Tuesday 7 July 2015

Tackling Corruption in the Drivers’ License Application Process

Drivers’ license is an important instrument in ensuring public safety. Its main use is in certifying that the holders are qualified to drive vehicles and do not constitute threats to themselves and other road users. The license is also a very important personal identification document. In Nigeria, the issuance of the drivers’ license has been faced with many challenges over the years.

The CLEEN Foundation under its Access Nigeria project which works to promote accountability and transparency in public service delivery partnered with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to undertake a series of coordinated activities aimed at improving the efficiency of the drivers’ license application and renewal process.

Available information suggest that not many Nigerians are aware of the right procedure to follow in applying for new licenses or renewing them. Since December 2014, we organized sensitization workshops to raise awareness on the correct procedure to apply for the license in Abuja, Imo, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun and Nassarawa States. In Abuja, Rivers and Ogun, the rallies were held in popular motor-parks with FRSC officials facilitating. The Access Nigeria project also organized a social media meeting on Twitter during which the FRSC engaged Nigerians and clarified on issues and challenges being faced in the application process.

Part of the commitments by the FRSC during the workshops included opening up more application centres to hasten the process of applications on the one hand and to use card readers to check fake licenses among motorists.

In March 2015, we commenced a study to sample public opinion on the drivers’ license application process. A methodology workshop for the survey was organized on the 25th March 2015 in Abuja with representatives of the FRSC, field researchers from the selected states and the team of the CLEEN Foundation. This paved way for the successful conduct of the survey in 5 states of Nigeria; Imo, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Nassarawa and Abuja between April 13th and 22nd, 2015.

Research Design

The survey was coordinated by the CLEEN Foundation in collaboration with Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). The total sample size of the survey is 370 covering Imo, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Nassarawa States, and Abuja. 60 respondents were interviewed in each in each location except in Lagos where 70 respondents were interviewed. Face to face interviews were conducted in English language. The interviews covered a maximum timeframe of 10 days of fieldwork engaging one interviewer per state at a quota of 6-7 interviews per day. Interviews were conducted on weekdays and weekends to ensure that respondents of all lifestyles are included in the sample.

Data Management:

Data capturing, quality checks, post-coding processes were handled by experienced data managers at the CLEEN Foundation. The data structure was well designed with necessary logics to detect errors were and ensure clean data.

Key Findings

The following key findings emerged from the study:

  • Majority of respondents (53%) went through a driving school before they started driving. Similarly, 64% of the respondents said they passed a driving test before they were issued their drivers licenses.
  • Various agencies and officials stop motorists and demand to sight their licenses. The Police more frequently demand for licenses (79%) while “unidentified officials” have also been reported demanding for licenses (44%).
  • Motorists report that when stopped by officials, majorities have not been asked to pay bribes. Only 28% were asked for bribes at FRSC stops while 59% were not asked to pay bribes when stopped by the police.
  • Most of those who admitted to paying bribes paid out of the fear of being arrested or having their vehicles impounded.
  • Only 28% of drivers have ever been arrested for driving without valid licenses; however, after the arrest, most paid fines (52%) as opposed to the 22% who paid bribes.
  • Among those who applied for their licenses using “unofficial” processes, majority (57%) report that they did so because the unofficial process was faster. Another 50% report that friends and family suggested they use this system.
  • 39% of those who went through the official channel report that it takes 1 to 2 months to receive the license. However, when asked to list the challenges facing the application system, respondents cite slow processing time (62%), extortion by touts (20%) and issuance of fake licenses by touts/agents (11%).
  • 7% of respondents say it is not possible to successfully apply for or renew a drivers’ license in Nigeria without paying a bribe.
  • 57% of respondents will not file a report if they were to be asked for bribes while applying for their licenses. 46% say they know that nothing will happen if they reported, 31% say they do not know where to report while 18% say they lack the time and resources to pursue the case.
  • When asked what the cost of the drivers’ license is, 39% reported a figure of N10,000 while 36% reported N6,350 which is the official price.


The survey reveals that whereas there are reported incidents of corruption in the application process, many Nigerians are able to apply for their licenses without falling victims of corruption and extortion. However, there is need to strengthen the process to block out systems of corruption and ensure transparency and probity in the application process. To achieve this, the following steps are recommended:
  • There is need for greater sensitization on the drivers’ license application process. This is to ensure that potential applicants know the right procedure and do not have to rely on touts and corrupt unofficial agents.
  • There is need to hasten the application process to ensure that unnecessary delays are eliminated. The survey suggests that those who patronize touts do so out of the desire to avoid delays in the official system. Opening up new application centres would assist in this regard.
  • Agencies overseeing the drivers’ license application process would benefit from a corruption tracking system which would allow leadership of the agencies to know about incidents of corruption among its officials. The Stopthebribes platform (www.stopthebribes.net) which is currently being used by the Nigerian Police Force could be adapted and deployed to track corruption in the drivers’ license application process.
  • Information sharing about the experience of citizens in the application process would be highly beneficial in improving transparency in the application system. Experience sharing would allow others to learn from the experience of others while the authorities could identify loopholes and deploy corrective measures.


Unknown said...

Until this time I had no idea about the existence of these creatures that are definitely not leave a pleasant impression - ask.naij.com. But the fact that they come in and they have names makes me shudder with horror, and what you think on this subject?

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