ON Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Transparency International (TI), which annually monitors corruption in 180 countries around the world, released the result of the Corruption Perception Index of 2018. It showed that Nigeria had “moved up” from its 148th position in the index of 2017 to 144th least corrupt country in 2018.
This news sent many Nigerians euphoric in the Social Media. For them, we are beginning to win the anti-graft war which is one of the three major planks of the President Muhammadu Buhari government. But a closer look at the details against the background of our performances before the advent of this regime shows that we have actually stagnated in spite of our best efforts.
For instance, TI also explained that Nigeria’s four-point jump was due to the fact that corruption worsened in other countries. Nigeria remained rooted with 27 points (same as in the 2017 ranking) as opposed to 88 points by Denmark which has consistently maintained the position of the world’s least corrupt country.
It will be recalled that Nigeria had slipped from its 138th position (26/100 points) in the index released in 2016 (which mirrored the survey for 2015 out of the 168 countries surveyed) to 148th in 2017 when the Buhari regime’s anti-corruption performance was first assessed.
The simple message in the apparent stagnation is that the Buhari regime urgently needs to reassess its anti-graft strategies in order for it to make any meaningful impact. Right now, there is undue emphasis in the seizure and recovery of funds ostensibly traced to former public officeholders in the previous regime of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Critics have consistently accused the Buhari government of shielding many people similarly accused of corruption within the ruling party and government, including those who defected from the PDP to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. The widespread perception of a selective anti-graft war has done much to diminish the impacts of efforts made since 2015.
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, (an affiliate of Transparency International) Mr. Awwal Rafsanaji said: “Nigeria is still perceived as a highly-corrupt nation”, with large-scale corruption perception still plaguing the oil, defence and bureaucratic sectors.
Even the Whistleblower policy, a major innovation of this regime, has proved ineffective because it has not provided enough protection or reward promised to whistleblowers.
The entire machinery of our anti-graft war must be repositioned and made all-inclusive, with technology fully deployed, before we can make meaningful progress in the global corruption perception index.