The global Corruption Perception Index for 2018 shows that Nigeria has neither regressed nor progressed in terms of perceived level of corruption in the public sector. It has moved up from 148th position on a list of 180 countries to 144th but its total score of 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI is exactly its score for the 2017 index. What this means is that Nigeria stagnated on the defining component of the CPI, making the 2018 edition a testimony to lack of progress in the fight against corruption as the perception is still that of a highly corrupt public sector, says the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC) which handled the in-country release of the index for Transparency International earlier today in Abuja.
But, recalling how the 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was challenged by some people who felt that it did not reflect the situation in the country while others hailed it as a true reading of the state of corruption in Nigeria, CISLAC is drawing attention of all political parties and candidates to resist misusing the CPI results for advancing individual or political party agendas. They should, instead, ensure peaceful and credible elections in the February – March 2019 polls.
While insisting on recognising certain developments it rates to be positive in the war against corruption, CISLAC says the 2018 index is a consequence of partial or no implementation of recommendations issued by corruption experts and activists. The public image of the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria is tarnished domestically and internationally with extremely slow progress to move on numerous anti-corruption commitments made by the Government, it says, pointing out how leadership in acting capacity of the leading anti-corruption and law enforcement institutions falls short when the institutions should spearhead combating pervasive corruption and organised crime as in the case of Nigeria. “With the inability of the present administration to implement the recommendations given at the launch of the CPI 2017, it is no wonder that Nigeria’s score in 2018 is no different than 2017”, CISLAC concluded.
CISLAC says corruption scandals have eroded trust in democratic politics and institutions, with some leaders “co-opting or hijacking anti-corruption messaging to serve their political agendas, often weaponizing populist ideals to chip away at the same democratic institutions they were elected to represent”. It is stressing how not a single of the 20 commitments President Buhari made at the May 2016 an anti-corruption conference in London have been completed three years thereafter. Rather, it says that 50% of such anti-corruption commitments are under way while 25% are inactive and 25% are in progress. Public participation and active reporting of corruption is, in its view, seriously hindered by the absence of the Whistleblower Protection Act that would guarantee whistleblowers against dismissals, suspensions, harassments, discriminations or intimidation. “Let us be clear, no country can make progress without insider reportage of corruption abuses”, CISLAC maintained.
It is equally drawing attention to corruption in the defence and security sector, putting it as a significant source of human despair and economic stagnation across Nigeria while also pointing at the paradox of a 500% rise in defence budget in the last 10 years when insecurity and breakdown of law and order has continued unabated in the country. It laments non-implementation of proposals by it and other civil society groups such as ending Security Vote which it says accounts for around $670 million (N241.2 billion) annually.
Drawing up a list of developments in the anti-corruption war it says would be wrong to ignore – the number of persons convicted for corruption-related charges; faster and better capacity of special judicial anti-corruption courts in seizing of ill-gotten assets in non-conviction based trials; reduction of vast inefficiencies and corruption in the mismanagement of individual MDAs courtesy of the Treasury Single Account (TSA); Customer Due Diligence that banks are observing and reduction in huge amount of illicit financial outflows – CISLAC is, however, contrasting this to how “many corrupt politicians and businessmen and women seem to be above the law and out of reach of law enforcement”. Mentioning a few recent corruption allegations such as the GanduGate, ShemaGate, DasukiGate, IkoyiGate, CISLAC argues that despite some indisputable evidence, there have not been diligent investigations, prosecutions and convictions of these cases and other Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). The authorities, it says, need to understand that these acts deepen a sense of hopelessness among well-meaning Nigerians, warning that research analysis is showing a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies: countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.
CISLAC is contending that the 2018 edition of CPI showed that although no country earned a perfect score, countries at the top are marked by guarantee of democratic rights and values. Such countries, said CISLAC, have a number of attributes in common, from respect for the rule of law to independent oversight of institutions, independent media and space for civil society organisations to operate and speak out. This, it said, contrasts with countries with low performance on the CPI and whose commonalities range from weak political rights regime to limited press freedoms and a weak rule of law. According to CISLAC, internal conflict and unstable governance structures contribute to high rates of corruption in such countries characterised also by poorly resourced with little ability to handle corruption complaints as well as laws that often enforced.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) aggregates data from a number of different sources that are generally rated to be impartial, statistically significant and evidence-based, mirroring perceptions of public sector corruption in the business community and country experts. The list, in the case of Nigeria includes African Development Bank Perception Survey, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, World Bank Corruption Perception Assessment, the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey; World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and Varieties of Democracy Project.
Corruption as used by Transparency International is basically the privatisation of public trust. When this occurs at the level of high state officials, Transparency International calls it grand corruption as opposed to petty corruption when middle level public officials enact corrupt practices in spaces of the everyday such as hospitals, encountering the police, etc. CPI is strictly in relation to the public sector.