are an animal.” I don’t know if the Ijebu have an anthem – old or new. But I know their oríkì glides with their gait: Oni mi je nu’bu omo Olúweri/ Omo Aj’ebu j’osa de Igbobini/Omo As’ale jeje booni nobinren/A b’aya kun’le tititi (Rovers of the deep sea, offspring of Oluweri/ Rovers of deep waters as far as Igbobini/Whose forebear indulged concubines as if not married/Whereas his home is packed full of women). If you want more of this, my source, Ayinde Abimbola’s ‘Poets as Historians’ has the oríkì in full.

Flavour, the musician in his ‘Big Baller’ asks: “How much is money?” He goes on to assert that “it’s nothing.” Flavour has probably not met them – the Ijebu. They say they are money (Kékeré Ijebu owó/àgbà Ijebu owó). They are wealthy because they don’t walk alone; they bond, holding hands in life and in business. They band in dancing too. They lace their drumbeats with sèkèrè – the netted, rattling gourd which does not go on outings of shame. Their drums, in shrill and mellow tones, remind them of their forebears who had been spending dollars before the Oyinbo man arrived these shores. For them, it is “premium or nothing.” Their neighbours secretly envy them.

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Three days after the Ileya festival last week, the Ijebu-Yoruba, home and abroad, staged their annual breathtaking Ojude Oba festival. Their paramount ruler, the Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona, aged and glorious, sat at the event receiving the tens of age-grade groups of his male and female ‘children’. Those ones, the ‘regbe-regbe’, gaily dressed, came around to pay homage to their oba. They do it every year and there is no sign that they will ever get tired of doing so. On horse backs there were ‘aristocrats’ said to be from warrior families in Ijebuland. Others from other illustrious and not so illustrious segments of the land staged their own acts in colours that dim the rainbow. People danced; horses pirouetted; the ground quaked.

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They came out heavier this year than they ever did, and so heavy have been the reviews. There have been ‘disputes’ and ‘fights’ on several internet platforms on the event. Some question the ‘sanity’ and the ‘wisdom’ in spending so much just to show how wealthy a people are. Some of the critics insist Ojude Oba is nothing more than an annual display of ostentation and flamboyance. Some say they only come home to party, they don’t build factories and set up businesses at home; others say they should spend on renewing the rust of their city. I reacted in a Yoruba leaders’ WhatsApp group at the weekend that the bonding across age groups that we see yearly at Ojude Oba, to me, trumps all charges of ostentatious display of wealth.

I ask if the value of everything should be calculated in naira and kobo, brick and mortar? One of the greatest bequests of Ancient Greece to the modern world is their art – their drama and festivals. But the drama and festival-loving Greeks were sternly rebuked for investing generously in these ‘wasteful’ items of art. Read David Pritchar’s ‘Costing Festivals’. Pioneer economic historian, August Boeckh, attacked Athenians for “squandering away public revenue in shows and banquets…” Plutarch accused third-century Athenians of spending more on the production of tragedies (drama) than on the maintenance of their empire. Plutarch, in his ‘On the Glory of Athens’ wrote that: “If the cost of the production of each drama were reckoned, the Athenian people would appear to have spent more on the production of ‘Bacchaes’ and ‘Phoenician Women’ and ‘Oedipuses’ and the misfortunes of ‘Medeas and Electras’ than they did on maintaining their empire and fighting for their liberty against the Persian.”

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If you are a critic of Ojude Oba and similar festivals, and you hold that Plutarch was right and Boeckh’s judgment justified, think of African literature in English without Greek texts: We have J.P. Clark’s ‘Song of a Goat’ adapted from the Greek’s ‘Agamemnon’ which was authored by Aeschylus. We have Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Bacchae of Euripides’ which has Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’ as its source text. Ola Rotimi’s ‘The Gods Are Not to Blame’ is rooted in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Felix Budelmann’s ‘Greek Tragedies in West African Adaptations’ has a long list of this class of works. Even, ordinarily arrogant western cultures have no problem admitting that Greek tragedies are part of their cultural heritage. Yet, there was a time when expenditures by Ancient Greece on the arts were termed wasteful and thoughtless. One day soon in the future, glamorous Ojude Oba and the other festivals that we pillory today will serve as the cornerstone of our cultural economy.

