Nigeria Rejects Transparency International Latest Corruption Raking
The Federal Government of Nigeria has rejected the latest assessment of Nigeria in Transparency International (TI) corruption perception index, blaming opaqueness in doing business rather than graft for the country’s low rating by TI.
On Tuesday, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the national coordinator of TI in Nigeria had pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has handled the recovery of stolen assets with insufficient transparency.
Nigeria dropped in the 2020 corruption ranking released by Transparency International last month. Nigeria scored fewer points for transparency and dropped three places in the ranking of countries’ performance in reducing perception of corruption in the last year. Corruption is perceived to have worsened in Nigeria.
Nigeria scored 25/100 in the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which is a point less than its 26 points in the previous year. Nigeria now ranks 149 out of 180 countries, three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019.
Reacting on behalf of the government, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, claimed that the issue of TI’s low corruption perception of the country was not necessarilly about stealing of public funds, noting that the group’s rating of Nigeria has not correctly reflected the government’s effort to curb corruption in the country.
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Mohammed, who spoke while fielding questions from newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, said the Buhari government had initiated reforms to make it easier and more transparent for people to do businesses, especially in the port sector.
He noted the inconsistencies in the scores by TI over the years due to inadequate data, saying that government is taking necessary measures to communicate relevant data on all sectors.
According to Mohammed, “I think that I’m aware of that particular rating which was not quite flattering to Nigeria, but our position, which I have declared before is that that rating does not truly reflect the great strides that the administration has made in the area of fighting corruption.
“The government has put in place various reforms in fighting corruption, but some of these reforms will take time to yield the desired results because the matrix used by TI is not just about grafts alone.
“It includes how transparent or how opaque the services are and you’ll find out that when we scored in the 2018, 2019 transparency reports, we realised that we scored very low in the area of ease of doing business in particular.’’
The minister stated that the federal government had embarked on various reforms aimed at tackling cases of corrupt practices in both private and public sectors of the economy to improve the country’s rating by Transparency International (TI).
“That is why the federal government embarked on reforms, especially at the seaports, because that is one area where we scored very low.
“You will see that in recent times, we’ve embarked on numerous reforms at our seaports so that our rating will improve.
“For instance, we realised that following the release of 2019 TI corruption perception index, we initiated reforms to improve on ease of doing business indices.
“This is because we found that up to 40 per cent of the country’s corruption perception survey indices related to business, process and general public service delivery.
“So, that is why we are concentrating on the ease of doing business, making sure that people can get to the ports, clear the goods in good time and by the time some of these forms start yielding fruits, I’m sure that perception will improve,’’ he added.
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The Minister further disclosed that the federal government had put in place a preventive mechanism to check corruption rather than prosecution.
He said: “We believe that it’s more important to put in place preventive mechanism rather than prosecution and this preventive mechanism that we have put in place include the programme launched by the ICPC, which is what they called the National Ethics Policy.’’
Mohammed stated that this policy addresses integrity issues in all sectors of the polity and is directly linked to the pillar of national anti-corruption strategy. He revealed that the Code of Conduct Bureau had also put in place some preventive measures, especially in the area of energising the code of conduct for public officers