President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria has dropped to 149 on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index to become the second most corrupt country in West Africa, scoring 25 out of 100 points the worst in two years. This indicates that corruption in the country has worsened as it is the worst ranking Nigeria has received in two years. The Presidency has said the Transparency International, TI’s report that ranked Nigeria low was an indictment of Nigerians and not President Muhammadu Buhari or his administration. The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Monday while answering questions on the TI report. Reacting, the Federal Government had said Nigeria’s low rating does not truly reflect the great strides by the country in its fight against corruption. Garba Shehu said the report was a judgment on Nigerians, reiterating that the said report was blind to the areas where the Federal Government had “done extremely well”.

According to Garba Shehu, “We want to be complemented for the things we are doing well. As a government, it’s not for us to stop them from releasing reports. But based on the parameters used, Transparency International’s report is not a judgment on  Buhari or his administration. It is a judgment on Nigerians. The two parameters they dwelled on are essentially Nigerian problems. They are talking about the political culture of this country. Is it Buhari that is a thug?  And then they talked about the justice project; perceived corruption in the judiciary. These perceptions are essentially not correct.” Shehu agreed that there were issues, but that so many things were ongoing, such as judicial reforms. It was then pointed out to him that the report did not capture the private sector, informal economies or market, but civil service, appointments, prosecution of corrupt officials among other issues. Then, asked why the Federal Government responded to the Transparency International’s report if it indicted Nigerians and not the Presidency, Garba Shehu said: “We responded because the report turned a blind eye on where we did extremely well.” He noted that “Before we came corruption was part of daily life and it was never denounced. But now, with increasing education and awareness, Nigerians are coming to accept that corruption is wrong and not the way to go.”

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said that Nigeria’s poor rating on the 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), by Transparency International, TI, was not a true reflection of the country’s anti-graft war, noting that the agency failed to identify areas the federal government performed well. His observation came on a day a coalition of anti-corruption groups in Europe and Nigeria asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release the report of the panel set up to investigate Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Mohammed said the federal government’s war against corruption was still on course, adding that the progress made against graft in the past two years was not included in the assessment of the country. The minister, who noted that in addition to placing more emphasis on corruption prevention measures and building of integrity systems, high profile corruption cases were currently under investigation and prosecution. He said: “For instance, following the release of the 2019 TI-Corruption Perception Index, the government initiated reforms to improve on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business indices. This is because we found that up to 40 percent of the country’s corruption perception survey indices relates to business processes and general public service delivery processes. Government’s swift action has led to major reforms in the processes at our ports and business process points. In response to these evaluations, a number of significant policies have been instituted to enhance transparency and accountability, and prevent corruption. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of key transparency and accountability policies were developed and are currently being implemented. While we expect the results from these reforms to speak for us in due course, we are also taking measures to improve our data collection and retrieval on these issues to reduce the current under-reporting of our ongoing corruption reduction measures. After analyzing Nigeria’s TI corruption rating, it was observed that some data sources in Nigeria’s scores have remained flat over the past 10 years, reflecting no improvement, decline or fluctuation. In this case, the corruption scores would have been affected by changes in the size and structure of the public sector over the past 10 years, changes in policies and personnel and systems over the period, including, for instance, process automation, etc. There is, therefore, a need to verify that there is no transposition of figures from year to year due to absence of current data. There is a need to understand why these variations occur, and consequently, the robustness of the methodology and validity of data. There is a need to understand why scores for this assessment have not been recorded for Nigeria for the past two years, which has had the effect of reducing Nigeria’s cumulative score and ranking relative to countries with those scores included in their CPI for both years.”

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