On Thursday, the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption suffered a blow with the country’s ranking dropping on the 2019 corruption perception index by Transparency International (TI).
The latest ranking saw Nigeria drop from 148 — in 2018 — to 146 out of the 180 countries ranked. The country’s total points also dropped to 26/100, from the 27 it has maintained since 2017.
WHAT CAUSED THE DECLINE?
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, TI through Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), its local chapter in Nigeria, said among the reasons Nigeria’s rating on corruption perception dropped include attack on the media and journalists exposing corruption, one-sided anti-graft war as well as ingrained corrupt practices in critical sectors.
At the conference addressed by Auwal Musa, CISCLAC executive director, the organisation said its findings show the government of President Muhammadu Buhari may be losing the fight against corruption in the last one year.
Here are the reasons for the latest ranking.
CISLAC said Nigeria’s rule of law is selective with some persons accused of corruption escaping prosecution.
It said the rich and the powerful “do not play by the rules”, and that prominent personalities in politics and business are “untouchable” despite evidence of corruption against them
“The pre-election period witnessed mind-blowing scandals, which stayed without consequences. Politicians stashing millions of dollars in kickbacks or having corruption charges upon them just need to switch political parties or stay loyal and charges are dropped against them,” it said.
TARGETED ATTACKS ON MEDIA, CSOs
CISCLAC also said the efforts of the current administration in the last year were damaged by targeted attacks against journalists and civil society organisations (CSOs) exposing corrupt practices in government.
According to the organisation, “we witnessed increased threats to civil space, targeted attacks and arrest of journalists and civil society activists. Exposing corruption of those in power was met with harassment and intimidation.”
It cited as examples the case of Omoyele Sowore, journalist and activist, who is being prosecuted for calling for nationwide protests against “poor governance” through a movement tagged ‘Revolution Now’ as well as Agba Jalingo, a journalist in Cross River who “exposed over N500 million” alleged fraud by the state government.
“Even the institution will create false charges against you because you exposed corruption,” it added.
INSTITUTIONALISED CORRUPTION IN POLITICAL PARTIES
CISLAC said political parties and breakdown of political integrity are “the real source of Nigeria’s problem regarding fight against corruption.”
“Nigeria’s system of governance and foundations of democracy are for sale.” the organisation said, adding: “Our politicians are masters of survival changing political parties as they please (while) political primaries are for sale to the highest bidder in a system of godfathers and criminals.”
It said Nigeria cannot win the fight against corruption when corruption is institutionalised within the political party, adding that “we do not have political parties (but) platforms without ideology and ideas to offer voters.”
POOR UNDERSTANDING OF CORRUPTION AND HOW TO TACKLE IT
CISLAC said Nigerian authorities lack consistency and understanding on what corruption actually is. It said, for instance, that “corruption thrives with incompetency and lack of technical understanding in sectoral areas”.
It also cited the “disastrous” privatisation of the energy sector as well as “botched” defence contracts.
“In an environment where senior officers are nominated, promoted and advanced based on ethnic religious and nepotistic criteria, technical understanding of governance, including the fight against corruption, is a scarce commodity,” the organisation said.
UNDERDEVELOPED ANTI-CORRUPTION LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORK
Also included in the reasons for Nigeria’s poor rating is lack of crucial laws and policies. CISLAC said while assets recovery has been a huge success, management of such assets is “questionable, if not dubious”.
It said the management of recovered assets and loots has been shrouded in secrecy as the current administration has failed to inform Nigerians on their whereabouts.
“Nigerians are yet to see results of the use of recovered assets, if they have been used at all,” CISLAC said, adding that “much more have been recovered in Nigeria more than abroad” but “when everything is hidden even when you write through the freedom of information act, you cannot make progress.”
INABILITY TO IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS TO CORRUPTION
The organisation added that the current administration still ignores recommendations that should help end corruption in the country.
Among some of those measures include the whistleblower policy which the organisation said has suffered setbacks following targeted attacks on whistleblowers.
“Government has a whistleblower policy, yet whistleblowers are attacked and sometimes sent to jail. Government has identified procurement as major source of corruption, yet the National Procurement Council as provided by the public procurement act is not in place,” it added.
JOBS FOR SALE, CRITICAL SECTORS GROUNDED BY CORRUPTION
CISLAC further identified corruption in critical sectors such as defence as well as oil and gas as a major contributing factor to Nigeria’s poor rating in the CPI.
It added that corruption in the defence and security sector comes in various forms such as illegal checkpoints, secretive army and defence procurement, extortion of civilians in the north-east by security operatives as well as corrupt usage of the security votes.
“Getting employment has been commercialised. You have to pay money to get any government employment; people have to pay money to get approved in the national assembly,” it added.
“There’s no way anybody will rate you seriously. Although we have been shouting, the government is not doing anything.”
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