From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General, All Progressives Congress (APC), Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has discredited the Transparency International (TI) 2020 report of Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rating of Nigeria.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, titled; ‘Politicising anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria’, he argued that the rating was not a true reflection of the anti-corruption fight by the present administration.
The PGF DG further argued that the report is a poor attempt to politicise the fight against corruption largely, adding that it completely ignored all the empirical cases that should have provide objective indicators for the performance of government.
Lukman also claimed that the rating was basically more of a political campaign for 2023 elections, quipped that Nigerians, including local leaders of civil society groups and their international partners, are free to make their political choices and decisions.
“In every respect, it is very difficult to reconcile the CPI 2020 report with most of the report about the performance of Nigerian government 2020. Take the case of the Bloomberg report of June 23, 2020, which reported that Nigerian government rules out request for relief in its debt service payment at a time when virtually most African countries were negotiating relief.
“Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed was reported to have told Bloomberg that ‘Nigeria is not planning to ask for debt repayment deferment for our commercial loans or for our bilateral loans from our bilateral creditors’. A number of these would have been impossible under a corrupt government.
Rather, all we will be having would have been excuses why no development has taken place in 2020, especially given the contraction of the economy under Covid-19 reality.
“While it is important to stress that no government can be perfect and no government can successfully eliminate corruption, the CPI 2020 report on Nigeria present a very bad approach to engage the Nigerian government in the fight against corruption. It is a poor attempt to politicise the fight against corruption largely because it completely ignores all the empirical cases that should have provide objective indicators for the performance of Nigerian government.
“Beyond politics is also the funding reality, which has made Nigerian civil society groups to be very aggressive in legitimising the CPI 2020 report in Nigeria,” he noted.
Reacting further, Lukman wrote: “The challenge to Nigerian civil society groups and patriots is really to rise above cheap smear campaigns based on perceptions and sentiments. Corruption is not a theoretical issue. It is a very practical challenge. It is beyond the perception of anyone. Where perception is to be our guide, we should be able to confirm it with evidence of reality. If TI can conveniently rely on perception, any serious Nigerian organisation should be able to corroborate perception with empirical cases of corruption.
“If one is to interpret the Nigeria CPI 2020 report, the conclusion is that the current government of APC under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the fight against corruption. For us to be able to fight against corruption, based on the ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts’, there has to be a change of government. This is the underlying narrative in the CPI report.
“It is basically more of a political campaign, if you like for 2023. Nigerians, including local leaders of civil society groups and their international partners are free to make their political choices and decisions. But they should be transparent about it.
“It must not be a case of shadowboxing Nigerian citizens and forcing them to kowtow political choices fraudulently contrived because Nigerian citizens are committed to the fight against corruption!” Lukman noted in the statement.