CISLAC
CISLAC

Transparency International Report on Corruption in Nigeria

In Abuja: The 2018 Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) released globally by Transparency International today reveals that Nigeria has neither improved nor progressed in the perception of corruption in the public administration in 2018.

The newly released index published in Nigeria exclusively by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria, reveals that Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI, maintaining the same score as in the 2017 CPI. In the country comparison, Nigeria ranks 144 out of 180 countries this year as opposed to 148 out of 180 countries in the 2017 CPI. Nigeria is thus still perceived as highly corrupt, and although the ranking shows that Nigeria moved up four (4) places, it only means that four other countries have scored worse while Nigeria stagnated.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions by business community and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector. In the case of Nigeria, the composite score consists of sources which include:

1. African Development Bank Perception Survey,

2. Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index,

3. Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings,

4. PRS International Country Risk Guide,

5. World Bank Corruption Perception Assessment,

6. the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey; 

7. World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and

8. Varieties of Democracy Project.

All are impartial, well-respected, statistically significant and evidence-based sources.

You may recall that in February last year when the 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was released, some challenged the results and stated that it did not reflect the situation in the country, while others agreed that corruption has truly eaten deep into the Nigerian system and that the score was a true reflection of the state of corruption in Nigeria.

CISLAC notes that lack of progress in the fight against corruption as testified by this year’s edition of the CPI is a consequence of partial or non-implementation of recommendations issued by corruption experts and activists.

There were recommendations that accompanied the launch of the CPI 2017, one of which was for the immediate appointment and prompt inauguration of the National Procurement Council (NPC) as provided in the Public Procurement Act. In 2018, the Permanent Secretary, at the Open Government Week 2018, responded to the question of when the NPC would be inaugurated by stating that “the Council has in fact been constituted and its inauguration will be done very soon.” Regrettably, CISLAC despite corruption in procurement which is responsible for around 70% of the aggregated corruption in the public administration, the NPC has still not been inaugurated.

Another recommendation urged the Government of Nigeria and the Legislature to strengthen anti-corruption institutions and provide adequate protection and encouragement for whistleblowers. The confirmation of 60 nominees for leadership positions across various institutions, including agencies vital to fighting corruption continues to suffer delay, which has continued to undermine governance and complicate the fight against corruption in the country.

With the inability of the present administration to stop political boycott of key appointments and pass the much needed legislation such as the Proceeds of Crime Bill and 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. Let us underscore that “acting” leadership of any anti-corruption and law enforcement institution is falling short when these institutions should spearhead the combating pervasive corruption and organised crime as in the case of Nigeria.

Furthermore, 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. 14 commitments were made as part of the Open Government Partnership effort. In some cases, a modest progress has been made. However, majority of the 14 commitments are unfulfilled. 20 commitments were also made by the President Buhari’s administration in London 2016 during an anti-corruption conference. Of this number, not a single commitment has been completed three years thereafter. 50% of anti-corruption commitments are under way while 25% are inactive. 25% of commitments are in progress. 

Public participation and active reporting of corruption is seriously hindered by the absence of the Whistleblower Protection Act that would ensure the protection of the Whistleblowers from dismissals, suspensions, harassments, discriminations or intimidation. Let us be clear, no country can make progress without insider reportage of corruption abuses.

Corruption in the defence and security sector contributes significantly to the human despair and economic stagnation across Nigeria. While the Nigerian defence budget has soared more than 500% in the last 10 years, insecurity and breakdown of the rule of law in some parts of the country continue unabated. CISLAC and other civil society groups have been consistent in proposing immediate solutions –Ban senseless Security votes, which accounts in total for around $670 million (N241.2 billion) annually, a sum that exceeds 70 percent of the annual budget of the Nigeria Police Force; more accessible defence budgets for public scrutiny; appoint civilian oversight in charge of military procurement and encourage culture of reporting of corruption within the ranks and files of the Nigerian armed forces. These are recommendations articulated and received from a wide range of stakeholders working across this thematic issue, raising concerns as to the usefulness and genuineness of the motive of having security votes in place.

This CPI score comes at a time when Nigeria is being tested while experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, insecurity, corrupt judicial practices, undiminished graft in public administration at all levels, threats to press freedom, diminishing civil society space, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power. Since the current administration came into power on the anti-corruption ticket, a very few politically exposed persons have been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges.

Despite some indisputable evidence, many corrupt politicians and businessmen and women seem to be above the law and out of reach of law enforcement. Recent corruption scandals, including the GandujeGate, ShemaGate, DasukiGate, IkoyiGate, among others, have not seen diligent investigations, prosecutions and convictions of these cases and other Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). The authorities need to understand that these acts deepen a sense of hopelessness among well-meaning Nigerians.

It would be wrong to ignore some positives in the governance field. Judiciary and anti-corruption agencies are making some progress in the number of persons convicted for corruption-related charges. Special judicial anti-corruption courts are getting faster and better in seizing of ill-gotten assets in non-conviction based trials. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) has reduced vast inefficiencies and corruption in the mismanagement of individual MDAs, banks and other financial institutions have introduced Customer Due Diligence and there are some signs that the huge amount of illicit financial outflows has partially reduced. The Freedom of Information Act is instrumental in slowly opening the transparency of public institutions by forcing them to disclose vital information to engaged citizens.

The introduction of beneficial ownership of companies is needed to know the extent of suspected ownership of politicians and civil servants of oil and gas companies, construction businesses and other public contractors. Money-laundering crimes and tax evasion need to be more stringently investigated and prosecuted by competent agencies and in line with Financial Action Task Force Standards. Frivolous and fraudulent tax wavers to multinational and Nigerian companies, especially in high net revenue sectors such as oil and gas, communication and construction need to be stopped. They clearly do not benefit Nigerian population.

If Nigerian democracy and governance is to be preserved, the origins of huge assets of Nigerian real owners need be disclosed and, in case of PEPs, military and non-military personnel, religious leaders and other public figures, diligently explained to Nigerians.

This year, further research analysis shows a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies, where countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.

This years’ edition shows that while no country earned a perfect score on the CPI, countries that tend to do best also protects democratic rights and values. Many countries at the top of the CPI have a number of attributes in common. This includes a respect for the rule of law, independent oversight of institutions, an independent media, and space for civil society organisations to operate and speak out. Many low performing countries have several commonalities, including weak political rights, limited press freedoms and a weak rule of law. In these countries, laws often go unenforced and institutions are poorly resourced with little ability to handle corruption complaints. In addition, internal conflict and unstable governance structures contribute to high rates of corruption.

In some countries, Nigeria notwithstanding, corruption scandals have eroded trust in democratic politics and institutions. In these cases, some leaders have co-opted or hijacked 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.

Therefore, CISLAC urges all political parties and candidates before 2019 to ensure peaceful and credible elections. CISLAC stresses that the timing of the release of the CPI 2018 coincides with the upcoming elections in Nigeria as the launch is global.We further urge all political parties and candidates to resist misusing the CPI results for advancing individual or political party agendas.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

For 25 years, Transparency International has been leading the fight against corruption worldwide, working as a global movement in more than 100 countries, including Nigeria. CISLAC recommends time and time again to stop corruption by:

Ø Strengthening the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power, and ensuring their ability to operate without intimidation.

Ø Closing the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, practice and enforcement.

Ø Supporting civil society organisations which enhance political engagement and public oversight over government spending, particularly at the state and local level.

Ø Supporting a free and independent media, ensuring the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.

 

By CISLAC

 

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here