Anti-corruption war: A forward or backward march?
President Muhammadu Buhari may have frontally tackling corruption as one of the cardinal programmes of his government.
The APC-led administration may also claim to have been prosecuting past corrupt government officials and in the process recovered humongous sum of looted funds since 2015.
But Nigeria is still a country reeking with corruption, if the Transparency International’s(TI) 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is anything to go by.
According to the newly released index published by Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria, the country scored 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI, thus, maintaining the same mark it scored in the 2017 CPI exercise.
In a comparative analysis among countries, the TI’s document ranked Nigeria 144 out of 180 countries last year as opposed to 148 out of 180 countries in the 2017 CPI study.
Although, the ranking shows that Nigeria moved up four (4) places, it only means that four other countries have scored worse while Nigeria stagnated, observed TI.
It says Nigeria, in the comity of global nations, is still perceived and regarded as highly corrupt.
While bemoaning the abysmal rating of Nigeria in the CPI, Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, expressed displeasure that the country failed to improve or progress in the perception of corruption in public administration last year.
The TI’s Nigeria Chapter Head spoke at a press conference in Abuja.
Rafsanjani, said concerted efforts are required for corruption to be stamped out in the country, maintaining that the lack of progress against corruption as testified by the 2018’s edition of CPI is a consequence of partial or non-implementation of recommendations issued by corruption experts and activists.
“The CPI aggregates data from a number sources that provide perceptions by business community and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector. In the case of Nigeria, African Development Bank Perception Survey, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and Varieties of Democracy Project, are the impartial, well-respected, statistically significant and evidence-based sources,” he said.
He said the public image of the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria is tarnished domestically and internationally with extremely slow progress to implement several anti-corruption commitments made by the governments.
The TI boss urged government and legislature to strengthen anti-corruption institutions, while also providing adequate protection and encouragement for whistle-blowers.
“Let us underscore that “acting” leadership of any anti-corruption and law enforcement institution is falling short when these institutions should spearhead the combating pervasive corruption and organised crime as in the case of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, 14 commitments were made as part of the Open Government Partnership effort. In some cases, a modest progress has been made. However, majority of the 14 commitments are unfulfilled. 20 commitments were also made by the President Buhari’s administration in London 2016 during an anti-corruption conference. Of this number, not a single commitment has been completed three years thereafter. 50% of anti-corruption commitments are under way while 25% are inactive. 25% of commitments are in progress,” he added.
Auwal Rafsanjani noted that public participation and active reporting of corruption has been seriously hindered by the absence of the Whistle-blower Protection Act that would ensure the protection of the Whistle-blowers from dismissals, suspensions, harassments, discriminations or intimidation.
Meanwhile, the 2018 CPI released by Transparency International reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world.
It also showed a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies, where countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.
Checks by PR Nigeria shows that only 20 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Argentina, Senegal, Guyana and Cote D’voire. Equally troubling is the fact that 16 countries significantly decreased their scores, including Australia, Chile, Malta, Hungary and Turkey.