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Ojude Oba started as an extension of the annual Muslim sallah celebrations. Today, it has evolved into a massive secular event so much that even insular Christian Pentecostals soak their souls in it. It should be an applause for that festival that ‘pious’ Christians who won’t eat sallah meat on Sunday saw nothing wrong feasting with Muslims on Tuesday.

We yearly watch these united people going home to ‘display’ without fears. What they do annually is a proverb for other peoples who have abandoned their own hometowns to ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’. Such peoples should ask the Ijebu how is it that they go home and wine and dine and do not get eaten. Ojude Oba teaches a lesson in knowing that what kills is not death but the fear of death.

The Yoruba person ordinarily values home. And, to them, home is where the unbiblical cords and the placentas of a child’s ancestors are buried. You will understand this when you look at the Owu-Yoruba, for instance. Dispersed and scattered everywhere by an avoidable war 200 years ago (1821), they still spend their love on Orile Owu, their destroyed homestead located in present day Osun State. Someone once told me that M.K.O. Abiola, billionaire Egba-Gbagura man, remembered to plant his bookshop somewhere at Ojoo, Ibadan, where his Gbagura story started over two centuries ago.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Flying Gods, Lying Prophets And Power Bandits

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Justice Kayode Eso (God bless his soul) was an Ijesa man who lived his years mainly in Ibadan. He once laughed at the ignorance of a friend who queried why he had a home in Ibadan, Oyo State, and another in his hometown, Ilesa, Osun State. The experience is captured in the Foreword he wrote in Lillian Trager’s ‘Yoruba Hometowns’ (2001: XI-XII). Justice Eso’s words speak better: “A friend, seeing the picture of my regular residence, was also shown the picture of my second home built in my local community. He could not resist asking why one should have two homes.” The late jurist recounted that experience while discussing questions raised by Trager’s American students on why the Yoruba have so much attachments to their hometowns. The questions, according to Trager, are: “Why do people who no longer live in a place, who may never have lived there, continue to spend their money and time there? What is the motivation for someone who may have an important job, who is well known and involved in urban organizations to come home to a small city or rural town or village?”

Around year 2000 or 2001 when Prince Tunde Ponle was building his MicCom Golf Hotels and Resort in his hometown, Ada, Osun State, I interviewed him and asked him if he did not think the investment could be a waste. He responded that one of his sons also expressed the same fears but his position was that if you have money and you refuse to develop your hometown, when you die, your corpse will be taken to that undeveloped place. I nodded. He looked at me and smiled and we switched to other issues.

My people say that if a child offends the sun outside, they should have the shade of home to run to (bí omodé bá d’áràn oòrùn, o ye kí ó rí ‘bòji ilé sá sí). We also say that a child who throws home away has erected a hanger for tribulation. One Ijesa person told Lillian Trager that “at present in Nigeria, the only place you have security, the only place you can be sure of, is your hometown. That is the place where you are known, and where people will protect you.”

People make money and willfully get lost abroad. But Ijebus do not have that problem of not going back home to celebrate their success and uplift their land. The physical celebration of that spirit is what we see annually in their Ojude Oba. The involvement of their big men and businesses, particularly Dr. Mike Adenuga and his Globacom in sponsoring the event since forever – and till eternity – attests to that spirit. There is no part of Nigeria without big men and women. The difference is in what difference they make in their people’s lives. Social scientists would insist that our federation’s constituent parts are states. Some would say they should be regions; yet, some stress that they are ethnic groups. I say they are communities built on what I.A. Akinjogbin conceptualized as the “ebi system.” When every elephant and every ant in every community take adequate care of the life of their home and of their community, we are likely to have a country.

