Nigeria ranks low for the second consecutive year in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) compiled by the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI). In the latest index, Nigeria ranks 148 out of a total of 180 countries, 12 places down from the also mediocre 136 position in 2016. This report, coupled with several cases of insecurity in the country in the first two months of the year makes a mockery of the supposed performance of the government with regards to its supposed fight against corruption and defeat of the insurgents.
According to the CPI, the country scored 28 out of 100, this figure is lower than the average of 32 in the Sub-saharan region. The index ranks 180 countries by the perception of the level of corruption in the public sector, according to experts and businesspeople. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national contact of TI, expressed an expected displeasure of the latest report in a press release. “On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria hopelessly falls behind with 27 points. In West Africa, Nigeria is the second worst country out of 17 countries leaving only Guinea Bissau behind,” the transparency and accountability advocacy organization said.
“This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels. It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian taxpayers around 25 percent of annual GDP. Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges,” it added.
It is also important to encourage free speech, independent media, and political dissent for promoting a corrupt free country. It cannot only be about the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragging political elites on the faces of the newspaper pages without any major prosecutions.
Transparency Index had discovered that the most corrupt countries ranked low when it came to press freedom. “Further analysis of the results indicates that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organizations also tend to have the worst rates of corruption,” TI said in a statement. This is something this administration is guilty of; early last year, it was reported that Premium Times’ head office in Abuja was reported to have been searched illegally and the Editor-in-chief arrested over some news he refused to retract from the publication.
“No activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption. Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up,” said Patricia Moreira, the Managing Director, TI.
Apart from losing the anti-corruption fight, in just two months the country has experienced cases of insecurity in five different states, ranging from bomb attacks by the supposedly defeated Boko Haram on IDP camps to Fulani herdsmen crisis in Benue. The latest is the disturbing news on the controversy over the whereabouts of the students kidnapped at the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Yobe state.
For an administration that has often expressed pride at achieving an improved performance on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings, it should also accept responsibility for this and take appropriate effective measures to fulfill the promises it made to Nigerians.