From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
On January 28, 2021, Transparency International (TI), in its 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) disclosed that Nigeria scored 25/100 which is one point less than its 26 points in 2019.
It said that Nigeria is now 149 out of 180 countries on its CPI ladder, a record that is three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019.
But in the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places on the index from 148 to 144.
The 2020 result, however, was not a cheery one to most Nigerians as they examined various circumstances that led to the downgrade as well as the Federal Government’s role or involvement in the saga.
The sectors that contributed to the downgrade include the petroleum sector, police and, of course, the judiciary.
But beyond the superficiality of the ranking, the aftermath of the action will be devastating to an economy already on one crutches.
Without doubt, the foreign investment portfolio is likely to drop. Creditors will now be a bit more careful, not only with the government but with the private sector. This will no doubt affect development and economic growth.
Reacting to TI’s ranking, a professor of Statistics at the University of Ibadan and Co-cordinator, UI Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistics (UI-LISA), Olusanya Olubusoye, said that Nigeria should have been rated the most corrupt nation in the world in view of some clear evidence of corruption in the country.
According to him, from the beginning of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, Nigeria has been on backward movement.
“As a matter of fact, in terms of ranking, we are retrogressing. From the beginning of this administration, we have been going backward. I was expecting that we would be the first rather than the second. But the implication is that we are fast losing our credibility and we are also losing the possibility of attracting foreign investment.
“Of course, in the global community our reputation as a corrupt country is terribly damaged. So, doing business in Nigeria now is very difficult.
The index is a signal to foreign investors. What it means in essence is that the cost of producing anything in Nigeria has to be high because you have to factor in corruption price. So, this discourages foreign investors from bringing in their money. It also tells a lot about our reputation as a country. It is damaging and it means that eventhough most of us will say that not all of us are corrupt, the index is about Nigeria. So, it brings everybody together. So, it is a collective index. Even if you are a saint, that index is a stigma to everybody.
“I have seen government on many occasions trying to disagree with the figure. My argument, in most cases, has been why is government not producing its own index? If the government thinks that the TI’s index is not reflecting the reality then where is their own? So, the best way to counter their own is for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other government organisations to produce their corruption indices and reports regularly. I know that NBS has been doing something like that. But even the ones NBS is doing have always been sponsored by foreign partners. It is not totally funded by the government. It is always funded by international partners who are interested in such figures for the purpose of doing business. So, the government itself is not investing in compiling data on corruption.
“Kenya has bribery and corruption index which it publishes on regular basis. They measure and rank the government agencies on regular basis.
So, if government is interested in addressing corruption the locally generated indices are used as basis for developing measures to reduce corruption. If the government has no confidence in what the Transparency International is producing, then they also have the capacity to produce their own and tell us the methodology they used. It is not enough to produce —— they should do that on regular basis so that the trend can be monitored and we can also measure across agencies and institutions, including public and private institutions. For instance, we should know which university is most corrupt, which ministry is most corrupt, which religious organisation is most corrupt” he said.
Head, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, lamented the quantum of corrupt practices in the public sector
‘My observation was exactly what a reporter with the Voice of America News Channel anticipated when on June 22, 2015, he posted a story that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria would definitely contend with big battles against corruption. He had thought the president had good anti-corruption fight antecedents.
“Unarguably, five years down the line, it is clear to even a Primary 1 pupil that Nigeria is contending with large scale public sector corruption which is why Nigeria, despite being endowed with enormous human and natural resources became in 2018, the poverty capital of the world, thus dethroning India.
“The population of India is obviously 10 times bigger than Nigeria’s. So, it is mathematically correct to state that corruption has become a hydra-headed monster. And ,to put it graphically, corruption among public officeholders walks with four legs right under the nose of Buhari who doubles as the Petroleum Minister.
“Petroleum (police and , of course , the judiciary) sector has definitely dominated public conversations as the most corrupt sector of the economy.
The National Biotechnology Agency has been dogged with huge corruption leading to the arrest by Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of the acting director general, Alex Uwadiegwu Akpa over N400 million alleged theft.
“The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, fell from grace to grass when the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, accused him of large scale corruption leading to his suspension. Magu also said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami is corrupt. Malami stridently denies this.
“Over six months now the president has maintained sealed lips on this even as the suspended chairman is hibernating. Buhari spent millions to set up a judicial panel to investigate allegations of corruption against his erstwhile anti-graft chieftain, Ibrahim Magu. But almost six months not a word about the recommendations of the panel was heard.
“The truth is that the public sector is so infested with corruption so much that employment racketeering has become commonplace in government offices with civil servants bribing their superiors for juicy postings and promotions and police officers paying bribes for postings and promotions.
Transparency International has also validated the fears of most Nigerians about how dominant corruption amongst public sector officials has become. This was the outcome of the latest global ranking in which Nigeria came second as the most corrupt nation in West Africa only after Guinea Bissau” he opined.
The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Mr Eze Onyekpere, also cited the case of the former anti-graft Czar, Ibrahim Magu, and the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is currently facing a 12-count charge over fraud and money laundering.
According to Onyekpere, the EndSARS protest in October was instigated by corruption in the police and the public sector. The protest led to further discoveries of how those in charge of coronavirus palliatives diverted them for personal use.
Recall that in October, last year, Nigerian youths embarked on a major protest to demand the end of, not only the overbearing nature of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) but the corrupt and anti-people activities by the government such as nepotism, gerontocracy, Fulani oligarchy, tribalism, sectionalism, insecurity, fovouritism, hike in electricity tariff, increase in fuel pump price, high inflation, impunity and high level of corruption never witnessed before in the history of Nigeria.