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Japa: 4 Ways Nigerians Can Migrate, Get Jobs In Canada

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As Nigeria continues to experience economic challenges, an increasing number of its citizens are exploring opportunities to migrate to Canada.

Canada, known for its welcoming immigration policies and robust job market, has become a top destination for Nigerians seeking a better life. Canada’s comprehensive immigration programs and strategies for job seekers make it an attractive option for those looking to start anew.

Canada’s plan to invite half a million newcomers by 2025, coupled with its need for skilled workers, opens various pathways for Nigerians.

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From the Express Entry system to family sponsorships, these avenues provide hopeful migrants with multiple options to settle and work in Canada.

Here are five key ways Nigerians can migrate and secure employment in Canada:

READ ALSO: Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries In The World 2024

Express Entry

The Express Entry system is Canada’s fastest and most popular immigration program, enabling candidates to receive permanent residence status in as little as six months. By 2025, Canada plans to invite half a million newcomers, with a significant portion coming through one of the three streams of Express Entry. This system evaluates candidates based on factors like age, education, work experience, and language proficiency.

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Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Throughout the pandemic, Canada’s provinces continued to nominate overseas workers for permanent residence. By 2025, Canada aims to welcome 117,500 new immigrants through PNPs. Each of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories offers unique nominee programs with specific eligibility criteria. Some PNPs require a connection to the province, while others invite candidates based solely on their ability to meet the province’s labor market needs.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Countries With Strongest Militaries In Africa [Latest]

Business Immigration

For those with experience in managing or owning a business, federal and provincial business immigration programs offer a pathway to reside and work in Canada. These programs are designed for individuals planning to be self-employed or start a business in Canada. Business immigration typically requires a significant investment, with specific amounts varying by program and region.

Sponsorship

Family sponsorship is often the easiest route for those with a qualifying family member who is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen. Canada plans to welcome 105,000 new permanent residents through family sponsorship programs this year. The cost of sponsoring a relative is around CAD 1,135, with additional fees for residents of Quebec. Processing times vary, with spousal sponsorship typically taking about 12 months.

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How to get jobs in Canada

Securing a job in Canada can be facilitated through several strategies:

Networking with Experts

Engage with professionals in your field through events and networking opportunities to learn about job openings.

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Continuous Learning

Stay updated with the latest trends and roles in your field by reading articles, watching videos, and gaining new knowledge.

Building Professional Relationships

Attend job fairs, industry meetups, and online groups to connect with potential employers.

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Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries In The World 2024

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The world’s most dangerous countries to visit in 2024 have been unveiled in a recent report by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

The report ranks 163 independent states and territories based on their level of peacefulness, covering 99.7% of the world’s population.

It also noted that there are currently 56 active conflicts, marking the highest number since the end of the Second World War, with fewer conflicts being resolved either militarily or through peace agreements.

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Using the Global Peace Index (GPI), here are the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world in 2024.

Yemen

With a 2024 Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.397, Yemen remains one of the world’s most hazardous nations, with its catastrophic civil conflict since 2015 causing immense suffering and turmoil.

Yemen is grappling with widespread famine, disease, and infrastructure collapse amid a prolonged state of war. What began as an internal conflict has escalated due to the involvement of neighboring countries, each backing different factions, prolonging and intensifying the destructive nature of the conflict.

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Sudan

Sudan is widely regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous countries, influenced by a variety of factors that severely affect its safety and stability.

Sudan’s instability stems primarily from the ongoing conflict in Darfur, alongside unrest in South Kordofan and Blue Nile districts. In 2024, these conflicts resulted in over 3,000 deaths and displaced nearly 2 million people, according to UN estimates. The humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by frequent attacks on civilians by government forces, opposition groups, and militias.

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Also, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 14 million people need humanitarian aid.

South Sudan

South Sudan, with a 2024 Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.224, continues to rank among the world’s most dangerous nations due to ongoing civil conflict, ethnic violence, and political instability since gaining independence in 2011.

Afghanistan

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Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with a Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.448. The country has been experiencing ongoing violence for more than 40 years, making it a center of international concern.

