A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described Nigeria’s sliding in the Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as “a reality check, confirming that the country’s fight against corruption has lost track, and showing why it is now critical for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to fight corruption more by its action than words.”
In its 2013 corruption index, Transparency International ranked Nigeria as the 144th most corrupt among the 177 countries studied in the world. In 2012, Nigeria was ranked as the 124th most corrupt nation among the less than 170 countries studied. The survey gave Nigeria as an example of countries where oil resources were only available to a very small elite.
In a public statement signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni the group said that, “The government may see the global corruption index as a pain in the neck but the index provides some indicators as to the reality in the country and it cannot simply be wished away. Rather than criticize the global corruption index, this government must recognize that the problem of corruption will simply not go away without concrete action and leadership at the highest level of government. President Goodluck Jonathan will do well to begin to demonstrate that he is on the side of millions of victimized Nigerians and not corrupt officials.”
According to the group, “The President can immediately begin to show the government’s good faith in the fight against corruption by taking very simple steps such as publicly declaring his assets and instructing those who work with him to do the same. This will be the best Christmas gift that President Jonathan can ever give to millions of Nigerians daily calling for strong leadership, transparency, accountability and the rule of law.”
“This is now a critical time for the government to genuinely commit itself to the fight against corruption if it is ever going to stop this embarrassing record in global ranking. Nigerians have suffered enough under the crunching effects of high level official corruption and deserve good governance and development,” the group also said.
“Any initiatives against corruption which avoid public scrutiny of the President’s own asset declaration, and effective prosecution of corruption cases when they involve those connected with this government will continue to undermine the country’s ability to implement its international anticorruption obligations and commitments, including under the UN Convention against Corruption,” the organization said.
The organization also said that, “Ultimately, the responsibility for sorting out Nigeria rests with President Jonathan. The buck stops with him. Nigerians will judge him not by the number of promises he has made but by the number of roads repaired, decent hospitals established, and how much difference he is able to make to ensure the enjoyment of other basic necessities of life for millions of impoverished Nigerians.”
“Genuine fight against corruption can’t happen unless President Jonathan wants it, and leads by example,” the organization also said.
“Meeting the basic needs of the citizens will require the government to prioritise and demonstrate its expressed commitment to fight corruption by urgently ensuring the effective prosecution of those suspected of massive corruption in the fuel subsidy system and fully recover stolen public wealth and resources. All outstanding corruption reports, including the House Committee report on the subsidy racket must be fully implemented and perpetrators effectively punished,” the organization also stated.
Transparency International’s annual list is the most widely used indicator of corruption in political parties, police, justice systems and civil services, a scourge which undermines development and the fight against poverty.
The report states that “Corruption hurts the poor most. That’s what you see when you look at the countries at the bottom. Within those countries, it’s also poor people who get hurt the most. These countries will never get out of the poverty trap if they don’t tackle corruption.”