READ ALSO: 7 Countries Who Recently Changed Their Names And Why

Decades of conflict have shaped Afghanistan into one of the most dangerous countries. The Taliban’s seizure of power in August 2021 has intensified instability, with heightened risks of terrorism, kidnappings, and widespread violence.

Ukraine

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Ukraine has experienced the most significant decline in safety and stability, not only within its region but globally as well. This notable deterioration can be primarily attributed to the Russian invasion that began in February 2022.

By 2024, the conflict in Ukraine has claimed over 150,000 lives, including soldiers and civilians. More than 8 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, with an additional 7 million internally displaced, causing widespread destruction of cities and critical infrastructure like homes, schools, and hospitals.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The conflict in Congo has spanned more than four and a half years, has taken more lives than any other since World War II, and is the deadliest documented conflict in African history, according to the International Rescue Committee.

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Russia

In 2024, Russia, with a Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.249, ranks among the world’s most hazardous nations, exacerbated by heightened geopolitical tensions stemming from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

READ ALSO: 10 Safest Countries In The World In 2024

Russia is grappling with internal challenges including organized crime and corruption, which undermine law and order, alongside escalating environmental concerns such as industrial accidents and pollution, posing significant health risks to the population.

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Syria

Syria’s civil war, beginning in 2011, has resulted in a profoundly tragic and complex situation. The conflict has ravaged infrastructure, including buildings, roads, hospitals, and schools, severely impacting the daily lives of those remaining in Syria.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is dire, with over 13 million Syrians, including 6.6 million internally displaced, requiring humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

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More than half of the population faces food insecurity, and the healthcare system is in disarray, with many hospitals either destroyed or operating at minimal capacity.

Israel

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has escalated regional risks for Western travelers and exacerbated unrest-related dangers.

Mali

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Mali has been in the grip of armed conflict since January 2012, when Tuareg rebels seized control of northern territory and subsequently declared the independent nation of Azawad by April of that year.

The situation escalated further with a military coup in March of 2012, intensifying the turmoil in the region.
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Nigeria’s Public Officials Received ₦721bn Bribe In 2023 – UN, NBS

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A newly released report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), has said Nigerian public officials received nothing less than ₦721bn as bribes in 2023.

The result was based on a survey conducted with the UNODC.

According to the report “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends”, published by the NBS on Thursday, the ₦721bn paid in bribes amounted to about 0.35 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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According to the survey, the average cash bribe was ₦8,284, an increase from an average of ₦5,754 in 2019.

“According to the 2023 survey, the average cash bribe paid was 8,284 Nigerian Naira. While the nominal average cash bribe size increased since 2019 (from NGN 5,754), this does not account for inflation. The inflation-adjusted average cash bribe in 2023 was 29 per cent smaller than in 2019 in terms of what could be bought with the money.

“Overall, it is estimated that a total of roughly NGN 721 billion (US$1.26 billion) was paid in cash bribes to public officials in Nigeria in 2023, corresponding to 0.35 per cent of the entire Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria,” the report read in part.

The report indicates that 56 per cent of Nigerians interacted with a public official in 2023, down from 63 per cent in 2019.

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Despite this reduction, bribery remains widespread, with an average of 5.1 bribes paid per bribe payer, totalling approximately 87 million bribes nationwide. This is a decrease from the 117 million bribes estimated in 2019.

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On payment mode, the report noted that over 95 per cent of bribes were paid in monetary form (cash or money transfer) in 2023.

It said public officials were more likely to demand bribes while private sector actors included doctors in private hospitals, which increased from 6 per cent in 2019 to 14 per cent in 2023.

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Despite this rise, bribery in the public sector remains about twice as high, with public sector contact rates also being twice as high as those in the private sector.

In 2023, 27 per cent of Nigerians who interacted with a public official paid a bribe, a slight decrease from 29 per cent in 2019. Including instances where bribes were requested but refused, over one-third of interactions between citizens and public officials involved bribery.

Similarly, the report shows a growing trend of Nigerians refusing to pay bribes. In 2023, 70 per cent of those asked to pay a bribe refused at least once, with the highest refusal rates in the North-West zone at 76 per cent. All regions recorded refusal rates above 60 per cent. This indicates that Nigerians are increasingly standing against corruption.

According to the report, bribery is becoming less accepted in Nigeria. The percentage of citizens who view bribery requests as acceptable to expedite administrative procedures decreased from 29 per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2023.

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Fewer citizens reported suffering negative consequences after refusing bribe requests in 2023 compared to 2019. This suggests a growing empowerment among Nigerians to confront corrupt officials without fear of repercussions.

In 2023, 21 per cent of bribe refusers indicated they refused because they had other options. Normative concerns (42 per cent) and cost of living pressures (23 per cent) also played significant roles in their refusal to pay bribes.

Furthermore, not less than 60 per cent of public sector workers were hired due to nepotism, bribery or both between 2020 and 2023.

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The report noted that six out of 10 successful candidates admitted to using either nepotism, bribery, or both to improve their chances of being recruited.

Specifically, 27 per cent of these candidates admitted to using only bribery, 13 per cent to only nepotism, and 19 per cent to both bribery and nepotism. On the other hand, 40 per cent of the candidates claimed to have secured their positions without resorting to any such means, based on data collected between November 2020 and October 2023.

The report read, “The selection process used to recruit public officials plays a crucial role in shaping the culture of integrity that should drive the civil service as well as ensure that recruits have the highest standards of professionalism and merit.”

However, the 2023 survey findings indicate that the public sector recruitment process requires closer monitoring, as almost half (46 per cent) of people who secured a job in the public sector in the last three years before the survey admitted that they paid a bribe to facilitate their recruitment – about 1.5 times the share found in the 2019 survey (31 per cent).

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“The 2023 survey also found evidence that a considerable number of people recruited into the public sector secured their posts with the help of a friend or relative, many in addition to paying a bribe: of all successful applicants in the last three years before the 2023 survey, 32 per cent were helped by friends or relatives. Overall, in the three years before the 2023 survey, around 60 per cent of public sector applicants in Nigeria were hired as a result of nepotism, bribery or both – about 1.2 times the share found in the 2019 survey.”

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The report also noted that the use of bribery is notably lower when the recruitment process includes formal assessments.

Specifically, 51 per cent of candidates were not formally assessed, and of these, a significant 53 per cent admitted to using bribery or nepotism to secure their positions.

Conversely, among the 49 per cent of candidates who underwent a written test or oral interview, the use of unethical means such as bribery or nepotism dropped to 41 per cent.

The report read: “The 2023 survey data show that approximately half (49 per cent) of those who secured a position in the public sector in the three years before the survey passed a written test and/or oral interview during the recruitment selection process. Importantly, the data suggest that the means of selection had a role in facilitating or preventing the use of illegal practices during recruitment. Among those who underwent an assessment procedure (written test / oral interview), 41 per cent made use of bribery, while the share was as much as 53 per cent among those who were not formally assessed.”

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It was also disclosed that bribery is more common in rural areas, with rural residents paying an average of 5.8 bribes compared to 4.5 bribes in urban areas.

It was also disclosed that bribery is more common in rural areas, with rural residents paying an average of 5.8 bribes compared to 4.5 bribes in urban areas.

The report stated that corruption was ranked fourth among the most important problems affecting the country in 2023, after the cost of living, insecurity and unemployment.

It added, “This suggests relatively stable and high levels of concerns about corruption over time and compared to other concerns such as education or housing.

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“Nigerians confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort has been declining over time and across regions. While in 2019, more than half of all citizens thought that the government was effective in fighting corruption, in 2023, the share declined to lessons than a third of all citizens. The downward trend in the citizen’s confidence is observable across the entire country, with all six zones recording reductions of more than 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2023 in terms of the share of citizens who thought the government was effective in fighting corruption.”

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